What a difference one year makes
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The courageous resilience of Ukrainians, coupled with military and financial aid from its Western allies, has morally discredited the governing paradigm of the Russian world and the assumption that Ukraine could ever be again subjugated to Moscow’s dictates.
If anything, Ukraine’s steadfastness has shown the possibility of the demise of Putin’s post-Soviet Russian Empire.
Pre-war thinking, assumed by both the West and Russia itself, was that Russia’s invading troops would easily overrun Ukraine. This has been proven not to be the case and shown to be a great intelligence failure.
After almost one year of war, it is clear that Ukraine will not be occupied by Russia. The Kremlin’s assumption that it would decapitate the democratically elected government in Kyiv has not happened.
Russia’s misplaced belief that Ukraine is not a strong and viable country has been proven to be a grave miscalculation. If anything has been proven, Putin’s gamble that Ukraine would willingly submit to Russian subjugation proved to be a propagandist fallacy of post-Soviet and Russian chauvinism.
Ukraine and its people have become united in their pursuit of nationhood which is now defined in its pursuit of establishing a European nation ruled by law and in the pursuit of a “culture of dignity”.
Ukraine’s institutions have not only withstood the enormous pressures of war, but have grown stronger. The Ukrainian Armed Forces and civilian defense units have withstood continuous attacks from what was assumed a superior military force. The Ukrainians have launched effective counterattacks with the purpose of reclaiming its historic lands and reestablishing its sovereignty over its recognized international borders.
The Ukrainian military has shown that they are nimble, able to incorporate the use of advanced weapons and use effective tactics in a fluid manner to ultimately defeat their historic enemy on the battlefield. Ukraine’s military forces will easily fit in with the armed forces of its allies in the West.
Its private financial institutions have not only been shown to be stable, but in a number of cases, profitable.
Its ministries have been able to respond to the immense societal stresses caused by the war and proven to work efficiently with the West. The war has forced Ukraine to more quickly integrate its governing efforts along the lines of a European democratic nation.
Its government budgets and expenditures, with the help of its Western partners, have remained consistent and work adequately, ensuring societal stability. Furthermore, Ukraine’s bonds are being bought.
Investment in Ukraine, and the promise of future investment from its foreign partners, has risen to even higher levels than before the war.
The government of Ukraine has not fallen. In fact, it is fully operational. On a daily basis, Kyiv is building enduring partnerships with its Western allies in key areas, not only militarily, but in such areas as electricity, energy, food exports, and reconstruction, gaining both knowledge and confidence on a daily basis as to how a government should be run in a vibrant democracy.
Ukraine’s national awareness has been further enhanced and reignited to the extent that it has put itself into a position to forever change its historic narrative and that of the region.
What the war has also revealed is that Ukraine will no longer be a part of the “Russky Mir” (Russian World); Putin’s dreamt-up civilizational space where Russia continues to rule over the countries it once vanquished and oppressed.
Ukraine has shown and affirmed its national sovereignty by proving that it is capable of efficiently operating as an independent country. This is a great national achievement.
In doing so, it has also changed the assumptions of the international geo-political order. Ukraine has proven that it is an independent democratic nation ready to take its rightful place in the family of liberal, free democracies.
Again, this was not the thinking prior to the war.
Ukraine’s military, the overwhelming response of its civil society towards the war effort, along with the depth of its sacrifice, has inspired the world.
The people of Ukraine have shown the world that they have put their country in a viable position to stand against dictatorial authoritarianism. Perhaps most importantly, its national resolve has demonstrated to the Western world that Russia’s military aggressive behavior need not be accepted or tolerated within the international order.
This was not the case prior to the war.
Ukraine has proved that it is a “game changer” as to how the West relates to Russia. Truth be told, such was not universally accepted prior to Moscow’s illegal invasion.
At the same time, the war has revealed the true evil essence of what the Russian Federation is as a nation-state and as a civilization. Russia is a criminal state, and on a daily basis, it has shown that it willingly chooses to commit crimes against humanity to fulfill its objectives of establishing Putin’s version of a neo-Soviet empire.
Russia has caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian lives. It has caused the largest displacement of civilians since the second world war, internally displaced millions, caused the economy of Ukraine to deflate by 34%, kidnapped hundreds of thousands of children, focused its weaponry with the purpose of destroying civilian infrastructure and seeks to destroy and hamper civilian services that provide water and heat.
Russian soldiers rape and torture Ukrainian civilians and have summarily executed thousands of innocent people. Modern Russia has illustrated to the world that it is not a civilized nation, and that it does not care about the rule of law and international order. Russia is unworthy to exist in the community of civil society-based nations.
Despite Ukraine’s performance on the battlefield, and the positive ramifications that such battlefield success engenders, the length of Russia’s war will be a long one. Putin wants to destroy the nation of Ukraine. Putin’s gamble on taking over Ukraine has become a wager that he cannot lose, and one, for the sake of international freedom and security, he must lose.
To understand Russia’s intention in Ukraine, the Western mind must finally transcend the assumptions of its own civilized, moral and law-based thinking in regard to Russia. The Russians are not conducting their war along Western lines. This is nothing new. For centuries, dating back to the Middle Ages, Russians have never shown any signs or aspirations of adopting Western values.
Russia’s objectives in Ukraine are not only military. Moscow does not accept Ukraine’s sovereignty as an independent entity. It will neither accept, nor respect, its existence as a unique culture. Russians will not respect Ukraine’s sovereignty as an independent country, one which has the right to make decisions as to its own national fate and the right to determine its future.
In short, Russia simply doesn’t believe that Ukraine is a country.
The Russian mentality is that if Ukraine does not subjugate itself to Russian dominance, and succumb to its sphere of influence as well as to the values of the Russian world, it must then be destroyed. How can any talk of peace take place with this type of mindset?
Russia must recognize Ukraine’s international borders. It must be held to account for its crimes in local and international jurisdictions. It must pay reparations. And in what may be stating the obvious, Russia must formally make a declaration affirming Ukraine’s independence and statehood.
In the upcoming year, Western nations must begin to imagine a world where Russia does not have a prominent place within the international order. The isolation of the Russian Federation must be completed for it is a pariah state. Thoughts of normalization, in light of the atrocities Russia has committed in Ukraine, are preposterous.
Russia is a cause of insecurity for the world. Despite what the realists would have one believe, the Russian Federation is a deeply unstable country. It has shown that it is an unreliable security partner. Its willingness to act in continual contravention of the world’s international security order is cause for instability and fear. Its abuse of fear only further illustrates that this is its fundamental modus operandi.
A world dominated by fear is unacceptable. Ukraine has shown the global community how to overcome the fear of the bully.
The courage of the Ukrainian people has inspired millions around the world. The example of Ukrainian resilience has inspired the world towards a greater appreciation of the meaning of human freedom and the costs associated with obtaining and ensuring it. Ukraine’s fight against Russian tyranny has reignited and inspired the West to stand up to Russian imperial chauvinism.
Who would have thought that in this past year, Ukraine would have created a plausible scenario that would have caused the west to conceive of the probability of a new international order without the corrupting and immoral influence of the post-Soviet Russian empire?
Ukraine has become a viable democratic partner to the west, politically, economically, militarily, and in the furtherance of a law-based international order. Ukraine and its people have chosen the way of freedom and democracy. Ironically, even as war rages, its parliament is preparing legislation to formally meet the criteria of becoming a full member of the European Union.
The challenge facing the West is to further use its imagination and work even more quickly to institutionally incorporate Ukraine into Western institutions. Ukraine has earned this right, having paid such an enormous price.
In conclusion, Russia’s intention from the very beginning of its aggression was, and is, to destroy the viability of Ukraine as a functioning sovereign state.
Putin cannot, and will not, turn back. Losing his war against Ukraine, and he will, spells the end of the viability of Russian empire thinking. It may even be the cause of the disillusionment of the Russian Federation as it is now defined.
This is not a bad thing.
The wishful thinking that Russia can, and will change, must be thrown into the dustbin of history. That fantasy is over. Systems that do not respect the dignity of human beings exist only for the furtherance of raw selfish political power.
If there is to be a lasting consequence of this war, let it be the establishment of a new narrative for Ukraine and a world order based on human dignity. Russia will then be put into a place where it will have to respond to this new reality. This would be a sign of confident and visionary leadership for the world.
What a difference one year makes.
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