18 April 2024

If Ukraine falls, the axis of evil grows stronger

By Oleksii Goncharenko MP

Russia is essentially a terror state. How else would you describe a state that is deliberately and consistently targeting populated residential areas with the intention of killing civilians? After all, my region of Odesa has been constantly targeted by Putin and his soldiers.

Kyiv has also recently suffered under a massive rocket barrage of over 31 missiles with 17 injured, despite the success of the capital’s air defences.

Over the past month, there have been several major instances of Russian forces shelling residential and other non-military targets. Russia has also been shelling border areas and settlements near to the front line. On March 17, the Sumy region suffered more than 60 different attacks with nearly 350 separate explosions.

But it is not just civilians that Russia is targeting. They are also going after our infrastructure and energy plants, and have consistently targeted dams. Dozens of power facilities have been damaged, leading to widespread blackouts and shutdowns. If Russia continues, the dam that feeds the Dnipro hydropower plant in the Zaporizhzhia region will be flooded – creating an environmental disaster.

Additionally, the ecological damage of Putin’s war continues as more than 130 hectares of vegetation was destroyed in the Kharkiv region by Putin’s assault.

And Russia is far from slowing down. It is gradually gaining momentum for other massive counter-offensives in its efforts to usurp control over the Southern, Eastern and Northern regions of Ukraine.

Last year, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) rightly adopted a resolution that recognised the illegitimacy of Putin’s leadership of Russia. He is a murderous dictator that has destroyed Russian democracy since his brutal reign began in 1999.

For fighting for democracy, Putin and his cronies want to destroy us. To crush our army, our culture, identity and government. 

Putin’s ambitions must be consigned to the dustbin of history. Without Putin’s complete defeat in Ukraine, his rapacious greed will not be stopped. If Ukraine falls, he will move on to the next country along. He must be stopped here.

Make no mistake, Putin can be stopped. We have had great successes against the Russian war machine and have reclaimed huge swathes of land from the invaders since the war started. However, our progress has stalled, and we are having to strategically give ground to conserve resources.

Resources that, despite West-led sanctions, Russia still has an abundance of. Russia still manages to produce artillery, missiles and other weapons of war. It has allies in China, Iran and North Korea that are only too keen to supply weaponry and supplies.

Ukraine is undersupplied and we do not have enough ammunition. For a brief moment, we were nearly able to match Russia’s rate of fire. Now, as the supply from our allies falls away we have to bleed Putin for every square inch of Ukrainian land we have to concede.

If Ukraine falls, it will be because the West has surrendered to tyranny due to a fear of ‘escalation’. Yet, that escalation has already occurred. The blatant support from Russia’s allies demonstrates that this war is now a wider conflict. The lines dividing the world are becoming deeper. The West must wake up. Ukraine needs decisive leadership and support from its allies – allies who cannot be blind to the threat they face from this 21st century axis of dictators. 

While half the world is preparing for elections, Russia is preparing for new attacks and the new wars. There would be no reason for Putin to stop. His army is now battle-hardened, he has enough popular support, and Western sanctions turned out to be far less effective than anticipated. He will attack again. The only question is whom he is going to attack – Kazakhstan, which in this case may be divided between Russia and China, or maybe it will be Georgia, 20% of which is already occupied by Russia? Sooner or later, he may well turn to Nato countries. 

At the same time, we are witnessing the West’s unpreparedness for the likely upcoming wars. Even as Ukrainians die, defending democracy and the rest of Europe, too many Western governments refuse to rearm and or rejuvenate their military industries and supply.

It is said that France has less than 90 artillery pieces in total, which is equivalent to what Russia loses monthly on the battlefield. Germany has enough ammunition for two or three days of battle.

Seeing this weakness, China is accelerating its preparations to attack Taiwan at its earliest convenience, especially given the results of the recent elections in Taiwan. All the while, Hamas terrorists attack Israel, Venezuela is trying to annex almost half of Guyana’s territory, Houthi terrorists are attacking the vessels in the Red Sea, and North Korea is again preparing for renewed war with South Korea. Why is this happening? Because Russia’s experience in Ukraine has proven that it is fine to attack another country and the worst consequence you would face is ineffectual sanctions. 

The main question for the West here is whether you are planning to meet Russia at the Nato borders or if you are planning to help Ukraine win. Helping to stop Russia now will send a message to the wider world.

Ukraine is not begging for an alliance. Ukraine offers you an equal and mutually beneficial partnership in such a turbulent world.  Ask yourself – who will be with you in a war against Tehran and Beijing? A victorious Ukraine fully supported by the West will stand with you.

We are one of the strongest military powers in Europe with real combat experience and the largest ground force on the continent. 

Not only do we have a battle-hardened army, but we also have a battle-hardened and united society that is improving our democracy during the crucible of war. We have a strong belief in justice and will not tolerate injustice anywhere in the world. Because we understand that if you do not solve the problem right away, the problem will come home to you. Those treating support for Ukraine as a political football and a distant war are hopelessly naïve.

Our world is no longer safe, and countries cannot sit on their hands waiting for this war to end and expect an era of peace. When one expansionist power succeeds, others will try their luck. Murderous tyrants do not stop after appeasement – they will only continue until stopped by force. Have we forgotten the lessons of the 20th century? The plans of Putin and his allies can only be stopped through total military defeat.

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Oleksii Goncharenko is the Ukrainian MP for Odesa and President of the PACE Committee on Migration, Refugees and Displaced Persons.

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