• Yomiuri Editorial

Putin Press Conference / Russia Must Not Prevail in Its Aggression Against Ukraine

In a clear violation of international law, Russia, through its ongoing aggression, intends to finally accomplish its goal of making Ukraine a vassal state.

This outrageous intention cannot be allowed to succeed; the international community must strengthen its solidarity.

Russian President Vladimir Putin recently conducted an annual year-end press conference, held to be a “direct line with the people of Russia.” Addressing Moscow’s actions in Ukraine, he said, “There will be peace when we achieve our goals.” He also reiterated his desire for the neutralization and demilitarization of that country.

Putin’s remarks indicate his intention for Russia to continue its aggression against Ukraine with the goal of overthrowing and disarming the administration of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy — who cooperates with the West — and imposing Russian rule on Ukraine. The Russian leader’s comments fly in the face of the U.N. Charter, which stipulates respect for sovereignty and territory. Putin’s statements are wholly unacceptable.

“Our armed forces are improving their position almost along the entire line of contact,” Putin said during the press conference. Although Ukraine’s counteroffensive has yet to yield concrete results, it does not mean that Russia has the upper hand. The battle lines remain stalemated.

Putin is likely concerned over the possibility of increased public dissatisfaction over Russia’s aggression if he fails to demonstrate his country’s “superiority” vis-a-vis Ukraine.

Last year’s year-end press conference was canceled following Russia’s moves against Ukraine. Immediately before the latest press conference, Putin formally announced his intention to run in a presidential election slated for March, and he will highly likely intensify his country’s Ukraine offensive so he can flaunt the results of the war as he prepares for reelection.

Fears have been raised over Russia’s possible attempts to expand its power to the three Baltic states and Poland in Eastern Europe if it prevails in its aggression against Ukraine. Such moves could also accelerate China’s attempts to change the status quo by force.

The international community must understand that Ukraine’s survival depends on global peace and stability, and strive to ensure that Russia’s aggression ends in failure.

The European Union has agreed to start negotiations on Ukraine’s long-awaited accession to the bloc. To join the EU, Ukraine must undergo various self-reforms, including stepping back from its tendency for corruption. Nevertheless, the bloc’s decision to begin membership talks is a step forward.

It can be said this is a strong message indicating that the EU will not give in to Russia’s threats and will continue to support Ukraine.

It is concerning that U.S. military assistance to Ukraine seems to be drying up. Approval of an additional budget proposal has been delayed due to objections from the opposition Republican Party, which has the upper hand in the U.S. House of Representatives.

It also has been suggested that Ukraine’s struggles are down to a lack of U.S. and European arms support. The United States should refrain from internal disputes, realize its responsibility as a superpower and put top priority on supporting Ukraine.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Dec. 18, 2023)