When Russia invaded Ukraine on 24 February 2022, Vladimir Putin believed he could sweep into Kyiv and depose its pro-Western government. Instead, he found a stalwart Ukrainian resistance that has bogged down his forces and thwarted his hopes of claiming Ukraine’s territory. Ukraine’s success is no accident. It’s the result of an unwavering will to fight, backed by Western military aid.
The United States and the European Union should offer Ukraine a path to peace, one that includes sanctions relief linked to concrete actions, especially Russian withdrawal. Ukraine also needs a plan for rebuilding and recovery, with Russia paying its share. The war can only end once the two sides reach a reconciliation and accountability deal. And a just and lasting peace must support Ukraine’s sovereignty and independence.
For Russia’s rulers, a Ukraine that aligns with the West poses an existential threat. This is the message of the Kremlin’s propaganda, a view of Ukraine as a threat to Great, Little, and White (Belarusian) Russia that has been promoted by publicists since the early modern era when Muscovy began bringing disparate East Slavic lands and peoples under its control.
This is why a ceasefire that doesn’t include Russia must be treated with skepticism. If Russia continues to hold the war hostage, it will continue to make the world a more dangerous place for all of us. Its encirclement of Ukraine threatens the very stability of Europe as a whole. But if Ukrainians can demonstrate their courage and strength, the Kremlin’s war of aggression will end.