Russo-Ukrainian War 3/8/22

Ukrainian civilians and soldiers take shelter under a bridge in Kyiv (Image via Ukraine Ministry of Internal Affairs)

With Russian forces bogged down in Ukraine, many optimistically claim that Ukraine had all but won the war; but Russia’s escalation is far from over.

On the one hand, it is clear that the Russian advance has been checked, as troops face daily sorties by Ukrainian drones and special forces, lack of fuel, and sheer lack of morale in a war many have no idea is happening. The last major Russian territorial victory was on March 4th, when Russian troops took Enerhodar, and before that, Kherson on March 2nd. Russia’s performance is impossible to praise, with the initial objective being a rapid shock-and-awe takeover of Kyiv.

Putin is even so far willing as to agree to a status-quo, demanding only that Ukraine concede its losses from the 2014 war. Ukraine has made no indication that they would part ways with Crimea and the Donbas, and at this point, negotiations seem unlikely to succeed in Russia’s favor.

But optimists should not misinterpret these findings; Russia’s military remains a significant threat to Ukraine, and support must continue to flow into the country. Moreso, Russia has begun applying the heavy-handed city-flattening it gave to Grozny and Aleppo, shelling Kyiv, Kharkiv, and Mariupol at civilian targets and evacuees.

This stratagem will likely only escalate as Russia fires cluster bombs, indiscriminate MLRS, and even thermobaric weapons at civilian targets. With the goal of massacring as much of the Ukrainian population as possible to both ease his army’s losses and make a mockery of Western collective security.

Many even rightfully fear the potential for a nuclear escalation; so long as NATO is not directly involved, a small-scale nuclear attack on Russia’s backyard would not trigger a world war, in Putin’s view. Dropping a low-yield nuke on Kyiv, or doing damage to the sarcophagi at reactor 4 in Chernobyl, would deal a death blow to Ukraine. The sanctions and outrage to come would be crippling, but by doing so, he would destroy years of MAD assurances, a crippling blow to the most critical, unspoken clause of European security. Doing so could, in his eyes, bring fear to the nations that border him, prompting them to submit themselves to the new Russian Empire’s sphere of influence.

Yet Putin’s flawed thinking is based again on the same principle; not understanding Western unity. Despite being able to rally a few powerful nations in Asia, Putin has been utterly surrounded by contempt, and the West his cyberoperations have spent years dividing have formed an incredibly cohesive response. Should this war become a long, protracted conflict, though there will be casualties in the hundreds of thousands, Ukraine will unquestionably win, so long as the West continues to support it.

But precisely, this is why the war must cease as soon as possible. The Battle for Ukraine cannot be allowed to go down in history as the Thermopylae of the 21st Century, leaving its 44 million citizens destitute and broken.

“I don’t want Ukraine’s history to be a legend about 300 Spartans. I am so confident with our military and with our people defending our state, because our state is very special and our people are very special,. I don’t want them destroyed, I want them all to remain.”

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy

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