Europe’s future will likely be determined in Ukraine

My appointment as Ukraine’s new Protection Minister in early November coincided with a wave of rising worldwide concern over Russia’s newest army build-up on the Ukrainian border. This focus of troops and armor is in step with preparations for a large-scale invasion of Ukraine within the coming months.

Because the worldwide group started to lift alarm over Russia’s harmful army exercise, it was famous that Ukraine was reacting much more calmly than the US or European capitals. It was a very correct commentary.

Ukraine’s response doesn’t point out any variations on the character of the menace posed by Russian forces concentrated near the border. Quite the opposite, we totally agree with our Western companions.

I’ve had the chance to substantiate this by way of private conferences with colleagues together with British Secretary of State for Protection Ben Wallace and United States Secretary of Protection Lloyd Austin. Our intelligence businesses are on the identical web page and in fixed contact. I’ve additionally spoken to my colleagues in Canada and Israel.

Ukraine’s comparatively calm response to this newest Russian menace displays the longstanding nature of the continued battle between our two nations. It’s now virtually eight years since Russia first invaded Ukraine. The Russian invasion has not stopped since then, and has turn into part of on a regular basis life.

We have now turn into detached to the fixed circulate of Kremlin propaganda and accustomed to the Russian management’s makes an attempt to disclaim Ukraine’s proper to exist. To shock us would take longer than one other Russian army buildup.

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Nobody in Ukraine underestimates the seriousness of the present state of affairs, however we’re compelled to reside with the prospect of an enormous escalation for a few years. Ukrainians know what we are going to do if confronted with the worst-case situation of a full-scale Russian offensive. We’ll struggle We’ll defend our land.

It’s now not 2014, when many Ukrainians had hassle accepting the psychologically astonishing actuality that we have been below army assault from “Brother Russia.” As we speak, the Ukrainian Military is likely one of the strongest floor forces in Europe with over 400,000 fight veterans. We have now the assets and resolve to counter the enemy. And Russia is aware of it.

The one actual uncertainty is whether or not Europe totally appreciates what a full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine would imply for the remainder of the continent.

Along with its nuclear arsenal, Russia additionally simply outpaces Ukraine when it comes to army aviation, rocket techniques and naval energy. Russian missiles may trigger catastrophic injury to Ukrainian cities and cities, whereas Russian air and sea forces may overtake Ukrainian troops and seize territory.

Nonetheless, any large-scale land marketing campaign towards Ukraine is doomed to finally fail. Russia’s mighty military may actually advance in pressure, however Russian troops wouldn’t be capable to seize any of the territories they occupied. As an alternative, the occupied Ukrainian lands would burn below their toes.

The human price for Ukraine could be catastrophic, however Ukrainians wouldn’t grieve alone. Russia will even endure heavy losses. Photographs of coffins returning to Russia from the entrance traces in Ukraine will unfold like a virus on social media and can quickly show an excessive amount of for Kremlin censors.

A significant struggle in Ukraine would put the entire of Europe in peril. The sudden look of three to 5 million Ukrainian refugees fleeing the Russian invasion will likely be one of many many main issues going through European society.

For instance, the European Union depends closely on meals imports, together with grain. A significant struggle would severely disrupt and presumably fully halt many imports from each Ukraine and Russia, creating a complete vary of meals safety issues for your entire continent.

Russia’s assault would additionally mark a particular finish to the rules-based worldwide order, opening the door to a brand new period of worldwide insecurity that may threaten a long time of unprecedented peace throughout Europe.

Whereas I’ve emphasised Russia’s readiness to lift the stakes, it is usually vital to notice that the Putin regime is nothing if not sensible. They’re extremely expert in assessing dangers. Though an escalation is at present potential, it might nonetheless be averted.

The one life like option to take care of the Kremlin is to show readiness to face a Russian invasion. We should persuade Moscow that the price of a brand new offensive will likely be unthinkable. This worth could be in purely army phrases and within the type of adverse political, financial and social repercussions.

Failure to decisively reply to Russia’s newest threats will solely improve the price of controlling the Kremlin.

In June, US President Joe Biden introduced that he could be watching Moscow’s actions carefully in the course of the subsequent six months. Since then, the Kremlin has successfully accomplished the Anschluss of Belarus, launching a hybrid assault towards NATO and EU member states by funneling migrants towards their borders, and apparently armed vitality provides, which By the way, Western leaders promised to cease. Russia is now constructing a brand new army on the border with Ukraine.

If the response to those actions is restricted to expressions of concern and requires a brand new spherical of negotiations, Russia will regard this as an invite to additional aggression.

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Some within the West consider that all the things ought to be carried out to keep away from scary Russia. They fail to understand that the Kremlin sees the existence of NATO and the European Union as provocations. In truth, the entire notion of an unbiased Ukraine is an insufferable pleasure for a lot of in Moscow.

If the democratic world desires to keep away from the disastrous penalties of a serious struggle in Ukraine, Western leaders should show their resolve to withstand Russian stress whereas strengthening Ukraine. For our half, we’re dedicated to defending Europe as we construct the long run.

As the brand new Protection Minister of Ukraine, I set the aim of remodeling the Ministry of Protection into an environment friendly civilian establishment that implements insurance policies within the protection sector whereas taking on the executive management of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. The ministry should be certain that our troopers have all the things they should defend the state whereas exercising democratic civilian management.

Along with our staff, we have now outlined our agenda for 2022. We’ll announce the primary elements on 6 December because the thirtieth anniversary of the Armed Forces of Ukraine within the nation.

Our priorities embody rising transparency in protection acquisition, digital transformation and introduction of ERP fashions to reinforce the effectiveness of the protection sector. Personnel reform primarily based on NATO practices is one other vital initiative. My aim is to show the Ministry of Protection into certainly one of Ukraine’s best establishments and to make the Armed Forces the perfect employer within the nation.

I will even emphasize army diplomacy to make sure synergy with our worldwide companions. We stay steadfast in our course in direction of Euro-Atlantic integration. We’ll concentrate on additional integration with NATO by enhancing joint initiatives and guaranteeing mutual compatibility.

With the specter of an enormous Russian invasion of Ukraine, it’s now as much as the democratic world to see whether it is too late. Western leaders nonetheless have time to cease Russia and show that Ukraine just isn’t alone.

At stake is way more than the destiny of an unbiased Ukraine. If Russia’s harmful assault goes forward, it can create chaos throughout the continent and shatter the relative stability that the majority Europeans have turn into accustomed to because the finish of the Chilly Conflict. Instead will likely be a brand new regular of insecurity and aggression induced by the Kremlin. The way forward for Europe is at stake and will probably be determined in Ukraine.

Oleksiy Reznikov is the Protection Minister of Ukraine.

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The views expressed in UkraineAlert are solely these of the authors and don’t essentially replicate the views of Atlantic Council, its staff or its supporters.

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Picture: Ukrainian sailors participate in occasions to mark Defenders of Ukraine Day in Kyiv. 14 October 2021. (

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