Great essay. This is a perspective that will never be found on the msm.
Whether Ukraine reinvents itself after this war seems like a tricky question. Not an exact analogy, but I remember images of people cheering for the NHS in England in the early stages of the pandemic, and Captain Tom raising tons of money with his walks. That spirit of unity dissolved fairly quickly when the initial crisis passed. Hopefully a similar thing won’t occur when the Ukraine war finally ends and the oligarchs and professional politicians extend their tentacles into the new Ukraine.
I don’t think that analogy works at all. Donating money to Captain Tom’s charity requires far less (scarcely more than zero) personal commitment and risk than fighting the Russians. One is “soft” commitment. The other is “hard”.
If we had each had to put anything like the effort and commitment the Ukrainians are showing into the NHS, we would be demanding far better from it – and probably getting it too. As it is, the Captain Tom stuff is just throwing more money at a problem – without demanding or expecting any actual change.
Covid was a danger, but not an existential threat to Britain. But every Ukrainain knows what will happen if Ukraine loses.
Wars usually have profound effects on societies, and barring things like the Black Death, far more than sickness.
Nothing particular interesting is going to happen to Britain. Britain is not an existential threat to Russia and not a real danger from economical side. And of course there are no “ifs” in the whole scenario. Ukraine will not win this war, with all due respect to their fight. If it starts winning by any chance the war becomes different, the bombs bigger, casualties larger, cities wiped out. For Russians it is “another last war” as they were all the last wars. It’s not a war with Ukraine. The anticipation is – this is [again] war with the West and [again] for the country’s existence. N**zi gameplay on the other side helps to form this mass agenda. So. Don’t expect to see Russians on their knees — they just don’t do that. They would rather nuke the planet.
Andy, I couldn’t agree more with you. If they start losing the Russians are quite prepared to nuke all of Western Europe into oblivion – yes! and to take any consequences from France or the UK.
It remains to be seen whether the Yanks would risk a nuclear exchange with Russia. On their track record over the past 40 odd yrs they’ll cut and run and be happy to see Europe as a radioactive wasteland – one less competitor for their ailing industrial base.
You needn’t worry. America is probably likelier to start a war amongst ourselves rather than fight anybody not named the People’s Republic of China. That’s the only enemy that Americans hate *barely* more than each other. To give you an idea, despite record inflation, there was a recent poll showing over 70% of Americans still support the China tariffs. So, yeah, if there’s gonna be a nuclear exchange, it will be with China and not Russia.
I am a Yankee of a sort. Although with Russian roots, ansessory (my grandfather was kicking Wehrmacht asses on the Eastern front) and ability to read the language but looking at the things from the other side of the pond. So a Yankee is telling you : No. This is your “another war in Europe” and we are ready again to help a winning side (coz we need to collect our profit from somebody left). But no way the US risks a nuke war over our dear cousins. Sorry.
Andy is unfortunately correct. Russia is, so far, fighting the war with one hand tied behind their backs, not fully mobilized for war. They’re trying to do what the US did in Iraq and Afghanistan, which is fight a war with a small professional army and without greatly disturbing their people. They haven’t even called up their reserve units (which the USA actually did do). As devastating as the Russians have been, they’re playing this game against NATO, not Ukraine. They don’t actually want a war with NATO that might end in WWIII any more than we do, so they’re not going all out, not really. What they want is exactly what they’ve said from the beginning, an assurance that Ukraine will remain politically neutral, a buffer state between Russia and NATO. Russia won’t accept less than that, plus some form of political autonomy for Donetsk and Luhansk, in any peace agreement. If Ukraine won’t give at least that, it will likely end in a status quo peace without a formal agreement like what happened in Korea (North and South Korea are still technically at war), which probably suits Putin just fine given the territory he’s already taken.
“But I don’t want my wife to be threatened with rape as it was in Bucha. It’s better for us to stop it here.”
Pretty good motivating factor there.
Something none of us have faced in our lifetimes, nor do we expect to ever face in the West. But that is part of the problem, of course. We have grown fat and lazy, both physically and mentally.
Strange title but a good article.
The article tell you how Ukraine is winning the PR and Twitter war.
Unfortunately for them, on the ground it is Russia who is winning the war and has the Donbass. And the people there remember very well who was shelling their homes and killing innocent civilians for the past eight years.
And as for the title, the answer is a very simple No. Ukraine didn’t need the war, and it was perfectly possible to keep Russia away without the war – accept the Minsk agreements, accept the rights of Russian minorities in the East, accept that Crimea is as Russian as Falkland is British, and commit to being neutral rather than jumping into bed with countries that won’t send a single soldier to defend you.
Good analysis of just what makes Ukrainians fight. And why they could never be Muscovite Russians, even if they tried.
Ukrainians are temperamentally unsuited to the top-down mentality of Russians. Moreover, that trait will always make them suspect in the eyes of Muscovites. For any Real Russian, “Nazi” is simply the default term for The Other. This explains why it works so well in Russia–but seems ludicrous to anyone else.
During Soviet times, Muscovite Russians were never able to cajole the other Slavic peoples of eastern Europe into a unified Socialist empire. They all broke away when they could.
Ukraine’s and Belarus’ defection will be the last act in the unravelling of Moscow’s empire. Then it becomes either a unitary Russian state–or collapses
The Ukranians have, in so many ways, shown themselves to be the near opposite of the “decadent” and ineffectual inhabitants of my own nation (USA) and so many other Western, post-industrial societies.
We suffered a “corn pone insurgency”, which went nowhere when the revolutionaries stopped to take selfies. Now the defenders of democracy pretend to push back with an endless series of Congressional hearings, which will lead to indictments of a few bit players; nothing more.
We pretend to make “real progress” against gun culture by tweaking the existing, and completely ineffectual rules, while the Supreme Court pretends to the noble endevour of the “original meaning” of our (240year old) Constitution.
Meanwhile, the Ukrainians, under true duress, step up and demonstrate the capability, imagination, focus and cooperation that are the real hallmarks of humanity.
It’s a bit humiliating, really.
It’s so sad that good people, like you appear to be, actually believe the unending propaganda spewed out by Western media and miscellaneous apologists.
If we were threatened by roving bands of gangs raping our wives and children, most American men would turn into Ukrainian fighters over night. At least those of us who understand why we have a 2nd amendment. The rest would grab their NYT and WAPO and run like hell to the nearest Starbucks.
War, especially an existential one as this clearly is for Ukraine, cannot but help change a nation, a people, irrevocably. Whether for good or ill is not always clear, but I think in Ukraine’s case, provided it is able to sustain itself and endure the preponderance of Russian power that is being thrown against it’s so far steadfast wall of resistance, then perhaps some positivity could come out of this otherwise dreadful situation. War forces a people to prioritise what they stand for when faced with death and destruction on a terrible scale, and it is pretty clear so far that the majority of Ukrainians stand for a stronger sense of self-determination than I think most people, both in Russia and the West, gave them credit for.
Still, there is no mistaking the dire nature of the challenge facing them, not at least if you look past the propaganda of Western mainstream media; this is an uphill battle of endurance for Ukraine, a battle neither Russia nor the US-led NATO Western Bloc supporting Ukraine are so far willing to concede or budge on, meaning difficult days are only ahead. Russia has that prepronderance of power in the region that is undeniable, even with all their logistical setbacks and strategic and tactical-level misfires so far, whilst Ukraine maintains an incredibly strong will and motivation to fight to protect its own, but without continued material and political support from the West, a will to fight alone will not be enough to endure Russia’s attritional approach. Winning or losing meanwhile may not be realistic for either side, at least when one looks beyond face value narratives – Ukraine surviving in any even semi-independent form after this war would be a victory of its own, even if Russia equally claims a victory in ‘liberating’ the Donbas and ‘reclaiming’ other ‘historically lost Russian territory’ – but either way, a compromise, a peace settlement, even an armistice is, as far as I can tell, the only way to avoid this war leading to an even worse one. ‘Defeating Russia’ does not seem a realistic military goal on any current level, not without escalating the conflict, even if a settlement can be spinned out politically as this or that ‘victory’.
Still, from a geopolitical and arguably moral standpoint, maintaining support for Ukraine is vital if it is to have a chance at postive transformation in the future, but as noted, such support is a high wire balancing act, as an escalatory war between Russia and NATO would result in Ukraine’s complete devastation, potential wider war across Europe, and an incredible level of uncertainty and chaos the world over. That is not a world anyone wants to live in, European, American, Ukrainian or Russian (to emphasise the main players involved), yet it is a world that could possibly come to be if cooler heads do not prevail. I think neither side wants to risk that however, not deliberately anyway, and so we could instead be looking at an East-West divide in Ukraine, not entirely unlike the current armistice agreement shared between North and South Korea, yet wherever the divide may lie, that unsettling tension will remain and such a peace will be a very uneasy one indeed.
Yes, sadly they probably did need this war. Without it I doubt they would be able to get some sense of national purpose and direction srtrong enough to free themselves from the decades of corruption under Russian domination. It is not yet certain they can or will achieve this – but the chances are now much better.
If Ukraine survives and rebuilds, it’s probably only a matter of time before Belarus falls.
At the end of the Ukraine war all that will be left for them to occupy will be Snake Island which will be almost entirely allocated to their ever burgeoning ministry of propaganda.