This Is No Time to Go Wobbly on Russia

Vladimir Putin’s war against Ukraine has been narrowed down once again in the face of courageous Ukrainian resistance and international support in the form of weapons, financial aid and sanctions against Russia, Putin and his mafia oligarchy.

I’m pleased by this, it’s hard not to worry about what could have happened – and how many lives would have been saved – such actions were taken to deter Mr. Putin years ago.

Instead, we have conflict with global ripples affecting everything from Europe’s reliance on Russian oil and gas to the food supplies of several African nations. This is the high price we must pay to dissuade Mr. Putin now to avoid an even higher price later — the eternal lesson of appeasement.

There are still signs that some Western leaders have not yet realized that isolating Putin and responding with force is the only way to make lasting progress. Last week, French President Emmanuel Macron spoke about the need to negotiate with Putin, so that he could save his face. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin phoned his Russian counterpart on Friday to urge a ceasefire, potentially leading to the kind of “frozen conflict” that Mr. Putin loves because he has simply ignored the limits while fortification and rearmament.

I have long said that Mr. Putin is a Russian problem and the Russians must get rid of it. But the West needs to stop helping him. Every phone call that legitimizes his power, every cubic meter of gas, and every barrel of oil imported from Russia is a lifeline for a first-time dictatorship that is teetering.

If the goal is to save Ukrainian lives, as Western leaders say, the only way to do that is to arm Ukraine with all the weapons President Volodymyr Zelensky wants as quickly as possible. A cease-fire that puts Russian forces on Ukrainian soil would only allow Putin to continue his act of genocide and mass deportations under the guise, as he has done since his first invasion in 2014. .

Even now there are those who openly sided with Putin. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán is blocking a European Union ban on Russian oil imports, the supply of which is putting tens of billions of dollars a month into Putin’s war machine. Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is threatening to disrupt Finland and Sweden’s accession to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, though it’s likely he’s looking for something of his own, like usually. In the United States, Senator Rand Paul organized a new emergency financial assistance package for Ukraine – by the way, this money will mainly be spent on American suppliers.

On May 9, President Biden signed the first loan bill since World War Two to speed up aid and weapons to Ukraine. It’s the perfect time for Russia’s Victory Day, the annual celebration of defeating Nazi Germany, which has been turned into a patriotic depravity that considers anyone or any nation to oppose it. Putin is a “fascist”. Real fascism is evident in the mirror as hundreds of thousands of Russians fleeing to find a way out realize.

For the remaining 144 million Russians who have been bombarded by Putin’s police with increasingly virulent propaganda for more than two decades, they have tough choices as Putin’s stable facade crumbles. and failed in Ukraine. The dozens of recent attacks on Russian military recruitment offices are an indication of what is to come.

The original Lend-Lease Act of 1941 authorized the Soviet Union to fend off Hitler’s invasion. Now, the military campaign is on the other side if the US reclaims its honorable legacy of the free world’s arsenal to help Ukraine defeat Mr. Putin’s invasion.

The bill is also a sign that Mr. Biden is finally shedding the legacy of his days as vice president, the pivotal period when Mr. Putin went from ambitious autocrat to outright dictator as the world freedom is in its collective hands. When Putin invaded Georgia in 2008, Western leaders argued that it was better to maintain economic and political ties than punish him. This is the policy of engagement that we are told will eventually liberalize Russia – and China – by linking it to the free world.

Barack Obama exemplifies this trend. As a candidate, under pressure from John McCain’s campaign, he condemned Putin’s incursion into Georgia. But President Obama was quick to make it clear to Putin and other dictators that the US would lead whatever liberal agenda was left behind. The now infamous “reset” has renewed Mr. Putin’s credentials as he unearths vestiges of Russian civil society. During a 2012 debate, Republican challenger Mitt Romney mocked Mr. Obama for correctly claiming that Russia was America’s top geopolitical enemy.

This attitude led to 2014, when Putin was motivated enough to remove all democratic pitfalls in Russia, invading Ukraine, and 2016, when he meddled in British and American elections. In Europe, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has promoted the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project, increasing Russia’s energy dependence when the opposite is needed. Now it is being done suddenly and painfully. Perhaps Mr. Obama and Mrs. Merkel could visit Kyiv together to see the damage they helped cause and offer an apology to the Ukrainian people.

Putin’s corrupt and incompetent military is only adept at brutalizing and slaughtering civilians, but has spent eight years entrenched in the occupied east that Ukrainian forces are now approaching. We will see how committed Ukraine’s allies really are as the war enters a new phase in which defense is not enough. Will they help Ukraine win, destroy Putin’s war machine, and restore all of Ukraine? Will they maintain sanctions to increase domestic pressure on Putin and let his mafia know that there is no way back into the civilized world for them and their families once Putin is in power?

The free world that won the Cold War is remembering how to fight and rediscovering the values ​​that give war meaning. That’s bad news for Putin and the other dictators who are watching closely, from Beijing to Tehran to Caracas. Ukrainians are fighting for their lives and their country, and for the free world. Let it not be a proxy, but a counterpart.

Mr. Kasparov is the chairman of the Innovation Democracy Initiative.

Review & Outlook: By invading Ukraine, Vladimir Putin has united the NATO alliance, which will be stronger with Finland and Sweden as members. Image: Sputnik / TT News Agency / Lehtikuva / Reuters Synthesis: Mark Kelly

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