Saturday, 4 February 2017

Ukraine: Would I stay or would I go?

The war drags on. It's not a civil war between the Ukrainian government and separatists - it's a war between two nations - Russia and Ukraine. Russia is using the formula that 'pro-Russian separatists' are trying to gain independence from Ukraine, to fool the West. In reality, the Kremlin is sending over heavy weapons - including armour, rocket artillery and anti-aircraft missiles, across the Ukrainian border to turn up the heat whenever it feels it can get away with it.

As I had predicted, Putin is keeping the frozen conflict in Ukraine alive. His aggression is costing the lives of many thousands of Ukrainian civilians who have not fled the fighting. And the lives of many brave Ukrainian soldiers, who are getting into harm's way to do what brave Polish soldiers did back in 1920 - to hold back the barbarian tide from the east.

How would I - how would you - react if we were there, in Ukraine, not in the relative comfort of the West, of the EU, of NATO?

Run or fight?

Tough question for hundreds of thousands of young Ukrainian men. Seek a better, safer life in the West, turning your back on your flawed fatherland, still mired in corruption? Or stay and fight - fight for an independent homeland, fight for justice - and, in the long term, a country that could be normal, with decent institutions, on the path to prosperity, a country where people can grow and reach their potential?

Looking at Ukraine from a purely selfish, Polish, perspective - Poland needs a buffer between it and Russia. Long term, Poland wants to see Ukraine succeed, and to succeed it needs to have seen off Putin, built a strong civil society, and an effective state with good laws and honest leaders.

Putin's greatest fear was always that Ukraine - like the Baltic republics, also former components of the USSR - would develop a stronger economy than that of Russia. That Ukrainians would be richer, freer, happier, than Russians east of the border. That one day Ukraine might join the EU, the single market, adopt best practice in governance - and Russians would see that and want some themselves.

It is nearly three years since the Maidan protests resulted in President Yanukovych fleeing to Moscow and the Russian armed forces seizing Crimea. Since then, the conflict in eastern Ukraine continues.

Putin does not understand 'win-win'; rather than trying to beat the West at its own game by developing free enterprise and an open society, it is easier for him to pull everyone else into the mire. From a man who looked beaten back in 2015, with low oil prices and a united West, he is now beginning to look far stronger - by openly meddling in the affairs of other nations' politics. Propaganda based on the the four Ds - deny, distort, distract, dismay - is pumped out daily on RT and Radio Sputnik, internet trolls are visible on the comments sections of influential Western media, pushing the Kremlin's agenda, and hackers are attacking the IT systems at the heart of the West's financial and political infrastructure.

Meanwhile in Ukraine, Putin is pushing in his bayonet deeper whenever he, in Lenin's words, feels mush, and stops whenever he feels resistance. The resistance can be diplomatic, economic (sanctions) and military, and it is the Ukrainian military that are bearing the brunt.

Young men who could have slipped across the border into Poland and readily found work and a better life here. But they chose to stay and fight.

We should, as Poles, be immensely grateful to them, for staying to defend their homeland - and to defend civilisation from barbarism.

We should defend ourselves against Kremlin's propaganda - which, unlike in Soviet times, has no ideological agenda - it is simply aimed at fragmenting Western society and giving Putin more pliant mush into which he can push his bayonet into deeper.

This time three years ago:
Sadness at the death of Tadeusz Mosz

This four years ago:
Oldschool photochallenge

This time seven years ago:
Warsaw's wonderful nooks and crannies

This time nine years ago:
Viaduct to the airport at ul. Poleczki almost ready

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

EU and NATO = Appeasement - god help our children