‘Invasion of our land’: Is Putin right to justify Ukraine war?
- President Vladimir Putin gave a speech on Russia’s Victory Day, May 9, 2022, defending the invasion of Ukraine noting that the West was “preparing for the invasion of our land” and asserting, “This decision was forced, timely and the only correct one - a decision by a sovereign, strong and independent country.”
- According to Levada Center, an independent polling firm in Russia, 80% of voters support the military, however, 50% have complete support while 30% have reservations. The director of Levada, Denis Volkov, mentioned, “We must understand that polls show us not what people really think or really believe, but what they want to share.”
- Fifty-five percent of Americans favor increased support in Ukraine and 80% worry about the potential of nuclear weapon use in Russia, as listed by a recent ABC News/Washington Post poll.
- On March 2, 2022, the United Nations General Assembly met under emergency conditions;141 countries passed a nonbinding resolution condemning Russia for invading Ukraine with only five countries in opposition: Russia, Belarus, Syria, North Korea, and Eritrea.
- Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, 2022, “unleashing airstrikes on cities and military bases and sending in troops and tanks” with condemnation coming from the US, Europe, South Korea, Australia, and other countries.
Putin’s invasion of Ukraine is justified by looking at recent history. First, in many speeches, Putin has claimed that Donestk, Crimea, and Luhansk freely agreed to join Russia many years ago. Russia sees Ukraine as undermining this choice by operating terrorist cells within these areas with the aid of international support. Residents of Donbas were reportedly suffering from indiscriminate killing by the Ukrainians and more importantly, Russia was under attack because its citizens in these areas were being killed. Putin had no other choice but to gain its independence from Ukraine. Because of this, Putin says he has a legal argument for entering Ukraine. With Ukraine attempting to join NATO, its success would mean the undermining of Russian security.
Putin believes there is a threat by the West on all of Russia leaving no other choice but to invade Ukraine. Since the fall of the Iron Curtain, NATO has slowly expanded its territories and widened its sphere of influence, which represents a direct threat to Russia. The real fear is that NATO would place advanced missiles near the border that could target most Russian cities, potentially leading to unpredictability near Russian borders. But perhaps most importantly, Putin has said the Ukrainian invasion will also help denazify the country, as Putin believes Ukraine is an 'inalienable part of Russia’s culture, history, and spiritual space.' Ukraine’s nationalism has seen the rise of nazism—an uprising that involved the Russians during WWII, leading to millions of deaths and the destruction of property. Putin strongly believes this rise of nazism in Ukraine is meant to destabilize Russia and create havoc in the political arena—hence there was no choice but to denazify Ukraine, protecting the people and region from these extreme ideological dangers.
In a desperate attempt to justify his cruel and completely uncalled for invasion of Ukraine, Vladimir Putin has offered a variety of rambling and largely incoherent explanations for why he believes Ukrainian land rightfully belongs to Russia. Unfortunately for this despot, historical facts simply aren’t on his side. Though the beginnings of both societies have a common ancestor in 9th century Kievan Rus society, centered around modern Kiev, the two nations moved distinctly apart in following centuries. Putin’s claim that Ukraine belongs to Russia because both nations have a common ancestor is tantamount to Italy claiming England and much of Western Europe because it once ruled these territories; anyone can see this is completely absurd.
Aside from common ancestry, Ukraine has moved in a very different direction in the centuries founding the Kiev Rus society. Ukrainians have significant cultural differences and Russian and Ukrainian, as languages go, are far more different than many people in the West understand them to be. Putin is wrong to simply deny the self-evident facts that there is a strong and independent culture as well as a democratically elected government in Ukraine. He may not like that the nation feels drawn to democracy, international stability, and rule of law, or that it has expressed interest in joining NATO and the EU, but denying its very existence is ludicrous.
Finally, denying a nation’s sovereignty clears the way for Putin’s army to do unspeakable violence to ordinary Ukrainians, which has been well documented in this conflict. Stripping a people of its humanity is a technique employed by violent extremists in order to normalize cruelty.