Editor’s note: Editorials are articles that present the opinion of the editorial team of the Kyiv Independent.
We write this editorial with difficulty. Journalists are the people of words, but right now it’s hard to find the ones to reflect what we feel.
The uncovered atrocities of Russians have left us, and millions of others, speechless.
Hundreds of innocent civilians murdered. Men pulled out of their homes and executed, their hands tied behind their backs. The elderly shot dead on the side of the road. Charred bodies. Women raped in front of their children.
Photos, videos, and personal stories of the most despicable atrocities began to flow in the moment Russians were forced out of Kyiv Oblast.
Just like Srebrenica was once simply a city, and Treblinka a village, Bucha was a peaceful town near Kyiv. Now it is, too, forever associated with a massacre.
Like many atrocities in the past, this massacre could have been prevented if certain people in positions of power had had the courage to take a stand. Unfortunately for Ukraine, no Western leader was up for the task.
The Western leaders of today aren’t the only ones to blame.
“I invite (Angela) Merkel and (Nicolas) Sarkozy to visit Bucha and see the outcome of 14 years of concessions to Russia,” President Volodymyr Zelensky said in his video address. “You will see the tortured Ukrainians with your own eyes.”
The West’s fear and appeasement of Vladimir Putin and his bloody regime have dominated geopolitics for a long time, culminating in Russian war crimes against Ukrainians. Like any authoritarian regime, it fed on their fear and grew stronger.
The Bucha massacre did not have to happen. The modern world could have prevented it – by imposing a no-fly zone above Ukraine or providing it with fighter jets and air defense systems, as President Volodymyr Zelensky has repeatedly asked. If Ukraine had increased its air presence, Russian forces would likely have had to retreat from Bucha and other areas much sooner. The lives of hundreds of innocent people would have been saved.
Sure, the West has supplied Ukraine with a considerable amount of weapons and imposed unprecedented sanctions on Russia.
Was it enough? Clearly not.
Is the West doing more, after seeing Bucha? Not really.
The reaction to the photos of hundreds of butchered civilians have so far been limited to European countries ousting Russian diplomats and the U.S. pushing to have Russia out of the UN Human Rights Council.
What is the same about these measures? They cost the West nothing, and cause it no trouble.
The most cynical is the fact that even as civilians are tortured and murdered in Ukraine, European money flows freely and plentifully straight into Russia’s pockets as payment for natural gas.
That money then pays for the tanks that take murderers to their victims. That money pays for the propaganda that helps create murderers that then redeems them. That money funds Putin’s regime, ensuring that it keeps moving and killing. Europe’s gas money is fuel for Putin’s killing machine.
Germany’s Finance Minister Christian Lindner said the EU must “work toward” cutting all economic ties with Russia, but nonetheless opposed a much-needed embargo on gas imports from Russia to the EU.
Ukraine cannot wait for the EU to develop and fulfill a multi-year plan of replacing Russian gas with other sources. There are millions of Ukrainians who could face the same fate as the citizens of Bucha in the coming weeks and months. They simply cannot wait.
Why should Ukrainians give their lives so that Germans or the French don’t lose a shred of their comfort?
According to the Conseil d’Analyse Économique, the advisory economic commission of the French prime minister, a full ban on Russian energy would cost Germany's gross national income between 0.3% and 3%.
That’s the price Germany isn’t willing to pay to prevent more innocent men, women and children – potentially, thousands of them – from being raped, tortured and executed by Russia.
With our outrage fresh and our hearts broken by the images from Bucha, we demand that Ukraine receives what it needs to survive, and Russia gets what it deserves.
- Polish MiGs, S-300 defense systems, artillery ammo, body armor, medical supplies. Every piece of equipment that Ukrainians know how to operate must be transferred to Ukraine immediately.
- Ukraine will need supplies. Russia has been destroying every oil refinery and depot in the country. The West must come up with a new Lend-Lease deal for Ukraine, to provide the country with gasoline, equipment, and anything else it will need to fight off Russia.
- Russia must lose its revenue streams. This must include a complete ban on Russian energy imports, the closure of all ports for Russian ships, the disconnection of all Russian financial institutions from SWIFT and the seizure of Russian assets abroad.
- Find a way to kick Russia out of the United Nations Security Council. If that’s not possible, admit that the council is ineffective and dissolve it.
In short, everything Ukraine has asked for must be provided to it immediately.
If the West doesn't do it, there will only be more Buchas.
The massacres can be stopped now.
Ukraine should not have to beg for help. It is fighting for the whole democratic world, and paying with the blood of its people. It is in the West’s utmost interests that Russia lose this war. Every member of the Trans-Atlantic community should be flooding Ukraine with aid and ammunition, without Ukraine having to ask.
We hope that those in the White House, Elysee Palace and Bundestag take a good look at the photos from Bucha. At the photos of innocent civilians with their hands tied behind their backs, executed simply because they were Ukrainian.
And then they should look at their own hands. When the war is over, will there be blood on them?