Feb. 24 marks two years since Russia, trampling on international norms, began its full-scale invasion of neighboring Ukraine.

Only Russia can end the war it unilaterally started. We once again call on Russian President Vladimir Putin to declare an immediate ceasefire and withdraw all his troops from Ukrainian territory.

We also need to update our understanding of the war.

We should prepare for the possibility this war could continue for a long time. If, as a result, it turns out that the invader reaps gains from the conflict, it could lead to a disastrous chain reaction where other malicious actors follow suit, creating a world dominated by power and fear. We also need to understand that we have a duty to support Ukraine for the long haul, not just for the beleaguered country but also for the sake of our future.

ESSENCE OF ‘SUPPORT FATIGUE’

Last week, the Ukrainian military withdrew from Avdiivka, a strategically important city in the eastern Donetsk region, following a fierce Russian military offensive that had been raging since last October.

The sight of rows of homes reduced to rubble tells the story of a ferocious battle. It’s heart-wrenching to imagine the fate of the many civilians who couldn’t evacuate and had to stay behind.

Yet, this is just a small part of the countless tragedies that have occurred over the past two years.
In the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv, residents who had fled the fighting have been returning. However, they still live in fear of air raid sirens announcing incoming missile and drone attacks.

Ukraine launched a counteroffensive in June last year. However, it has not achieved significant success and the country is now on the defensive.

With the war situation deteriorating, there are growing concerns that international support for the embattled nation is starting to wane, especially from the United States, the largest provider of military and other aid.

The U.S. Senate has passed an emergency aid bill including $60.1 billion, or nearly 9 trillion yen, for Ukraine, but the measure faces an uncertain fate in the House of Representatives, where Republican members close to former President Donald Trump are opposed to its passage.

The main reason the Ukraine aid bill has fallen victim to narrow partisan conflicts in the U.S. Congress is the undeniable reality that the sense of crisis over this war has faded.

For a while after the conflict began, there were realistic concerns that Ukraine could not withstand the Russian invasion for very long. There were also fears the war could spread to wider areas in Europe and deep concern about nightmarish scenarios involving Russia’s use of nuclear weapons.

However, as the stalemate in the war dragged on, such concerns and threats are now discussed much less frequently. Tragedies involving civilians in Ukraine have also become less noticeable, overshadowed by the shocking crisis in Gaza.

It would be a worrying situation if the Ukraine war, once seen as a global crisis, is now perceived as just one of many regional conflicts, with its implications for the world marginalized.

This waning attention to the war from the international community is precisely what the aggressor has been waiting for.

Russia has put its state budget on a wartime footing and is ramping up its weapons production with a vengeance. Moscow also appears to be expanding its arms procurement from North Korea and Iran.

Russia is steadily preparing to overwhelm Ukraine with military power and significantly expand its occupied territories again.

THREAT SPREADING WORLDWIDE

Repercussions from Russia’s aggression against Ukraine go far beyond the region. Moscow’s policy shift toward recognizing North Korea’s nuclear and missile development threatens the order in East Asia. In South America, Venezuela showed its intention last year to militarily annex territory from its neighbor Guyana. Moves aiming to change the status quo by force are spreading worldwide.

If the international community allows a precedent of letting a lawless act by a nuclear-armed state to go unchecked, other countries with territorial ambitions against neighbors and those threatened will be tempted to arm themselves with nuclear weapons.

Ignoring Russia’s war crimes--the seizure of nuclear power plants, abductions of children, acts of torture in occupied territories, and destruction of civilian infrastructure--and allowing them to be repeated elsewhere would be nothing but a nightmare scenario.

There must be no letup in diplomatic efforts to demand a ceasefire from Russia.

However, we must not forget Putin’s reasons for initiating the war. He does not recognize the existence of an “independent Ukrainian state” and has consistently demanded the integration of Ukraine with Russia. This means that even if a ceasefire is achieved, he will likely aim to accomplish that goal at some point. Steps to thwart Russia from a “re-invasion of Ukraine” are essential.

REBUILDING INTERNATIONAL SOLIDARITY

Russia’s intentions to spread anxiety over food and energy supply disruptions and drive a wedge of distrust between the developed world of Western democracies and emerging and developing nations are becoming more assertive and blatant.

Moscow is also apparently seeking to damage the credibility of the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to widen divisions within Europe.

Russia could intensify cyber-attacks and disinformation campaigns to interfere in Europe’s domestic politics while avoiding overt attacks.

A decade ago, many countries, including Japan, made the mistake of underestimating the dire implications and consequences of Russia’s actions of aggression, such as the occupation of Crimea. The world is now learning a bitter lesson from that mistake, which has led to the current situation.

Countries must view this war as their own concern, recognize the likelihood of the long-term continuation of combat, and map out plans to provide sustainable support for Ukraine.

Moreover, it is also vital to rebuild international solidarity against the Russian aggression. The United States and the leading European powers have a responsibility to extend a helping hand to people suffering from unjust violence worldwide, including those in Gaza, and renew their commitment not to tolerate violations of international law.

If leading democracies allow the double standards of making different responses to violations of international law depending on the countries and regions involved, calls for support for Ukraine will only ring hollow.

--The Asahi Shimbun, Feb. 24

QOSHE - EDITORIAL: Preparing for long-term aid to Ukraine is now a necessity - The Asahi Shimbun
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EDITORIAL: Preparing for long-term aid to Ukraine is now a necessity

23 1
24.02.2024

Feb. 24 marks two years since Russia, trampling on international norms, began its full-scale invasion of neighboring Ukraine.

Only Russia can end the war it unilaterally started. We once again call on Russian President Vladimir Putin to declare an immediate ceasefire and withdraw all his troops from Ukrainian territory.

We also need to update our understanding of the war.

We should prepare for the possibility this war could continue for a long time. If, as a result, it turns out that the invader reaps gains from the conflict, it could lead to a disastrous chain reaction where other malicious actors follow suit, creating a world dominated by power and fear. We also need to understand that we have a duty to support Ukraine for the long haul, not just for the beleaguered country but also for the sake of our future.

ESSENCE OF ‘SUPPORT FATIGUE’

Last week, the Ukrainian military withdrew from Avdiivka, a strategically important city in the eastern Donetsk region, following a fierce Russian military offensive that had been raging since last October.

The sight of rows of homes reduced to rubble tells the story of a ferocious battle. It’s heart-wrenching to imagine the fate of the many civilians who couldn’t evacuate and had to stay behind.

Yet, this is just a small part of the countless tragedies that have occurred over the past two years.
In the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv, residents who had fled the fighting have been returning. However, they still live in fear of air raid sirens announcing incoming missile and drone attacks.

Ukraine launched a counteroffensive in June last year. However, it has not achieved........

© The Asahi Shimbun


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