Make Putin realize Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is wrong

Atrocities committed by the Russian military in Ukraine have been revealed one after another. The situation has become more serious. The United States, Europe and Japan must unite and increase pressure on Russia so that its invasion ends in failure.

Following the withdrawal of Russian troops from suburbs of the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, many residents are thought to be missing in areas including Bucha and Hostomel. There are strong suspicions that Russian soldiers who had been occupying those areas systematically committed such acts as killing, abduction, torture and assault of women.

A Russian state-run new agency carried a commentary calling for the full elimination of Ukrainians who resist Russia. The actions of the Russian military are not only war crimes, but may amount to genocide, the mass extermination of a particular group.

The fact that the invasion has not been proceeding as Moscow expected due to the resistance of the Ukrainian military is thought to be behind the barbaric acts of the Russian military. Russia has given up on Kyiv for the time being and is poised to launch an offensive in the eastern and southern parts of Ukraine. There have been no signs that Russia will abandon its tactics of terrorizing residents and forcing them to surrender.

Russian President Vladimir Putin bears full responsibility. Accurate information on the war situation and sound advice from close aides may not get to Putin as Russia is under a dictatorship that does not tolerate dissent. It can be said that Putin has got himself into a situation in which it is difficult to make normal analyses and judgments.

With the situation expected to be prolonged, the international community needs to do its utmost until Putin admits his mistake and withdraws the Russian military completely.

The United States has announced additional sanctions against Russia’s largest bank, freezing its assets in the United States and banning it from doing business with companies and individuals. Britain will ban imports of Russian coal and natural gas, while the European Union is also coordinating a coal embargo among member nations.

The sanctions are aimed at making it difficult for Moscow to earn foreign currency, and manufacture and procure weapons, thereby weakening Russia’s ability to wage war. Countries that impose sanctions cannot avoid the pain of rising resource prices, among other things. However, the sanctions should be handled from the perspective that Russia is at war with the international community.

It is also important to expand military assistance to Ukraine. The outcome of cease-fire talks is directly related to the war situation. If Ukraine can continue to repel the Russian forces, it would strengthen its position in the negotiations and the possibility of extracting concessions from Russia will emerge.

In Belgium, members of the Group of Seven advanced nations and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) held a series of foreign ministers’ meetings. Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi participated in the NATO foreign ministers’ meeting for the first time as a partner nation.

NATO, a North American and European alliance, is increasingly aware of the threat posed by China. Japan must make use of its cooperative relationship with NATO for the stability of the Indo-Pacific region.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, April 8, 2022)