7 myths standing in the way of Ukraine winning – POLITICO
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Gabrielius Landsbergis is the Foreign Minister of Lithuania.
Despite all the cruelty and hatred unleashed by the regime of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Ukraine continues to resist its aggressor – and it is ready to fight until victory.
A year ago, many doubted Ukraine. They suggested that in a few days – at most weeks – Russia would seize kyiv. And some of those voices that turned out to be so blatantly false at the time are now brandishing “peace plans”, pushing Ukraine to accept concessions to its sovereignty and territorial integrity in return for Russia agreeing to end the war.
But these “peace plans” are based on dominant myths that we must confront before they become reality.
First myth: Ukraine is incapable of recovering its territories.
Ukraine has already defeated this claim by retaking territory from Russia – from the outskirts of kyiv to Kharkiv and Kherson. Ukrainians have the will to fight and an effective strategy to recover everything that belongs to them. Instead, it’s our support pacing that hinders their ability to act faster and ultimately increases the death toll.
More weapons, more ammunition, more training is the sure way to a full restoration of Ukrainian territory. And to achieve that, we need a longer-term strategy that will allow Ukraine to push Russia back completely, beyond its internationally recognized borders.
Second myth: Russia is unbeatable.
Despite Russia’s disregard for human life and its reckless willingness to dump soldiers like cannon fodder, its reckless body count still cannot close the capability gap. Ukrainian troops have high morale, capable commanders and access to vastly superior technology.
We must also accept the reality that the West – with its defense industry production still at peacetime levels – has not even begun to flex its full military muscle. The combined nominal GDP of the Nordic and Baltic countries alone is greater than that of Russia, and it is hard facts like these that should inform the West’s strategy – not Moscow’s narrative that he is the peer of NATO. Mindset, determination and political will are essential.
Third myth: Russia will run out and want to settle down.
Putin is not ready to settle for an honest and lasting peace. As in 2008 and 2014, this latest war is fueled by Russian revanchism, and when Western partners speak of a possible settlement or freezing of the conflict, Moscow sees it not as an exit ramp but as a sign of weariness. western.
Rather than bringing peace closer, continued talks on a negotiated end to the war only magnify its cost for Ukraine – and for Western allies. Therefore, this war will have to be “settled” on the battlefield, as any deal that offers real or perceived gains to Russia would only be a respite before the next phase of this war.
Fourth myth: Crimea is a red line for Putin.
Putin likes to draw lines in the sand. He knows that the West will take them seriously, as they would take theirs. And during this war, Putin kept drawing new red lines.
However, these lines limit the speed of our decision-making. Internationally agreed borders may be the only red line, and Crimea East Ukraine. Preventing Ukraine from retaking Crimea would never prevent Putin from wanting more.
Fifth myth — there is life with Putin’s Russia after the war.
Putin and some in the West still rely on the idea that “Russia will still be here” after the war and thus envision a return to the status quo. It is something that comes with the prevailing fears that Putin’s successor will be even more ruthless and vindictive.
However, we must see Russia’s defeat not as a threat but as an opportunity to build a different, transformed country that will no longer threaten its neighbors. Rather than being afraid of the transformation of Russia, we must accept that although 30 years have passed, the dismantling of the Soviet Union is still not complete – and it never will be until the state of spirit in Moscow will not have changed.
Sixth myth – all wars end in negotiations.
It is a story that does not stand the test of history. After World War II, European countries did not recover their territories after diplomatic contacts with the Nazi regime. Imagine sitting at the negotiating table with Adolf Hitler at the end of 1942, when he was stuck in Stalingrad but with half of Europe still occupied.
Moreover, has a ceasefire agreement with Russia ever really brought lasting peace? If so, then why are Georgians still going to bed fearing that the next attack will take their own backyard away from them? Did the Minsk Accords stop the war or, rather, give Russia time to prepare for the all-out attack?
The 1994 Bucharest Memorandum, which gave Ukraine security guarantees in exchange for giving up its nuclear stockpile, also turned out to be empty promises. Thus, Russia must now be defeated militarily rather than receive invitations to a peace conference. And Ukraine should be invited to join NATO as soon as conditions permit, because only NATO can provide real security guarantees.
Seventh myth — the Baltic countries and Poland only want revenge on Russia.
The war against Ukraine is fueled by Russian resentment over the collapse of the Soviet Union. And Russia’s vengeful imperialist agenda is an existential challenge not just for Ukraine but for all border states, including mine.
But every decision we’ve made over the past three decades is aimed at keeping our people safe. When we warned of the dangers of Russia, we were seen as alarmists – but we were right. And we continue to express our concerns because we know that Putin’s regime is not over yet and the world will not be safe until it is.
Like Ukraine, we want a just and lasting peace. But if Ukraine is forced to settle, it will bring neither justice nor peace.
That is why Ukraine’s victory is our victory. Their security is our security. And only victory will prevent Putin from coming back to us.