November 28, 2023
The Kyiv Independent
To end the war with an independent Ukraine, the West must provide honest answers to two questions.
The first question is, “What will you do to permanently stop Russia from wanting and being able to take more Ukrainian territory?” The answer should be obvious: to finally empower a Ukrainian victory by giving all available weapons systems that have so far been held back. Airpower, long-range missiles, more tanks, armored vehicles, mine-clearing equipment, drones, everything; Ukrainians have been calling for this since the very beginning. But if complete victory is seen as neither possible nor desirable by Ukraine’s partners, the next best thing would be setting conditions for Russia to want to negotiate, but that can only be achieved by putting pressure back on Moscow. There are few options left: either properly arm Ukraine for a more effective counteroffensive than last time or, perhaps, give Kyiv the long-range missiles to destroy the Kerch Bridge, the Black Sea Fleet and, with them, Putin’s dream of a Russian Crimean paradise.
The second question is, “What incentive will you give to Russia to not quickly break any ceasefire deal and finish what they started?” This is the “just, durable, and sustainable” peace that Washington frequently refers to. Yes, Western military aid to Ukraine must continue after the shooting stops, as Russia’s military-industrial complex and society have now been put firmly on a war footing. That’s the absolute minimum, but what really must be offered to Ukraine is NATO membership. Security guarantees are not enough – they have not worked in the past in the face of Russia’s lack of respect for any signed piece of paper.
The world is changing, and without action, the barriers that once deterred countries from invading and conquering their neighbors all over the globe will continue to dissipate. That action must start with Ukraine, and it must start by not taking Ukraine’s survival for granted.
Francis Farrell is a reporter at the Kyiv Independent. He has worked as managing editor at the online media project Lossi 36, and as a freelance journalist and documentary photographer. He has previously worked in OSCE and Council of Europe field missions in Albania and Ukraine, and is an alumnus of Leiden University in The Hague and University College Lond