Marco Levytsky, Editorial Writer.
Ninety years ago Russians confiscated the grain Ukrainians had harvested so that they would slowly and agonizingly starve to death. Today they are destroying Ukraine’s power grid so that the people will slowly and agonizingly freeze to death. And they haven’t forgotten about food either. On those parts of Ukraine their rapists and murderers masquerading as soldiers have occupied Ukrainian land, they have confiscated the grain so not only would Ukrainians starve, but also Africans, Asians and other people dependent upon Ukraine’s grain exports.
As Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs noted in a November 26 statement:
“The totalitarian communist regime committed mass starvation, Putin’s regime has launched “Hunger Games” around the world. Hundreds of millions of people in Africa and Asia have already suffered from the destruction of agricultural infrastructure and the blocking of Ukrainian grain exports by the Russian Federation. Just as in 1932-1933 the NKVD (now known as the KGB) seized the last food from Ukrainians, in 2022 the Russian occupying forces are robbing Ukrainian elevators and taking away Ukrainian grains. By undermining the work of the Black Sea grain deal, the Kremlin uses food as a weapon to implement its aggressive political agenda. A number of countries and regions found themselves on the brink of starvation due to Russia’s war against Ukraine. Russia’s aggression against Ukraine proves that unpunished evil and unacknowledged historical mistakes are returning in our time on a worse scale.”
November 23 Russia launched one of its most devastating attacks yet. Most of the territory of Ukraine was left without electricity and water. In Kyiv this caused the biggest outages since the brutal invasion began nine months ago. But the brazen brutality of the Russian regime is met with remarkable resilience by Ukrainian people themselves. Within two days of the most devastating attack on Ukrainian energy infrastructure yet, Ukraine had managed to restore power to half of the 6 million people who were cut off on November 23. “Ukrainians went through very terrible things…Once they wanted to destroy us with hunger — now, with darkness and cold,” said President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in a on November 26 video message. “We cannot be broken,” he declared.
In an interview with BBC, his wife Olena echoed his sentiments. Ukraine will endure this coming winter despite the cold and the blackouts caused by Russian missiles, and will keep fighting what she describes as a war of world views, because “without victory there can be no peace”.
“We are ready to endure this… We’ve had so many terrible challenges, seen so many victims, so much destruction, that blackouts are not the worst thing to happen to us.” She cited a recent poll where 90% of Ukrainians said they were ready to live with electricity shortages for two to three years if they could see the prospect of joining the European Union.
Yes, the spirit of the Ukrainian people is truly indomitable, as it has been throughout history. They survived the Holodomor, they survived World War II and they survived over 350 years of Russian oppression. They will survive this winter as well.
And, against all odds, Ukrainians are winning this war – even while fighting with one hand tied behind their back. Russia may be bombing Ukraine back into the Stone Age, but Ukraine is not even allowed to target those bases in Russia that are firing the missiles for fear of losing Western arms support.
It may be Ukraine where this war is being waged. It may be Ukrainians that are being slaughtered, being raped, being bombed, being frozen, but it is the whole world that is being threatened by the unrestrained Russian aggression. Sure, Ukraine does get material and moral support. But is that enough? How long must that long-suffering nation continue to endure this genocidal war? Only one realistic possibility comes to mind. Certainly, there can never be a negotiated settlement with Putin, as his demands are incompatible with Ukraine’s continued existence either as an independent state or a separate nation. The answer, instead, may well depend on if, and when, Ukrainians decide – with or without the support of their allies – that they will no longer fight Russia with one arm tied behind their back. If and when that happens, the fervour of Russians to continue sacrificing their own lives in greater and greater numbers in pursuit of Putin’s doomed and demented dream of restoring the Russian empire by destroying Ukraine will almost certainly grow cold. In that circumstance, it is possible that the war will end for enough years to allow Ukraine to take all steps necessary to make any future Russian invasion too costly and unrealistic to ever consider. This would be consistent with President Zelenskyy’s suggestion that Ukraine needs to enhance its military capabilities sufficiently to become the Israel of Eastern Europe. As for Russia, it would have the opportunity during any such cessation of hostilities to effect regime change and fundamentally reconsider what kind of country it wishes to become and what kind of future it wants for itself, including one that looks nothing like most of those that preceded it.