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Geopolitics

Putin Has Declared War On Europe — Here's How To Respond

Moscow's large-scale attack launched on Ukraine erases any lingering doubts about where Russia’s president wants to go. Vladimir Putin is taking back part of the Soviet empire and attacking the European post-War order. Europe and NATO must respond, by arming the eastern flank.

Photo of explosion of Russian attack on Ukraine

Russia launches invasion of Ukraine

Office of Ukrainian presidency
Jacques Schuster

-OpEd-

BERLIN — In recent days, we heard it again and again: you cannot see into Vladimir Putin’s mind. It was an odd phrase, knowing that for weeks now, Putin has made no secret of his plans: not only does he want to wipe Ukraine off the map as an independent state, he has also declared war on the entire European order of peace and stability.

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The man in the Kremlin wants to return to what he considers the golden age of the Soviet empire. With this delusional desire, however, he goes much further than every Soviet leader who arrived after Stalin: Nikita Khrushchev as well as Leonid Brezhnev and Yuri Andropov all respected the limits of the post-War European order.


Vladimir Putin does not care about treaties, either the old CSCE treaty, which declared European borders inviolable, or the 1994 Budapest Memorandum, in which Moscow guaranteed Kyiv's independence. The first step has now been taken: the attack on Ukraine, and Putin’s goal will be to transform the state into a vassal entity.

But what is the second step? The Russian President will not rest until the states of the former Soviet Union have degenerated entirely into puppets whose strings are pulled in Moscow. The third step is aimed at the members of the former Warsaw Pact.

We must move NATO troops east

Unfortunately, Ukraine can only be helped to a very limited extent: if the West were to intervene militarily, the danger of nuclear war would be too great. It is a tragedy: if things go badly, Ukraine will fare just as Czechoslovakia did during the Prague Spring of 1968. Back then, the Western world watched helplessly with tears in its eyes as Soviet tanks rolled through Prague. Today, as then, hearts and doors should be open to the refugees. Generously and without bureaucratic hurdles they should be accepted in the EU. Forever, if necessary.

Not much more can be done for Ukraine. But everything else can be prevented. If Putin wants to push NATO back to the old Yalta borders of Europe, it should now be made clear to him as quickly as possible: We will not die for Ukraine in view of a possible world conflagration, but we will die for fellow members of NATO.

This attack on Ukraine must cost Putin dearly.

Although the rule used to state that NATO troops would not be permanently stationed in the eastern NATO states, the agreement with Moscow no longer applies since the attack on Ukraine. NATO allies should be permanently stationed in all states from Poland to Latvia, from Romania to Lithuania, if their governments so wish.

Peace or freedom?

February 2, 2022, Kyiv, Ukraine: People walk past St. Sophia's Cathedral as Kyiv remains calm in the face of an ever growing Russian threat

February 2, 2022, Kyiv, Ukraine: People walk past St. Sophia's Cathedral in the face of an ever growing

Bryan Smith Via Zuma Press


If Putin does not dismantle his missiles in Königsberg, he will also have to reckon with Western missile silos in the eastern NATO area. This attack on Ukraine must cost Russia deerly, especially politically.

As if that were not enough, Russia as a whole must now be placed under sanctions. Its population – the majority of which was easily intoxicated with the fiery booze of the victory bulletins after the annexation of Crimea in 2014 – must feel that Putin’s villainy will affect them as well.

Make no mistake: Europeans will suffer, too. Sanctions and the now necessary military rearmament – including the German armed forces, the Bundeswehr! – will have a major impact. Especially in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. But letting Putin have his way would mean giving up our freedom sooner or later.

What is more important: peace or freedom? The West has answered this question for itself: freedom. But those who consider peace the highest good should at least keep in mind the words of Henry Kissinger: “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.”

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Geopolitics

Minsk Never More: Lessons For The West About Negotiating With Putin

The longer the war in Ukraine continues, the louder calls will grow for a ceasefire . Stockholm-based analysts explain how the West can reach a viable deal on this: primarily by avoiding strategic mistakes from last time following the annexation of Crimea.

"War is not over" protests in London

Hugo von Essen, Andreas Umland

-Analysis-

Each new day the Russian assault on Ukraine continues, the wider and deeper is the global impact. And so with each day, there is more and more talk of a ceasefire. But just how and under what conditions such an agreement might be reached are wide open questions.

What is already clear, however, is that a ceasefire between Russia and Ukraine must not repeat mistakes made since the open conflict between the two countries began more than eight years ago.

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Contrary to widespread opinion, the so-called Minsk ceasefire agreements of 2014-2015 were not meant as a definitive solution. And as we now know, they would not offer a path to peace. Instead, the accord negotiated in the Belarusian capital would indeed become part of the problem, as it fueled the aggressive Russian strategies that led to the escalation in 2022.

In early September 2014, the Ukrainian army suffered a crushing defeat at Ilovaisk against unmarked regular Russian ground forces. Fearing further losses, Kyiv agreed to negotiations with Moscow.

The Minsk Protocol (“Minsk I”) – followed shortly thereafter by a clarifying memorandum – baldly served Russian interests. For example, it envisaged a “decentralization” – i.e. Balkanization – of Ukraine. An uneasy truce came about; but the conflict was in no way resolved.

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