Opinion: Putin is poised to strike in Ukraine, and that war could spill out onto the world stage

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Russian President Vladimir Putin.Shamil Zumatov/Reuters

Chris Alexander was Canada’s Ambassador to Afghanistan, UN Deputy Special Representative to the Secretary-General of Afghanistan, and Federal Minister for Citizenship and Immigration.

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Europe has been at war for seven years.

Russian President Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine in 2014, just as his country’s Winter Olympics were calling off. At least 4,600 Ukrainian soldiers lost their lives in the struggle to uphold the basic principles of international law.

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How did Mr. Putin become the first aggressor that Europe has seen in decades?

The answer can be found in his belief that Russians and Ukrainians are one and the same. He also published an essay to this effect in July, “On the Historical Unity of Russians and Ukrainians,” in which he described them as “one people” – Adolf Hitler’s determination on uniting Germany, Austria and the Sudetenland into a single state. echoed. force if necessary. Mr. Putin’s intentions are naturally to eradicate Ukraine’s distinctive language, identity and culture.

On the surface, this plan is not going well. Ukrainians block Russian military offensive, limit occupation so far Only 7 percent of the territory of Ukraine. And with the awakening of a new national objective, Ukrainians have reoriented their business to Europe: 62 percent now favor EU membership. Russia, for its part, has become poorer and more isolated.

Yet Mr Putin is set to double that with nearly 100,000 Russian troops in and around Ukraine in a state of high war readiness.

Why? They believe they have upset the balance of the world’s most powerful democracies. And there is evidence that he is succeeding.

Despite the unfortunate “reset” of Barack Obama’s ties and Donald Trump’s humiliating submission to the Kremlin, Joe Biden’s administration still aspires to return to “normal” with Moscow. Meanwhile, Germany’s outgoing chancellor, Angela Merkel, vetoed NATO membership for Ukraine and approved the Nord Stream 2 pipeline bypassing Ukraine. a disturbing, misguided attempt to make Mr. Putin “viable”; Instead it has left Ukraine, Germany and the European Union more vulnerable than ever to its aggression, political corruption and energy blackmail. France has similarly appeased the Russian president, while Brexit, a masochistic policy disaster backed by Moscow heartily, has sidelined the UK.

Mr. Putin’s aggression is a victim of such weakness. It invaded Ukraine in 2014, when America’s “red lines” in Syria became meaningless. Their current military builds up after another disastrous US failure in Afghanistan and amid a new explosion of war propaganda,

His obsession with Russia’s “sphere of influence” follows in the footsteps of Lenin, Stalin, Khrushchev and Brezhnev, who used every hardball strategy in the book, including invasions and occupations in Central and Eastern Europe after 1917 and again after 1945. Putin’s mischief has focused on Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine, while the US and the European Union have intervened to keep us off balance. he’s also under pressure Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko for interfering with Russia in Ukraine,

But a bigger and more obvious invasion of Ukraine would make Mr. Putin a full-fledged international pariah, further bleeding Russia’s economy. In fact, even without a full NATO mandate, Central Europe would engage in the fighting for Ukraine, as its key member. Bucharest Nine Format – Established after 2014 – is indicated. The US and NATO will also be forced to react strongly.

There is already leadership on these issues within NATO from Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Poland. Belarus’s exiled opposition leader Svyatlana Sichanovskaya has expressed a regional vision of independence, integration and prosperity.

Canada has also now become deeply involved in Mr. Putin’s war. The largest free Ukrainian diaspora in the world lives here, and the Canadian Armed Forces is training Ukrainian soldiers through Operation Unifier. In order to end Mr Putin’s occupation, Canada needs to strengthen Ukraine’s defense and become the catalyst to make NATO membership a reality for Kiev. We must work to reduce the EU’s energy dependence on Russia, advance the approval of Mr. Putin’s inner circle and his families, and increase support for Ukraine, Lithuania and Ms. Sichenovskaya’s free Belarus. Canada needs to show leadership by making Ukraine the new proven base for our deepest values. The alternative is too terrifying to consider.

Indeed, analysts now believe Mr Putin is ready to strike. the stakes are high. The invasions of Belgium and Poland started world wars only when earlier opportunities to stop them were missed. We cannot afford to repeat those mistakes.

In college reliable security guarantee, Backed by NATO or similarly strong groups of allies, it could have prevented widespread conflicts in places such as Ukraine and Taiwan, just as sanctions against Pakistan could have prevented the return of the Taliban and other militants to power in Afghanistan.

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