World needs Ukraine to prevail

World needs Ukraine to prevail

Demonstrators during an event to mark two years since the Russian invasion into Ukraine, in Riga, Latvia, on Feb 24, 2024.
Demonstrators during an event to mark two years since the Russian invasion into Ukraine, in Riga, Latvia, on Feb 24, 2024.

On Feb 24, 2022, when Russia marched hundreds of thousands of troops into Ukraine, marked the beginning of a major geopolitical earthquake. For two years, Europe has been living with the grim reality of the continent's largest war of aggression since World War II, and with widespread, horrifying atrocities.

What Russia is doing is a classic example of nineteenth-century-style imperial and colonial aggression. Ukraine is enduring what many other countries have cruelly suffered in the past. For Russia, this war has never been about Ukraine's neutrality, Nato enlargement, protecting Russian speakers, or any other fabricated pretexts.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly claimed that Ukraine does not exist as a nation and that Ukrainian identity is artificial. The war is solely about annihilating an independent country, conquering land, and re-establishing dominance over a people who decided to be masters of their own destiny. Russia's imperial ambition is doubtless familiar to many nations around the world that were previously subject to colonial rule and oppression.

The consequences of the Russian aggression against Ukraine have been felt far beyond Europe. The war has affected food security and energy prices, and it has been accompanied by massive disinformation and political destabilisation campaigns. These shockwaves have been truly global. Mr Putin is ushering in an increasingly transactional world. He has deployed the Wagner Group in Africa, destabilised other countries through coups, and engaged in economic coercion through the threat of hunger -- offering grain that he himself made scarce by systematically burning fields in Ukraine, targeting storage infrastructure, and blocking important maritime export routes.

The war and its consequences thus concern every country. Should Russia prevail, it would send a very dangerous message that "might makes right". Every aggressive power around the world would be tempted to follow in Russia's footsteps. If aggression ultimately pays, why wouldn't all those with territorial claims against their neighbours act on them? This is why it is in many Asian, African, and Latin American countries' interest that Ukraine wins the war.

Ultimately, this war is not about "the West against the rest". Supporting Ukraine is not "pro-Western". It is about rejecting war and terror. It is about standing for the principle of international relations based on mutual respect and supporting Ukrainians' right to security and liberty. Ukraine and the European Union share a view of international relations in the twenty-first century that is exactly opposed to that of Mr Putin's Russia. Our vision is based on international law, respect, and mutual benefit, instead of coercion, bribery, and fear.

Nobody has a greater interest than we do in swiftly ending this war and bringing peace back to our continent. To achieve this, Ukraine has proposed a ten-point peace formula -- which the EU fully supports -- that not only envisions the end of hostilities but also includes proposals to strengthen food security, nuclear safety, environmental protection, energy security, international justice, human rights, and respect for the UN Charter.

This formula is the only serious peace proposal on the table, and we are calling on all countries committed to peace to join us in putting it into action. Ukraine is currently organising a Global Peace Summit in Switzerland, and the EU is actively supporting this process. Leaders from around the world will work toward an agreement on a common vision for a just peace in Ukraine based on the UN Charter. Russia will then be presented with this consolidated position representing the global majority, leaving it no other choice but to engage in good faith.

As the war enters its third year, our message is one of resilience in the face of aggression and terror. We cannot and will not allow aggression to be rewarded in the 21st century; instead, we will mobilise against it. The only way to achieve a just peace is to double down on support for Ukraine. The EU has done exactly that in recent months, and it is set to increase assistance even further in 2024.

Our common goal is to ensure that Ukraine can turn the tide of the war in its favour so that a just peace can be reached as soon as possible. The world's support is crucial for achieving this result. It is in everyone's interest that international law be upheld, and that cooperation is the highest priority. There must not be a return to the dark past of military aggression, imperialism, and colonialism -- neither in Europe nor in any other region. ©2024 Project Syndicate

Dmytro Kuleba is Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine. Josep Borrell, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, is Vice President of the European Commission for a Stronger Europe in the World.

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