The War in Ukraine is a Test for Liberal Democ­ra­cies’ Resolve

Oppo­si­tion politi­cian Vladimir Milov and Memorial-cofounder Irina Scherbakowa; Photos: Tobias Kunz /​ LibMod

The war in Ukraine is a test for liberal democ­ra­cies’ resolve and for their capacity to act. There is still time to turn the tide. Otherwise, future histo­rians will mark this war as a turning point in the decline of liberal democ­ra­cies. Read Ralf Fücks’ summary of this year’s inter­na­tional LibMod confer­ence “Russia and the West”.

What impressed me most on this day full of intensive, serious discus­sions was how partic­i­pants from Ukraine, Sweden, Poland, Britain, the Baltic states and also Russian oppo­si­tion repre­sen­ta­tives held up the mirror in front of Germany. There is a signif­i­cant differ­ence between their analysis and their language and the German discourse. They openly say what you don’t hear from Olaf Scholz:

Portrait von Ralf Fücks

Ralf Fücks is managing director of the Center for Liberal Modernity.

1) This is also our war. Not because we wanted it, but because Putin declared war on the West.

2) If you don’t want to win a war against an opponent who is deter­mined to do anything, you have already lost it. Germany’s ‘middle path’ – neither Russia nor Ukraine should win the war – is wrong. Ukraine will either win or lose this war – and a Russian victory would have cata­strophic conse­quences for us, for Europe and for the future of the inter­na­tional order. The West urgently needs a strategy for victory in Ukraine with every­thing that is necessary for this.

3) Last year, Russia invested around 120 billion dollars in the war, which is 5.2 per cent of Russia’s gross national product. Europe’s support for Ukraine in 2023 amounted to just under 50 billion dollars or 0.25 per cent of Europe’s GDP. Putin has appointed an economist to head the Defence Ministry to boost war produc­tion. If we don’t finally ramp up our arms and ammu­ni­tion supplies on a massive scale, Ukraine will lose the war. And Putin will not stop with the conquest of Kharkiv and Odesa.

4) Chan­cellor Scholz is putting the brakes on arms deliv­eries to Ukraine – no Taurus missiles, no fighter jets, too little of every­thing else and too late – out of fear that Putin escalates the war and of a possible collapse of the Russian regime. These are the wrong fears. We should be much more afraid of a Russian victory. And we must finally draw red lines for Putin instead of constantly worrying about his red lines.

5) Don’t be afraid of regime change in Moscow. With the present regime there is neither sustain­able peace in Europe nor the prospect of demo­c­ratic reforms. Defeat in Ukraine is the only chance for positive change in Russia.

6) Tighten sanctions. It’s a joke that Ukraine is in danger of losing the war for lack of resources, while 300 billion Russian state assets are sitting in European banks that can be used to support Ukraine. At the same time, Western tech­nology vital to the war is still being channeled to Russia via third countries, and more than 2,000 Western companies are still active in Russia and paying taxes to the regime. The circum­ven­tion of sanctions via third countries must be stopped at last.

7) The initia­tive for a special inter­na­tional tribunal against the Russian lead­er­ship for the crime of aggres­sion needs to be relaunched. If inter­na­tional law is not to become a waste of paper, Putin and his henchmen must be held account­able for the war crimes in Ukraine.

8) Open up a perspec­tive for a post-imperial Russia: This is not about bringing Russia to its knees or humil­i­ating it. A Russia that is no longer a threat to its neigh­bours and respects inter­na­tional law deserves an open door for coop­er­a­tion. Today, this means above all supporting the demo­c­ratic oppo­si­tion. This is where the hope for a different Russia lies.

To sum up: The war in Ukraine is a test of the resolve and ability to act of liberal democ­ra­cies. Who has more staying power? If the Moscow-Tehran-Beijing axis proves to be stronger, dark times will dawn, and not just for Ukraine. There is still time to turn the tide. Otherwise, future histo­rians will mark the Ukraine war as a turning point in the decline of liberal democracies.

The confer­ence Russia and the West has been held annually since 2018. Since 2023, it is the flagship event of our Expert Network Russia. Find more infor­ma­tion about the network here.

Read this text in German here.




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