OPINION COMMENTARY: Ukraine Needs More Than Sympathy From the West to Beat Russia. I know sending us planes and weapons is risky. But the risks of inaction are even greater.

15 March 2022

Original publication: https://on.wsj.com/3CHUfPm

By Victor Pinchuk

In Europe blue and yellow paint are in short supply. Europeans are asking themselves in desperation, “If we run out, how will we be able to support Ukraine?”

My daughter told me that dark joke. As a proud Ukrainian, I have been deeply moved by the many expressions of solidarity with my country and its people. Refugees are received with warmth and hospitality. People around the world are sending donations of all kinds. Europe and the U.S. have taken tangible steps that were unthinkable not long ago to help Ukraine defend itself against Russia’s unprovoked and barbaric invasion. Political leaders have made clear that they will increase the pressure and consider further measures. I even hear that Western capitals may send planes to Ukraine.

We are grateful for all this. But while you debate and develop sympathy, Ukraine is being destroyed. Russian planes are dropping bombs on our children and firing missiles into hospitals, schools and factories. Where they face the resistance of Ukrainian fighting men and women, they double down with savagery and flatten city blocks — and the human beings in them.

While the West worries about violating rules of warfare and takes care not to expand the conflict, Russia abides by no such restraints, using mass deception, false-flag attacks, forbidden arms, mercenaries and terrorists. Because Russia has failed to bomb Ukraine into submission, it tries ever more violent and brutal ways of war.

We thank you for the food, the money, the sympathy and the painted blue-and-yellow flags. But if you want to save us, Ukraine needs planes, antiaircraft and antitank missiles, armed drones and other weapons of war. So I beg our friends in the West: Please give us weapons. Stop buying coal and oil from Russia. Don’t think about it; don’t evaluate options; don’t consider. Just do it. Time is life. I ask the European Union to make Ukraine a candidate for membership. An independent Ukraine belongs in the EU.

I know these actions entail risks. But in a deadly fight, you can’t help without taking risks. And there are even greater risks to inaction. What will happen if you let Russia tear up the international system, destroy a sovereign nation, commit mass murder?

The aggressor can be stopped only with force. We have to match brutality with speed, decisiveness and determination. We can’t keep worrying that the aggressor will escalate. We must make him worry that we can also escalate.

Ukraine will never be beaten. But many Ukrainians will die; their families will be destroyed; their cities will turn into rubble. These are ordinary, peace-loving people who have never thought of attacking anyone, who only seek a life of peace and tranquility and aspire to be a modern European country.

When Hitler’s forces were converging on Britain in February 1941, Churchill said to Franklin D. Roosevelt, “Give us the tools and we will do the job.” That’s what Ukrainians ask for today: the tools to defeat a brutal tyrant who has attacked a peace-loving, free democracy because it is a free democracy.

In this moment of crisis, Ukrainians don’t say SOS, “save our souls.” Ukrainians’ lives are in danger, but our souls are safe. We say to you: Save your souls.

Mr. Pinchuk is a Ukrainian industrialist and philanthropist.

Back to news list
Chrystia Freeland
Chrystia Freeland
9th YES Annual Meeting, 2012
«You should have the uniting idea that will be supported by all political parties, that will keep your country on a single path»