David McAllister (EPP, Germany), who chairs Parliament’s foreign affairs committee, said that the war in Ukraine reminded him of the darkest periods of European history. View the complete interview on Parliament’s YouTube channel for his thoughts on a possible international tribunal, the decision not to send tanks to Ukraine, and the possibility that there could be a ceasefire. This is the first year of Russia’s war in Ukraine. You can read some excerpts below.
This war is now nearly one year old. It seemed impossible to imagine it lasting this long.
Everybody was shocked when the full-fledged Russian invasion began on February 24, or as the Ukrainians would call it, “the second stage” of war. This began in 2014. It is hard to believe that anyone could have predicted such a result. We have seen that the Ukrainians are extremely brave in protecting their country, freedom and liberty. They are not only protecting their country but also defending European values.
What would you think of the impact this war is having on global geopolitics, and Europe specifically?
Our continent is now in the grip of war. This is a full-fledged war, a military escalation that many people thought impossible. This is more than a war between the largest European country, Russia Federation, and the second-largest, Ukraine. It is also a violent attack on European security and peace. We must be clear about condemning the actions and conduct of Mr Putin, a dictator and leader of a terrorist regime.
Would you agree that the European Union was too naive in its approach to Russia and Putin?
You can always look back and see what could have been better. In recent years, I believe we have seen that some of our members were too dependent upon Russian energy imports. This has been rectified. This has been corrected. The illegal 2014 annexation Crimea should have been a warning sign that the Kremlin man has a plan. This plan has been made public through many interviews and speeches over the past 10-15 years.
Putin and his entourage believe that the Russian spheres of influence encompass everything that was the Russian empire up to 1917 or the Soviet Union from 1991-92. This is completely bizarre. This is why we should support Ukraine right now. It’s about sending a clear message to the Russian dictator that it shouldn’t happen again.
The Parliament called for a tribunal for war crimes to investigate Russia’s actions against Ukraine. What is the necessary step to make such a tribunal a reality?
We are reminded of the darkest days of European history by what we saw in Ukraine. We have witnessed horrific war crimes. It is shocking to see the Russian forces commit such horrific war crimes, including killing civilians, raping women, and torturing innocent people. These are war crimes, and those responsible are war criminals.
Only one place is available for war criminals at the end: to be brought before an international tribunal for war crimes. The European Parliament, along with many other national parliaments, is in favor of an international tribunal to investigate war crimes committed in Ukraine by Russian armed forces. It is vital that all war crimes are documented. I pray that Mr Putin and other leaders will one day be held accountable.
While Europeans still support Ukraine, they are becoming more concerned about their daily lives and the impact of rising energy prices. How long can the EU continue to support Ukraine?
This war is obviously affecting EU citizens: rising energy prices, inflation rate, and other things. But compared to the weight of the brave Ukrainian people, with millions of children and mothers being forced to flee the country, and where men must fight on the frontline against Russian invaders… It’s not as burdensome as Ukraine.
It is amazing how strong the unity between Western societies is. I believe that EU citizens are well aware that the Russian dictatorship in Ukraine will not end the unity. He has already announced that he would target other countries. Consider Moldova and Georgia as two examples of countries that “dare” to pursue a pro-European, Euroatlantic integration policy. Russia is a dangerous country. It is a dangerous regime. It is a nuclear power with a lot of weapons. As long as Mr Putin remains in charge of the Kremlin, the biggest challenge facing Europe is how to deal with the Russian Federation. This will be the biggest challenge, and it is why we must remain united.
The support will continue as long as necessary?
We will continue to support Ukraine until the end. In the end, all wars will be over. To bring an end to war, ceasefire negotiations must be the first step. Russian Federation talks about the necessity for peace and ceasefire, and then on sending more troops to the frontline. They are bombarding Ukrainian cities. They attack civilian infrastructure.
I understand the Ukrainian leadership is not confident in the Russian leadership. We will continue to support Ukraine’s defense against the barbaric aggression of Russia Federation. When the conditions are right, then a ceasefire may be possible, which could lead to peace. While I pray for peace, it must not be dictated by Russia.
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