The Ukrainian tragedy

GIS – Comment by Prince Michael of Liechtenstein*

The Ukrainian tragedy | Now that Russia has invaded Ukraine, European states would be well-advised to rethink their defense strategies to prevent other devastating wars.

The Ukrainian Tragedy
The Ukrainian tragedy – The people of Ukraine have shown great bravery and determination in the face of invading Russian forces. © GIS

Early in the morning on February 24, Russia invaded Ukraine from different directions. After initial rapid progress, the patriotic resistance of the Ukrainian forces, with extensive support from volunteers and the civilian population, managed to slow the Russian troops.

Ukraine is resisting. Russia’s blitzkrieg attempt might not work out as planned. Ukrainian volunteers – even Russian speakers – have lined up to be trained for resistance. Households in Kyiv are preparing Molotov cocktails to destroy Russian tanks in street fights. Others are donating blood to the medical services. During interrogations, Russian prisoners of war appear taken aback not to have been welcomed as liberators, but met with resistance. Ukraine deserves profound respect for its bravery and determination.

But, Ukraine’s courage notwithstanding, Russia’s military is stronger. The Ukrainian side has received diplomatic and materiel support, but no direct military assistance from NATO. Moscow insists on demilitarizing the country.

Moscow has proposed holding “peace” talks in Minsk, while Kyiv has suggested Warsaw. Preconditions are to be set by Russia – meaning they will likely be unacceptable. President Zelensky may allegedly agree to demilitarization. One hope is that Turkey will be able to negotiate a summit without preconditions.

Two weeks ago, GIS published the following statement: “Unfortunately for Ukraine, the country is a chip in a bigger geopolitical poker game between the West and Russia. Instability in areas of Ukraine will prevent it from joining NATO, fulfilling Moscow’s strategic goals as long as it cannot obtain a commitment that the country will not accede to the alliance. The Minsk protocol, meant to end the violence in eastern Ukraine, had many inconsistencies. It might have worked in an atmosphere of consent and good faith, but not under the climate of contention that prevailed. By openly moving its troops into the breakaway Ukrainian regions, Russia has now officially contravened the Minsk agreements, which call for all foreign forces to leave the area.

The West tends to view the conflict through the prism of the Helsinki Accords, while Moscow has not forgotten the philosophy of the Yalta agreement. Both sides interpret agreements reached at the time of German unification and NATO enlargement differently.”

This is still valid. Unfortunately, the consequences of these conflicting positions, and of the West’s indecisiveness, is a wide-ranging military conflict. Ukraine needs all the help it can get.

I was wrong to doubt the United States assertions that there would be a full-scale invasion. Russia has invaded. Whatever happens this week, the situation will result in a new European security architecture emerging …

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The Ukrainian Tragedy


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