Crucial moment for global community to strengthen its unity

This is a crucial moment in which the solidarity of the democratic camp to maintain the international order is being tested. Russia is trampling the rule of law under foot and engaging in numerous barbaric acts in Ukraine — it must not be allowed to take advantage of a break in the democratic world’s unity.

Aug. 24 marked six months since Russia began its invasion of Ukraine.

More than 5,000 civilians have been killed in Ukraine, according to a U.N. agency. About 6.65 million people have fled to other countries, and the humanitarian crisis continues. As of June, the death toll among soldiers had reached about 10,000.

It is estimated that tens of thousands on the Russian side have been killed in action. The Russian military has expanded its areas under its control in eastern and southern Ukraine, but Ukrainian forces are fighting to regain them. The conflict has fallen into a stalemate, and it looks highly likely to become a war of attrition in which the number of victims increases with no way out in sight.

The biggest problem at the moment is that Russia has made the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine one of its strongholds and deployed weapons and military vehicles there. Earlier this month, shells landed near a storage facility for spent nuclear fuel.

One misstep could cause a disaster in which radioactive material spreads widely. Russia’s tactic of occupying a nuclear power plant is heinous, a terrible act that takes the entire human race hostage.

The Russian military must immediately withdraw from the nuclear power facility. The United Nations and others need to mediate negotiations and promote the creation of a demilitarized zone around the plant. Lessons should be drawn from the agreement that was reached on resuming grain exports from Ukraine.

Russia’s prolonged invasion of Ukraine has caused energy and food prices to soar, severely damaging the global economy. In the Middle East, Africa and elsewhere, fears of a food crisis continue.

In response to sanctions imposed on Russia by the United States, European nations, Japan and other countries, Moscow has attempted to drive a wedge into their unity by suspending or reducing its supply of natural gas. This move is apparently aimed at heightening calls among these countries to prioritize the lives of their own people, rather than aid to Ukraine.

In fact, European countries are beginning to show signs of support fatigue. In Italy, the prime minister was forced to resign in July after a key coalition partner withdrew its support for his government by taking advantage of public discontent over rising prices. The administration of German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has also seen its approval ratings plummet.

The world will become even more dangerous if democratic states become less united and the Russian invasion succeeds. The negative impact will also extend to security in East Asia, where China is stepping up its military pressure on Taiwan.

It is important to explain to countries that have distanced themselves from the United States and Europe, and from Russia and China, the disadvantages that the collapse of the international order would bring about, and to actively urge them to join the circle of support for Ukraine and sanctions against Russia.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug. 24, 2022)