WASHINGTON, DC, Jan 16 — The Soviet Union was dismantled in 1990. It was a happy ending for the vast populations of eastern Europeans forced to live under the tyrannical rule of communist masters for nearly 70 years. Alas, the joy began to fade as Vladimir Putin took control of Russia. It wasn’t long before Putin began to intimidate Russia’s neighbors, Ukraine in particular. In February 2022 his threats and incursions finally erupted into war — a war that Putin boasted would be over in a matter of weeks, if not days. He underestimated the determination and true grit of the Ukrainian citizens. And so, here we are, approaching the first year of battle and the underdog has held its own and attracted the support of the free world.
Within days after the invasion of Ukraine by Russian forces, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy asked the free world for help, to volunteer for the sake of “Ukraine, freedom and democracy.” Within days thousands of volunteers began to join the war. They came from 52 nations, they numbered in excess of 20,000 soldiers and they are known as the International Legion, notes the New York Times.
Particularly noteworthy is the fact that citizens who lived in the former Soviet Union and didn’t like it much are also helping Ukraine in its fight, not to mention disgruntled citizens at home. His army is faltering due to a lack of support among his citizens who are not lining up to join the fight. It’s gotten so bad that he’s had to begin offering convicted prisoners freedom in exchange for joining the army. In addition, fighters from Chechnya, a republic under the rule of Putin’s Russia, for example, joined the fray– many of them for the chance to hone their battle skills in hopes of one day freeing their own country. Likewise others from countries currently under the rule of Moscow such as Crimea as well as former Russian states such as Kyrgyzstan and the Republic of Georgia have been joining the battle against him.
Meanwhile, Putin seems to be losing any support he may have had from his international cronies. With the exception of his pals in North Korea and Iran, he’s being seen as a loser in waiting. The Financial Times has reported that an unnamed Chinese official said that “Putin is crazy. The invasion decision was made by a very small group of people. China shouldn’t simply follow Russia.”
The Brookings Institution published a comprehensive analysis of the situation that Putin finds himself in. It notes that 40,000 Ukrainian citizens have lost their lives in the war, that more than 10,000 have been wounded and that some 100,000 Ukrainian soldiers have been killed. However, the analysis says “while a tragedy for Ukraine, Putin’s decision to go to war has also proven a disaster for Russia. The Russian military has suffered significant personnel and military losses. Economic sanctions imposed by the EU, United States, United Kingdom, and other Western countries have pushed the Russian economy into recession and threaten longer-term impacts, including on the country’s critical energy sector.”
According to Newsweek, efforts to engage in peace talks began within a few days of the war last winter. The talks broke down and ever since they have been put on again and off again. Newsweek’s report says that only a negotiated settlement is needed to put an end to the war but it’s unlikely at this point that will happen. Ukraine wants the Russian fighters to go home and “reparations, war crimes prosecutions for Russian leaders and NATO membership.” Russia wants land, lots of land. The report cites Nikolai Petrov, an independent Russian analyst, who says that neither the Russians nor the Ukrainians can win the war. “I think that both sides are preparing for offensives and both are sure that they can get more than they have now. That’s why there is no common ground and nobody can even think about any negotiations any time soon before these offensives will start.”
John Grimaldi served on the first non-partisan communications department in the New York State Assembly and is a founding member of the Board of Directors of Priva Technologies, Inc. He has served for more than thirty years as a Trustee of Daytop Village Foundation, which oversees a worldwide drug rehabilitation network.