• Opine

The West needs to stand up against Putin

A weak response will empower other authoritarian countries

By Tomás Pizarro-Escuti

Photo courtesy of 7th Army Training Command via Flickr


Vladimir Putin has invaded Ukraine and has struck a blow to the world order. He has blatantly lied, claiming a few days ago that he was withdrawing his forces from Ukraine and accusing the Ukrainian government of being a Nazi regime—evidently a stupid lie because Vladimir Zelensky is of Jewish origin and his grandfather fought against the Third Reich. The former KGB agent dreams of re-establishing the borders of the Soviet Union and subject millions of people to Russian authoritarian hegemony. In Russia there has never been such a thing as freedom, it did not exist under the power of the Tsars, it did not exist under the darkness of the communist regime and it does not exist under Putin's government, which unscrupulously kills and imprisons its opponents.


Unfortunately, the western civilisation is clearly in decline—100 years ago Spengler already warned us. This is not rare, because throughout history many civilisations have fallen; Assyrians, Babylonians, Carthaginians, Phoenicians, Romans, Byzantines, etc.... However, I remain optimistic, I believe that this crisis gives us the opportunity to wake up and act.


What is the foundation of the Russian economy? The export of raw materials. Russia is the world's second largest exporter of oil, the largest supplier of gas to Europe, has an immense territory and a population of more than 140 million inhabitants. However, despite this rich natural wealth, Russia has a GDP smaller than that of Italy—which has none of these resources. It is the absence of freedom and authoritarian nepotism what allows Russia to invest in arms and not in its own people. This is why life expectancy in Russia is only 72 years (far below the life expectancy of Germany). NATO countries are by far more powerful, their economies are more developed, and their armed forces are much stronger, especially when they act together. The problem is that after two devastating world wars, Europeans have lost the will to fight and Russia, despite its limitations, has an imperial vocation and a hunger for power.

However, the greatest enemy of the free world is not Russia, it is China. NATO's lacklustre response is an open invitation for China to invade Taiwan and to position itself as the world's hegemonic power. It is a mistake to let a decadent power like Russia do what it wants in Europe, not only because of the horrors of war, but also because it is time to demonstrate that the west is still alive today. China has a 5000-year-old civilisation that deserves respect. However, it is 5000 years without liberty, the same absence of liberty that the Russians share.


Out of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, two are dictatorships that understand each other well. China supported Russia's invasion of Ukraine. They both share the view that the West is made up of decadent countries with anachronic and inefficient democracies where politicians are wasting their time with drugs, identity politics and sexual minorities. They perceive that in the current competition between systems, intensive labour, hierarchy, discipline and competitive economics will take precedence over Western decadence founded on liberal democracy.


What is at stake today is the relevance of democracy, the separation of powers, the checks and balances, freedom of opinion and human rights. The free world and the West must stop Russia before it is too late.