No Grey Area: How Putin Wins

Image of Ukraine flag.

Image by Diana Vyshniakova.

Although everybody wants peace, Ukraine rightly resists the current terms of a “peace” settlement with the Russians which would cede one-fifth of it’s territory to Russia. Nobody likes war, but the defense of one’s country against a cruel aggressor is a moral imperative. The unprovoked attack on Ukraine by Russia on February 24th, 2022 has destroyed the cities of Ukraine and caused the displacement of 1/3 of it’s population. Putin’s call for the “de-nazification” of Ukraine as his casus belli is laughable with Volodymyr Zelenskyy as president, a Jew.

History is key here: The so-called “shock therapy” economic prescription of 1991 suddenly and disastrously caused the overnight transition from 74 years of communism to capitalism after the breakup of the USSR, and led directly to the rise of the Russian “oligarchs,” and ultimately to Putin’s reign. The “shock therapists” caused the privatization of 70% of all public utilities and resources, leading the greedy oligarchs to snap up key sectors of the Russian economy for a song. Hyperinflation skyrocketed to 875% in 1993 and most Russian people lost their lifelong savings.

Undoubtedly with the best of intentions, “shock therapy” advocates caused the unintended consequences of the huge spike in mortality, the rise of the Russian mafia, the insatiable oligarchs, and finally Putin. Recently, the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for Putin in the Hague, whom they declared a “war criminal.” The U.N. voted 141-7 for Russia to withdraw from Ukrainian territory. Putin is a global monster who has poisoned, pushed from balconies, or jailed his political opponents, with jailed popular political opponent Alexei Navalny [a recent Putin poison victim] being the poster child for Putin’s iron rule.

Ukrainians are painfully reminded of the horrors of the Holodomor in 1930 when four million Ukrainians perished due to Stalinist starvation policies. If the current “peace” plans are implemented, Russia will have stolen 20% of Ukraine’s territory. Those “anti-war” advocates who propose an immediate peace settlement are allowing Russia to steal a fifth of Ukrainian land. I’m as anti-war as they come: I was a Conscientious Objector during the Vietnam War and joined the Peace Corps [Marshall Islands 1975-77] instead of shooting unnamed Vietnamese with an M-16 and returning with PTSD from an illegal and immoral war.

But some wars are just in the defense of one’s country, and Ukraine is one of them. To bravely defend one’s country – against Putin’s reputed wish of Ukrainian genocide and the erasure of the Ukrainian people – is the highest calling one can imagine.

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy – a once popular TV hero – has become a world hero on a par with Nelson Mandela. With Western and NATO support, Ukraine is favored to ultimately prevail over the Russian Bear, a country three times the population of Ukraine covering eleven time zones. The recent coup attempt against Putin by the Wagner Group leader bodes ill for Russia’s future.

Those who call for an immediate ceasefire and peace agreement argue that NATO and the West violated their 1991 agreement when the former USSR evaporated. Indeed, NATO did pledge not to expand, but the reason so many former Soviet satellite countries opted to join NATO is because Russia keeps invading it’s neighbors.

Putin’s vicious attack on Chechnya [1999-2008] led to the grotesque leveling of the historic capital Grozny, and was followed by the devastating invasion of Georgia in 2008. Putin unlawfully seized the strategic Ukraine territory of Crimea in 2014 in defiance of the U.N. Charter.

Russia was under no direct threat of being attacked. In fact, hundreds of Russian tanks snaked endless miles in their lead up to the attack on Ukraine last year. Despite Russia believing itself under imminent threat, the real threat came from the unprovoked attack on Ukraine by Russia. The U.N. Charter clearly states that in order to launch an attack on a sovereign nation [aka the “Ukraine War”], a nation must be absolutely threatened, not merely imagine being threatened [U.N. Charter of 1945, article 2(4)].

To accept the current “peace” proposal is tantamount to rewarding Putin for his cruel and illegal seizure of Ukrainian territory. There is no “grey area” here: Either you support the cause of freedom and democracy in Ukraine, or you support the tyrant Putin. Ukraine’s victory over Putin is a victory for democracy and the rule of law over Russia’s authoritarian takeover of a neighboring country. I ask: How many of you would be willing give up 20% of your land, and then call it “peace”? Until Russia withdraws to it’s pre-invasion boundaries, there can be no peace for the amazingly courageous Ukrainian  people.