Why Ukraine’s victory is imperative

Yesterday marked the two years since, on Feb. 24, 2022, Russia initiated an unjustified, illegal and unprovoked full-scale invasion of Ukraine. With misguided confidence, Russian President Vladimir Putin anticipated a swift victory; his war would last only a week. However, two years on, the Ukrainian people continue to bravely withstand relentless assaults from the Russian aggressor. The resulting humanitarian crisis has been staggering, with thousands of lives lost, millions displaced and widespread suffering endured by innocent civilians caught in the crossfire. Putin’s forces make no distinction between military and civilian populations.

Since the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion, air alarms have sounded 40,000 times in Ukraine; 40,000 times Ukrainian men, women and children had to rush to the shelters for safety. The wounds inflicted upon Ukraine and the global community remain raw, as Russia’s assault has not only targeted Ukrainian sovereignty but also undermined fundamental principles of sovereignty, territorial integrity and the rule of law.

Two years is a long time in world affairs because both traditional and social media present a continuous stream of human tragedies. Kyiv may seem so far away from Manila. Yet, while geographically distant, the conflict between Russia and Ukraine continues to hold significant relevance for the Philippines. Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine has broader implications for global security and stability, is fueling food and energy insecurity and disproportionately affecting the most vulnerable worldwide. Ukraine’s struggle for sovereignty transcends mere regional significance; it embodies a critical battle for the preservation of the basic principles that sustain peaceful coexistence between nations. The blatant violation of international law by Russia underscores the stark contrast between a world governed by laws and freedoms versus one where powerful entities impose their will unchecked. The parallels with the Philippines’ own historical struggles against larger, domineering neighbors are all too evident.

The European Union (EU) stands as a steadfast proponent for the rules-based international order, grounded in democracy principles, human rights and multilateral cooperation. The EU’s commitment to this order is not just a matter of policy but also a fundamental pillar of its identity and vision for a more stable and prosperous world. We continue to believe in the power of global cooperation to address shared challenges and achieve common goals. From the United Nations Charter to regional treaties and agreements, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), the EU upholds the principles of sovereignty, territorial integrity and the peaceful resolution of disputes through dialogue and diplomacy. The EU will therefore never recognize the illegal annexation of Ukrainian territory by Russia.

Ukraine ongoing defense of its sovereignty is not merely a struggle for its own future but also the reaffirmation of its European identity and aspirations. Despite facing immense challenges, Ukrainians have consistently chosen the path of closer integration with the European Union, driven by a desire for democratic values, human rights and economic prosperity. This shared vision of a European future for Ukraine enjoys unwavering support from its European partners, as evidenced by the EU’s decision to initiate accession negotiations with Ukraine in December 2023.

As the world reflects on the tragic events of two years past, it becomes painfully apparent that the cycle of conflict and suffering persists unabated. The anniversary of Russia’s invasion serves as a sobering reminder of the ongoing turmoil endured by nations worldwide. The urgent need for collective action to uphold international law and protect the most vulnerable populations cannot be overstated.

The EU and its member-states remain united in supporting Ukraine, diplomatically and on the international stage. Our assistance to Ukraine is political, financial, economic, humanitarian, military and diplomatic, standing in solidarity with its efforts to pursue democratic reforms and resist Russian military aggression. In total, EU support to Ukraine since the beginning of Russia’s war of aggression amounts to more than 71-billion-euro (approximately P4.3 trillion). The EU and its member-states have mobilized 28-billion-euro (P1.7 trillion) worth of military equipment, and more will come in the coming months. As recently as early February, EU member-states agreed on another 50-billion-euro (P3 trillion) package to provide Ukraine with predictable financing and to help to pay salaries, pensions and provide public services.

The importance of a Ukrainian victory over the Russian aggressor cannot be overstated. Such a victory would demonstrate the resilience of democratic nations in the face of authoritarian external aggression. It would reinforce the importance of collective action and solidarity in upholding the principles of the UN Charter and international law. It would serve as a powerful deterrent against further acts of aggression and expansionism by authoritarian regimes. A successful resistance therefore holds profound significance for regional stability, international norms and the future of global security.

It is therefore crucial that the international community continues to support Ukraine in this conflict. Seven United Nations General Assembly resolutions, adopted by resounding majorities, including the Philippines, affirm the international condemnation and isolation of Russia. By standing in solidarity with Ukraine, the Philippines and the European Union reinforce the global consensus against acts of aggression and violations of international law, sending a clear message that such actions will not be tolerated.

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Luc Veron is the Ambassador of the European Union.

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