Since yesterday morning, the armed forces of the Russian Federation have been launching strikes against several other parts of Ukrainian territory, mainly from the east, but also from the north through Belarus. The Belarusian dictator, Alexander Lukashenko, is giving his full cooperation to the Russian regime in this regard and should be held accountable for this. A strike from the south via Crimea and operations from the Black Sea have also become a reality.
As a pretext, the Kremlin has chosen the unfounded and largely absurd ‘protection of the Russian and Russian-speaking population’, as presented by President Vladimir Putin. However, as can be seen in Putin’s statement on the invasion, the video was already pre-recorded and the Russian leadership had been committed to it for some time.
Significantly, the decision to further invade does not have the support of the Russian population because they were not even consulted. On the contrary, this aggressive step was taken in the inner circle of Vladimir Putin’s associates, who are directly responsible for it and will be held accountable for their actions.
Peaceful protests are currently growing all over Russia and are being severely punished by the regime. In any case, a free and democratic Russia does not remain blind to these things and makes it clear that it does not want aggression against the brotherly Ukrainian nation. This is well illustrated by the open letter of more than two thousand Russian intellectuals addressed to President Putin, calling on him to stop the escalation and prevent violence.
It is not clear where the Russian troops will stop, or what they actually want to achieve in Ukraine in the short term. In the long term, however, it is the ‘neutralization’ of Ukraine, by which we can imagine the end of cooperation with the West and the end of the country’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations, which would be advantageous for the Kremlin.
What is crucial at the moment is the reaction of the West, which must quickly find a strong enough punishment to respond resolutely to further Russian incursions into Ukraine. The key sanctions and measures in support of Ukraine include a dozen steps.
Therefore, we, the undersigned, call on the leaders of the Western community, in particular the European Union and NATO, to act in the following areas:
- Disconnecting Russia from the Western payment platform SWIFT – blocking other platforms, including Visa and Mastercard, could also be considered, but would be felt by Russian citizens; in general, the US approach should be the model,
- Strong financial sanctions against the Kremlin and Russian banks and energy companies – including consideration of listing all major Russian banking houses (Sberbank, VTB, VEB, etc.) as well as the Russian Central Bank,
- International isolation of the Russian Federation – coordination within the Council of Europe and its Parliamentary Assembly, the OSCE, but also the UN, where the General Assembly (not just the UN Security Council) should also be held,
- Targeting of Russian oligarchs and friends of Vladimir Putin and their family members as well as Russian officials with assets and funds in the West – seizure of assets, freezing of accounts and also banning of movement within the EU and the Western community (in coordination with the UK and the US),
- Supporting Ukraine militarily, financially and humanitarianly – providing additional macro-financial assistance, weapons systems – including small arms and ammunition for guerrilla warfare, as well as a large-scale medical support program (MEDEVAC),
- Enhancing the defense and resilience of Western countries, including the redeployment of additional troops to the Central and Eastern European region (as part of NATO’s ‘Forward Presence’), which is also suffering from this aggression and insecurity,
- Further limiting Russian oil and gas supplies and promoting diversification from Russian sources to other partners (USA, Qatar, Azerbaijan, etc.), but also reducing dependence on this type of raw material in the long term,
- Relaxing the visa regime to neighboring countries (Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and the Baltic States) to provide humanitarian protection and assistance to the civilian population at risk,
- Strengthening our European resilience to cyber threats and disinformation, for which the EU should allocate additional funding and be prepared,
- Finally, the European Union and the West as a whole should not abandon its own principles and Ukraine’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations, which Russia has long sought. Ukraine, like any democratic state, should be able to choose its path in the international arena, and Russia should respect that choice!
As we argue, the Czech Republic must also play a role in this, and should insist on tough sanctions and devote adequate resources and capacity to support Ukraine. In addition, it must strengthen the protection of its own critical infrastructure, which Russia may also try to attack.
Marek Hilšer – Senator of the Czech Republic
Martin Exner – MP of the Czech Republic
Lukáš Wagenknecht – Senator of the Czech Republic
Pavel Havlíček – Analyst at the Research Center of the Association for International Affairs
Vít Novotný – Senior Analyst at the Wilfried Martens Center for European Studies
Šimon Heller – Member of the Parliament of the Czech Republic
Bohumil Kartous, Czech Elves and Prague Innovation Institute
Pavel Žáček – Member of the Czech Republic
Hayato Okamura – MP
Tomáš Fiala – Senator of the Czech Republic
Adéla Šípová – Senator of the Czech Republic
Petr Gazdík – Minister of Education of the Czech Republic
Jan Bartošek – Deputy Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies of the Czech Republic
Friends of Free Russia Initiative
European Values z.s.