David Stulík: "We are witnessing an unprecedented wave of solidarity and support for Ukraine"

EESC info: In the face of Russia's war against Ukraine, we are witnessing an unprecedented mobilisation of civil society, which is working hard to help the Ukrainian people. What are the most remarkable actions in this huge wave of human support for Ukraine - humanitarian aid, transport, education, accommodation, schools, foreign language learning? What lessons are there for us as citizens who are confronted with a human tragedy?

David Stulík: The wave of solidarity and support for Ukraine in the EU is unprecedented and, as such, brings the hope that eventually European values will prevail over Russian barbarianism and the cruel use of brute power.

It is so touching and emotionally encouraging to see all the humanitarian assistance that Europeans are providing to Ukraine. However, we should be aware of a few issues which EU civil society must take into account.

First, by helping Ukrainian refugees to meet all their needs (accommodation, education of children, jobs), we are dealing with the consequences of evil actions and war crimes committed by Putin's Russia. However, we have to tackle the reason that led to these atrocities. The reason is the existence of Putin's regime, which still enjoys widespread support among Russian people.

If we manage to stop this, we will also stop the flow of Ukrainian refugees to Europe. Ukrainians would be more than happy to stay in their home country and live there in peace.

This brings me to the second element of what I believe European civil society should push for. We all have to stop the senseless actions of the Russian leadership.

We have to realise that they are attacking us too, not only Ukraine. Russian propaganda portrays us, the EU and NATO, as their arch enemies, using Ukraine as a puppet against Russia.

Having said that, the logical question arises of how to stop Putin's Russia. Economic sanctions alone will not lead to a change of regime in Russia.

I am afraid that the only solution to stop Putin is the military defeat of his armies in Ukraine. This should be priority no 1 at the moment, to stop the killing of innocent civilians in Ukraine and prevent the war from spilling over into other parts of Europe. There is no doubt that Russia's aggressive behaviour and plans concern us as well, at least some EU Member States, especially those in Eastern and Central Europe. Yes, we are also on the radar of Russian generals as another "legitimate" target.

If the war in Ukraine is not stopped today, we will be next and the war will come to us too. We have to acknowledge that we are de facto already in that war. At least, this is how the roles of the EU and NATO are presented in Russia's (censored) media.

Therefore, we Europeans should do our best to contribute to the victory of Ukraine on the battlefield. Alongside tightening economic and other sanctions against Russia, we must be ready to supply the Ukrainian army with all the necessary military means it is asking for.

I am myself a pacifist, but these are decisive moments, when liberal democracies must defend themselves against those who intend to destroy them. These enemies of ours understand only the language of force and military power. We should not be afraid and ashamed of using it since our survival as democratic societies is at stake.