After ordering the Russian army to invade Ukraine on February 24, Vladimir Putin is heading for a historic defeat. This is stated in his most recent column by the Israeli historian Yuval Harari. For the intellectual, even if Russia wins all the battles, in the end it will lose the war. The Russian president, in his imperialistic longing, attacked a country under the false pretext that it is not a real nation and that some of its citizens want to be part of Russia.
“That is a complete lie: Ukraine is a nation with more than a thousand years of history, and Kiev was already a great metropolis when Moscow was not even a town. But the Russian despot has told his lies so many times that he apparently believes them himself.”, Harari wrote in a recent column for the newspaper Guardian.
The Israeli says that Putin seemed to have everything in his favor to carry out a successful military operation on Ukrainian territory: he knew that NATO would not send troops to Ukraine and that dependence on Russian oil and gas would make Germany hesitate to take decisive action. For the Russian president, everything would be simple: quick military action, deposing the current government and establishing a regime to put an end to Moscow.
“But there was a big unknown about this plan. As the Americans in Iraq and the Soviets in Afghanistan learned, it is much easier to conquer a country than to keep it. Putin knew that he had the power to conquer Ukraine. But, Would the Ukrainian people accept the Moscow puppet regime? Putin bet they would. After all, as she repeatedly explained to anyone who would listen, Ukraine is not a real nation, and Ukrainians are not a real people. In 2014, the people of Crimea barely resisted the Russian invaders. Why should 2022 be any different?” the historian asks rhetorically.
Now, says Harari, each passing day Putin is sinking into a swamp from which it will be difficult to get out. Highlight the heroic resistance of the Ukrainian people, which has earned worldwide admiration. He warns that dark days are ahead and that the Russians can still fulfill their mission and conquer the Ukraine. However, in order to control the country they must have the Ukrainian people on their side, and so far that has not happened.
“Every Russian tank destroyed and every Russian soldier killed increases the courage of the Ukrainians to resist. And every Ukrainian killed deepens the hatred for the invaders. Hate is the ugliest of emotions. But for oppressed nations, hate is a hidden treasure. Buried deep in the heart, it can sustain endurance for generations. To restore the Russian empire, Putin needs a victory relatively bloodless leading to an occupation relatively ruthless. By shedding more and more Ukrainian blood, Putin is ensuring that his dream never comes true. It will not be the name of Mikhail Gorbachev written on the death certificate of the Russian empire: it will be that of Putin. Gorbachev left Russians and Ukrainians feeling like brothers; Putin has turned them into enemies and has ensured that the Ukrainian nation will define itself from now on in opposition to Russia.”, writes Harari in Guardian.
The Israeli intellectual points out that nations are built on stories full of heroism and misfortune. And this Russian invasion will be full of stories that will be told by current and future generations. In the center of everything there is also a figure unthinkable until just a few weeks, that of a new national hero, the president Volodimir Zelensky, who refused to flee the country. Also that of the group of courageous Ukrainian soldiers who since an island they sent “to the shit” to a Russian warship. Or that of civilians stopping Russian tanks. Harari claims that it is these stories that build nations.
“The Russian despot should know this better than anyone. As a child, he grew up on a diet of stories about German atrocities and Russian bravery in the siege of Leningrad. He is now producing similar stories, but playing himself in the role of Hitler.”, he points out.
Harari says the stories of the Ukrainian resistance also give courage to European nations, who have already announced a major sanctions package and are going to provide weapons of all kinds to Ukraine. What’s more, the Israeli invites the world to get involved in this conflict and lend a hand however it can, whether by making a donation, welcoming a refugee or doing militancy on the internet.
The historian also believes that the war in Ukraine will change the world, give it another shape. And he warns that if tyranny is allowed to triumph, the consequences will be serious.
“Unfortunately, this war is likely to last a long time. Taking different forms, it may well continue for years. But the most important question has already been decided. The last few days have shown the whole world that Ukraine is a very real nation, that the Ukrainians are a very real people, and that they definitely do not want to live under a new Russian empire. The main question that remains open is how long it will take for this message to penetrate the thick walls of the Kremlin”, he concludes.
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