The Russian aggression against Ukraine is also an aggression against the entire European values system of democracy, peace, human dignity and civility. It is committed by a thuggish and criminal regime that pays zero respect to international rules or treaties. Putin’s Russia is now a pariah and a spoiler in the international system, contrary to China that still regards itself as integral part of the global order.
If Putin wins in Ukraine, the whole Europe will lose. And then other targets, like the eastern EU member states, will receive multiple hybrid, cyber, economic, terrorist or even military attacks by Moscow, once the latter spots a gap in NATO’s determination. There is thus no margin for appeasing Putin or negotiating with him.
The only short- and long-term option for the western civilised world is to defeat him in Ukraine, but also in Russia and in all other places where he operates. For this reason, Europe must engage in a serious and decisive strategy. We propose eight points for that objective:
- High-end military support of Ukraine
Europe, meaning the EU, the UK and all other partners, must offer a full scale military support to Ukraine of the highest possible calibre: long-distance missiles, fighter jets, tanks and whatever else is requested by the Ukrainian army.
Ukrainians are ready to fight and sacrifice themselves if needed, so we must be generous with them without hesitation. Our support must be on par with the American one, because this is a war of our continent and Europe should have the first say in it.
We should allocate the same amount as the USA -something close to $40 billion. In all cases where we cannot provide the most advanced possible weapons out of our own industry, we should purchase them from the Americans or pay them to do so on our behalf.
This is very important because values matter and they also have a cost. Europeans have to sacrifice some comfort for their freedom, dignity and future prosperity.
- Strong military support of eastern EU countries.
A massive relocation of European armed forces must take place along the EU eastern borders with Russia, Belarus and Ukraine. None of the EU countries should be left and feel alone in the face of the Russian threat.
Such military mobilisation and re-organisation should also function as the seed for the future European army of a federated European Union. It could give a boost to the European defence industry by supporting it through a ‘buy European force’ programme of research and marketing.
- Full scale sanctions of Russian natural resources
This is the most difficult and costly part, but still feasible and a necessary sacrifice to save our continent. Our purchase of Russian fossil fuels is unfortunately funding Putin’s crime with almost $800 million per day.
Oil purchases must stop immediately, as we can all manage without it. Gas purchases must be scaled down swiftly and be fully terminated within a short deadline. Same must happen with all minerals, metals and other Russian products.
All Russian banks must be kicked out of the Swift payment system, including the Gazprom bank. Alternatives to Russian resources, such as liquified natural gas (LNG), hydrogen or other energy sources from Europe and elsewhere, must be swiftly ensured.
A European fund must be created to compensate the EU member states with the biggest losses. Negotiation and purchase of gas and oil must come under a common EU scheme, as we successfully managed with the Covid vaccines.
- A Marshall plan for Ukraine
It is still very early to make a full assessment of the damages suffered by Ukraine, but Europe must offer full reassurances about the reconstruction of that country when time comes.
Α new form of a ‘Marshall fund’ for Ukraine’s reconstruction must already be created. Russia must be charged as much as possible: we should use the seized properties of Russian oligarchs, assets of the Russian and Belarussian state, and all possible opportunities to bring a minimum justice to that atrocity. In this respect, we must establish the necessary legal framework, which is currently missing in some countries to facilitate those seizures.
In any event, Ukraine should, by all means, become an integrated part of European economy: financial, institutional or technological. And, when the conditions allow, it should also become full member of the EU following the recommendation by the European Commission for its official candidate status on 17 June 2022.
- Isolation of Russia’s collaborators
All countries that act as Russia’s open or hidden Trojan horses must feel the tough consequences of their choices. Serbia and Hungary are the first two obvious parts to start with. Turkey, although a provider of drones to Ukraine, is heavily undermining NATO by blocking the accession of Sweden and Finland, thus playing Russia’s game within the western structures.
Europe and America must clearly warn all those countries about serious financial and military setbacks if they continue in this way. An equally tough approach should be followed towards Iran and any other international player standing by the Russian interests. It is a critical period, and we have the right to set tough dilemmas to any player moving against our values and interests.
- Partnership with important non-western countries
We must start a new strategic approach with countries such as India, Indonesia, Brazil and other large players to make sure that they remain on board with the West’s strategic interests. They should not align with the Russian – Chinese axis.
We should offer them incentives to abstain from trade relations and compete with Russia on all products and services. Moscow should not be able to sell its gas, oil and weapons to them. We must highlight the advantages of joining the overall western strategy of Putin’s isolation, with clear tangible ‘carrots’ and -if necessary- ‘sticks’.
- Open the eyes and ears of Russian people
We must embark on an ideological counter-campaign within Russia. The Putin regime has heavily invested in sponsoring media and trolls to divide the western societies and promote their far-right or far-left elements.
We should strike back by sponsoring russophone media, websites, social media accounts and all means of mass of communication in order to open the eyes, ears and hearts of Russian people.
We must inform and educate them in any possible form about the corruption, oppression and lies of Putin’s regime. At the same time we should apprise them about the values and prosperity that the West can still offer to them as an alternative model.
- Don’t buy the nuclear bluff
Russian officials have ridiculed themselves with their constant nuclear threats, which are obviously phony and full of desperation. Even during the cold war, the Soviet administration and media propaganda were very serious about avoiding the “N” word. To the contrary, today, Russian TV and officials abuse it literally every day through delirious warnings against the West and the rest of humanity.
We must steadily ignore this kind of sabre rattling. Putin will never dare to employ nuclear weapons. And he should be steadily reminded that any use of tactical nuclear weapons within the territory of Ukraine, will entail a devastating blow by the West against his forces.