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We must checkmate Russia

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2024 is expected to be a challenging and eventful year. While significant achievements have been acknowledged, there is ongoing debate about their sufficiency and what can enhance them further. Partnerships are seen as a key avenue for progress, and there is a mutual understanding that collaboration can yield greater outcomes - writes Vitaliy Gersak, volunteer soldier of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, lieutenant colonel, civil activist, and founder of the public organization "Free and Faithful".

There is a growing realization that a radical and unequivocal change in the ongoing conflict is imperative. While some advocate for a political and diplomatic breakthrough, others mistakenly view negotiations with the enemy and maintaining the current front-line Status Quo as a solution. The latter is deemed dangerous and misguided, as it fails to bring us closer to peace.

For Ukraine, this war is a battle for survival against total destruction, but it holds equal significance for the Western world. Apart from disrupting trade routes and posing unprecedented environmental threats, the conflict directly impacts global food security. Furthermore, it raises questions about the ability of the Euro-Atlantic value system to defend itself and the strength of democracies. The resolution of these issues is crucial, as the outcome will shape the world's future and agenda.

The conscious Ukrainian society reacts sensitively to delays in international aid, unfriendly behavior from certain European leaders, and skepticism regarding Ukraine's full integration into the EU and NATO. Western aid to Ukraine is seen as a means for both parties to strengthen, not as a loss for the West. The anticipated aid from the USA and the EU is eagerly awaited, with the hope that it will be approved and delivered promptly.

There is a sentiment that international partners may underestimate both Ukraine and themselves. The ongoing conflict has brought about a moral upheaval globally, challenging Cold War-era myths and geopolitical narratives. The cooperation between Ukraine and its allies has demonstrated the strength of democracies in protecting shared values.

In less than two years, Ukraine, alongside international partners, has achieved more in transforming political consciousness than the last three decades. The resilience of Ukrainians and the support received have created 40 million new value-oriented citizens, contributing to positive change.

While Ukraine faces challenges on its own, as part of the democratic world, there is strength and a promising perspective. The call is not for miracles but for focused collaboration towards victory.

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It is proposed to make a decisive move on the European chessboard by initiating official negotiations on Ukraine's accession to the EU in early 2024. Directed funds, including confiscated Russian assets, could aid Ukraine's economic recovery. This move would stimulate reforms, economic revitalization, and societal uplift.

The next strategic step to a turning point in this war must be Putin’s “checkmate:” inviting Ukraine to NATO at the Washington Summit in July 2024. This is not perceived as a plea for NATO to replace Ukrainian efforts and shift the Russian-Ukrainian war onto their shoulders. There is no need to fight instead of us and send NATO ground forces to Maryinka or Avdiivka. We will win our war ourselves!

We rely on NATO, first of all, as a force that clears mines, unblocks and ensures freedom of navigation in the Black Sea, protects civil infrastructure, takes control of airspace, helps in strengthening the Northern border, and returns safe life to Sumy, Chernihiv, Kharkiv, Odessa, Kherson and Mykolaiv. I fully agree with former US Special Representative for Ukraine Kurt Volker https://cepa.org/article/bringing-ukraine-into-nato-without-world-war-iii/) that "Article 5" does not provide for automatic use of NATO ground forces in Ukraine, as well as the fact that Ukraine's accession to NATO will not cause any additional escalation in the war with Russia (where else?).

Such a political and diplomatic move is anticipated to be a genuine turning point in the war, demonstrating sincerity and maximum effort from all involved.

The author: Vitaliy Gersak, volunteer soldier of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, lieutenant colonel, civil activist, and founder of the public organization Free and Faithful.

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