25 February 2022

As the world watches, my country is dying

By Aliona Hlivco

Eight years ago, I watched as innocent people hiding behind wooden shields were shot dead by Kalashnikovs on the streets of Kyiv. The end of February of 2014 marked most tragic days of the Revolution of Dignity. As one of the coordinators of protests, I was confused, helpless and shocked by the events unravelling in front of my eyes in a European capital in the 21st century. Back then Ukraine reiterated its aspiration to join the western community of democracies by rallying for signing the EU Association Agreement, but its aggressive eastern neighbour was desperately trying to pull the young country back into its authoritarian-ruled orbit.

What followed was Russia’s invasion of Crimea on the 20th of February 2014, and the complete annexation of a peninsula within a month. As is so often the case with expansionists, that wasn’t enough. Russia started a war in the east of Ukraine using its proxies to stage a separatist movement. The world was watching carefully, from afar.

Now I am witnessing a disturbingly similar situation but on a much larger scale. Same mass killings on the peaceful streets of the European capital, as well as other cities of Ukraine. Same ruthless and blood-hungry Russian forces. Same inaction from the rest of the world. 

The West is imposing sanctions, but they have done little to deter Russia up to now. There is talk of decoupling of Russia from the global economic sphere, but it’s already too late. People are dying in Ukraine now. How many Ukrainian children need to be killed for the West to sacrifice a bit of its comfort and take decisive action? 

By the time you read this, my capital might already have been seized. The east of the country might be fully invaded, along with the Southern regions that will cut off Ukraine’s access to the Black Sea. Britain’s Defence Minister Ben Wallace said this morning that Russia is planning to occupy the whole of Ukraine. It’s not just Ukraine’s future that is being decided now, the future of the whole of Europe is at stakes. 

Ukraine cannot be left to fend for itself. Britain and its allies should immediately introduce a no-fly zone over Ukraine, send more military equipment and heavy armaments, including anti-aircraft defensive weapons, and secure humanitarian aid. We must also introduce sanctions that actually matter, including, but not limited to, excluding Russia from SWIFT, crippling its ability to make international payments.

The world must act NOW! Otherwise, by the end of today, Ukraine might no longer exist as we know it.

Click here to subscribe to our daily briefing – the best pieces from CapX and across the web.

CapX depends on the generosity of its readers. If you value what we do, please consider making a donation.

Aliona Hlivco is Head of Strategic Relations at the Henry Jackson Society.

Columns are the author's own opinion and do not necessarily reflect the views of CapX.