The true front of the Ukraine warKANG HYE-RAN
The author is head of the international news team of the JoongAng Ilbo.
This year, I have discussed the Ukraine crisis three times in this newspaper. In the third column, I wrote that despite hopeful outcomes in the fifth round of negotiations, “Putin’s war is not likely to end easily.” The war situation at the time was far short of what Russia originally aimed to achieve, and Putin has to show a “new order” by setting an example in Ukraine at any military cost.
In the five weeks since then, the order Putin had been aiming for is becoming even more chaotic. The Russian forces helplessly withdraw from the vicinity of Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine, and are weak on the Eastern Donbas front. On the other hand, Ukraine is growing stronger as the war goes on, thanks to the high-tech weapons from the West, including missiles and tanks.
On the North side of the Russian border, neutral countries Finland and Sweden are rushing to join NATO. Moreover, U.S.-led sanctions against Russia are encircling Russia even tighter and stronger. It is not likely that Putin will finish the war by Victory Day on May 9. Now, the war is not likely to end soon, as the West is getting more aggressive than before. They want to wage a “real battle” against the Putin regime.
On April 28, U.S. President Joe Biden requested Congress endorse $33 billion in aid to Ukraine because it would be a greater loss to surrender to Russia’s invasion. He added that the war between Ukraine and Russia was the front line between democracy and a dictatorship.
Other Western leaders also send a consistent message. U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi promised to stay with Ukraine until the end of the war and British foreign minister Liz Truss said Ukraine’s victory was a strategic obligation for all. Now the West’s goal is a victory for Ukraine, the war is only part of a more fundamental fight.
Energy prices are surging in the U.S. and prices are insatiable in France. But the West seems determined not to back down, even at the cost of backfires from international sanctions. Recently, British Ambassador to Korea Colin Crooks told me that the war is a battle between those who try to defend the values of liberty, human rights, rule of law and democracy and those who do not. To defend these crucial values, Putin’s aggression must fail, he argued.
As the war prolongs, it will be clear who are together in the alliance of values. This is a contest over the “order of values.” The true war front of the Ukraine war is not in Donbas.