The Current Situation
War in Ukraine arrived on March 24, 2022. Russian armored divisions rolled across Ukraine’s borders at several points. For weeks the Russian military had augmented its over-the-border staging areas. When the order was given, Russian troops poured into Ukraine in masse. At first, Russian troops easily pushed deep into Ukraine, or so it seemed. It soon became evident that the vaunted Russian army was suffering from terrible logistics, low troop morale, and a failure to appreciate the tenacity of the Ukrainians as fighters. Russian armored columns literally run out of petrol.
On top of these self-inflicted problems, NATO countries rushed to send sophisticated weapons to the Ukrainians. From what has been reported, Ukrainian soldiers are skillfully using these weapons to hold their own against the Russians. Recently, the fighting seems to have reached a stalemate. Security experts and intelligence officers believe that neither side is gaining or relinquishing territory. The fact that Russia has now engaged in siege warfare points to the fact that a battle stalemate exists.
There is considerable debate over who benefits most from a stalemate, the Russians, or Ukrainians. One thing is for sure; Ukraine’s infrastructure is being systematically destroyed. Russia’s targeting of civilians is creating a refugee problem not seen since the Second World War. Once beautiful and vibrant cities are being reduced to rubble. Who has not seen the destruction and death broadcast daily on the news and in social media posts? Is Russia trying to exterminate the citizens of Ukraine?
Some Historical Perspective
Do you remember the collapse of the USSR? A powerful faction of the communist party officials removed then-President Mikhail Gorbachev from office. The year was 1991. Gorbachev had favored policies to decentralize the government, bring about economic reforms and improve relations with the West. The old Russian guard sought desperately to reverse perestroika. On August 22, 1991, tanks descended on Red Square to stage a coup. Newly installed President Boris Yeltsin stood on a balcony to personally survey the situation. He gave the peace sign. The coup fizzled out and the breakup of the USSR become official on December 25, 1991.
Ukraine, a USSR satellite state, broke away from the Soviet Union to become an independent and sovereign state. Thirty years later the Soviet Union is trying to forcefully reintegrate militarily and economically this former member of the U.S.S.R. Perhaps history will repeat itself in several ways. Many people hope so!
The Center of the political storm: Viktor Yanukovych
He was born July 9, 1950, in Ukraine, U.S.S.R. At the time of Victor Yanukovych’s birth, the cold war was heating up. Yanukovych attended the Donetsky Polytechnic Institute. In 2000 he received a law degree from the Ukrainian Academy of Foreign trade. Early in his career, he swore his allegiance to the communist party and the U.S.S.R . Yanukovych rose to the top of local politics in the Dumbar region. He ascended to the pinnacle of Ukrainian politics though he did not speak Ukrainian. It should not come as a surprise that Vladimir Putin always supported Yanukovych’s political ambitions, seeing how their goals coincided.
Without going into details the case can be made that the recent political and economic conflict between Russia and Ukraine centered around Yanukovych. His passage through Ukrainian politics and Russia’s inability to subjugate its foreign satellite state led to current “Special Military Action.” The annexation of the Crimea and attempted subjunction of the Donbas region appear to be Russia’s reaction to Yanukovych’s change of political fortunes.
Yanukovych won in the presidential election in 2010. In-country international poll observers concluded the election had been fair and transparent. The Eastern part of the country voted for Yanukovych. His opponent and sitting president, Victor Yushchenko, received the vote from the Western part of the country. Yuschenko’s supporters took to the streets to protest the election results. Yanukovych suppressed the protests but never really had the support of all Ukrainians. He was ousted from office four years later when he refused to establish closer economic and cultural relations with the West. Instead, he chose to move Ukraine further into Russia’s sphere of influence. Ukraine’s love-hate relationship with Russia cannot be disputed. The two countries are connected by so many factors that an amicable divorce doesn’t seem possible.
On January 25, 2019, a Ukrainian court sitting in Kyiv’s Obolon District sentenced former President Yanukovych to thirteen years in jail. The order of incarceration came almost five years after a popular uprising ousted him from power. He had been charged criminally with having committed several serious crimes. The court convicted and sentenced him upon being found guilty of “crimes against the foundation of Ukraine’s national sovereignty. In simple legal terms, the court convicted him of “high treason.” When he arrived in Moscow, he pleaded with Putin to send into Ukraine Russian troops to restore him to power. Yanukovych argued that he could resurrect Russia’s influence in Ukraine’s political affairs. According to him, Ukraine could still become a de fact satellite state of Russia. I believe that Russia began to seriously plan an invasion of Ukraine after the court issued its order of incarceration.