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NATO’s Goal for Ukraine Must Be To Defeat Russia and Replace Putin

A U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft sits parked on flight line at MacDill Air Force Base, Sept. 8, 2021. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Lauren Cobin).

US and NATO’s Should Declare its Goal as Russia’s Defeat in Ukraine: The West should clarify its goals in Ukraine. The U.S. and NATO should state that their twin goals for the war in Ukraine should be Russia’s military defeat leading to the replacement of President Vladimir Putin. Military defeat will lead to regime change in Russia and Putin’s replacement by a pragmatic nationalist more open to negotiating a Russian withdrawal to its positions prior to the 24 February invasion in return for the lifting of sanctions.

Why This Is Possible

The NATO Madrid summit brought unity and reinvigorated the military alliance. Putin’s illegal invasion of Ukraine and horrific war crimes have created an irreversible break between Russia and the West. Most Europeans and North Americans have lost their illusions of integrating Russia into the West and no longer believe Russia is a reliable partner. Many experts and political leaders now call for a break in economic, cultural, and even diplomatic ties with Russia.

In clarifying its goals in the war in Ukraine, NATO should understand that compromise is understood by Soviet and Russian nationalists like Putin as a dirty Anglo-Saxon word. Putin’s KGB mindset only understands capitulation and submission to the Tsar. In Putin’s world, there are only subjects and serfs, not citizens.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that the war would end today if ‘Ukrainians ‘lay down their arms, an order is given for the Ukrainian military to lay down their arms, and the conditions of the Russian Federation must be met.’ Ukrainian Defence Minister Oleksiy Reznikov said, “there will definitely be no Minsk-3, there will be no capitulation agreements, and no one will negotiate with a gun to one’s head”.

NATO leaders should support Russia’s military defeat in Ukraine by providing President Zelenskyy with everything that is required to achieve this.  It is impossible to negotiate with terrorists in the Kremlin who only understand force and who ridicule compromise.

The US and NATO should assist Ukraine to defeat Russia’s military by liberating southern Ukraine, starting with the Kherson region lying directly north of Crimea to which it supplies fresh water. The liberation of Kherson would open the path for Ukrainian military advances towards occupied Zaporizhzhya and Mariupol. Putin would not survive Ukraine’s liberation of southeastern Ukraine and he would be replaced by a palace coup.

A Five-Step Plan

Towards the goal of Russia’s defeat, NATO members should undertake five steps.

Firstly, increase and speed up existing promises of heavy military equipment that can counter Russia’s advantage in artillery. Western military equipment is far superior to Russian and the Kremlin is having to use old stocks, such as the T-62 tank which is decades out of date.

Secondly, provide Ukraine with missile defenses and anti-aircraft military equipment to end Russia’s terrorism against Ukraine’s civilians, as in the criminal missile attacks on a supermarket in Kremenchuh and a market in Slovyansk that killed many innocent civilians. The U.S. should also rescind its requirement to Ukraine to not use US military systems to attack military targets, communications, and oil supply depots inside the Russian Federation.

Thirdly, increasing NATO’s cooperation within the realm of intelligence sharing would provide Ukraine with the means to attack and destroy Russian command and control centres, senior officers (especially those involved in war crimes), and intelligence headquarters. Russia has already lost 15 generals in the war in Ukraine.

Fourthly, NATO should increase its covert support and training to Ukrainian special forces conducting partisan operations against Russia’s occupation of south-eastern Ukraine and Russian military targets in the Black Sea (including the symbolically important Kerch bridge connecting Crimea with Russia’s North Caucasus) and inside the Russian Federation.

Finally, NATO members should organize a flotilla of ships under UN flags to break Russia’s blockade of Ukraine’s grain exports. Russia’s illegal blockade is threatening famine for millions of people and political instability in the Middle East and Africa that will lead to another wave of refugees fleeing to Europe.

NATO’s Madrid summit showed the West is united, strong, and supports Ukraine. But NATO leaders need to understand the Kremlin’s threats to Ukraine and Europe’s security will only come to an end when Putin has left the Kremlin for good. If Putin continues to rule Russia, there will be no end to the war in Ukraine. The U.S. and NATO should therefore openly declare that its goal in supporting Ukraine is Russia’s military defeat leading to regime change in Russia.

Taras Kuzio is a professor of political science at the National University of Kyiv Mohyla Academy and author of the just-published Russian Nationalism and the Russian-Ukrainian War

Written By

Taras Kuzio is a professor of political science at the National University of Kyiv Mohyla Academy and author of the just-published Russian Nationalism and the Russian-Ukrainian War.