by Ariana Gic and Roman Sohn
We love you! We are with you!
We support you!
Your courageous fight against Russian forces is the stuff of legend!
You have inspired us!
You have reminded us of how precarious peace, freedom, and democracy are, and that they are worth fighting for!
Just not fighting for your freedom on your soil, shoulder-to-shoulder with you.
We will, of course, continue to marvel at your super human bravery as you stand unarmed in front of Russian tanks and bullets to protect your families and communities.
We will shake with anger as we watch entire Ukrainian towns erased from existence, and cry over images of devastated parents holding the limp, lifeless bodies of their young children killed by Russian missiles.
We will post supportive hashtags on social media. We will put blue and yellow banners on our social profiles, light up our national landmarks in your national colours, and march for peace.
But, dear Ukraine, you must know that our love, support, concern, and commitment have limits.
We see that Russia is raining hell on you, trying to obliterate you from existence. We know Moscow is using nuclear threats as blackmail. We know it is capturing nuclear power plants and critical civilian infrastructure, creating a risk of environmental and humanitarian catastrophe.
But do not expect us to set deterrents that will protect even our own citizens from such calamities on your territory.
We will do what we believe is “reasonable” to support you and help you defend yourselves.
But, dear Ukraine, we are very sorry, we will not do the things that will stop Russia from decimating your country now, and will help you win the war.
We will belatedly introduce half measures and incomplete sanctions, making Putin more confident than ever that he can achieve his goals in Ukraine.
We will ignore that Moscow treats all forms of support for you as “acts of war” against Russia. We will make false distinctions between NATO weapons and NATO soldiers, even though the Kremlin sees no difference between the two.
We will pretend that the United States never clashed with Russian forces in Syria, or that Turkey didn’t shoot down a Russian warplane to avoid undermining our claim that coming head to head military means the end of the world.
We will refuse to protect the sky over your land to save the lives of innocent civilians from indiscriminate and deliberate bombardment. We will insist we cannot “provoke” a “third World War” with a nuclear giant, ignoring that Moscow has not nuked you for shooting down Russian planes in defence.
Russia has not deployed nuclear weapons against you in response to your defence, but we will operate in fear that Moscow will do it to us even though we possess nuclear weapons, too.
We will ignore that while NATO has no formal obligation to support you, our nations are not prohibited from doing so.
We will cite your lack of membership in the alliance as cause NOT to be involved, ignoring that we have not allowed you in despite your expressed aspirations to join because we did not want to “provoke” Russia.
We will ignore our moral obligation to you and to the future generations of our own nations.
We will make irrational and illogical arguments based on false premises and fake nuances to avoid doing the right thing.
We’ve avoided doing the right thing for you since Russia invaded in 2014, pretending that you have been fighting “Russia-backed separatists,” not Moscow itself. For eight years, we’ve professed our concern and support, but refused to do all the small things that would have helped prevent this unraveling disaster which now requires massive intervention.
We just feel more comfortable dealing with the tragic consequences of Russia’s evil than taking more resolute actions that would prevent them.
And while we are glad to hear your gratitude for our support, we do not take kindly to any criticism of our past mistakes or our continued insufficient support. As Russia tries to eliminate the Ukrainian nation from existence, we expect you to happily accept what is not enough from us. Do not alienate our support with your anger and frustration as you fight for your very existence.
Dear Ukraine, we love you. We do.
We admire your heroism, courage, and strength.
But when we say that you have united us to protect freedom and democracy, we really mean unity to protect our freedom and democracy.
And we will ignore that by not doing what is essential to save yours, we will invite the mad dictatorial regime to strike against other nations.
Dear Ukraine, how we love you so. But you must understand our love has its limits.
*This love letter to Ukraine is dedicated not to Ukraine’s friends who have for years demanded and fought for the right measures to stop Russia, but to its friends who have the power to draw bright red lines for Moscow, but instead chose to draw them for the support offered to Russia’s innocent victims.
Ariana Gic, Political and legal analyst, Director, Direct Initiative International Centre for Ukraine
Roman Sohn, Legal expert, Chairman, Direct Initiative International Centre for Ukraine