Putin’s failure to admit his mistake is prolonging the conflict

Russia refuses to admit its mistake in invading Ukraine. The situation in the war-torn country is becoming prolonged. The international community must reject Russia’s unreasonable claims and threats, and step up pressure on Moscow to bring the situation under control.

More than two months after the invasion, Russian forces are still launching attacks on civilian facilities and other targets in Ukraine in an attempt to expand their area of control, mainly in the eastern and southern parts of the country. The staunch resistance from the Ukrainian military continues. Back-and-forth battles are unlikely to change for the time being.

North Atlantic Treaty Organization Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has referred to “the possibility that this war will drag on and last for months and years.” Russia may have been aiming to declare victory in the war against Ukraine on May 9 to coincide with Victory Day in Russia, the day Nazi Germany was defeated in 1945, but the end result appears to be a miscalculation.

All the responsibility lies with Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has refused to listen to harsh criticism from the international community and has not responded to attempts to resolve the situation through diplomacy.

When U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres visited Moscow and called on Russia to end the attacks, stating that the invasion was a violation of the U.N. Charter, Putin insisted that Ukraine was to blame. Putin also denied that Russian troops were massacring civilians.

The exchange between Guterres and Putin was broadcast on Russian television, giving the impression that Putin was threatening Guterres. Russia’s intention to use the talks as one-sided propaganda was obvious.

During Guterres’ subsequent visit to Kyiv, Russian missiles were fired at the Ukrainian capital. It was an outrageous challenge to the authority of the United Nations.

It is unacceptable that Russia is abdicating its responsibility as one of the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council — which plays a role in maintaining world peace — and undermining the international rules-based order.

Putin has also repeatedly threatened Western nations by indicting that he would use nuclear weapons if they intervene in Ukraine, saying, “Our retaliatory strikes will be lightning fast,” and “We have all the tools for this … that no one else can boast of having right now.” Such comments are abominable.

The international community needs to step up sanctions against Russia and strengthen support for Ukraine in preparation for a prolonged war. A situation must be created in which Putin will recognize the failure of the invasion and the weakening of Russia, and agree to a ceasefire or a total withdrawal of Russian troops.

Meanwhile, protecting civilians in Ukraine is a matter of urgency.

Evacuations have finally begun of people who had been seeking safety underground at a steel plant in the southeast Ukrainian city of Mariupol that is under siege by Russian troops. It is believed that Russia has responded to calls from the United Nations, but it remains to be seen whether all of the civilians will be able to escape into Ukrainian-controlled areas.

At the very least, Russia has a responsibility to stop attacking the steel plant and ensure evacuations can be conducted safely.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, May 4, 2022)