It is now official. The Free World has betrayed Ukraine. The Left and some on the Right, harbored faith that the Putin regime would succumb to the West’s rhetoric, which has demonstrated itself cynically naive. President Joe Biden’s speech and subsequent press conference of February 24 sounded more like a reporter briefing the public on the news that the supposed leader of the world’s greatest democracy. It was clear months before, that the decision to violate Ukraine’s sovereignty and international law, was contingent on how weak the Russian dictator viewed the American president as being.
Putin’s rationale for forcefully incorporating Ukraine into the 21st century version of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics is deliriously Hitlerian. The Lebensraum (“living space”) argument was as invalid for the National Socialist dictator, as it is for his Russian counterpart. The Kremlin’s war manifestation was out laid by Putin in his July 12, 2021, article “On the Historical Unity of Russian and Ukrainians”. “Russians and Ukrainians were one people”, wrote the Russian tyrant. However, the facts reveal they are not.
The Kievan Rus’ was a federation of Slavic, Baltic, and Finnic tribes that was formed in the ninth century and encompassed Eastern and Northern Europe, including modern-day Ukraine and Russia. It terminated with the Mongol invasion in the 1240s. Putin’s abstract claim to Ukraine rests on the false narrative that springs from that reading of history. Ukrainians, however, could make the same argument, but in reverse. In other words, they could claim that Russia belongs to Ukraine. The Kievan Rus´, after all, was based out of Kiev. The fact is that both countries share common traits as do Latin Americans, Asians, Africans, and Europeans. But Russia and Ukraine are distinctly different, culturally and anthropologically. Their difference now is even more astounding. One is a democracy and the other a dictatorship.
It is on the systemic and moral distinctions between the two opposing models of governance and the action of Putin’s Russia against Ukraine, that the Free World has shamed itself. Additionally, by not having acted swiftly to aid the freely elected and legitimate government of President Volodymyr Zelensky when a Russian invasion was imminent, the West has invited tyrannical aggression around the globe form other wicked regimes in China, Iran, North Korea, Cuba, and other Western Hemispheric socialist satellites.
The reaction by the United States has been pathetic. The actions being levied against the Putin regime and labeled as “sanctions” are an insult to the intelligence of Americans, Ukrainians, and free citizens of the world. The Biden measures clearly avoid penalizing Russian oil exports. When one considers that oil and natural gas are Russia’s main source of hard-currency entry, an exemption of this type only assures Putin that his dictatorship will continue to have the resources to rage war and genocide.
Not modulating the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication system (SWIFT) to exclude Russian transactions, displays further gross negligence on the part of the Biden administration. This measure would severely limit the Kremlin’s access to money. Another important step would be to stop putting petrodollars in Putin’s pockets. Incredibly as it may seem, still as of this moment, the United States is buying oil from the former KGB officer’s regime. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, in 2021 Russia was America’s third-largest supplier of oil. Any serious consideration of non-military assistance to freedom’s noble cause in Ukraine, must include SWIFT system blocking of all Russian transactions and an immediate cease of purchasing Putin’s oil.
Ukraine possessed one-third of the former USSR’s nuclear arsenal. It conditionally turned in the nuclear weapons in 1994, with assurances from the United States, United Kingdom, and the Russian Federation (while it was still a democracy). The Budapest Memorandum, signed under the auspice of the United Nations (UN), assured Ukraine that its denuclearization would receive the guarantee by the three signatories and that they would “refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of Ukraine, and that none of their weapons will ever be used against Ukraine except in self-defense or otherwise in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations.” The cited agreement further stipulated that the UN would respond if Ukraine ever became “the victim of an act of aggression.”
Putin’s twenty-two-year dictatorship, from day one, charted the course of the recuperation of a less-ideologized version of Soviet socialism, albeit with modifications to its economic model. The 2008 invasion of Georgia, followed by the 2014 heist of Crimea, should have alerted the United States to the Russian despot’s nature and intentions. The Minsk agreements “settling” the Crimea invasion was violated from the onset, following the Soviet precedent of violating all signed agreements with the West. Since 2014, Putin unleashed a guerrilla war against Ukraine in the regions he calls today “peoples republics.”
The Free World should have been present in Ukraine, as surely the Zelensky government would have welcomed an armed American and British presence. The Budapest Memorandum was enough justification. No need for NATO. Now what must be done, in addition to real economic sanctions, is military hardware for the Ukrainian defenses. If Kiev falls, a guerrilla war must ensue, and the Free World must support the brave Ukrainian people with logistics and weaponry. If all these actions are diligently followed, Putin could be toppled. That should be the longer-term goal. Ending the Putin regime means saving Ukraine, Russia, and subsequently, Belarus. That is a worthy objective.