How many Europeans must die for the West to start to act?

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Putin’s latest aggression against Ukraine has resulted in the deaths of thousands of innocent civilians. This is in addition to the 14,000 Ukrainians killed in Putin’s war over the previous eight years.

Putin has been clear about his goal. He wants to destroy Ukraine as a state and to force the American-led NATO alliance to “return” to its “1997 line in Europe.” He stated it in his ultimatum to the U.S. and NATO on December 17, 2021. He reiterated it in the official response of the Russian Foreign Ministry to the West exactly two months later. His foreign ministry reconfirmed it on March 8 and 9, two weeks after the launch of the latest invasion. The official Kremlin statements directly name the European states that, according to Putin’s intentions, should undergo so-called de-NATO-ization: Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, and Bulgaria, plus the Baltic and Black Seas.

Putin’s invasion speech on the night of February 24, with “justifications” for his attack on Ukraine, almost completely reproduced the argumentation of Hitler’s speech in the German Reichstag on September 1, 1939, the day Hitler, in agreement with Stalin, launched World War II.

Putin has already resorted to nuclear blackmail. Not against Ukraine, but against NATO countries, whose officials made statements that displeased the Kremlin dictator. The lack of a response from the West to international banditry, to the barbaric destruction of a peaceful country, to nuclear blackmail against Western nations themselves only whetted the appetite of the KGB maniac.

If Putin is not stopped, then tens, hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people could die. This includes Ukrainians, citizens of countries targeted for “de-NATO-ization,” European allies in NATO – and therefore, with an attack on one alliance member being an attack on all, the United States.

Putin must be stopped. In Ukraine. Here and now.

The West, and above all Europe, needs to realize a simple, unpleasant truth: If Putin’s missiles, bombers, and tanks are not stopped in Ukraine, they will fall on other European nations.

The problem is aggravated by the fact that NATO, the most important Western institution, created primarily to counter the aggression of a totalitarian Soviet regime, is largely paralyzed because of the position of its leadership.

In this situation, assistance to Ukraine and therefore to the West itself can and should be carried out on a bilateral and multilateral basis. It cannot be done by consensus, which is currently unattainable, but on the basis of the principles of a Coalition of the Willing. Such a coalition can include nations regardless of their membership in different military, political, and economic blocs. The working basis of such a group for providing critical assistance to Ukraine might be, for example, members countries of a Joint Expeditionary Force, or JEF, a British-led coalition of 10 European countries.

The frequently encountered objection that active Western assistance to Ukraine could lead to a direct confrontation between Russia and NATO is not supported by the facts of Putin’s reaction in the past.

During the 2008 Russian aggression against Georgia, the decision of President George W. Bush to send the U.S. Navy into the Black Sea and to station Air Force combat aircraft to Romania and Turkey stopped the Russian offensive on Tbilisi the next day.

In October 2015, when a Russian bomber violated Turkish airspace for 40 seconds, a Turkish fighter jet shot it down, killing both pilots. In response, Putin threatened to sanction Turkish tomatoes, but he didn’t even do that. He did nothing. That was the last time Russian aircraft violated Turkish airspace.

In February 2018, President Donald Trump sent troops, together with allied Kurds, into Deir ez-Zor, Syria, to destroy 200 Russian mercenaries from the Wagner private military contractor group. Putin has never mentioned this episode since, but the Russian provocations in Syria ceased.The number of separatists’ shelling and killings of the Ukrainian military sharply decreased in the Donbass at that time.

Three days into the current invasion of Ukraine, on  February 27, 2022, Putin publicly ordered an increase in the readiness of Russia’s nuclear forces. NATO’s control systems have not confirmed that such actions were actually taken, or to what degree. No news has surfaced that the United States raised its DEFCON level in response. It was another cynical Putin bluff aimed at Western leaders who would rather prefer to be scared than to help the Ukrainians being slaughtered en masse.

What can and should be done by the West, primarily by Europe, by a Coalition of the Willing, as well as on a bilateral basis, in order to stop Putin?

  1. Revive a lend-lease procedure used during the Second World War for the supply of weapons to Ukraine.
  2. Allocate massive financial assistance to fully cover Ukraine’s needed military materials.
  3. Establish an air bridge to Ukraine for the supply of weapons, military equipment, ammunition, and fuel.
  4. Deploy the armed forces of a Coalition of the Willing to the territory of Western Ukraine to ensure the security of supply of military materials and the safety of the evacuation of civilians.
  5. Legally authorize and provide all-round assistance to volunteers from all over the world who are ready to defend Ukraine at their own personal risk.
  6. Warn the Belarusian dictator Lukashenko against the use of the Belarusian military and Belarusian territory for aggression against Ukraine.
  7. Redeploy the armed forces of Poland, Lithuania, Latvia close to the borders of Belarus, and close of land links to the Russian enclave Kaliningrad.
  8. Completely embargo all trade with Russia and Belarus, primarily on the export of Russian oil and gas.
  9. Completely cease transport communication with Russia and Belarus by air, sea, and land.
  10. Completely isolate the Russian and Belarusian banking systems internationally.
  11. Freeze all assets of the Russian and Belarusian governments.
  12. Close airports, sea ports and territory of Western countries for all transportation means belonging to the Russian and Belarussian governments.
  13. Exclude Russia and Belarus from international organizations.
  14. Refuse any negotiations with Putin on other issues, such as the Iran nuclear deal, except as necessary to stop the war.
  15. For the gravest crime against international peace and security – aggression – the grossest violation of the UN Charter, initiate the process of excluding Putin’s Russia from the UN Security Council.
  16. Open a criminal case against Putin, his Security Council members, the General Staff, and others at the International Criminal Court in The Hague.
  17. Prepare for a Nuremberg-style process against everybody in the Russian and Belarusian leadership responsible for preparation and execution of aggression against Ukraine and the still-simmering war against Georgia.
  18. Impose international sanctions against the leadership of the Russian Orthodox Church, a parastatal entity whose present top clergy actively works for the Putin’s regime.
  19. Form an international anti-Putin coalition to defend Ukraine.
  20. Adopt, through the anti-Putin coalition, a modern analogue of the Atlantic Charter, which proclaims its goal to ensure international peace and security through the complete and unconditional de-Putinization of Russia.

After the barbarous murder of tens of thousands of people by Putin’s troops in Chechnya, Georgia, Syria, and Ukraine, humanity should have no illusions that if Putin is not stopped today, here and now, the number of victims around the world is bound to get worse.

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