Donald Trump is reported to have said that he can stop Russia’s war against Ukraine by forcing Ukraine to give up occupied Crimea and the Donbas. Ukraine agreeing to territorial concessions would set off a chain reaction leading to the end of the post-World War II order and augur a dark age of might-is-right imperialism.

It’s vital to understand that Ukraine giving up Crimea and the Donbas isn’t just a geopolitical event affecting Ukraine. Look at the international landscape. China is openly talking about invading Taiwan. Armenia and Azerbaijan clash over Nagorno-Karabakh. Iran has just launched a heavy barrage of drones in a massive strike on Israel in retaliation for its alleged strike on the Iranian consulate in Syria. The consequences of the unprecedented Iranian attack are yet to be seen. The crisis is ongoing.  There are many more frozen and active conflicts around the world.

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The end of NATO

If Ukraine is forced to give up a chunk of its territory, not only will it embolden Vladimir Putin but the whole international order will collapse. Borders will no longer be sacrosanct. With the US steeped in isolationism, we have a perfect storm brewing on the planet, potentially leading to a global conflagration. In the worst case scenario of Ukraine losing the war, even medium-sized nations such as Poland won’t be protected by the international law and the might of NATO anymore.

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Kyiv has been battling a Russian land assault on its northeastern Kharkiv region since May 10, when thousands of troops stormed the border, making their biggest territorial advances in 18 months.

We seem to have forgotten Putin’s December 2021 ultimatum in which he demanded the withdrawal of NATO’s infrastructure and capabilities from the territories that were not part of NATO in 1997. Putin wants a weak Poland because a vulnerable Poland is essentially a Russian puppet state. US President Joe Biden talks about NATO’s territory being sacrosanct but Russia has proved several times that’s not the case by sending missiles into Polish airspace.

There was no reaction of NATO for fear of escalation. Maybe escalation is happening precisely because there’s no reaction? The same logic applies to giving up territories to appease Russia. Appeasement didn’t work before the World War II and won’t work now. It’s profoundly perplexing that politicians and prominent geopolitical strategists don’t seem to learn from history.

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Sooner rather than later, as we come closer to the likely global conflagration, each of us will have to decide: “Do I sit on the sidelines, or do I get involved?

A less than rational actor

Appeasing and negotiating makes sense when we deal with a rational actor. Is Putin rational? Will he honor any deal that he makes? It might be counterproductive to speculate about the Russian President’s mental health, but let’s look at the facts. It’s safe to say Putin could be suffering from a serious mental disorder.

Does anyone in their right mind randomly embark on a 30-minute diatribe about made-up history to justify the so-called denazification of Ukraine? His fixation on Ukraine alone points to serious mental issues. Even Tucker Carlson said the whole denazification idea is the dumbest thing he’s ever heard. It would appear that Putin sincerely believes in the vision of the world he is trying to impose on the rest of us. And, sadly, the Russian President has the power to turn his vile visions into reality if he’s allowed to get away with it.

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If we lived in a normal world, Russia would have been put in her place a long time ago. But, in our reality, where Ukraine is condemned for striking Russian territory and assassinating Russian propagandists is off-limits because they are just civilians, it’s highly unlikely that Russia is going to be properly punished for her atrocities in Ukraine.

The misguided diplomatic dance of trying to appease Russia will likely continue, leading us down the path of genocide in Ukraine. Just look at the Russian bombardment of Kharkiv. Russia is clearly trying to make the city unlivable. This genocidal scenario will likely expand to the whole of Ukraine if the country doesn’t get the American aid it so desperately needs.

The consequences of Ukrainian defeat are going to be profound for all of us.

This isn’t the time to sit on the sidelines and do nothing because of fear or greed. Sooner rather than later, as we come closer to the likely global conflagration, each of us will have to decide: “Do I sit on the sidelines, or do I get involved? If I want to get involved, what’s the extent of my involvement?”

For now, we must do all we can to help Ukraine preserve its territorial integrity. This isn’t some reality show you can turn off when it’s gotten boring or annoying. What happens in Ukraine will affect the planet for generations. We must make the right decision and help Ukraine before it’s too late.

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The views expressed in this opinion article are the author’s and not necessarily those of Kyiv Post. 

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