When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

Geopolitics

“To Kill The Bear” — Why Total Victory Over Russia Is Frightening, And Necessary

U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said Washington believes Ukraine can win the war, and that Russia must be “weakened” for the foreseeable future. But to end a nationalistic-aggressive empire will require unity and courage by the West.

A destroyed Russian tank remains in the yard of a private house in Hostomel, Ukraine​

A destroyed Russian tank remains in the yard of a private house in Hostomel, Ukraine

Anna Akage

-OpEd-

They are among the strongest words directed at Moscow since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. During his trip this week to meet Ukrainian leaders in Kyiv and Western allies in Germany, U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said Washington believes not only that Ukraine can win the war, but that "we want to see Russia weakened to the degree that it can't do the kinds of things that it has done in invading Ukraine."

Stay up-to-date with the latest on the Russia-Ukraine war, with our exclusive international coverage.

Sign up to our free daily newsletter.

It is a sentiment that had already begun to spread in Ukraine in the first days and weeks of the war, when it became clear that the Russian military could in fact be defeated. That the “victory” Ukrainians sought was not just to slow down Moscow’s tanks, not only to unseat the aggressor-in-chief in the Kremlin, but one that could eliminate the threat of their larger neighbor for decades and even centuries to come.


Even as a lineup of diplomats hope to be able to convince Vladimir Putin to sign a peace treaty, Ukrainians know the reality. You can't negotiate with a bear. You have to kill the bear.

It’s Not (Just) About Putin

This phrase sounds too bloodthirsty for modern European politics, and for democracies in general. But since Feb. 24, we are living in the new reality, where one has to fight to preserve the peace.

To be clear, “killing the bear” is not about the physical elimination of Putin … who cares! … but about the historical annihilation of a militaristic, expansionist and nationalist Russia. That’s the bear the world must dispose of.

Russia must be deprived of the possibility of war in principle.

In the days leading up to the invasion, many of the so-called “realists” in the West said that the great foreign policy mistake of Washington of the past generation was that it wanted to expand NATO and didn’t properly take into account Russian history and national pride. Evidently, it took it into account far too much. And that’s what Lloyd Austin and others at the Pentagon have finally realized.

Because of both pride and history, Russia must be deprived of the possibility of war in principle — just as the world imposed on the militaristic-expansionist-nationalistic Germany and Japan after World War II. And look at these countries now: Both economic powerhouses in their respective continents, and also world leaders in peace and disarmament. (A bitter irony of history for Ukrainians is that German culture is so centered around economics over military that it is falling short of its responsibility in standing up to Russia.)

\u200bA poster with the phrase 'He Who Comes with the Sword Will Die by the Sword' pictured in Lviv

A poster in Lviv with the phrase 'He Who Comes with the Sword Will Die by the Sword'

Alona_nik_ukrinform/Ukrinform/ZUMA

The Risks Of Escalation

Still, in Kyiv, some are asking if Mr Austin and his fellow Americans really understand what it will take to support his words? It will very likely mean the escalation of the conflict, it will take commitment from the world leaders, it will take enforcing a no-flights zone over Ukraine and a ready-to-respond nuclear attack protection.

Moscow is most dangerous because of its nuclear arsenal

To stop the war, the fall of Russia's current ruling party and Vladimir Putin's regime is necessary, and that can only happen if Europe and the U.S. put maximum economic pressure on Russia — and that means saying a hard ‘No’ to its oil.

And ultimately, as we saw by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s “World War III” posturing after Austin’s comments, Moscow is most dangerous because of its nuclear arsenal. How do we kill the Russian bear while it is waving its atomic threat in front of us?

None of these are easy questions, but that doesn’t mean we can avoid facing them. Russia’s military power, and nuclear capability, has for too long been a self-affirming argument for appeasement. Just like the attack of the bear on Feb. 24 finally showed us, one way or another, that it must be taken out — and Ukraine cannot do it alone.

You've reached your monthly limit of free articles.
To read the full article, please subscribe.
Get unlimited access. Support Worldcrunch's unique mission:
  • Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.
  • Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries
  • $2.90/month or $19.90/year. No hidden charges. Cancel anytime.
Already a subscriber? Log in

When the world gets closer, we help you see farther

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
Coronavirus

Will China's Zero COVID Ever End?

Too much has been put in to the state-sponsored truth that minimal spread of the virus is the at-all-cost objective. But if the Chinese economy continues to suffer, Xi Jinping may have no choice but to second guess himself.

COVID testing in Guiyang, China

Cfoto/DDP via ZUMA
Deng Yuwen

The tragic bus accident in Guiyang last month — in which 27 people being sent to quarantine were killed — was one of the worst examples of collateral damage since the COVID-19 pandemic began in China nearly three years ago. While the crash can ultimately be traced back to bad government policy, the local authorities did not register it as a Zero COVID related casualty. It was, for them, a simple traffic accident.

The officials in the southern Chinese province of Guizhou, of course, had no alternative. Drawing a link between the deadly crash and the strict policy of Zero COVID, touted by President Xi Jinping, would have revealed the absurdity of the government's choices.

Keep reading...Show less

When the world gets closer, we help you see farther

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
You've reached your monthly limit of free articles.
To read the full article, please subscribe.
Get unlimited access. Support Worldcrunch's unique mission:
  • Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.
  • Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries
  • $2.90/month or $19.90/year. No hidden charges. Cancel anytime.
Already a subscriber? Log in
THE LATEST
FOCUS
TRENDING TOPICS

Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

Watch VideoShow less
MOST READ