World must prove that might does not make right
At this dark hour, when we see Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified invasion of Ukraine, massive disinformation campaigns and information manipulation, it is essential to separate lies — invented to justify what cannot be justified — from facts.The facts are that Russia, a major nuclear power, has attacked and invaded a peaceful and democratic neighboring country, which neither posed any threat to it nor provoked it. Moreover, the Russian president is threatening reprisals on any other state that may come to the rescue of the people of Ukraine. Such use of force and coercion has no place in the 21st century.
With his choice to bring war back to Europe, we see the return of the “law of the jungle,” where might makes right. The target is not only Ukraine, but the security of Europe and the whole international rules-based order, based on the UN system and international law.
We see a humanitarian catastrophe developing. For months, we pursued unparalleled efforts to achieve a diplomatic solution. Instead, Russia opted for a full-scale invasion, a full-fledged war.
Russia must cease its military operations immediately and unconditionally withdraw from the entire territory of Ukraine. The same goes for Belarus, which has to immediately stop its involvement in this aggression and respect its international obligations. The EU is united in offering its strong support to Ukraine and its people. This is a matter of life and death. I am preparing an emergency package to support the Ukrainian armed forces in their fight.
The international community will now, in response, opt for a full-scale isolation of Russia. We are sanctioning those who finance the war, crippling the Russian banking system and its access to international reserves.
The EU and its partners have already imposed massive sanctions on Russia that target its leaders and elites and strategic sectors of the Kremlin-run economy. The aim is not to harm the Russian people, but to weaken the Kremlin’s ability to finance this unjust war. In doing this, we are closely aligned with our partners and allies — the US, Canada, the UK, Japan, South Korea and Australia. We also see many countries from around the world rallying to protect the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine. We stand together on the right side of history.
The Kremlin and its supporters have also engaged in a massive disinformation campaign, which started weeks ago. We have seen Russian state media and their ecosystem peddling untruths on social media networks with the aim to deceive and manipulate.
We see many countries rallying to protect the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine.
The Kremlin propagandists call the invasion “a special operation,” but this cynical euphemism cannot hide the fact that we are witnessing a full-fledged invasion of Ukraine, with the aim of crushing its freedom, legitimate government and democratic structures. Calling the Kyiv government “neo-Nazi” and “Russophobic” is nonsense; all manifestations of Nazism are banned in Ukraine. In modern Ukraine, extreme right-wing candidates are a fringe phenomenon with minimal support, without passing the barrier to enter the parliament. The Ukrainian government did not cut the Donbas off and it has not prohibited the use of Russian language and culture. Donetsk and Luhansk are no republics, they are Ukrainian regions controlled by Russia-backed and armed separatist groupings.
We know this — and many Russians know this. There have been courageous protests in cities across Russia since the invasion started. We hear their voices and recognize their courage in speaking out, and we also see many prominent public figures in Russia protesting this senseless invasion.
I continue to work with our partners around the world to ensure the joint action of the international community against the Kremlin’s behavior. On Friday, only Russia vetoed a UN Security Council resolution on its invasion of Ukraine, with China, India and the UAE abstaining. From all over the world, countries condemn Russia’s attacks and, at the General Assembly, the entire international community needs to join forces and adopt the related UN resolution. We particularly thank Albania as co-penholder of the resolution.
The people of the Arab world unfortunately know too well what war is. They have experienced the suffering of innocent civilians and know why it is so important to fight for freedom. On Monday, we celebrated the 31st anniversary of the 1991 liberation of Kuwait. In this particular context, I assume that the people of the Gulf understand very well what the people of Ukraine are going through and why international solidarity against unjustified and unprovoked attacks is essential.
With this war on Ukraine, the world will never be the same again. It is now, more than ever, the time for societies and alliances to come together to build our future on trust, justice and freedom. It is the moment to stand up and to speak out. Might does not make right. Never did. Never will.
• Josep Borrell, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, is Vice President of the European Commission for a Stronger Europe in the World.