t least in the immediate aftermath of any war, history is always written by the victors. Only when the protagonists and their first descendants have disappeared and a long time has passed do historians, if they are allowed to do so, more or less set the record straight. Not infrequently, however, many, many years, even centuries, have passed, and even then the truth of what happened does not come through easily.
The first six months of the “special military operation” decreed by Russian President Vladimir Putin to invade the country which, during the three quarters of the 20th century that the communist regime lasted, was successively or simultaneously a testing ground for the extermination of the masses by starvation and deportation, the Soviet Union’s larder and the jewel of the Russian empire, are now in the midst of a war between Russia and Ukraine. The collapse of communism and the consequent independence of the republics that had suffered under its yoke was never accepted by Moscow, and especially by the secret services, the powerful KGB, the great power in the shadows, master of the secrets of all the leaders, and therefore the great controller of a subjugated citizenry.
Since his accession to power, Putin has woven with his former KGB comrades a renewed power network, whose goal combines the aspiration to preserve and increase that power forever and the necessary patriotic cause that binds together the sense of belonging of its citizenry. Thus, the reconstruction of the Russian empire is the first and foremost exponent of such a common cause to which all those who can hold a Russian passport can adhere. The main problem with this strategy is that it requires disregard for international law and, of course, the willingness of countries likely to be put back under Moscow’s boot to be subjugated.
To the surprise and astonishment of Putin himself, Ukraine has stood up to him, is resisting him and is even dealing unexpected counter-attacks, and in the process attracting the admiration of quite a few Western countries and citizens, who have been shaken by the resilience and audacity of Ukrainian soldiers and a martyred and heroic civilian population.
It is freedom that refuses to surrender to tyranny
Coinciding with the anniversary of Ukraine’s independence from the Soviet Union, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dimitro Kuleba said that “this year, more than any other, the yellow and blue colours [of the Ukrainian flag] symbolise the freedom that refuses to surrender to tyranny”.
This is precisely what it is about: freedom, the fundamental principle and right on which democracy is based. A reminder not only to Putin himself and the Russian population, many of whose intellectual vanguard have preferred exile to complicity with aggression against a sovereign country, despite being considered an integral part of Russian culture and civilisation.
NATO countries, i.e. what is commonly known as the West, cannot let up in their support for Ukraine. To do so would be tantamount to a definitive surrender to the force wielded by an aggressor, giving the law of the jungle as a source of legitimacy. This hypothetical enshrinement of the law of the jungle would give rise to an international “disorder” to replace the liberal order that has prevailed since the end of World War II, when law prevailed over the will of the supposedly strongest to crush.
However, there seem to be some cracks in the initially unanimous support for Ukraine. The long time that the last five generations have enjoyed a state of well-being and prosperity that made them believe that this was free and forever, shows signs of having weakened in the face of the first setbacks and sacrifices. It should therefore be remembered that what is at stake, for the moment only on Ukrainian soil, is the survival of the principles on which this welfare state has been based and the ability of citizens to aspire to develop their own life projects with guarantees. To falter and give in would be tantamount to giving way to tyranny, which always demands total submission from individuals who cease to be citizens and are reduced to the status of subjects, defenceless before the will and whim of the tyrant.
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