Two years since Putin’s invasion of Ukraine

We remember exactly where we were on 24 February 2022. The Board of EFTA was gathered in Barcelona for its meeting. Just before sunrise, we were alarmed by the news that Putin had illegally invaded Ukraine. We could not know what would happen to the country or to Europe, and we still do not know. Now, entering the third year of this war, the tragedy seems stuck and negotiation for peace far away. Still, it is remarkable to see the Ukrainians remain in full fight.

Our thoughts go to all those suffering on both sides. We are devastated by the huge losses of human lives and the destruction of towns, cities, infrastructure, and nature. The psychological trauma and consequences for mental health to children and adults will influence generations to come.
As Europeans we must help in any way we can. We are ultimately helping ourselves to keep our freedom and democracy. We must fight the fear, isolation, pessimism, and ignorance that comes in the wake of war, and continuously mobilize the best of our human character. On a postive note, we are informed that at the end of last month, Ukrainian agricultural exports from its Black Sea ports had reached the highest level since when the war began – far exceeding what happened under Putin’s Black Sea Grain Initiative.

If the cruel death of the remarkable, brave, Russian opposition leader, Alexei Navalny, has taught us anything at all – it is that Putin’s victory is something that none of us can afford. All freedom loving countries must come together and strengthen our values.
This year will probably be make or break for Ukraine. It’s time for all civilized nations to step up and give Ukraine the backing it needs.

Hans Christian Michaelsen
EFTA Vice President

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