On the first anniversary of Russia’s war in Ukraine, a Ukrainian academic lists ten flawed theses about the conflict.
1. The war has been going on for one year. The war actually started in 2014 when Russia annexed the Crimean Peninsula, following the Euromaidan uprising, and ignited separatism in the Donbas by arming rebels. The Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022 is the climax of the Russo-Ukrainian war.
2. This is a proxy between the West and Russia. Following this logic, all wars could be called proxies. Ukraine’s agency must be properly acknowledged. At its core, this is war of the Ukrainian people for independence, freedom and de-colonisation.
3. NATO expansion is the cause of the war. The cause of the war is Russia’s aggressive imperialist politics towards its neighbour, its revanchist pseudo-ideology, and the grand delusions of a single dictator. NATO never threatened Russia nor pledged to grant membership to Ukraine.
4. There are two sides to the conflict: those who want peace and those who oppose it. Ukraine seeks liberation from Russia’s authoritarian, oppressive, and increasingly fascist regime, rather than abstract “peace”.
5. Supplying weapons to Ukraine fuels the conflict. The Russian army has an enormous advantage in terms of personnel and weapons. Every nation has the right to self-defence if its political sovereignty and territorial integrity are violated, as enshrined in the United Nations Charter. Making Ukraine resilient is the route to its victory and an end to the war.
6. There can be still a diplomatic way out of the war. Russia shifted from coercive diplomacy to an all-out war a year ago. No negotiations can take place until the power balance is restored and Russia completely withdraws its troops from the territory of sovereign Ukraine back to the internationally recognised borders.
7. Because the US committed atrocities against developing nations in the past, whoever challenges its hegemony must be openly or tacitly supported. Choosing which empire is better is absurd when people’s survival and struggle is at stake. Whataboutism is morally detestable. Oppression takes many forms and comes from many sources. Imperialism does not come solely from the West. Ukraine is part of the “Global South” camp, if anything else.
8. There can be a neutral stance in this war. There can be no neutrality when atrocities are committed. Taking a neutral stance means siding up with Russia.
9. India must maintain its diplomatic balancing approach toward the conflict. As an aspiring global power and a moral leader, India cannot and ought to not stay aside. Expressions of neutrality are acts of political impotence.
10. The war concerns Europe only. The war concerns all of humanity, as any war. Apart from rising inflation, food prices and energy costs, Russia’s aggression emboldens other autocrats across the globe.
Oleksandr Svitych is an Associate Professor of Political Science at the Jindal School of International Affairs, OP Jindal Global University.