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A Russian Victory in Ukraine Is Unthinkable

TOS-1 firing. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

Talk of Western fatigue is misplaced when a Russian military victory would threaten European security and lead to a human rights crisis of genocide in Ukraine last seen three decades ago in Yugoslavia. Would the West stand by and allow a conquering Russian army to murder tens or even hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians in what the Kremlin describes as the pursuit of ‘denazification’ of Ukraine?

Indeed, talk of Western fatigue is misplaced when the Kremlin is intent on destroying the Ukrainian state, a founding member of the UN, and erasing Ukrainians from the map of Europe. 89% of Ukrainians believe Russia’s military actions constitute genocide and nearly half of Ukrainians describe Putin’s regime as fascist and Nazi. Western legal scholars describe Putin’s invasion policies as constituting war crimes and genocide.

The Stakes for Europe if Ukraine Losses

If Western fatigue allowed Ukraine to be defeated, Russia would occupy the second-largest country in Europe and install a pro-Kremlin satrap, like Belarusian acting President Alexander Lukashenka. Europe would be then faced with two Russian satellite states acting as launch pads for Putin’s proxy war against the West. Ukraine has nearly five times as big a population as Belarus and borders four NATO and EU members.

The threat to European security and the danger of a slide to war between NATO and Russia would grow. A Russian victory in Ukraine would encourage Putin to undermine NATO’s collective defense by launching hybrid warfare against the three Baltic states. Putin’s first targeted Estonia, then already a NATO member, as far back as 2007 in a massive cyber-attack. Lithuania would be Putin’s second target because of its strong support given to Ukraine and daring to introduce sanctions by blockading the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad.

Russia’s defeat of Ukraine would lead to genocide on a scale far greater than in Yugoslavia three decades ago. Prior to the invasion, US intelligence warned the Kremlin had compiled ‘Kill Lists’ of Ukrainian elites. The Nazi’s and Stalinists excelled at decapitating a country’s ability to function by murdering their intellectual, cultural, political, and civil societal elites. Ukrainians summarily executed in Bucha with their hands tied behind their backs are a glaring reminder of the 1940 Katyn massacre of Polish officers by Stalin’s secret police.

A Nightmare for Ukraine

Within Ukraine, the Kremlin’s so-called ‘denazification’ would lead to the incarceration and killing of hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians that would dwarf what took place in Srebrenica in 1995 when Serb paramilitaries murdered 8,000 Bosnian Muslims.

There is clear evidence in Ukraine today to support this. ‘Denazification’ during Russia’s brief occupation of the Kyiv region led to the torture and murder of over 1,000 Ukrainians. 500 Ukrainian women and children were raped by Russian occupation forces after their many others were murdered.

An estimated 50,000 Ukrainians have died in Russian-occupied Mariupol and southern Ukraine where kidnappings, torture, and killings are commonplace. Putin justified his illegal invasion of Ukraine to end a mythical ‘genocide’ of Russian speakers, and yet, it his army that is murdering Russian speakers in southeastern Ukraine.

Filtration camps set up to process internally displaced Ukrainians are replicas of those used by the Nazis and Stalinists. The Kremlin has deported over one million Ukrainians to Russia, including 300,000 children in an act of ethnic cleansing that draws on Stalin’s experience of dealing with ‘troublesome’ peoples.

The West should not, therefore, contemplate any sort of fatigue in the aftermath of Russia’s horrendous missile attack on a supermarket in the central Ukrainian city of Krememchuh and market in Slovyansk which deliberately targeted civilians. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson called the Kremenchuh attack ‘callous and cowardly’ while French President Emmanuel Macron condemned it an ‘abomination.’  Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy made the strongest statement, ‘the Russian state has become the largest terrorist organisation in the world.’ The terrorist attacks may spur the US to add Russia to the list of state sponsors of terrorism, alongside North Korea, Iran, Syria, and Cuba.

Although we are right to condemn these two cowardly terrorist attacks, they are not Russia’s first use of terror during its illegal invasion of Ukraine. The port city of Mariupol has been destroyed by Russian missiles, artillery, and tanks. The cities of Kharkiv, Chernihiv, and Sumy have been relentlessly attacked and damaged. Russia’s military campaign in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine has destroyed a region that was once Ukraine’s most populated and industrialized.

A Larger Crisis Seems Likely

A Russian occupation of Ukraine would create even greater flows of refugees than after Russia’s invasion when an estimated 12 million Ukrainians became internally displaced and fled their country.  Such large numbers would lead to a national crisis in European countries bordering Ukraine like Poland. Since the invasion two in three Ukrainian children have fled their homes. Nearly 400 children have died in the invasion with at least two children killed every day and many more wounded.

The West cannot allow talk of fatigue to lead to a Russian victory which would represent an existentialist threat to European security and Western democracies and provide Putin with the means to implement his genocidal goal of destroying Ukraine and the Ukrainian nation.

Taras Kuzio is a professor of political science at the National University of Kyiv Mohyla Academy and the author of the just-published Russian Nationalism and the Russian-Ukrainian War.

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Taras Kuzio is a professor of political science at the National University of Kyiv Mohyla Academy and author of the just-published Russian Nationalism and the Russian-Ukrainian War.