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VOICES: Democracy, freedom are worth fighting for

In a speech Sept. 21, Russia President Vladimir Putin claimed “Washington (is) urging Kyiv to transfer military operations to (Russia)…Nuclear blackmail has…begun… Statements by senior officials of… NATO countries (ask if) …permissible to use weapons of mass destruction, nuclear weapons against Russia.”

In his 14-minute rant, Putin claimed “The West is (trying) to destroy our country. Ukrainians have been weaponized by the West to destroy Russia. They are cannon fodder driven to war with our country.

“With its aggressive anti-Russian policy (Putin refers to weapons supplied to the Ukrainians) the West crossed all borders. To defend our homeland,” Putin declared mobilization of 300,000 reservists, and to “use all means at our disposal (nuclear).”

This speech responds to two events: Ukrainian victories and Shanghai Cooperative Organization (SCO) meeting in Samarkand Sept. 15-16. SCO is an organization of eight nations: China, India, Russia, Kazakhstan, and four other countries. A major topic was the ongoing Ukrainian invasion and the United Nations saying it caused a world food crisis. China, India and Kazakhstan urged negotiating peace.

Krill Rogov, an analyst in Moscow, called the speech “An explosive mixture of madness, incompetence and despair.” Russian defeat is lack of motivation to fight. University of Southern California Professor Robert English said: “Russian motivation to fight is weak. Ukrainian motivation is sky-high. One Ukrainian soldier is worth five Russians.”

Let’s discus motivation. Democracy is a system in which people choose how they want to live within laws that people create to guide their conduct. In 1991 the Ukrainian people chose democracy. They have an elected president and an elected parliament (Rada).

There have been attempts to sway Ukrainians to unify with Russia. The most recent occurred in 2014 when the Ukrainian president wanted to join a Russian Economic Union instead of the European Union. The Maidan revolt occurred, the president fled to Russia, the Ukrainian people declared they wanted the freedom that democracy provides and continued independence from Russia.

Putin claimed the Maidan revolt was engineered by the West, Neo-Nazis and fascists. (He restated this in his Sept. 21 speech.) Because of this assertion, Putin invaded the Crimea and Donbas in 2014, saying Ukraine was a threat against Russian sovereignty. He used this excuse again as a reason for invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, 2022. Putin also declares that the Ukraine is a Lenin cobbled-together country, but it has always been part of Russia.

Putin uses propaganda (lies) to hide the truth. The Ukrainian people want their freedom from the Russian command society. They remember the Holodomor, when up to 10,000,000 died because of Soviet agricultural-command policies.

Freedom of choice is worth fighting for. Putin believes conscripting 300,000 men can overcome freedom. He ignores the difficulties of training 300,000 soldiers to fight a war. From various reports, he has decimated his military-training facilities. Training officers have been thrust into combat. Mobilizing an army takes time. Russia has shown difficulties in the bureaucratic process of drafting, training and equipping an army. Will this army be willing to fight? The Ukrainians have said they are creating a million-person army. Are 300,000 recruits enough to win?

Add to this, rioting in Russia. Men are fleeing the country. Authorities say protesters go to prison for 15 years. Soldiers who surrender get 10 years. Forcing people to fight is madness.

Democracy and freedom are worth fighting for. If the Ukrainians lose, we turn the clock back to imperialism, a return of the Soviet Union. That is why helping the Ukraine is critical.

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William J. Fernandez is a retired judge, author and Kapa‘a resident.
Source: The Garden Island

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