April 21, 2024

The Hill


Ukrainian anti-aircraft gunners of the 93rd Separate Mechanized Brigade Kholodny Yar monitor the sky from their positions in the direction of Bakhmut in the Donetsk region, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine, on February 20, 2024.  One of the most difficult things in a war is to accept and realize that things will never be the same again. And it’s not about the losses. It’s about the fact that even after the end of the war when we won’t have to run to shelters during an air raid siren or store water and batteries reserves at home, our pre-war life will not come back to us. Yes, there will be reconstruction, and people will gradually return home, but everything will be different. This awareness is crucial because without it we will not be able to survive today.

The most essential thing in war is to conquer fear. It’s not about neglecting safety but having the courage to make critical decisions, act decisively and be unafraid of mythical escalations. We in Ukraine have overcome this fear. It cost us a lot, and often we paid the highest price. At the same time, we cannot understand why the democratic world and our partners cannot see that there is no need to fear the aggressor and there is no way back to “business as usual”.

The Russian dictator feeds on fear and weakness. As the U.S. Congress hesitated on aid to Ukraine, suspecting a lack of projectiles for air defense systems, on March 22, Russia launched the most massive missile attack on the Ukrainian energy system. It hit our largest hydroelectric power station — Dnipro Hydroelectric Station and several other critical infrastructure facilities. The damage to the DniproHES is critical.

Kharkiv is under missile and drone strikes almost every day. Power stations in the city have also been destroyed, and it will take years to restore them. Electricity and water are on schedule there, children study in underground schools.

When we asked ourselves why a new wave of missile terror against our energy infrastructure began in spring, the answer was obvious: Russians have accumulated resources and are ready for decades of war.

In fact, the Kremlin’s goals regarding Ukraine have not changed. Dmitriy Medvedev, the former Russian president and current deputy head of the Russian Security Council, described them clearly. They include the “complete capitulation” of Ukraine with the subsequent absorption of our territories and resources by Russia.

Russia has used all sorts of weapons against Ukraine, except for nukes. As a result of the consequences, in particular, from the explosion of the Kakhovka Dam, the damage to our country, people and the environment reaches critical limits.

Everything that Putin’s regime has already done and will continue to do is a result of the weak response of the free world. Russia is now like a school bully who insults other children in the cafeteria. This bully does not understand the teacher’s words and will only stop when punished for his actions.

The punishment should come from the U.S. and other allies providing Ukraine with long-range missiles, the necessary amount of ammunition and shells, heavy equipment and fighter jets to do the job. Putting the security of the democratic world above the pre-election battles is crucial. All this should be done quickly and in sufficient quantity. Because school bullies are afraid of power and understand only the language of power.

It isn’t possible to punish Russia without a financial penalty. The confiscation of frozen Russian funds is spelled out in every security agreement that Ukraine concludes with its partners following the results of the NATO summit in Vilnius in July 2023, when the G7 countries agreed on the Joint Declaration of Support for Ukraine.

We welcome the “Restoring Justice for Ukraine” declaration, a document signed by 44 states recording support for a special tribunal on Russia’s crime of aggression and initiatives to use the frozen Russian assets for the benefit of Ukraine.

However, the deeper we dive into the process, the more questions we have. On one hand, there is significant progress in Belgium which became the first country to transfer approximately $2.1 billion of interest from Kremlin assets to Ukraine. But then it turns out that roughly $5.3 billion of those profits remained in Euroclear accounts.

The Brussels Fund explains this decision by the need to insure risks. At the same time, they did not provide any detailed explanation of what those risks are and what exactly should be insured against.

We often encounter similar actions in the matter of sanctions. No one in the world, except Russia, denies the need for economic restrictions for the aggressor. At the same time, corporations continue to trade with Russia through third parties, filling their budgets. And politicians are still turning a blind eye to all this.

There are plans to create a new position that would deal with the issue of compliance with the sanctions regime after the European Parliament elections. But what prevented the introduction of such a position in the last two years? Everyone witnesses how Russia circumvents sanctions and continues to receive both parts for the production of missiles and luxury items. Of course, they pay more for it. But is money a problem when you continue to trade oil and gas with the whole world?

It should be very clear that returning to how we operated with Russia before is impossible today. The democratic world, its values and its way of life were jeopardized. We all need decisive actions, perhaps even more radical than those taken at the beginning of the full-scale invasion.

Ukraine’s General Valerii Zaluzhnyi wrote on the Ukrainian Flag: “We needed peace earlier. Now we need a victory.” This is necessary not only for Ukraine but also for the entire free world.

But this world should finally change its strategy from helping Ukraine fight to letting Ukraine win.


Kira Rudik is a member of Parliament in Ukraine and the leader of Golos party.