In an editorial, the New York Times called on the US government to be realistic and recognize that Ukraine cannot defeat Russia. I paid attention to this appeal to ‘be realistic’, because, to a large extent, all this terrible war is fought for the kind reality we will live in and what we believe to be true. I am writing this article in Kyiv, where I have been since the beginning of the war, and where I still have to run to the basement several times a day due to air-raid sirens. There is a special sense of the reality of war here,and I want to tell three truths about it.
The first truth is that this is not a war between Russia and Ukraine. The common misconception that the war will end as soon as Ukrainians and Russians find common ground makes many politicians and analysts draw the wrong conclusions. In fact, it is Russia's war against the West and its values. I'll remind you how it all started. In mid-December, Putin demanded a new security agreement with the United States and NATO. The terms of this agreement concerned not only the ban on Ukraine and other countries joining the bloc, but also the deployment of NATO forces in Europe. The refusal to conclude this treaty was the justification for his war. He has repeatedly said that the West has left him no choice. From this we see that the end of the war cannot be a question of Russian-Ukrainian relations. Victory in Ukraine was not Putin's goal, and with it he will move on. But if he is defeated, he will not be able to do anything.
The second truth about the reality of the war is that no one expected such resistance from the Ukrainians and such a failure of the Russian military machine. It is true that Western intelligence and politicians gave Kyiv two weeks and Mariupol 4 days. The Russians were defeated near Kyiv at a time when Ukraine had no special weapons other than Javelin and NLAW anti-tank missiles and Stinger MANPADS. While recognizing these as good weapons, we should understand that the Russian army has retreated from northern Ukraine not solely because of it. Kyiv was preparing to defend itself on every square meter, thousands of people took up arms, made Molotov cocktails, dug trenches. It is a great achievement that our army was able to stop the Russian offensive, and then create the conditions for their encirclement, and left them no choice but to retreat. For almost two months now, the Russian army, which had outnumbered the Ukrainian army by 20 times, has shown little success in the operation in Donbas.
Therefore, if we strive to be realistic, let's admit that all assessments of what will happen to Ukraine have failed. Thus, the claim that Ukraine will not be able to recapture its administrative border and defeat Russia on its territory becomes irrelevant. However, I will state something relevant: there is no other solution to the war than the Ukrainian victory. Through all potential ceasefires, agreements on the secession of territories, etc. we went with Minsk 1 and Minsk 2. All possible solutions, except for the Ukrainian victory, will just postpone this conflict in time.
Finally, the third truth about the reality of war, especially painful, is the truth about Bucha. After the atrocities and genocide in Bucha, the developed world cannot afford to deal with the Kremlin. Anyone who rapes young children and kills their mothers is a threat to the whole world, not only to Ukraine. In Bucha, Putin did not attack Ukraine, but the global security and peace system created after World War II. Unfortunately, in Bucha Putin destroyed "never again," which the entire developed world repeated every year on May 8. And the only answer that should be given to him by all who believe in human rights is the military defeat of Russia.