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INTERNATIONAL > Ukraine Crisis

Roundup of newspaper editorials on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

  • March 2, 2022
  • , Sankei , p. 6
  • JMH Translation

By Ii Shigeyuki


Russia has launched a military invasion of neighboring Ukraine. The international community is witnessing acts of aggression that involve armed attacks on a democratic nation in order to maintain Russia’s sphere of influence. This is an unforgivable barbaric act, as if we are back in the Cold War era. The international order is facing a major crisis.


It is essential to achieve peace as soon as possible, but even if Russia and Ukraine agree to a ceasefire in the future, Russia’s acts of aggression that threaten national independence can’t be justified. The editorials in the major newspapers were unanimous in their harsh criticism of Russia’s military invasion as an “outrage,” calling for the immediate withdrawal of Russian troops and the solidarity of Western allies.


The Sankei Shimbun, in its Feb. 25 edition, denounced Russia’s invasion as “a historic outrage that destroys the world order after the end of the Cold War” and “a clear aggression against a sovereign nation, which absolutely can’t be  tolerated.” The paper went on to argue that “extremely strong sanctions against Russia must be imposed promptly to punish the Putin regime and prevent it from achieving its military and political ambitions.”


The Yomiuri Shimbun also condemned Russia’s invasion, saying, “It is an attempt to overturn the principle of respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, as well as the peaceful settlement of disputes enshrined in the UN Charter. Russia’s act, the paper said, “destroys the international order that has existed since the end of World War II.” (Feb. 25 issue). The daily called for severe sanctions against Russia, saying, “The international community must impose firm sanctions on Russia and make it pay a heavy price.”


The Asahi Shimbun wrote, “What this invasion has trampled on is not only the sovereignty of a neighboring country but also the freedom and democracy of the world. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine exposes an example of the dangers of the modern world where coercive politics is spreading, which should not be overlooked.”


“What the international community needs to recognize is that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is a common threat to the world,” said the Mainichi Shimbun (Feb. 25 issue). The paper argued that ”when the trend of expanding the sphere of influence through force spreads, it puts democracy at risk.”


In the wake of the latest military invasion, there were a number of calls for the Kishida Fumio administration to review its diplomatic relations with Russia. “The Northern Territories, which are Japan’s inherent territory, remain illegally occupied by Russia,” the Sankei stressed. “On top of that, the Putin regime is now invading Ukraine. There is no way Japan can negotiate a proper peace treaty with such regime” (Feb. 26 issue). In this way, the daily called for the termination of Japan-Russia joint economic activities as well.


Mainichi also argued, “While dealing with the Northern Territories issue with Russia, Japan has strengthened its cooperative relationship in the fields of energy and the economy in recent years. However, that strategy now needs to be reviewed” (Feb. 27 issue).


It is also important for the international community to unite in its efforts to impose sanctions on Russia. The Nikkei said, “As Russia is a major exporter of natural gas, oil, etc., countries that impose sanctions on Russia will also be significantly affected. However, there is no time to hold back. We hope that major countries will make efforts to have as many countries as possible join the sanctions” (Feb. 25 issue).


Sankei called for early implementation of sanctions to exclude Russia from the international payments network of the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) (Feb 26. Issue). Yomiuri noted, “It is only natural that the international community should impose firm sanctions against Russia’s outrage” (Feb. 26 issue), but added, “Countries need to prepare for a situation in which the price of resources will rise.”


On Feb. 26, Western countries and the European Union (EU) agreed to exclude major Russian banks from SWIFT, and Japan announced its participation in the sanction. Germany and Italy, which depend on Russia’s natural gas, had been cautious about the sanction involving SWIFT, but finally agreed to exclude Russia as they watched Russia ramp up its aggression.


The latest military invasion of Ukraine by Russia highlights the danger of relying on certain countries and regions for energy on the grounds of “decarbonization.” Japan also needs to make efforts to establish a diverse range of energy sources toward achieving energy security independence.

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