Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga: "Putin has gone beyond all bounds of acceptable international behavior"

Former Latvian President (1999-2007) Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga has given LSM her response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. As usual it is articulate, insightful and very much to the point. It is reproduced below.

Our worst fears have become reality and every faint hope for peace we might still have had has been brutally dashed at 5 am on 24 Wednesday 2022. Ukraine, an independent, sovereign nation, long encircled by enemy troops, has now been blatantly invaded from three directions of the compass.

Every principle of international law, every treaty and declaration of the UN has been breached by the Russian Federation, the very nation that at this moment – in a grotesque irony - presides the Security Council of the UN.

The President of the Russian Federation has been complaining for years that the Western world he abhors did not listen closely enough to his monomaniacal delusions of grandeur, to his mendacious rewriting of history, to his more and more openly burning rage at Russia having lost the full power to terrify and subjugate all its neighbors and beyond.

He set himself the impossible mission of erasing time and turning back history. He kept proclaiming Russia’s exceptionalism, he reminded the world of his nuclear arsenal, and kept insisting on his personal right as its president to order and decree just what his neighbouring nations would be allowed to do or not. Whenever they dared to take steps in the direction of true independence and democratic development, President Putin took this as a personal wound to his narcissism and his inner rage and resentment burned all the more brightly.

In his decision to invade Ukraine, President Putin has gone beyond all bounds of acceptable international behavior. It is now high time the US and EU countries who have been desperately threatening sanctions as a means of deterrence now face reality and get down to really imposing them. Not think about doing so, not talk about it, but do it and do it now, immediately, to-day, without further delay.

Not decorative sanctions on hapless Duma deputies of whom most will have few assets to freeze, not conscience-salving measures targeting a few million of the total assets of mega-billionaires, but systemic, nation-wide, serious financial and banking sanctions that will have bite and that will be felt.

Let us not be deceived into believing that there is only “a Ukrainian crisis”, “a Ukrainian problem” or “a NATO problem”. There is a catastrophic Russian problem that threatens the security of the whole of Europe and of the North American continent along with it. Do let us wake up and do something about it.

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