Unlike many these days, I don’t pretend to know exactly what’s going to happen in Ukraine over the short and long term. My own position is that Russia has invaded a sovereign country that has just as much right to make its own way as does any other, and that that fact in and of itself makes Russia the “bad” guys in this equation, and puts them in the “wrong.”
Specious and excusatory nonsense about how Ukraine has “provoked” Russia (for “Russia,” please substitute “Putin” whenever you like) by talking about wanting to join NATO, or by cozying up to the West, and how “Russia” could “tolerate” Ukraine if it would just behave and act as “Russia” would like it to is just that. Specious and excusatory. Nonsense.
Clearly, the Ukrainians are up against a country with a superior depth of military capability and men; equally clearly, they believe they’re fighting for their families and their homeland, and–to mangle the old joke about breakfast, hens, pigs, eggs, and bacon–while the Russians seem heavily “involved,” the Ukrainians are “committed.”
That commitment is showing itself to the world in ways unique to the twenty-first century, from the craft brewery that retooled to make Molotov cocktails for mass distribution, in bottles with labels insulting Putin on them, to the audio of the Snake Island sailors (now confirmed POWs) to the digital signage on Ukrainian highways reading “Russians [expletive] off,” to today’s article in the Telegraph, with the subheading: “The Ukrainian defence ministry has invited Russian mothers to travel to Kyiv to pick up their captured sons and take them home.”
It’s behind a paywall, but a few excerpts:
Russian soldiers have urged their families to “rise up against Putin” and accused him of using them as “meat shields” in videos posted online by the Ukrainian Security Service.
One prisoner of war says that everything he was told by his Russian superiors was “bull—-”, while another breaks down in tears as he says there was no attempt to pick up the corpses of his fallen comrades.
The Ukrainian Security Service is using its Facebook page to post films of wounded, demoralised and weeping Russian soldiers accusing Putin of sending them to fight a war they do not support.
Video shared on Ukrainian channels of a captured Russian soldier apparently being fed by locals. The post says he burst into tears when he was allowed to video-call his mother. So many of these troops are just teenagers, with absolutely no clue what this war is really for.
“You go to the village chief and write to the soldiers’ mothers. Those ——s are not taking away the bodies…everyone is killed. Don’t get depressed too much. Just tell them to get POWs swapped. They’re not beating me, not torturing me, giving me food. I love you. Kiss my son for me.”
It’s a masterful display, in this age of social media, when everyone and everything can be everywhere, all the time, and it’s part of the blitzkrieg of wartime propaganda and stories of creativity and bravery emanating from a beleaguered population and traveling around the world in real-time, faster than has ever been possible before.
Will these accounts ultimately make a difference to the outcome–or to the perception of–either–Ukraine’s or Russia’s leaders? I don’t know. But I admire the spunk of the Ukrainians, and the unified message they are sending at all levels and on all fronts. It should put an end, once and for all, to the vocal insistence of some, that the Ukrainians–almost universally–will welcome the Russians with open arms and that most of them would be delighted to be overrun by Russia because somehow, if you scratch almost any Ukrainian, you’ll find he bleeds Russian inside. Just as the fact that Zelenskyy hasn’t yet been overthrown in a military coup or arrested and executed by his own generals–but I repeat myself–and the fact that he’s still in Kiev, ought to give the lie to both the “Nazi” stories circulated by Russia, or the belief in some circles that he’s a loose cannon in an empty suit. (How’s that for a garbled and uncomfortable metaphor, LOL?)
None of that really appears to be true.