Olena Trgeub, head of Ukraine’s Defense Anti-Corruption Commission, was exclusively interviewed by our El American contributor Julio M. Shiling about her views regarding the Russian invasion, the role of the West in the defense of her country, and the future of her nation after the war.
Tregub agrees with experts that Ukraine is winning the war, not only in terms of military strength and coordination, but on moral grounds too. Although to get to that point it was necessary to convince Europe and allies in the West that the great Russian power had much to lose.
“The collective West didn’t believe that Ukraine could win, and they even predicted that Kyiv would fall within 72 hours, but Ukrainians demonstrated that the West underestimated the will of Ukrainian people, the training and the skills of Ukrainian armed forces, and now we see Ukrainians fighting for more than two months against the biggest, the third army in the world” Tregub said.
Although European countries and allies are increasingly convinced that Ukraine could win the war against Russia, Western assistance remains insufficient in the eyes of the Ukrainians, who insist on the need to increase their offensive capabilities to push back Putin’s army.
“I don’t think we are getting what we need as of now, but I see that, as the West is now starting to recognize that we may actually win, they are slowly, slowly turning their ship to actually help us more, to really get us what we want,” Tregub noted, highlighting that those Western allies have only provided them with tactical defense weapons that, while useful for combat in cities, are insufficient to win the war.
“If Ukraine is asking [for help] so desperately, everyone: civil society, the president, different celebrities, everyone, it means that we are probably not getting what we need. We are not satisfied with the military aid we have received; we need the West to step it up,” the official continued, highlighting the urgency of the matter.
Sanctions benefit Russia more than Ukraine
The inadequacy is not only military. For Tregub, the economic sanctions imposed on Russia since the invasion began have not been enough to make them back down. On the contrary, according to her, it seems that the sanctions have even benefited Putin’s popularity among Russian citizens.
“Russia right now, according to analysis, is the country with the biggest number of sanctions introduced against them. However, those sanctions did not ruin the Russian economy, did not disable Russian defense industry from being in capacity to produce more missiles and tanks, did not ruin the regime in Russia, so those sanctions are not working (in a short-term perspective)”Tregub said.
In addition to being insufficient, the sanctions are of no use if the European countries that depend on Russia for their energy supplies continue to “finance” their belligerence through the multi-billion-dollar purchase of oil and natural gas.
“Ukraine wants a total embargo on Russian oil and gas, a total embargo on Russian trade in general, all banks in Russia sanctioned, not just a selected seven banks.”Tregub
Ukrainians “do not understand” why the West so meticulously chooses who to sanction instead of “pushing to the maximum,” and she regrets that the inadequacy of sanctions has resulted in greater confidence in the Russian leadership.
“As you know, Vladimir Putin’s approval is growing. It actually grew even after Bucha genocide was revealed. Sanctions are not working, and those sanctions should be such that Russians financially feel that they’re not able to go to work, launch their computer because nothing is working, they’re not able to go to supermarkets, they’re not receiving salaries, on such level, they will then start rethinking maybe they’re not so happy about invading after all because, right now, they are unfortunately happy.”
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