It’s one year ago today since protests erupted in Ukraine’s capital, Kiev. Protesters took to the streets to demonstrate against their governments wilful neglect and decision to ignore the will of the people who wanted to cast off the shackles of post-Soviet corruption and push the nation towards transparency, prosperity and justice.
But Ukraine’s then-President, Victor Yanukovich, had caved in to the Kremlin’s demands and chose to abide by Putin’s will and not the will of his people. The rest as they say is history. But it’s not a history that is in the past. It’s a history that is still in the making. An ever increasing death toll that began with the death of protesters on the streets of Kiev, the “Heavenly Hundred”, has culminated in more than 4,000 deaths and one million displaced, in the months that have passed as the conflict has escalated.
What began as a peaceful demonstration that challenged a corrupt government has spiralled into a cloaked war with Russia. Brought about first by Putin’s illegal annexation of Crimea and his tearing up of the Budapest Memorandum, he has continued streaming Russian troops, artillery, weapons and ammunition across the open Ukrainian border, resulting in daily clashes with the Ukrainian army. Since the so-called ceasefire, last September, 1,000 more Ukrainian nationals have died as a result of Putin’s bellicose actions in Donbas. Russia continues to arm terrorists in eastern Ukraine and shore up its own troop numbers with battalions sent from as far away as eastern Siberia, to fight alongside the already numerous covert Russian troops already stationed in Ukraine.
These Russian troops are fed from Russian food rations, re-supplied by Russian army trucks, re-fuelled by Russian fuel bowers and clothed in Russian army uniforms, sans the insignia, lest someone find out where they truly came from.
This war has nothing to with Putin’s intractable paranoia over NATO. It has had nothing to do with NATO ever since the first protesters took to the streets. But it has EVERYTHING to do with Putin’s own fear of his own people. His fear that the Russian nation will look to their brethren in Ukraine and get ideas in their head that they deserve a better government, a country that is not built on thuggery, theft, corruption and shady deals made within the walls of the FSB is rightly justified. He has seen what happened eventually to Ceacescu in Romania, Mubarak in Egypt, Gaddafi in Libya, Ben Ali in Tunisia, Yanukovich in Ukraine and what’s CURRENTLY happening to Assad in Syria and he’s scared shitless.
The amount the Putin and his cronies have stolen during the last 23 years they have been in office is beyond comprehension. It’s is the greatest theft of any nation since the dawn of commerce EVER. The totalitarian regime has silenced all but three media outlets in Russia, with those remaining three wondering how long they can last before their days are numbered. Meaning that there is effectively no free press with which to challenge the government. They can spout whatever lie is convenient on the day, have the media broadcast it and expect people to believe it. And for those who don’t, they have used their two favourite rotweillers – the FSB and the Federal Tax Authorities – so effectively to instill fear, that nobody is willing to stand up to the government.
That is until last November, when ordinary Ukrainians braved the harsh Winter snows, collectively worked together, building soup kitchens, field hospitals, sleeping quarters and staying the course to topple their own corrupt regime. Things are far from perfect in Ukraine. But it is just the beginning. It’s made all the more difficult when your hostile and pugnacious neighbour is doing everything it can to destabilise and threaten this fledgling democracy, which struggles to ensure its rebirth is not from the ashes of malfeasance, nepotism and crime, but of accountability, transparency and prosperity instead.
It’s one year since the rebirth of Ukraine. I wish her and her people many more happy birthdays to come.