Since late-2021, we at Freedom Today Network have been following really closely the ongoing and growing conflict taking place in Ukraine.
For those of you who have been following the situation as well, we want to thank you for doing so – because as Martin Luther King said, “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
And for those of you who are not on top of the news, there are three things we would like to highlight about the conflict.
The Situation: Russia’s military buildup
The first question one has to answer is: who initiated the conflict? And the answer is Russia.
Since late-2021, Russia has been increasing its military presence alongside its border with Ukraine.
Currently, the Russian military has over 120,000 Russian troops deployed alongside its Ukrainian border, including over 20,000 air and sea personnel.
Russia has also transferred Iskander operational-tactical missiles to the border, among other kinds of military movements.
According to Russia’s Defense Ministry, the abovementioned military actions should be considered as “regular” winter military drills.
Yet, according to NATO and American officials, Russia’s military actions are nothing less than “unusual.”
For that reason, many experts have warned about a possible military invasion from Russia to eastern Ukraine.
In fact, a US intelligence report warned that the Kremlin could begin a military offensive in Ukraine “as soon as early 2022.”
Russia’s Aggression: not a new endeavor.
The second question is whether Russia has been doing this in the recent past? And the answer is yes.
Since 2014, there have been numerous Russian violations of the sovereignty of Ukraine.
That year, Russia backed separatist movements in eastern Ukraine, which now control the Ukrainian region of Donbas, which includes Donetsk and Luhansk. To these secessionist movements, Russia has given assistance and all kinds of support.
Also in 2014, Russia illegally annexed Crimea, which is a crucial region from a geopolitical and military perspective.
Moreover, Ukraine has accused the Russian government of attacking the country through hybrid methods.
For instance, in 2015, suspected Russian hackers took out parts of the country’s power grid. And just last week, all the Ukrainian government websites were taken down by malicious malware.
And as these were not enough, last month, Ukraine’s President accused Russia of preparing a coup.
The West’s Response, or Lack Thereof.
And the third thing we would like to highlight is the West’s response, or their lack thereof to be precise.
Amid Russia’s threat, many would have expected a stronger reaction from the west, especially the United States and the European Union.
However, the reality could not have been more different. It seems that no one is willing to help the Ukrainian people and their country’s sovereignty.
For instance, Germany not just refused to deliver weapons for Ukraine’s defense, it has also refused to allow Estonia to ship German-made weapons to Ukraine.
Moreover, while U.S. President Joe Biden has assured his Ukrainian counterpart that the U.S. will “respond decisively” if Russia violates Ukraine’s sovereignty, days later, he undermined his very own message.
In a White House press conference, Biden said that a “minor incursion” by the Russian military in Ukraine would only provoke a small response from the part of the U.S.
Commenting on this statement by President Biden, a Ukrainian official told CNN that he was “shocked that the US President Biden would distinguish between incursion and invasion.”
“This gives the green light to Putin to enter Ukraine at his pleasure,” the official added.
Overall, between Biden’s comments and Germany’s actions, it is clear that the West does not have the will to stand up to Russia.
Putin knows this, which is precisely why Russia is acting in this way.
This begs the question: Have we learned nothing from 1939? Appeasement has never been a good idea.
This is why Finland’s President Sauli Niinistö quoted the following from Henry Kissinger in his new year’s address to the nation:
“Whenever peace – conceived as the avoidance of war – has been the primary objective of a power or a group of powers, the international system has been at the mercy of the most ruthless member of the international community. Whenever the international order has acknowledged that certain principles could not be compromised even for the sake of peace, stability based on an equilibrium of forces was at least conceivable.”
President Niinistö is right to quote Kissinger on this issue – because if we don’t stand with Ukraine against Russia’s aggression, then what do we stand for?
By Jorge Jraissati
Jorge Jraissati is a Venezuelan economist and freedom advocate. He is the Director of Alumni Programs of Students For Liberty, an NGO advancing the ideas of a free society in over 100 countries. Beyond SFL, Jorge is a research consultant for IESE Business School, an economist from the Wilkes Honors College, and the President of Venezuelan Alliance, a policy group specialized in the Venezuelan humanitarian crisis. Jorge is a weekly columnist at Freedom Today Network.