An unjust war doomed to be lost

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An unjust war doomed to be lost

Josep Borrell Fontelles
The author is EU High Representative and vice president of the European Commission.
At this dark hour, when we see Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified invasion of Ukraine and massive disinformation campaigns and information manipulation, it is essential to separate lies — invented to justify what cannot be justified — from facts. The facts are that Russia, a major nuclear power, has attacked and invaded a peaceful and democratic neighboring country, which posed no threat to it, nor provoked it. Moreover, President Putin is threatening reprisals on any other state that may come to the rescue of the people of Ukraine. Such use of force and coercion has no place in the 21st century.

What President Putin is doing is not only a grave violation of international law, it is a violation of the basic principles of human co-existence. The target is not only Ukraine, but the security of Europe and the whole international rules-based order, rooted in the UN system and international law. These grave violations directed against another state are of serious global concern, including to the Republic of Korea.

His aggression is taking innocent lives, crushing people’s wish to live in peace. Civilian targets are being struck, clearly violating international humanitarian law, forcing people to flee. We see a humanitarian catastrophe developing. For months, we pursued unparalleled efforts to achieve a diplomatic solution. But Putin lied to the faces of all who met him, pretending to be interested in a peaceful solution. Instead, he opted for a full-scale invasion, a fully-fledged war.

Russia must cease its military operations immediately, and unconditionally withdraw from the entire territory of Ukraine. The same goes for Belarus, which has to immediately stop its involvement in this aggression and respect its international obligations. The European Union is united in offering its strong support to Ukraine and its people. This is a matter of life and death. I am preparing an emergency package to support the Ukrainian armed forces in their fight.

The international community will now in response opt for a full-scale isolation of Russia, to hold President Putin accountable for this aggression. We are sanctioning those who finance the war, crippling the Russian banking system and it access to international reserves.

The EU and its partners have already imposed massive sanctions on Russia that target its leaders and elites and strategic sectors of the Kremlin-run economy. The aim is not to harm the Russian people, but to weaken the Kremlin’s ability to finance this unjust war. In doing this, we are closely aligned with our partners and allies — the United States, Canada, Britain, Japan, South Korea and Australia. We stand together on the right side of history in the face of Russia’s horrifying attack on a free and sovereign country.

To justify its crimes, the Kremlin and its supporters have engaged in a massive disinformation campaign, which started already weeks ago. We have seen Russian state media and their ecosystem peddling untruths in social media networks with the aim to deceive and manipulate.

The Kremlin propagandists call the invasion “a special operation”, but this cynical euphemism cannot hide the fact that we witness a fully-fledged invasion of Ukraine, with the aim to crush its freedom, legitimate government and democratic structures. Calling the Kyiv government “neo-nazi” and “Russophobic” is nonsense: all manifestations of Nazism are banned in Ukraine. In modern Ukraine, extreme right-wing candidates are a fringe phenomenon with minimal support, without passing the barrier to enter the parliament. The Ukrainian Government did not cut the Donbass off and it has not prohibited the use of Russian language and culture. Donetsk and Luhansk are no republics, they are Ukrainian regions controlled by Russia-backed and armed separatist groupings.

We know this — and many Russians know this. There have been courageous protests in cities across Russia since the invasion started, demanding the end of the aggression against a peaceful neighboring nation. We hear their voices and recognise their courage in speaking out, and we also see many prominent public figures in Russia protesting this senseless invasion.

I continue to work with our partners around the world to ensure the joint action of the international community against the Kremlin’s behavior. On Feb. 25, only Russia vetoed a UN Security Council Resolution on Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, with China, India and the United Arab Emirates abstaining.

In a historic moment, the United Nations General Assembly on March 2 adopted a resolution on “Aggression against Ukraine,” by an overwhelming majority of 141 in favour to 5 against (with 35 abstentions). The decision is clear. The world has issued a resounding condemnation of illegal and unprovoked attacks on a sovereign state.

The United Nations have come together in speaking out in respect of the values and principles enshrined in the UN Charter. We particularly thank South Korea for co-sponsoring these resolutions at the United Nations. Building on this, we will continue to work hand in hand with South Korea to maintain a united international front against this unprecedented aggression by the Russian Federation. We welcome South Korea’s decision to actively join the international community’s efforts, including through economic sanctions.

As the situation in Ukraine is likely to get even more serious and Russia’s threat to European and global security ever greater, all responsible members of the international community need to stand ready to expand these measures and to further isolate and expose Russia.

With this war on Ukraine, the world will never be the same again. It is now, more than ever, the time for societies and alliances to come together to build our future on trust, justice and freedom. It is the moment to stand up and to speak out. Might does not make right. Never did. Never will.
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