To Politicians and the Public in the West

The Kremlin
AFP / Scanpix

Dear Friends. We address you as friends because everyone who has signed this missive supports the European path for Russia, opposes President Vladimir Putin’s politics, and has decisively spoken out since the very beginning against the war that Putin has unleashed in Ukraine. For this, each one of us has faced some degree of pressure and repression from the Putin regime.

We are glad that most people in the West understand that Putin’s Russia is a threat not only to the existence of Ukraine (the true objective of the war is the complete destruction of Ukraine) but of the Western civilization at large. Putin is trying to create a “new order” based on Russia’s domination and its “special rights” wherever Russian soldiers have set foot.

Ukraine is fighting not only on its own behalf but for the entire world, for the West, and even for Russia, which will only have a chance at being reborn following Putin’s military and political defeat. Therefore, we are grateful to you for the assistance you have provided to Ukraine, and we ask that you not stop halfway, but rather give Ukraine everything that it needs to fully liberate its land and as soon as possible.

The threat that Putin poses cannot be thwarted with a new version of the 1938 policy of appeasing the aggressor. Territorial agreements cannot eliminate it. Putin will never be satisfied with what he has achieved. Any scenario except the complete dismantlement of the Putin regime and its capitulation will mean not peace but a temporary ceasefire that gives his regime time to lick its wounds before starting a new attack. The world has already seen this after Hitler annexed Sudetenland and Austria.

We understand the fears about Putin’s possible reactions to defeat. It is true that he is a man who could start a nuclear war. However, we cannot hope that Putin’s good judgement will prevent an apocalypse – he has demonstrated that he has none. Rather, we must take away his ability to give such deranged commands. In conditions of defeat, he will lose control over the situation, and the political and military elites that currently obey him will refuse to follow him into collective suicide. In a protracted war, a fateful order would become more likely.

We hope and believe that Ukraine will win. But we understand that for our country, this will only be the beginning of a difficult road to a return to normal life. Here, much will depend on the West.

The West could choose the “Versailles 1918” option and work to isolate Russia, to wall it off, only caring about deflecting any potential military threat from its territory. Or it could choose the 1945 option of the Allies helping Germany rise up from the ruins. The first option contributed to Hitler’s ascendance and the start of a new world war. The second brought us the Germany we know today and decades of peace in Europe.

Russia will come out of the war in an extremely difficult economic, political, and moral condition. A likely outcome would be its fragmentation into several states, accompanied by bloody wars. Unless the West supports constructive forces in Russia, or in the new states that arise from its wreckage, a new and even more frightening dictatorship will come to power there, and sooner or later start a new and more large-scale war.

We, therefore, implore you to start thinking about a version of a Marshall Plan for Russia that will promote the formation of a democratic country that does not pose a threat to its neighbours or itself.

This is a difficult but realistic objective. Russia might currently look like a wasteland, populated only by crazy fascists and sheeple. Still, it has millions of highly professional and European-minded citizens who want to see their country free and open, in a natural union with the West. There are tens of thousands of people in Russia who have risked their lives and freedom to stop the war, and they are ready to work for their country’s future.

Naturally, a new Marshall Plan could only begin to be implemented after Ukraine’s complete victory and after Russia agrees to pay reparations, give up its war criminals, and transfer its nuclear arsenal under international control: in other words, after a new government replaces Putin’s dictatorship. This may very well happen as a result of a victorious offensive by the Armed Forces of Ukraine and the liberation of Crimea. For now, Putin’s regime is still strong, but one should not underestimate the extreme and growing discontent of the Russian elites and their unwillingness to follow Putin into the abyss. Therefore, an uprising against the Putin regime does not appear likely in Russia, but an elite coup d’état is possible.

Russia’s ordinary citizens, stupefied with propaganda into believing that Russia did not attack anyone and that, on the contrary, NATO attacked Russia, nevertheless won’t resist post-Putin transformations. The majority of these people are extremely passive and have been removed from governance for generations; their support is not for Putin and his aggressive course, but for the government as a whole. They will support the new government the same way they currently support Putin.

Once the war is won, peace must be won next. A Marshall Plan for Russia is a win-win: the West would end the threat emanating from Russia, and Russia would return to a normal life.
Leonid Gozman
Gennady Gudkov
Lev Ponomarev

EPP Lithuanian office
EPP Lithuanian Office
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