On February 24, 2022, under the fictitious pretext of fighting « Nazism, » Russia launched a large-scale military attack on an independent state, Ukraine. This Russian aggression is not a first. Russia has long engaged in covert aggressive politics against the Ukrainian people. These turned into overt armed action in 2014, when Russia used its military superiority to seize part of sovereign Ukraine’s territory – Crimea and the Donbass.

The international community did not adequately assess the events of 2014 for several reasons. Ukraine was weak domestically at the time and it suffered defeat in the information war against Russian propaganda internationally.  Moreover, Russia managed a rapid, coup-like conquest with minimal bloodshed. Finally, commercial interests in Russian oil and gas supplies did the rest.

By regularly failing to react decisively to Russian aggression against weaker states and nations, such as Georgia, Chechnya, Moldova and Ukraine, and by quickly accepting the new facts on the ground (after loud but brief outcries), the international community has allowed Russia to believe in the impunity of its attacks. Step by step, a monster grew up that neither cares about international law, nor has regard for human rights and fundamental freedoms, nor respects the territorial integrity of sovereign states.

Democratic countries have helped to raise this monster by sending vast sums of money to Russia for years and decades in exchange for oil and gas supplies. Russia does not invest the revenues from the raw materials trade in increasing the welfare of its citizens, but in expanding its military power, which it then uses to conquer the territories of neighboring states or to install dependent political regimes there. Such methods are unacceptable. They do not fit into a modern world of civilized nation-states.

Russia uses the oil and gas revenuesnot for its citizens, but for armament.

As long as Russia keeps the financial resources from oil and gas exports, it will be able to communicate with the world in a militaristic way. Anyone who participates in Russia’s oil and gas business shares in the responsibility. Russia does not want to realize that it is nothing more than a gas station. It sees itself as a superstate whose military, financed with the oil and gas billions, is dedicated to instilling fear in the global community and pushing through ambitions of power politics.

The free world must stand united – no compromises with terrorists!

The free world must stand united against Russia. Compromises with a global terrorist will lead nowhere. Energy supplies must no longer be accepted as a de facto quid pro quo for tolerating aggression and war crimes against the peaceful populations of other countries. Dependence and exposure to blackmail must be brought to an end.

The Russian war of aggression against Ukraine has global implications. There are signs that we are at the beginning of a third world war. The free world can win this war only in a united effort. Those who continue trade relations with the aggressor must be aware that they accept the stigma of being accomplices of a criminal regime that threatens world peace.

Prof. Dr. Lidiia Moskvych holds the Chair of Procedural Law at Kharkiv University.