One – Give Ukraine all it needs to push Russia back to behind its borders.
Time is critical. Zelensky has called for fighter jets. The sooner we provide them, the quicker the benefits. We don’t have to idealize Ukraine to acknowledge their tremendous courage, their commitment to defend their land and affirm their right to self determination. They have their flaws, like all of us do, but they have made their choice. Victory or death. And they have been brilliant. Can anyone recall any western nation making that choice since the end of WWII, as they fight a foe much more powerful militarily than them? No western nation has done that. Does Russia have the commitment Ukraine has? No. The majority of Russians have been living in a trance induced by Putin. They have swallowed whole the lies they have been fed. It will take some time for that nation to come to terms with the historical costs of such passivity. Eventually, other leaders will arise and the necessary self scrutiny will take place. Meanwhile, all consenting Russians are accomplices in the atrocities committed against Ukraine. A Russian not lifting a finger to dissent with Putin is an accomplice of his.
Two – Stop Russia from firing missiles into Ukraine from Russia itself.
This is unacceptable. It keeps happening because we’ve been afraid to confront Putin. Why are we allowing this advantage to the Russians? We should say to Putin, stop firing missiles from your territory or we will provide Ukrainians with the same capability. Since when are Ukrainian lives less dear than those of Russia? With their actions, Ukrainians have been loudly saying to the world, this war is winnable. They are right and in need of our full backing. Ukraine is standing today because of the effort made by the West to arm them. But we also have pressing problems of our own that need our resources and attention, the more reason to bring the war to an end as soon as possible. So let us gather our own courage to put limits on Putin.
Three – The moment that Russia is pushed back to behind its borders we should declare Ukraine to have all the protections of a NATO member. Given all the sacrifices Ukrainians have made and the atrocities committed by Putin and his fellow Russians, Ukrainians are deserving of such protection. I am sure this could be agreed upon. Turkiye’s president may object, as he has in blocking Sweden’s and Norway’s membership, but the man likes to play both sides and has yet to agree to the sanctions on Russia imposed by the West. So NATO should boot him out of the organization, let him cozy up to China instead and good luck with that.
This war should not go on and on. Ukrainians have limits. The nations forming part of the western alliance have limits, too. The sooner the war ends, the better for all. We should give Ukraine everything it needs now. Ukraine’s commitment to succeed can push back Russia to behind its borders, and with NATO’s protections have the security to start rebuilding what will be a remarkable nation, the envy of all Russians and all other nations living without human beings’ basic freedoms.
After long delays the approval for sending tanks to Ukraine was given. But it will take months before they arrive. A delay measured in lives lost. The delay was largely due to German obstructionism. Chancellor Scholz, for whatever reasons, putting up obstacles to assist Ukraine. This delay has given Putin an advantage. Not only can they keep firing missiles from their own territory but, with greater number of soldiers, now they can push more effectively against Ukraine’s resistance. Zelensky has called for fighter jets and longer range missiles to defend his nation. We should give them to him as soon as possible. Mr Scholz will likely put up other obstacles to not do what is needed, but if Germans themselves don’t bypass him, then we should. How? One option is to come to a consensus that, in the upcoming rebuilding of Ukraine, contracts to companies to do the work be awarded in proportion to how helpful their nations of origin were in assisting Ukraine. Scholz’s obstructionism should put German companies at the bottom of the list. Ukraine’s enormous effort, dying in defense of democracy, is being underestimated. So far, we have been intimidated every time that Putin talks of his nuclear weapons. We cannot allow him to brow beat us. His threats need to be met with resolve. And arming Ukraine with all it needs, short of nuclear weapons, is the answer At this time China is going all out to bypass the economic sanctions the West has imposed on Putin. They are afraid of a victory by Ukraine because such victory will empower the growing resistance in China against the dictatorial powers of their communist party. Ukrainians have made the commitment to push back Russia to behind its borders. Doing so will transform not only Ukraine but also Russia. By now we know the courage is there. What is needed is to arm it. For that, Western boldness is needed. There are nations in the alliance that will prefer to scream loudly against such a position but to delay assistance is the equivalent to siding with Putin. We cannot allow it. So it falls to you, Mr Biden, to be bolder in the interest of all nations. Imagine the power of a fully recovered Ukraine with all its borders reclaimed and rebuilt with the assistance of the West? Such light will shine so bright that it will move Russians to carefully examine why they have subjected themselves to the authority of Putin. They will realize they have consented to devaluing themselves by not fully exercising their political and economic freedoms. When that starts to happen, if Putin has lasted that long, he will be asked to leave. The same process is likely to happen in next door China and other nations farther away. Ukraine’s uniqueness deserves all the support it needs and the resulting benefits will be great. A nuclear war is a very distant possibility because China will act as a check on Putin. China does not want a nuclear war. They know that if one is triggered, they would be caught in it because we would have to fire on them also. You have done a great job, thus far, Mr Biden. Greater boldness is needed to finish the job. You can do it.
With the weapons reinforcements Ukrainians will now be receiving, they will be able to hold off Russia’s attacks and even push them back. As things stand, the Russians will be no match for properly armed Ukrainians. Soon, therefore, Putin will increase his threats to fire nuclear weapons on the West and at some point, as his losses mount, he will either accept defeat or draw the line and say to us, ‘if you do that, I’ll fire my nuclear missiles’. Ignoring the threat is an option. It may work and he won’t follow through. But it may not. Putin’s reliance on mercenary troops from the Wagner Group suggests there are serious rifts within his military, with career officers objecting to the political rise of Yevgeny Prigozhin, the head of the group and his using prisoners as soldiers. Even if Putin were to give the order to fire the nuclear weapons, the military may not follow through. Why be Putin’s sacrificial lambs? However, there’s a strong ultranationalist faction in Russia pushing the war which may be present within the military which adds to the uncertainty. But what if Putin makes it very clear he will use his nuclear weapons, say gives us a deadline to retreat or something alike? Then the threat will have to be met. Head on. He would be leaving us no options.
Mr Biden, you once called Putin a killer, a statement of the facts. The outrage he’d stirred in you made you say those words. Nothing less would’ve conveyed the fulness of your feelings. Since then he’s become many times that killer. Putin is a failed statesman. He’s done nothing but thwart the potential of Russia. With all their human capabilities and natural resources they have not risen to be a leading nation. That is on Putin and he knows it. And it weighs on him. He compares himself with other leaders and realizes he’s not produced, which is the price of autocracy and corruption, of surrounding yourself with ‘Yes men and women’ who’re not able to provide effective feedback for fear of offending the great man or because they’re too busy enriching themselves. Putin is filled with anger at the world. Anger that comes from his envy which is enormous. His ideas about a Russian empire are born out of that resentment. He tried to fool us with his lies and threats, ‘Listen up, you heathen, come look at my magnificent robes and my crown filled with diamonds and pearls, I am the true master of this earth. We, Russians, are the true chosen people who will enlighten and inspire the rest of you.’ And to show us how resolute he was, he lifted his heavy boot and planted it on the soul of Ukraine wanting to squash it and tear it apart. Never mind how many died as a result. But Ukraine surprised everyone when they raged and said, ‘get your foot off me, you dunce!’ And they have given him a good shove back in a feat of heroism without precedent. Ukraine’s resolve is so daring and unique that it has generated envy even in the West. Nations complaining that Ukraine should be preparing to negotiate instead of fighting, nations who are reluctant to offer support, are also envious nations, envious of her courage and defiance. So, yes, envious Putin has company among nations in the West. Lamentably, there is the strong possibility that very soon a retreating Putin, so in love with himself that he sees no other options, will be saying to us, ‘You leave me no choice, I will have to fire my nuclear weapons.’ And we will have to step up to meet him eye to eye.
Mr Biden, from that same place deep inside of you from where the words that Putin is a killer flowed, your answer to the Russian will come. ‘You want to set the world on fire?’ you may say to him. And Putin may answer, ‘if you don’t stop aiding Ukraine, I will do it.’ ‘If you fire your weapons, we will fire back… do you really want to see your Moscow and St Petersburg in flames?’ ‘Ha! Watch your cities do the same…’ ‘What’s the point, Putin? There will be no winners… we would all lose… you and me… your children… my children… all of us would be losers… we would set back the progress of civilization by who knows how many years… just because you’re angry that you couldn’t lead your nation… angry that the world has not fallen in love with you… angry that you’ve failed in Ukraine… angry at your limitations as a leader. Why have so many people die … why?’ Putin will not have a coherent reply because there is none and he knows it. His dream of empire is just a fantasy, a distraction from his crumbling grandiosity. And yet, with raging fury, his shallowness as a human being exposed, he may insist, ‘I’ll do what I need to do,’ and hang up the phone. Mr Biden, as soon as the conversation is over, you would do well to call up Xi Jinping to inform him of the situation. ‘Xi… just got off the phone with Putin, your friend “without limits”. He’s told me he’s ready to use nuclear weapons.’
A pause may follow.
‘Just to be clear, Xi… if Putin does that… we will fire back. All of the West will. I do not know who will be left standing. Maybe it will be Putin, maybe it will be us. But Xi, you must know… that if Putin fires a nuclear weapon in our direction… nuclear weapons from us will also be flying back in your direction, too.’ ‘What?’ will answer Xi. ‘Why us? It’s not our war.’ ‘It’s everybody’s war. No one is spared. The world is at war.’ ‘You are trying to rule all of us…’ Xi may reply in outrage. ‘I’m giving you a warning… and I have a suggestion for you, too.’ ‘What?’ ‘We don’t have to all burn… and see who remains standing at the end… it doesn’t have to happen… so Xi… please listen carefully… you could… which I strongly advice… turn around the nuclear weapons you have now pointed at us and aim them instead at Moscow and St Petersburg… then call up your dear friend Vladimir to inform him.’
‘Please… and keep in touch.’
Biden hangs up.
Xi may then call Putin and say, “Vladimir… you can’t threaten the West with nuclear weapons without consulting with me…’ ‘How do you know?’ ‘Biden just called.’ ‘What?’ ‘If you do… America will nuke us, too.”’ To which Putin may reply, ‘Xi, this is our moment, let us both fire on America and the West… we will be rid of the monster… and the world will be ours to split.’ ‘You’re mad… and drunk with power… and I will not go along anymore.’ ‘Not go along?’ says Putin. ‘What does that mean?’ ‘Exactly that… I will not go along.’ An irate, exasperated Putin may press Xi, ‘You mean you will do nothing if the West fires back at me? Don’t you think I know they will fire at you, too?’ ‘You know that?’ Xi may say. ‘Of course, the West wants everything for themselves…’ ‘You say you know that, but you never brought it up with me, Vladimir… all the while you’ve been making threats…’ ‘It’s obvious…’ Putin may reply. And Xi will frown and say ‘That’s all I needed to hear.’
And he hangs up.
It could happen. Just as stated. And then it might not. So, Mr President, you have to be ready, don’t you? The whole world is already at war. Pretending it’s not, is a mistake.
As you tilt back in your chair at the Oval Office, you may reflect… ‘China is sitting prettier than Russia. They have no desire for a nuclear confrontation. Thus, Putin’s threats have limits. Let us not forget that as we push on with our military aid to Ukraine. And Xi may well pivot his nuclear weapons in Putin’s direction. So… fully arming Ukraine to push Russia back to behind its borders is doable… very doable… in fact… necessary.’
So here’s the Putin Paradox. If we stand up to him now, he’s much less likely to carry out his threat. But if we act as if we’re willing to sacrifice Ukraine, he will be further emboldened. And this may lead him to want even more territory which may push us into a corner, making the threat of nuclear war, a greater possibility.
You go to the source of the action, You take the risk, The Ukrainian soldier tells you as much as he’s allowed And you sift through it all to capture the essence, Their humanity, their fears, their courage. At those moments, when you’re listening and carefully observing all that you’ve been allowed to immerse in, you become one of them. A Russian missile could be about to land where you are taking notes, yet you steel yourself to capture all that is noteworthy before your senses. Sights, smells, sounds, taste and touch, And then you send it all to us, To anyone who’s open to taking it in, You send it condensed into words that leap across nations and oceans to elicit thoughts and emotions that then carry us back to your side, at that soldier’s side, and a bridge is built.
By your actions you enlarge our minds, Sharpen our judgments, make possible the flowering of empathy, the deepening of solidarity, the evincing of conviction in the purpose.
For some of the soldiers you interview, that moment you shared with the rest of us may become the paper clipping his family will treasure, maybe even the only memento if the soldier is blown up the next day and doesn’t get to return from the front to embrace his wife and children. With your writing you reach out and capture life, You enrich, expand and lengthen it, You frame the heroism of those men Fighting against forces of darkness that seek to entomb them and us all. Your efforts help create a new consciousness that is critical to embolden the world’s fight for freedom.
Gifted men and women, warriors in defense of ideas and humanity, Press on! we are most grateful for your strength, your vision and commitment. Dare on! Without you the world would be darker and cripple our minds, Our thoughts and feelings wouldn’t take wing and instead crash on the rocks of ignorance.
From all those whose lives you’ve touched with your reporting, Thank you. The pursuit of liberty would not be possible without you.
One taboo just came down. There are at least two left. The taboo that came down was the one that said the West shouldn’t send tanks into Ukraine because it would upset the Russians. The tanks would be too much fire power and the big bear would growl louder. After much back and forth, finally Britain took the step and committed to sending in their Challenger tanks. This will boost Ukraine’s fighting capacity and make a difference. Now if only Chancellor Scholz in Germany would make up his mind and supply the Leopard tanks, then the punch Ukrainians can deliver will increase its power. For the second taboo. The West should not supply weapons powerful enough to reach into Russia’s territory. This is a good one. For a while, I bought into it, too. Russia can shoot their missiles into Ukraine from inside their borders, but Ukraine can’t shoot the missiles we give them into Russian territory. This is not a sustainable position. Keep this up and Russia will conquer Ukraine. We need to make up our minds, do we want Ukraine to win, or are we looking for a long war and then, after there are no Ukrainian men left to fight, Vladimir the Great will ride into Kyiv unopposed. With China and India buying his oil, even at reduced prices, there will always be cash to support the Russian economy, at least long enough to conquer Ukraine. So we must draw the line and say to Putin, stop firing missiles into Ukraine from Russia itself. Stop now. If not then we will give Ukraine the capacity to fire missiles into your territory. The assumption in the West has been that this will so upset Putin that he will want to fire his nuclear weapons at us. Hence, Escalation. The big E. The third taboo. But does Putin want Russia destroyed? No. He cannot get away with firing nuclear weapons without us firing back. We haven’t confronted Putin yet because he has intimidated us. We must admit this. The bully has to be confronted. There is no other way. Do we have what it takes to confront him? Yes. This war pits two very unevenly matched combatants. Russia has the advantage of territorial proximity and larger number of troops. That Ukraine has come this far against the odds is an amazing story. But without us setting new rules, Ukraine’s remarkable courage will be beaten down. There is so much they can take. To not confront Putin now is to say, ‘let’s wait until Ukraine is exhausted and then Zelensky himself will be ready to beg for a negotiated peace which His Highness Vladimir the Greatest, might just agree to in the interest of projecting a measure of benevolence. So long as half of Ukraine stays under his control. The other half to follow in 2-3 years. And Putin will be able to say, ‘it took my frightening them to get them to not set limits on me. That’s why I will one day own Europe. Because if the West can’t stand up to me now, they won’t do so later. My bravado will again win the day.’ In confronting Putin it would help if we can say to China, ‘You’re an accomplice in this war. You’ve supported Putin. If Putin dares use nuclear weapons, then you, too, will be a target for us. Think about it.’ Would that mobilize China to prevent a nuclear war? Absolutely. We are letting Putin frighten us. We cannot allow it.
There are no doubts about your talents, sir. Under your leadership, Germans have made strict adjustments in energy consumption. And Germany’s productive capacity has also shown in the speed with which the LNGs (liquified natural gas terminals) have been built. So thank you and Germans for that. But there is still the matter of the Leopard tanks. They are sorely needed. In one of your last statements you said you would send the tanks only if America sent their own Abrams tanks. But why put another roadblock? Hasn’t America done more than you have to help Ukraine? You saw recently how Putin bombed a residential building in a suburb of Kyiv, killing at least 40 people. How did you react to that? Is the West enabling Ukrainians to fire missiles on Moscow? No. But why not? Putin, with the consent of his sleep walking population, just shoots them at random. Did they land on a maternity hospital? Oh, well, we’re in a war, will be his reply. Precisely, chancellor. We’re in a war. The killing is indiscriminate, and you are saying to the Polish government’s request to you to send their own Leopard tanks (German built), ‘no, we have got to think about it’. Think about what, sir? By now, your timidity is such, that the Polish would probably get applause by telling you to go fry yourself in hell and send the Leopards to Ukraine without your permission. We’re at war and you are stalling. It’s not like you don’t have a precedent. Didn’t England just approve the sending of their own Challenger tanks to Ukraine? Did they insist on America sending their Abrams tanks also? No. Chancellor, Russia is rebuilding. I just read that Putin is going to enlarge his army to 1.5 million, up from 1.35 million. The West is not giving men to the war effort but equipment, knowhow, and munitions. We are not dying in the battlefield, it’s the Ukrainians doing the dying. Germans, are not dying in this war. Ukrainians now have a hard earned advantage. We should not let it slip away. Resolve is needed now. And tomorrow, too. And the day after. In 1948, when the Soviets had encircled Berlin, it was General Lucius D Clay, the American in charge of allied occupation forces who convinced all concerned that an airlift was essential to save Berlin. He did not hesitate. He spoke up. He convinced the doubters. And so the airlift was instituted and lasted almost a year. Berlin lived on. When squeezed those in charge need to answer the call. It is you turn, Chancellor. Now, it could be that this decision does not fall within your range of talents. If so, do us all a favor and resign. Germany can still use your talents when peace returns. Please act.
Do not be fooled by Xi Jinping like we have been by Vladimir Putin. To hold free elections is a great advancement in human beings’ political history. Power corrupts and no one is spared. No one, no matter how saintly, capable or honest they may appear. No one. We, Russians, failed in letting Putin remain in power and now are facing the consequences; the massacre of our brothers and sisters in Ukraine and the guilt we must live with. Though the number of dead is today a mere fraction of what happened to Jews in WWII, we Russians are starting to feel what the Germans must have felt when they finally recognized that they had stood silent and become Hitler’s accomplices. Deep in our hearts and minds, we no longer cheer when a missile hits a building where families live, killing a mother, a child, a father, ending their possibilities as human beings. Now we grieve and ask ourselves, what madness have we allowed to be unleashed in our name, in the name of Russians, a people who have contributed to this world and gone through much suffering at the hands of despots. Why, we ask ourselves, have we allowed it? Whatever invention Putin came up with it’s all a lie to keep himself and those he favors in power. We, Russians, are guilty of not speaking up, of not objecting, of not facing our fears. We are guilty as individuals and collectively. And we apologize to the world. We ask your forgiveness and vow to find a way to depose the brutal tyrant who governs us. We do not want to live behind the ‘Curtain of Putin’, the isolation he thinks is best for us. No. We want to join the world and be part of every convulsion it suffers, be part of every struggle it faces, every social ill it has to wrestle with, for that is what will help us evolve and develop our civic conscience. Dear Chinese brothers and sisters, you must do the same. Do not accept to live behind the ‘Curtain of Xi Jinping’ and his interpretation of the world. Do not be fooled. Anyone who’s willing to take away your freedom of speech is capable of the worst crimes against humanity. Anyone who is willing to intimidate you will try to walk over you if you let them. When the time comes, Xi Jinping will order the invasion of Taiwan, do not doubt that for one moment. It is all about his glory. And you, with your silence, will be his accomplices. Worse, he will ask you to squeeze the trigger, to push the button to drop the bomb and you will do it. And if the Taiwanese don’t surrender quickly when he orders the invasion, in your name, Xi will want total destruction. ‘It’s a small island,’ he will say, ‘we’ll repopulate it. There’s plenty of us.’ Dear Chinese brothers and sisters, if you make an effort to develop your own political ideas, you will not be cheering the bombing of the Taiwanese but will be protesting such cruelty. We, Russians, failed to develop our own political ideas and instead deferred to Putin. Look where he has taken us. And there are more dead to come. More destruction. Schools, hospitals, theatres, residences, energy plants. Putin will let nothing stand in his way. We, human beings, for the judicious exercise of power, must consent to limits. If we don’t then we abuse our powers. Look at what’s happening in Iran. In the name of god, the killing and maiming of protesters goes on and on. In the name of god, freedom of speech was suppressed and that’s how it all began. Apparently, it is only the clerics in power who hear the voice of god. Not the people who are driven to risk their lives in defense of their beliefs. Democracies are not perfect. They are tainted by all manner of folly and excess for to be human is to be flawed. We in Russia had a brief period under Mikhail Gorbachev during the 1990’s when we had a taste of freedom. But we didn’t appreciate it and let it slip away. Our mistakes overwhelmed us while no thinker stood up to cry out, ‘let us be patient, we have a history of living in oppression and kneeling before tyrants and czars and it has scarred our souls and minds. What we are going through is new to us, let us give it a chance.’ Had we learned to live with our mistakes and learned to correct them, there would have been no invasion of Ukraine. No killing of innocent people, men, women and children whom Putin, to further degrade them, now calls Nazis. Dear Chinese brothers and sisters, autocracies breed brutality which – to paraphrase the words of a man whose name I don’t recall – sooner or later comes for you, your partner, your son, your daughter, your friend, your neighbor.
A reader asked me the other day, ‘why do you speak in the name of Russians? You don’t know them’. So here’s my answer, ‘because I assume the best in them’.
A few days ago, an article in the NYT spoke of the Wagner group claiming that it had taken over the town of Soledar in the Donbas area, only to be quickly contradicted by Russia’s defense ministry and Ukraine’s military. The head of the Wagner group, Yevgeny Prigozhin, has also criticized the Russian military for their management of the invasion. So how come the Wagner group, a force of mercenary soldiers, which recruits prisoners to do the fighting, and whose chief and creator is reported to be a convicted criminal, has risen to such prominence in military affairs? (Before this he was in the restaurant business) This is not new. The Wagner group has been active in Africa and in Syria supporting dictators. Mind you, with the right approach, convicted criminals do turn their lives around and become contributors to society, and maybe Prigozhin is a standout talent, but to go from prison to becoming a close associate of Putin and then being entrusted with leading military actions in Africa and Syria and now in Ukraine, arouses a measure of interest. Does Putin trust his own military, or is he more comfortable with Prigozhin? Is he afraid that a career military commander may distinguish himself on the battlefield and grow to become a rival? Russia’s failures in combat have been mounting and this is likely accentuating divisions in the armed forces. Has Putin, deliberately, kept his military weak? Did he believe it would be easier instead to control a former convict and his mercenaries? In recent years there had been much talk of Putin modernizing his military, but it appears the changes were not substantive enough. Was he afraid of giving too much power to an institution that could overthrow him? The war is not over and turnarounds are possible but, so far, Russia’s military’s performance in Ukraine has left them with a black mark for all the world to see. With their pride wounded, will they choose to stage a coup against Putin? How is it that Putin thought that a mercenary group, even if 10 times its current size, could hold up against a trained and committed Ukrainian force fighting for their land? There is no way that such group could win. Present developments keep pointing to grave structural flaws in Russia’s management of the war, another reason why it is critical that the West continue its support of Ukraine’s fighters. It is also important to find out which way does the Russian military lean politically. Could it be that, as an educated group, it may be leaning more toward a democratic form of government and toward building stronger links with Europe? Maybe the Russian military does not share the ultranationalist sentiments of some of Putin’s staunch supporters and, because of it, Putin has preferred to keep them relatively weak. Otherwise, why not send Russian soldiers to Africa in place of the Wagner group? Wouldn’t that give them precious battlefield experience? Something is off in Putin’s inner circle. Maybe his dominance and control are not all that tight. I am sure China is closely following these developments and acting on them to increase their influence. There may even be a pro China faction and a pro Western faction in the Russian armed forces, both tugging with each other. Educated, self respecting military officers are likely questioning the conduct of the war, Putin’s meddling and the loss of prestige their institution has suffered. Is that institution now questioning their role in Russian society? Is Putin’s savagery in Ukraine not something worth standing up to? Are they not demeaned enough as Putin carries on unopposed in Russia? Have they become lambs for the great Vladimir, future czar or king of their land? Will the Russian military now forget what they are capable of, as when they beat back Hitler and changed the course of WWII, and instead bow as they wait for instructions from the head of the Wagner group? The world is watching.
There is no way of realistically predicting that time but the more relevant question is, how will the war end? I see two main camps at this point. One stating that we should hurry up and look for a deal enabling the contending parties to put down their weapons. Another saying there will be no talks until Russia has left Ukraine entirely, including Crimea, which they took over in 2014. Zelensky is a strong advocate of the latter option. And it makes sense. Pushing Putin out of Ukraine entirely would be a complete victory. So long as Ukraine is willing to put in the heroic effort, the West should back them up. The West needs to take the long view and make the necessary sacrifices. The advantages are enormous. A deterred Russia is more likely to see the anti Putin ferment rise and eventually lead to the deposing of Putin. An increasingly united West will help work out internal differences and hasten the path to energy independence. The western alliance has the intellectual/technological/industrial capacity to accomplish the task. A complete Russian retreat from Ukraine has important consequences for China’s present leadership. It will be clear to all Chinese that the global West, in mustering the resources needed to assist Ukraine, will be ready to make the same commitment to aid Taiwan. The Chinese people are a capable people but the present leadership is preventing their political maturation. Xi Jinping is another Vladimir Putin, likely to be as truculent, murderous and brutal as the Russian in his effort to keep himself in power. The Chinese communist party has been able to control the population only because of its repression of freedom of speech. When the Chinese people gain such freedom, all their potential will be unleashed to the benefit of their nation and the world. The US has been broadcasting into China through Radio Free Asia (rfa.org) in Mandarin, Cantonese, Uyghur and other languages. Chinese authorities consistently jam the transmissions so this needs to be improved. China will retaliate, of course but they won’t be able to wall off their country. A steady flow of information from the free world will be critical to create the necessary conditions in China so they begin to move toward democracy. Both Russia and China are fond of looking at the West and saying ‘Look at all the chaos that you have.’ But free societies learn to face those conditions and find answers to them, spurring civic growth as a result. The heroic effort of Ukraine is opening a new path for nations to cooperate and rid the world of the devastating consequences of dictatorial regimes. A word about Zelensky and his tenure as president of Ukraine. New elections for the post will not be held until the end of March 2024. Zelensky is permitted to run again. Will the war have ended by then? I hope so. If it has not, the holding of such an important election should be postponed. It would be very difficult for the opposition to campaign while the nation is at war. Zelensky should then say that he will continue as president only until the end of the war and not run again. And the nation should set a limit for such tenure, say a year or two at the most, if war were to drag on further. Where would Zelensky go next? I believe he would do a great job as head of the United Nations. One of his tasks ought to be to lead the effort to redraw the terms of the body’s charter, so as to not allow countries like Russia and China to hold veto power in the UN’s Security Council. The world needs to break the chains to authoritarian governments.
With the war slowing down because of Winter, the need for tanks has become clearer. Ukraine has the advantage at this time. Just writing these words seems unbelievable. Only 11 months ago, when Putin invaded, no one foresaw that Ukrainians would rise to the task and say to Putin and his troops, ‘Go screw yourselves!’ They didn’t have the guns but they had the voice. And their voice rose and flew all over the world asking for help fighting off the invader. They would do the dying, they said proudly, we just need the guns to do the fighting. When was the last time the world heard such a plea? And the West heard it, heard the anguish in the voice of Ukraine, their willingness to give it all to defend their land. And the West said, ‘this is real… and we will back you up.’ Some western leaders heard the anguish more clearly than others, but gradually a consensus emerged. And the help to Ukraine started to flow. What they have done with it is extraordinary. Day in and day out they battle a superpower bent on enslaving them, bent on destroying their identity. A superpower who has more weapons than they do but a superpower without the moral resolve that Ukrainians have. Ukraine’s courage has pushed the West to ask itself, is this not our fight also? And to answer, yes, it is. And to again ask, must we not sacrifice also? And to answer, yes, we must. Ukraine’s heroism is a triumph for democracy and freedom. Russia does not know what that is and neither does China. And so Ukraine’s incredible performance has split the world into three parts. The one part that is privileged to have seen democracy and freedom in action; the part that lacks the wisdom to struggle with its uncertainties and thus settled on autocracy; and the part that does not want to make the choice and prefers to drift. That Ukraine has fought Russia to a standstill is a story for the ages. This is not the time for the West to waver but to commit to seeing Ukraine triumph over Putin. Nothing less. All parties backing Ukraine have been making sacrifices but more will be needed to complete the task. Germany’s Leopard tanks must be made available to Ukrainians as soon as possible. It will be a grave mistake to be timid now for it will only embolden Putin and his allies. Ukraine has a right to recover all its territory, all the way to its border with Russia. Chancellor Scholz, what good are your tanks while in storage? Do you think they will deter a Russian attack on your soil? They will not. Germany has cast its lot with the West. We will defend each other. You either believe that or not. The Leopard tanks in Ukraine’s hands will help them keep the advantages so painfully earned. Chancellor, please think of the judgment of history. To not act now in full defense of Ukraine is a grave mistake that will forever stain your name. In this hour of need, please, do not choose to be timid.