Ukraine continues to fight for liberation

Last week, Russia launched a full-scale military invasion in Ukraine. Hundreds of lives have been lost within days of this decision, and the situation continues to rapidly evolve. 

The Guardian reported that over 360,000 people have been forced to flee their homes since the invasion began. 

The headlines breaking news this week, however, are but drops of water in the bucket of suffering Putin’s Russia has been pouring on the Ukrainian people.

“Ukraine’s struggle is a struggle for liberation … a kind of decolonization,” Tanya Richardson, an associate professor in anthropology and global studies at Wilfrid Laurier University said. 

It is an intense struggle that has been unfolding for years. 

In 2014, Russia annexed Crimea. Since then, about 14,000 people – including hundreds of civilians – have died because of armed conflict in the region. 

The annexation of Crimea was Putin’s way of responding to the Revolution of Dignity, also know as Euromaidan. 

The Revolution of Dignity was a series of protests which were a response to “then-president of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych … deciding not to sign a free trade agreement with the European Union,” Richardson said. 

What it represented more broadly was a Ukrainian refusal to bend the knee to the will of Vladimir Putin and his state. 

In an attempt to disperse the Euromaidan protests, “The government used police to violently beat them up, to disperse [the movement]. That made the protest grow, swell in size.” 

A western Ukraine is a threat to Putin’s tyrannical rule.  

“Over the last 20 years, Russia has become more powerful, more nationalistic, more anti-western, more oppressive and more explicitly imperialist in its ambitions.” 

“It perceives Ukraine as a western-oriented democracy as a threat to its existence.”

Hence, Putin decided to annex Crimea when he did not get the results he wanted with Yanukovych. 

This led to “a full-blown war, even though it was not called as such … This has already been a war for eight years,” said Richardson. 

The perpetual violence in the Russo-Ukrainian War is, at the bottom, the result of “an authoritarian regime with a paranoid nationalistic ideology that seeks to dominate its neighbours,” Richardson said.  

Indeed, paranoia, nationalism and blatant misinformation have been and continue to be Putin’s greatest allies.

According to a Bloomberg transcript of Putin’s speech last week, he claimed that the invasion of Ukraine is partly a response to “far-right nationalists and neo-Nazis in Ukraine.” 

Volodymyr Zelenskyy – Ukraine’s current president – is Jewish. The charges that Putin has fabricated against the Ukrainian people are nothing but the ramblings of a delusional, power-hungry demagogue. 

In the same speech, he claimed that the collapse of Soviet Russia in the 1990s should be a cautionary tale for modern Russians. The caution, said Putin, is that when power stagnates collapse follows. 

He has since been clear that his pursuit of absolute power will not stagnate anytime soon. 

This invasion could lead to “a change of government” as Russia will “try to get rid of this government, and put in their own,” Richardson said. 

What Putin needs to consider now, in the face of immense international support for Ukraine, is how Russia will benefit from further instigation. 

According to CNN, the Russian economy is now facing a “financial meltdown.” 

Images surfaced on Sunday of Russians all over the country in long lines at banks.

It is clear that Russians are in for tough years ahead– perhaps even decades – on account of their tyrannical leader’s lack of competence and humility. 

What is unclear is whether or not Putin is willing to back down once the consequences of his actions have been felt by millions of Russians and by his most powerful associates. 

Putin is wrong to claim that Ukraine is a fake state. If it were fake, his military would not be struggling to defeat patriotic Ukrainians as we speak. 

We are witnessing a democracy face the blows of a larger and more violent oligarchy. As the situation evolves, the west can only hope that Ukrainian sovereignty prevails. If it falls, Putin is not going to halt the pursuit of his vision’s fulfilment in Eastern Europe. 

And that is something we should all be worried about. 

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