The article originally published on TVP World.
LVIV — In the past 24 hours, Russia has sent missiles to a funeral reception in a Kharkiv region village and directly to the city center of Kharkiv city. In the face of this ongoing evil, the West, including the White House, voices its support for Ukraine, but there is a sense that trust in Ukraine’s victory is wavering. And while Western businesses display the Ukrainian colors, some of them, amazingly, continue to do business in Russia.
Case in point: This week, Chicago-based American snack giant Mondelez hosted a “day of purpose” with the theme of “mindful snacking” on its products, including Oreos and Cadbury chocolates. On their homepage, they claim to be mindful of Ukraine. Yet Mondelez continues to operate in Russia, giving, according to estimates from the Kyiv School of Economics, at least USD 60 million to the Kremlin coffers.
According to the Kyiv School of Economics, in data compiled by Ukrainian NGO B4Ukraine.org, “American companies generated more revenue in the Russian market and paid more in taxes to the Russian government than any other country. These companies earned more than USD 40 billion in revenue, paying USD 712 million in profit tax (a huge underestimate of the actual corporate tax companies have to pay in Russia).”
Mondelez claims their products are simply providing sustenance to “ordinary” Russians, but this misses the mark: As Russian chess genius Gary Kasparov said at this week’s Warsaw Security Forum in Poland, it’s the ordinary people, through their silence, who enable genocidal evil such as what Russia is inflicting on Ukraine each day. What’s needed now is extraordinary action, akin to the resilience displayed by the Ukrainians.
It’s not just corporations attempting to hedge their bets and occupy a grey area of indifference. Many Western politicians who bedeck themselves in the yellow and blue of Ukraine are still, after 20 months of full-scale war, timid about getting Ukraine what it needs to win quickly.
Kasparov, a longtime critic of Putin, proposed a litmus test for those who claim solidarity with Ukraine: First, condemn the war as criminal. Second, recognize Putin’s regime as illegitimate. Third, state that Crimea is part of Ukraine. Anything less, Kasparov argues, implies tacit support for Putin’s agenda. And Kasparov goes further: He contends that Western leaders can no longer suffice with merely “supporting” Ukraine. Saying you “support” Ukraine is akin to Mondelez’s splash of Ukrainian colors on their homepage while continuing business with Russia. What is required, according to Kasparov, is clarity — an unambiguous declaration of wanting victory for Ukraine.
Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas, who was also at the annual Warsaw forum in the Polish capital, echoed Kasparov: “I call on the free world to keep on supporting Ukraine and also to believe in Ukraine’s victory,” she tweeted Thursday. “Because every hesitation and every delay only increases the price Ukraine and the free world must pay for victory.”
Pope Francis, too, has started to recognize the dishonesty of so many global leaders: “We should not play games with the martyrdom of this people,” he said. “We have to help them resolve things... I see now that some countries are moving backward, not wanting to give [Ukraine] arms. A process is starting in which the martyr certainly will be the Ukrainian people, and that is an ugly thing.”
It seems he’s onto something: That just maybe the military-industrial complex, like Mondelez, wants to wave the Ukrainian colors while, in reality, only trying to figure out how to profit from Russia’s war, which, in turn, boosts the same Russian war machine that on today and so many other days sends missiles upon Ukrainians.
Russia’s strategy seems to be to keep hitting Ukraine while waiting for the world to grow weary. And indeed, much of the world is growing weary and distracted, so much so that the headlines miss Ukraine’s amazing successes: Recent victories, like the functional defeat of the Russian Black Sea fleet, exemplify Ukraine’s resilience. While this may not completely cripple Russia’s navy, Ukraine’s capability to strike key Russian naval assets in Sevastopol, aided by long-range missiles from the U.K., has forced Russia to reconsider its naval strategy.
And in return for such a blow, what has Russia, with its mighty puffed-up threats, been able to do? Nothing major. From the failed Prigozhin coup to Russia’s dwindling ability to terrorize Ukraine, the free world should see now is the moment to make decisive and full support so that Ukraine can end this with victory.
In Lviv’s IT Arena conference this past weekend, I witnessed the bold potential of Ukraine. Even American investors and strategists journeyed here to witness the incredible developments in Ukrainian drone technology, anti-drone capabilities, and artificial intelligence. These innovations hold lessons for Western militaries and offer the promise of a more peaceful world. Ukrainians possess the gumption and creativity to drive change, yet too often, they are ignored by the Western powers too focused on themselves.
The U.S. is benefiting from its investment in Ukraine. Already, based on the performance of a mere twenty HIMARS, which have helped Ukrainians keep the Russians from advancing for more than a year, the Polish government is now purchasing 486 HIMARS from the U.S. — a USD 10 billion deal.
But as long as Russia can keep lobbing missiles at Ukraine and keep sending its grunts into the front lines, Ukrainians will continue to die, in a slow-bleed. And the world will lose some of the most extraordinary people—people who don’t need to snack on Mondelez treats, people who in their values-driven resistance, are willing to give the last full measure of devotion for an idea that so many praise but so few truly embrace: freedom.