The capture of Mariupol has great strategic value for Russia.  (REUTERS)

The invasion of Russia a Ukraine It has already lasted more than two months and it is still unknown when it will end or how it will end.

Moscow it invaded the former Soviet republic on February 24 and initially made rapid gains in the south, with the main goal of creating a land corridor between Crimea, which it annexed in 2014, and areas held by Russian-backed separatists in Donetsk and Lugansk.

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The Russian forces continued towards kyiv, but withdrew in early April.

Since then, Russia has refocused its efforts on taking control of eastern and southern Ukraine.

The port city of Mariupol, which has been surrounded since early March, is now largely under the control of Russian forces.

In this context, Europe is attentive to what is happening, especially the countries closest geographically to Russia.

Sweden and Finland, for example, are thinking about ceasing to be neutral and joining NATO, the military alliance of European countries, Canada and the United States.

One of the NATO member countries that shares a border with Russia is Estonia and its prime minister, Kaja Kallas, said in an interview with the BBC that this time the mistake should not be “made” of leaving the Russian government unpunished for the invasion. , because that leaves the message that “aggressing has its revenue”.

What are the objectives of the West?

The West should aim for Ukraine to win this war and for Putin to lose it. Why? Because if there is some kind of peace agreement and there is some kind of Cold War, everyone stays where they are.

That way, assaulting pays off, because not only do you take some of the neighbors’ land by force, but you also get appeasement in the end. We must not allow that.

Right now, the West should give Ukraine the military help it needs to fight Russia, so that Russia is pushed out [del territorio ucraniano] and let that message be left behind.

So it’s not just about Russia being forced to retreat to where it was before February 24?

That is still aggression.

The capture of Mariupol has great strategic value for Russia. (REUTERS)

Attention was drawn to comments by British Foreign Secretary Elizabeth Truss this week that Russia should be expelled from Ukraine as it is internationally recognized. That would mean not only complete withdrawal from Donbas, but also from Crimea. This is something you think should happen.

We have already made the mistake three times of knowing that Russia is using force against Ukraine and then they stay [en el territorio].

They all say that we must try to prevent them from advancing and that we forget about Crimea. What happens then is that aggression pays off. There is a pause of one year, two years, and then everything will continue. The atrocities will continue. Human suffering will continue. And we shouldn’t make that mistake again.

Clearly we have to get this message across that aggression never pays. It is a clear signal also for all the dictators of the world who may have an appetite for their neighbors or for their neighbors’ territories, and for Russia as well.

It is important to understand that although the Soviet Union collapsed, their imperialist dream never did because they were not punished.

Nazi crimes have been widely condemned, but communist crimes and the imperialist dream they support of Stalinism, which brought great atrocities to many countries, are not condemned.

Many millions were killed, and that is why there is great support in Russia for the steps that Putin is taking. We shouldn’t go through with this.

People are afraid of what Russia might do militarily, and that is if the Russians are pushed against the wall… we’ve seen Putin’s threats about a lightning-fast response to what NATO is doing. There is talk about a possible third world war, about possible nuclear deployment, that there are risks in taking such a maximalist approach to war goals in Ukraine.

First of all, they are not pushed against the wall, but pushed back to Russia. That is the point, that they are currently in a sovereign country and they are trying to take over it. They should be pushed back to where they came from.

The second thing is what I said that we have already made this mistake several times. The arguments have been exactly the same: “Let’s not provoke Russia. What else could they do?” And what happens? They forgive each other and they do all these things again, because they get away with aggression. The first time, the second time, the third time. That is why we must not make the same mistake again.

And third, the threats you mention from Russia are being made to scare us. They are very good at playing with fears, we are influenced by that fear, and we shouldn’t.

Bombed-out buildings in Ukraine remind Germans of the destruction of their own cities in World War II.  (GETTY IMAGES)
Bombed-out buildings in Ukraine remind Germans of the destruction of their own cities in World War II. (GETTY IMAGES)

To what extent are you worried? Many say that this war has entered a new phase of attrition. There is every chance that it will continue at least until the end of this year, possibly well into next year, that the West, that Europe, will remain united in their response to what is happening in Ukraine.

Of course, maintaining unity is getting more difficult as we go along. When this war started, everyone was shocked, but that feeling fades.

Also, we imposed sanctions that were only painful for Russia, but now they are also painful for the other side. That means for us too.

And of course, as we are all democracies, it is getting harder and harder to find that common approach and response, but I think we have to work at it. We have to try to maintain this unity because united we are strong, and divided is something that Russia really wants to see. We shouldn’t give them that. We must maintain this unity.

Are you disappointed by some of the reactions after Russia cut off gas supplies to Poland and Bulgaria due to non-payment in rubles? The big gas companies in Hungary, Germany, Italy or Austria are using a mechanism to get around the problem of paying in rubles.

Of course we have to have a united position, but at the same time, when I say this, I also understand the difficult decisions that different democratic leaders face, because for those countries that have much better neighbors than us, it is very difficult to explain to people why what one or another step could hurt them with higher prices, why this type of step is necessary.

But I think we all need to understand that our neighbors’ problems today are our problems tomorrow, which means that if we don’t put out the fire that’s going on in our neighbor’s house, our house could catch on fire. Even if it seems to some countries that it is far away, it is not. It is our common European security that is at issue here.

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