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The Russo-Ukrainian Conflict Is a War Between Autocracy and Liberty: Ukrainian Activist Oleksandra Matviichuk

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Renowned Ukrainian lawyer and activist Oleksandra Matviichuk, who heads the Center for Civil Liberties, had an exclusive interview with El American to talk with our contributor Julio M. Shiling about the dire situation Ukrainians have been facing since Russia’s bloody invasion began.

Matviichuk, who is in Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine, testified that Russian troops have surrounded the city in their attempt to take it, “deliberately” targeting residential blocks and civilians, resulting in the fleeing of almost half of the population.

After thanking the support her country has received from the West, Matviichuk recognizes that “it’s not about a Russian and Ukrainian relation,” but that in her land a battle is being fought between “autocracy and model of the free world,” so such support is not enough.

While acknowledging the diplomatic effort of Western democracies, Matviichuk believes that “more proactive actions” are needed. “Ukrainian people become more powerful than the second powerful army in the world, but we couldn’t be a fight with Russians unarmed. We really need weapons. We need fighter planes. We need air defense systems in order to protect Ukrainian sky.”

Support for Ukraine is not enough

The lawyer insists that the invasion against her country must represent “a high price” for Vladimir Putin, so she believes that it is not enough to ban the operations of some Russian banks, but that the free world must ban “all Russian and Belarusian banks.”

“We need not only to froze an old Russian assets in Western democracies, but also to ban and to froze assets of their relatives who have luxury lives, not in Moscow, not in St. Petersburg, but in USA, France, Italy, Switzerland and other countries of the world,” Matviichuk said.

The activist also considers sanctions against individuals and oligarchs insufficient, and thinks that “real solidarity has to be proactive.” In this regard, she called “urgently” for the installation of a no-fly zone over Ukraine’s skies or, “at least,” for the reinforcement of anti-aircraft defense systems to ensure its defense against Russian bombardment.

“We know that there is a big debate whether Ukraine deserves these weapons or not, whether Western democracies will provide these weapons or not, but the problem is that Ukrainian people have time to wait,” Matviichuk sentenced.

Behind Putin’s war and territorial ambition, Matviichuk believes, there is a great “afraid of ideas of freedom” and that, despite that, the free world has not punished him for the terrible war crimes he has committed both in Ukraine and the rest of his targets in Europe.

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