Ukrainian World Congress (UWC) and global security experts called on the world to be vigilant and stop Russia from pressuring Ukraine.
“Firmly defend Ukraine’s position – this should be the first step in countering the aggressor,” said the Ukrainian World Congress (UWC) President Paul Grod during a panel discussion “Ukraine: The real view”, held by the UWC on February 2. The panel met to analyze the situation in view of the imminent escalation in Ukraine and possible further encroachments on Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty by the Russian Federation.
Paul Grod said that Putin seeks to use the current situation to obtain concessions from Ukraine that would call into question its geopolitical course towards the EU and NATO.
“We need to make sure that Putin doesn’t use this situation to extract further concessions against Ukraine,” Grod said, adding that the Ukrainian World Congress and the global Ukrainian community will not be playing down the threat of Russia.
“It’s become clear to the international community that there’s no civil war here. This is Ukraine being a victim of Russian military and influence,” he said.
He said that military aggression from Russia is only one tool of a very sophisticated hybrid war that Russia is currently leading and can potentially escalate in Ukraine. That is why, Grod said, Ukraine needs military equipment.
Former Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin said that Putin believes Ukraine is artificial and therefore denies Ukrainians any right to history, language and statehood.
“Putin wants to impose his vision of the Minsk agreements on Ukraine, so the world must be vigilant,” Klimkin said. “If Ukraine is under threat, then all other countries of the region will be under threat as well.”
Peter Dickinson, Editor-in-Chief of Ukraine Alert, noted that the current crisis over the last few months has demonstrated Ukraine’s increased resilience as a society.
“I think Ukrainians are getting a lot more savvy, they’ve become smarter to disinformation tactics and information warfare in general. And there is a striking amount of determination,” Dickinson said during the discussion.
He said that there are many countries in Europe who are hesitant to engage in a deep confrontation with Russia. Still, he said, there is a broad consensus that this geopolitical confrontation needs to resolve.
“In a month or two it will become clear that there’s no big invasion coming, or it may just drag on endlessly with the deployment of Russian troops close to the border,” he said. “But whatever the outcome of this current crisis is, the problem is that Putin’s commitment to undermining Ukrainian independence will remain.”
In addition to further strengthening Ukraine’s information security, he noted the importance of providing Ukraine with weapons for protection.
“Arm Ukraine, give Ukraine defensive weapons, particularly the desperately-needed anti-aircraft capabilities,” Dickinson said.
Orysia Lutsevych, Head of the Ukrainian Forum within the Russia and Eurasia program at Chatham House, said that Ukraine has been a lot in the headlines of global media and there has been a lot of diplomacy going on to de-escalate situation.
“Obviously, at this point of our meeting, the diplomacy has led to little results the way I see it, and Russia keeps on building military presence around Ukraine with exercises in Belarus and additional deployments of its see a fleet in Black Sea,” Lutsevych said.
“The world has to keep unity to deter and stop the Russian aggression,” Lutsevych said.
President of the UWC Paul Grod said that it is also important for the world to understand that these conflicts are not just in Ukraine, listing Moldova, Kazakhstan and Belarus as a few examples of Putin’s interests.
“If peace-loving people around the world are prepared to stand up, that will be something that will see the end of Putin’s imperialistic ambitions,” Grod said.
Following the discussion, the panelists identified five strategic steps for counteracting Russian aggression in Ukraine:
Strongly defend Ukraine’s strategic policy towards joining the EU and NATO.
Join forces with Ukraine in defending against Russian aggression.
Strengthen ties within the democratic world against Russian threats.
Strengthen Germany’s leadership role in defending Ukraine against Russia.
Joint International efforts to support Ukraine.
“Maybe things have not changed over the last eight years in terms of Russia’s aggression towards Ukraine, but what has changed is the world has finally stood up and took notice,” Grod said.
This article is written under the Local Journalism Initiative agreement