Andrius Kubilius. Sanctions until the last occupier leaves

Kharkiv after the rocket attacks. Photo Marienko Andrii UNIAN

Putin is losing the war he started against Ukraine. But he doesn’t seem to realise it yet. He is losing on the battlefield in Ukraine against a heroic Ukrainian army. He is losing in Russia’s economy and finances, and not only in Russia itself but in the whole world.

The West has imposed very painful sanctions on Russia as unanimously and effectively as ever: the Central Bank of Russia and its reserves are frozen, a number of Russian banks are cut off from the SWIFT system, advanced technologies are no longer being sold to Russia, and the small and distant Taiwan has struck the hardest: no more microprocessors – the entire Russian military and aviation industry is on the chopping block; Irish leasing companies are taking back all the Boeings and Aerobuses leased to Russia – even inside Russia, Russians will have no way of flying from Moscow to Vladivostok (because they have no other planes); Western businesses are pulling out of Russia en masse – before the IKEA store in Moscow closed down, hordes of Russians crowded at the counters. I hope that in the near future, the West will also agree on a full embargo on Russian oil and gas so that Putin will be left without a huge daily income and that after such an embargo, it will be easy to disconnect the remaining Russian banks from SWIFT.

Russian economists say that after 2-3 weeks of such sanctions, the Russian economy will be on its knees. Now already, the media are flashing reports of emptying shops, shortages of everyday goods, and the devaluation of the rouble. The Russian elite is rapidly retreating from Russia to the same West against which Putin launched his war.

Putin will lose this war, both on the battlefield and in the economy.

It is, therefore, worth starting now to consider the terms of Putin’s capitulation.

Before we begin to consider this, it is worth remembering that Putin’s war against Ukraine did not begin in 2022, but in 2014, when Putin’s troops occupied Crimea and parts of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions in eastern Ukraine.

At that time, Western economic sanctions were also imposed, both for the occupation of Crimea and for the war in Eastern Ukraine. On 24 February this year, Putin only began a new phase in a long-running war. He has launched a huge military invasion of the entire territory of Ukraine. And he made an insane mistake, he made a miscalculation – even on the battlefield, he is losing to the Ukrainians (he lost as many soldiers and tanks in a week as the Soviets lost in Afghanistan in a decade), and with his crazy aggression, he also united the West, which has quickly imposed extremely painful and effective sanctions on Russia’s economy, which are much stronger than the ones imposed after the occupation of Crimea, Donetsk, or Luhansk.

That is why Putin will lose. And not only this phase of the war, which began on 24 February 2022, but the entirety of “Putin’s war” against Ukraine, which began with the occupation of Crimea in March 2014.

Putin, and his entourage in particular, must understand one simple thing: however this war ends on the military front, whether Kherson is occupied by the Russians or not, whether Mariupol is surrounded by the Russians or not, the Western sanctions on the Russian economy will remain in force until the last soldier of the Russian occupation army has left Ukrainian territory. The occupying soldiers will have to leave not just Kherson, Mariupol, or Chernobyl, but also Donetsk, Luhansk, and Sevastopol. Only then can today’s economic sanctions be lifted. Only then will Russians be able to fly in Boeings and shop at IKEA again.

But then Putin will still have to face an international tribunal, and all of Russia will have to bear war reparations against Ukraine. Years and years of paying billions in compensation.

Putin is in danger of becoming a curse word not only in Ukraine but also in Russia itself. The deputinisation of Russia may be long and painful for the Russians themselves, but it may also be quick and effective if the Russians quickly get fed up with empty shop shelves.

The West can and must help not only the Ukrainians but also ordinary Russians: everyone needs to see the last soldier of the Russian occupation army leave Ukrainian soil sooner.

The world will be a very different place after Putin’s defeat: Ukraine will be different, the European Union will be different, even Russia will be different.

This requires the strength of Ukrainian soldiers.

It also requires the firmness of Western sanctions.

EPP Lithuanian office
EPP Lithuanian Office
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