Commentary on Political Economy

Tuesday 19 March 2024

 Eight ways allies can help Ukraine prevail

Margus Tsahkna The writer is Estonia’s minister of foreign affairs · Mar 19, 2024

For two years now, Ukrainians have been determinedly fighting for the sovereignty of their state. However, their struggle goes beyond Ukraine. They are also fighting for the preservation of the rules-based international order and a world where might does not make right and borders are not changed by force.

That is why turning the tide of the conflict in favour of Kyiv will serve the interests of the whole free world. Fortunately, there is a way to make the Russian war machine collapse and Ukraine prevail. Its victory could become a reality if its supporters’ acts are underpinned by the following eight pillars.

First, Ukraine must be able to resist the aggressor, both on the battlefield and by keeping its state running. For that they need certainty that aid is provided constantly and in large volumes. The decision by the EU to allocate €50bn so that Ukraine is able to keep its society going was a step in the right direction. Now we need the same kind of long-term commitment for military aid. If the countries of the Ramstein coalition of allies provided Ukraine with 0.25 per cent of their GDP for combat operations and defence every year, it would be enough to defeat Russia. Estonia has done the calculations and taken this decision. Others should join us.

Next, tough sanctions policy must continue. This is what will damage Russia’s economy and limit its access to the financial instruments, goods and technology it needs to wage its illegitimate aggression. The equivalent of 58 per cent of the EU’s 2021 imports from Russia are currently under sanctions, but this is not enough. Any business with the murderous regime allows it to continue its bloody war.

We must also remain determined in isolating Russia. There is no justification for the participation of the aggressor in Interpol. Decisions like the one that allows Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete under a neutral flag at the Paris Olympics are short-sighted. As long as Russian missiles are hitting Ukrainians, there should be no place for Russian athletes as propaganda instruments in international arenas.

Elsewhere, war criminals and perpetrators of crimes against humanity must be punished. The most appropriate way would be a special tribunal that could prosecute Russia’s leadership. Only that way will we ensure that aggression as a concept is discarded from the thinking of states and autocrats.

In line with international law, Russia is obliged to compensate for the damage it has caused. As long as it fails to do so, we must find a way to use its frozen or blocked assets. The burden of reconstruction in Ukraine should not fall solely on the taxpayers of the free world, but on the aggressor who is responsible for the destruction.

Ukraine must also be rebuilt. Despite Russia constantly launching missiles and drones, life away from the front goes on. By directing our strength and resources towards the reconstruction of Ukraine during the war, we are helping its people cope better with the conflict’s harsh consequences.

Next, decisive steps must be taken to help Ukraine become an unequivocal part of the democratic world, a member of the European Union and Nato. Putin must become convinced about Ukraine’s Nato accession in order to guarantee its security.

Finally, we must support the peace plan of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, which is based on Ukraine’s sovereignty and respect for its territorial integrity. Only this will pave the way for restoring a just and long-lasting peace.

When we commit to these eight pillars in our actions, remain resolute and pledge long-lasting support, Ukraine will prevail and so will the international order, security and freedoms we hold so dear. Yet if we continue to provide unsustainable, inadequate support that enables Russia to simply exhaust Ukraine, the question arises — who will the missiles hit next?

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