I will begin by saying I don’t know much about world politics. I suspect that even when I believe I know why international events unfold as they do, I don’t really have a clue. World leaders probably aren’t the people actually pulling the strings of a complex puppet show. For me to discuss what happens on and off the earthly stage seems pointless somehow because so much is not as it seems.
Having said that, I do have a reasonable expectation that certain events covered by mass media reports backed by video from a wide variety of sources have a basis in truth. When we see a hurricane ravage the Caribbean and much of the South of the United States, we can feel convinced of its existence. When we witness one country invade another on real time video, we observe actual human cruelty followed by suffering that isn’t play acting. Russia’s assault on Ukraine in recent days is an assault on our human sensibilities. I feel compelled to share my views about this undeclared war and how it may affect the rest of the planet.
The Violation of Borders
When Russian forces finally crossed over into Ukraine last week after a long, sustained build-up of troops and military equipment, no one was taken by surprise. Yet, the violent attacks from the ground and the air chilled me to the bone. The outraged citizens of Ukraine mobilized their own military to take up arms and start shooting back at the armed invaders. Protesters in at least 48 cities in Russia endangered their own freedom to demonstrate their vigorous objections to Vladimir Putin’s acts of war aimed at their friendly neighbors. More than 2000 of the protesters have been arrested thus far. Echoes of the Soviet KGB rang across Russia as the oppressive government cracked down on whatever freedom of speech was being exercised while spouting its own ridiculous propaganda.
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization and non-member countries have imposed severe economic sanctions on Russia and Putin, aimed at crippling the invaders financially and making them pariahs. I’ve seen countries condemn violators of other sovereign nations in the past, but nothing like this do I recall. The response is widespread and more thorough than anything I’ve seen in my lifetime. It’s been over 60 years since a country has undertaken an unprovoked full-blown military operation with the goal of overthrowing a neighboring government. Putin has taken to calling Ukraine’s governing body Nazis when it’s his actions alone that remind me of Nazi Germany. What bitter irony!
Fruits of Their Labor
The effects on human life by this uncivilized behavior are too great to recount here in full. A few examples, large and small, will have to suffice for now.
I saw a news report showing a woman who was cleaning up broken glass in her apartment. The windows had been shattered by gunfire or perhaps by the impact of a nearby blast. She was singing a national song extolling her love of Ukraine as she wept and did her work. She was apparently unharmed physically, but her pain was nonetheless real. And it touched my heart with sadness to see her suffering.
As the advance by Russian forces continued, approximately 400,000 have fled their country. Most are women and children. Men have stayed to mount resistance and fight for their country. The latest numbers I found indicate 198 Ukrainians have been killed, three of them being children. An additional 1115 citizens have been injured, including 33 children. These numbers don’t seem high at all, considering the amount of fighting and air attacks that have taken place. We can take heart in that, but there can be no joy in the face of any loss of life. There is much grieving around 198 deaths, especially sudden deaths by violence. By the way, Radio Free Europe reports about 500 casualties among the Russian military. Their lives being lost under orders of a fascist narcissist is tragic as well.
A Touch of Levity
I discovered a video out of Ukraine which has reportedly gone viral. A citizen of the country is driving along a rural road and comes upon a stopped Russian tank. The Ukrainian pulls over and asks the soldiers if they broke down. One of them says they ran out of fuel. The driver of the car offers to tow them back to Russia. The soldiers laugh.
I understand there are other examples of Ukrainians handling this horrible invasion with humor. I have no wish to take it lightly, but it’s one thing I love about human beings. We can find humor under the worst of conditions.
Another post will follow, examining the effect this war may have on the world in the future. Check for Part II, coming soon.