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West must not show weakness when confronting Russia


A group of civilian soldiers from the Kyiv Territorial Defence Unit train in a forest Saturday, January 22, 2022 in Kyiv.

Sean Gallup | Getty Images

According to Kyiv’s prominent mayor, there should not be any weakness in the West when dealing with geopolitical crisis like this one between Russia and Ukraine. He called for greater unity among Western allies.

Asked if the U.S. is doing enough to help Ukraine as it faces a possible military confrontation with Russia, Kyiv’s mayor Vitali Klitschko said “there’s never enough.”

He said that he believes that the West sometimes shows weakness in some situations. According to him, we must be more united in protecting each other’s interests and our own democracy.

He said, “I believe that this unity will give us tremendous strength,” adding that communication should improve between Western allies and that an invasion of Ukraine would be a problem for everyone.

Some Ukrainian officials were critical of Kyiv’s exclusion from high-level diplomacy talks between Russia and NATO. This is in response to Ukraine being on alert for a possible military confrontation.

For his part, Klitschko has been publicly critical of the response of one of Ukraine’s European allies, GermanyAccording to him, Berlin’s offering of 5,000 helmets for Ukraine was “a joke” that had rendered him speechless.

“The German government’s behavior leaves me speechless. It seems that the defense ministry has not realized that perfectly-equipped Russian forces are at our disposal and could launch another invasion of Ukraine at any moment. he told the German newspaper Bild last Wednesday. “What kind support is Germany sending next?” He asked. “Pillows?”

After a Wednesday press conference Klitschko spoke to journalists and said that Ukraine must now be prepared for “any scenario”. There were no immediate signs that tensions would be reduced despite ongoing diplomatic negotiations between Western officials and Russian officials (including President Vladimir Putin).

Klitschko, a former champion boxer turned mayor, said there was little appetite in Ukraine for more bloodshed — particularly given the deaths of over 13,000 people in east Ukraine in an ongoing conflict between Ukrainian troops and pro-Russian separatists in the Donbas region — but said, “we have to defend our country.”

Concurrent interests

Ukraine is not an EU or NATO member but it does have a pro-Western administration. Russia maintains that it doesn’t intend to invade Ukraine. However, it annexed Crimea from its territory in 2014 and now supports two pro-Russian self-proclaimed republics within the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine.

NATO does not have to protect Ukraine, but has increased its presence in Eastern Europe for the event of an attack. Some countries have provided military hardware for Ukraine, such as the U.S. or U.K. Others, like France, Germany and Russia, seek to resolve an impasse in what is seen as an ongoing battle over geopolitical influences between Russia and West. Ukraine lies in the middle.

Russia has repeatedly said it wants to defend its own security interests in the face of what it views as an expansion of Western military might (that is, NATO) on its doorstep in Europe and, particularly, in eastern Europe where missile defense systems are positioned in Romania and Poland.

The U.S. demanded Ukraine be denied membership in NATO and that NATO reduce its military presence in Eastern Europe. Although the U.S. refused to accept these demands, it said that there was still room for dialog.