Ukraine Military Commander Vows to Keep Fighting Despite Referendums – Despite the referendums due to take place in Kherson, Zaporizhzhia, Donetsk, and Luhansk, and despite the fact that the results of those referendums will likely result in Russia claiming that territory as part of the Russian Federation, the commander in chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine has vowed to continue fighting.
On the face of it, the statement is unsurprisingly and uncontroversial. Ukraine has made significant gains in recent weeks and Russia is in no position to be calling referendums and claiming territory as its own – but those significant gains are precisely the reason why Russian officials are doing it. Dangling the prospect of nuclear war over the heads of Western leaders, Russian President Vladimir Putin hopes to prevent the West from supplying more weaponry and ammunition, and perhaps believes that Western leaders may be inclined to tell the Ukrainian president to consider cutting his losses.
What Did the Commander-In Chief Say?
A Twitter thread shared by the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, which was attributed to Valery Zaluzhny, the commander in chief, noted how the Ukrainian military has been fighting the Russian military “for 8 years and 7 months.”
Збройні Сили України 8 років і 7 місяців стримують збройну агресію рф проти нашої держави. Повномасштабний наступ противника не злякав нас. Більше того, ми обʼєдналися та гідно зустріли ворога. Оголошення мобілізації в росії є тому підтвердженням.
— Генеральний штаб ЗСУ (@GeneralStaffUA) September 21, 2022
“The full-scale offensive of the enemy did not frighten us,” Zaluzhny said. “Moreover, we were united and met the enemy with dignity. The announcement of mobilization in Russia is a confirmation of that.”
In a follow-up tweet, Zaluzhny added that given how hundreds of thousands of men and women are protecting their homes, children, and native land, the Ukrainian military won’t consider backing down.
“Therefore, no statements of the military and political leadership of the aggressor country will affect our willingness to fight for our freedom,” the post reads.
The final message in the thread promised to “destroy everyone who comes to our land with weapons – whether voluntarily or by mobilization.”
“Let’s keep in line! Victory will be ours!” the post continues, and was signed “Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine / CinC AF of Ukraine General Valery Zaluzhny.”
What It Means
Ukraine intends to continue fighting, despite Putin’s strong messaging and despite the planned referendums.
In order to continue fighting, however, Ukraine will need the support of its allies in the West. Luckily for President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, both the United Kingdom and the United States appear to be committed to continuing military support and financial aid.
U.S. President Joe Biden and British Prime Minister Liz Truss agreed this week, following Putin’s speech, to maintain support.
“The leaders condemned Putin’s recent belligerent statements on Ukraine,” a spokesperson for Truss said following the first in-person meeting between the British and American leaders.
“They agreed his actions highlight the need for allies to continue their economic and military support to Ukraine.”
Putin may or may not be bluffing about using nuclear weapons, but Western leaders are willing to call his bluff and continue helping Ukraine fight.
Jack Buckby is a British author, counter-extremism researcher, and journalist based in New York. Reporting on the U.K., Europe, and the U.S., he works to analyze and understand left-wing and right-wing radicalization, and reports on Western governments’ approaches to the pressing issues of today. His books and research papers explore these themes and propose pragmatic solutions to our increasingly polarized society.