A year ago today Vladimir Putin launched his criminal invasion of Ukraine. No-one expected the war to last this long
Given their relative military strengths, I expected Russia to win in four days, a week at most. I underestimated the Ukrainian peoples’ desire for freedom. They’ve lived under the Russian yoke before. They have no desire to return.
The human cost has been enormous. About half a million dead so far by the estimates I have read. Millions displaced from their homes. Ukraine’s infrastructure has been so badly damaged it will take years to rebuild. Yet the people remain resolute.
For Putin there is no graceful exit. That is one of the problems with being a dictator. You rule by fear and can’t display any weakness. Withdrawal is not an option
So he repeats the lies about Ukraine being controlled by Nazis and sends young men to die on the battlefield, hoping that by sheer strength of numbers he can be triumphant. Hoping also that Ukraine’s allies will tire of the war and the effect it has on their economies.
So far that hasn’t happened. I’m not sure it will. Certainly the conflict has been a boon for arms manufacturers who have finally gotten to test some of their products against the Soviet weapons they were designed to counteract but never met in real life. For some, war is big business.
Putin remains hopeful that there will be a big distraction to take the western allies focus off the conflict in Ukraine. He’s hoping China will invade Taiwan.
That seemed like a possibility just before Russia made its move. The mainland government was rattling its sabres, calling for the island nation to be forcefully integrated with the mainland and placed under Beijing’s rule.
As Putin sees Ukraine as historically part of Russia, so too the communist government in Beijing claims Taiwan. They forget that when the communist revolution took place they never managed to conquer the island, and that Taiwan has more claim to be the legitimate government of China than do the usurpers in Beijing.
I can see the strategic advantage of Beijing moving against Taiwan now. The West’s support might not be as much given the resources already being poured into Ukraine. That suggests this might be the best chance in a generation for military victory
At the same time, I would think the military planners can see the parallels. Big nation versus small. Dictatorship versus democracy. A quick victory is unlikely.
I suspect my great-grandchildren will be studying this time in their history classes as the beginnings of the third world war. Maybe that is a pessimistic thought. Maybe it is just being realistic.
After a year of fighting in Ukraine there appears to be no end in sight. More people are going to suffer and die to feed Vladimir Putin’s ego. Perhaps the best thing we can do at this time is pray for divine intervention, for repentance leading to peace.
In human terms that seems unlikely. But in human terms Ukraine should have fallen to the Russian onslaught and lost its independence long ago. Miracles happen. Let us pray for one.