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Op-Ed of the Ambassador of the European Union to Indonesia, Vincent Piket: Russia’s War of Aggression Against Ukraine, One Year On

For a year now, the European continent has been shaken by the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine. Hundreds of thousands of soldiers have been killed, the majority of whom are Russians, along with tens of thousands of Ukrainian civilian casualties.

The war has forced 8.5 million Ukrainians to flee their homes, of whom 4.5 million have sought refuge in the European Union (EU).

Russia’s war continues unabated, destroying critical and civilian infrastructure, including power plants and residential buildings, exposing people to blackouts and heating cuts in mid-winter or leaving them homeless. Moreover, it is causing psychological scars on millions of Ukrainians.

What future for the countless traumatized orphans and young people of Ukraine?

Russia’s war affects not just Ukraine but the entire world. Indeed, it is about an authoritarian regime that attacks a neighboring country in utter violation of the United Nations (UN) Charter.

Russia’s war of aggression undermines the rules-based, international order to which both Indonesia and the EU adhere. The war has upset the world economy, destroying half of Ukraine’s output of wheat and vegetable oils, with Russia blockading Ukraine’s ports and suspending its own fertilizer exports.

Everyone is suffering from this: Europe, Africa, and Asia, including Indonesia. Russia is spreading lies about the cause of the global food and energy crises.

Let me underline that the EU’s sanctions are not to blame: we have adopted restrictive measures against high-ranking Russian officials and oligarchs, but we have no sanctions on agricultural products, fertilizers, or feedstuffs. The responsibility for the shock to the world’s supply chains lies squarely in Moscow.

The European Union is committed to peace. To secure it, we have to help Ukraine defend itself in accordance with one of the core provisions of the UN Charter: collective self-defense.

This is why the EU gives Ukraine financial and military aid. While doing so, we are also helping the rest of the world cope with the economic fallout of the war.

With our support to the UN Black Sea Grain initiative, for instance, along with the EU Solidarity Lanes initiative, we are helping to stabilize global food prices by facilitating the export of grain and agricultural products to the world.

Our cap on the price of Russian oil, moreover, stops Russia from profiteering from the ultra-high energy prices we saw in 2022: prices have since normalized to the benefit of Indonesia and other energy importers.

The war in Ukraine is a geopolitical alarm bell for Europe. We had thought that, with the fall of the Iron Curtain, wars of aggression had become an impossibility.

The present war poses a direct threat to the territorial integrity of several EU member states. Russia is reverting to Cold War propaganda. While it suppresses free journalism at home, it abuses the freedom of the press in Europe and countries such as Indonesia by spreading ghastly disinformation.

Russia’s war in Ukraine is also an alarm bell for all democratic countries, including Indonesia that nurture the UN Charter, democracy, and civil liberties.

What if other countries decided to follow Russia’s example and deny a country’s right to exist independently within its internationally recognized borders? Freedom and democracy cannot be taken for granted. Free peoples have to defend and stand for civil rights, liberties, and peace.

The EU will make every effort to help Ukraine, to stop the war, and to mitigate its global economic and humanitarian costs. In doing so, we also look to Indonesia as a global leader.

The Indonesian government has supported the UN General Assembly Resolutions condemning Russia’s breach of the UN Charter and of the principles of national sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Indonesia and the EU countries belong to the 140 UN members that see eye-to-eye on this. Under Indonesia’s Presidency, the G20 leaders adopted a Declaration deploring “the aggression by the Russian Federation against Ukraine and demand[ing] its complete and unconditional withdrawal from the territory of Ukraine”.

Our unity on that fundamental principle—the primacy of the UN Charter—will continue to guide us in pursuing peace in Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders.

Vincent Piket is the Ambassador of the European Union (EU) to Indonesia. The views expressed in this article are shared by the Ambassadors of Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, and Sweden. 

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