Russia’s invasion of Ukraine started on February 24. It has become a Great Patriotic War for the Ukrainian people, with President Zelensky rising to the occasion to rally the people against one common enemy attempting to annexe Ukraine. Popular resistance against Russian aggression and support for the Ukrainian army has been inspiring.
Although fearful, Ukrainian society has remained optimistic and keeps faith in victory with a deep passion.
For Russia, this war is naked aggression, very different from their other military adventures in the past such as the Soviet-Afghan War. This has caused confusion with Russian troops, most of whom do not know what the purpose of their mission is in Ukraine. For Ukrainians, this war is defence of their motherland, and the values of freedom, independence and democratic rights.
Russia is employing tactics of unprecedented barbarism and cruelty that violate all the rules of war. Civil infrastructure and residential buildings are being destroyed, civilians are being murdered deliberately. The Russians compensate for their tactical defeats in battle by taking out their anger on civilians. A lot of buildings have been destroyed in Kyiv, Kharkiv, Chernihiv and other cities and the indiscriminate shelling of cities is continuing. The Ukrainian army has shown high mobility and targeted their actions to destroy enemy troops accurately with minimal collateral damage to civilian infrastructure.
The Russian leadership now clearly understands that even if they can inflict a tactical defeat on the Ukrainian army, they will not be able to control even a small part of the territory of Ukraine. There is total and united resistance from the Ukrainians, and they view the Russians as hated enemies and occupiers.
The world support for Ukraine has been remarkable with many countries providing all kinds of assistance: political support, humanitarian resources, defence equipment and weapons. This makes the defeat of Russia likely, and the chance for Ukraine to rebuild and emerge stronger. For Russia, this war is a leap into the totalitarian past, and they are staring into an abyss of a colossal decline in their economy, and complete international isolation.
Does the Russian military realise yet that their enemy is not Ukraine, but the Kremlin, sending them to certain death? Unprecedented censorship has already been introduced in Russia in order to hide their real losses. But in the 21st century, with the pervasive use of modern technology, it is impossible to hide such large-scale losses. Already now in Russia there are signs of panic and anger at Putin.
Despite the shock of the war, most Ukrainians continue to live as usual, helping the army and each other. This belies the miscalculation Putin and the likely failure of his criminal plans – he absolutely misinterpreted the unity, courage and self-belief of Ukrainians, who in the country’s darkest hour have risen up to defend their independence against a common enemy.
Russia will never be able to occupy Ukraine. The Kremlin has probably already realised this and has begun to destroy infrastructure and residential buildings with barbarous cruelty in order to inflict as much damage as possible on the country. But by adopting such a scorched earth policy, the Kremlin only unites Ukrainians more strongly and embitters them against the invaders.
A cynical twist of Russian aggression is nuclear blackmail. The Kremlin is positioning Ukraine as an aggressive state with nuclear ambitions. They try to use this message to justify the occupation of nuclear power plants in Ukraine, which will subsequently be used as a lever of pressure on Ukraine by forcing power cuts which will make the humanitarian catastrophe for civilians even worse. At the same time, they are accusing Ukraine of secretly planning work on the creation of nuclear weapons using the technical capacities of their Nuclear Power Plants. The Kremlin is using Soviet propaganda to brazenly twist the facts in an attempt to deceive the whole world and justify their unprovoked invasion of a peaceful independent sovereign state.
Realising that the attempt to occupy Ukraine will end in failure, the Kremlin is returning to the tools of a hybrid war, the creation of temporarily occupied territories, the practice of threats and blackmail. Only an increase in the package of sanctions against Russia and complete international isolation can stop Putin’s criminal plans and prevent him from destroying the free democratic world.