A child playing on a playground

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A child sits on a swing in front of a damaged residential building in Kyiv, Ukraine February 24, 2022. Reuters/Umit Bektas

This was supposed to be an article about the economic, social, and political impact on Russia if Vladimir Putin starts invasion of Ukraine. However, a hypothetical situation became real. In the early morning of 24th February, Putin announced a military operation in Ukraine calling it denazification and demilitarization. Russian troops invaded Ukraine from several sides including Belarus. They started by bombing military bases and airports leaving Ukraine with fewer and fewer sources for resistance. Although Russian officials claim that armed forces do not destroy humanitarian areas with ordinary citizens, there were photos of bombed blocks and people hiding in metro stations. While the situation is getting worse with every minute, I will try to give an up-to-date explanation on why Vladimir Putin is restarting a war in the middle of Europe and, also, address The Stork readers.

Why Putin has started the war

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“Dogs of War” by Jon Berkeley

It is in a dictator’s nature to resort to war in the face of yielding power. I do not think that there is a need to clarify the reasons why Vladimir Putin may be anointed a dictator. However, it is important to understand the current situation in Russia. The country is experiencing tough times in terms of social, economic, and political domains. Inflation rates are growing with terrifying speed. Although the official inflation rate is 8,7%, Russians know the bitter truth. Every time an ordinary citizen enters a grocery store, they experience a little heart attack. Comparing prices of common goods to those a couple of months ago, I see a difference of about 15%. The political situation does not indicate any signs of hope either. While the opposition leader is in prison and his allies are abroad, Vladimir Putin has gained total power in the political arena. It is not an exaggeration to say that no glimpses of any withstanding forces are left. With Alexey Navalny behind bars, a liberal part of Russians is either frightened or has fled the country. I am one of these citizens who realized that they cannot be helpful for the Motherland being inside it and, eventually, moved from Russia. 

Those who support Putin are having dissonance in their heads too. They watch TV Channels in which they paint Putin as a great political figure, where they listen to his countless empty promises to improve the lives of Russians. But once they are outside the bubble of Russian propaganda, and instead, they look around and see the reality of it all, there is no greatness to be found, nothing but rising prices and falling life levels. Although these two different groups of Russians are quite big, the most popular group is that of apolitical citizens. They believe that there is absolutely nothing they can do. Despite the fact that they do not trust the state propaganda, according to their opinion, protesting is useless and unhelpful as well. So, most Russians are those disenchanted citizens who chose to be out of politics. Thus, with such a differing and complicated situation in Russia, it is a perfect time to create a case for the union of all citizens against a common rival. Putin has given us the chance to unite against him. 

As it lies in history, Russia’s main enemy is the West, the US, and Europe. Just in time, Western countries started cooperating with Russia’s ex-friend, post-Soviet country, Ukraine. During the last years, Ukrainian authorities worked on forging closer ties with the West and made the Ukrainian language mandatory everywhere, from schools to documentation. With a rise of strong national spirits, there are also some far-right communities acting cruelly against minorities in Ukraine. These social movements were taking part in bombing separatist-controlled territories, Donetsk and Luhansk. While there is a great number of Russians on Ukrainian soil, it is easy for the Moscow Kremlin to create a harsh picture of them being discriminated against for not knowing the Ukrainian language or being killed by the Ukrainian government. So, Russian state propaganda sells the current war as an idea of setting Ukraine free of nationalistic and oppressing government. 

However, now, it is time to uncover the real reason why Vladimir Putin has started a war in Ukraine. Although the truth is hard to be known, we can always analyze and assume. It is not a secret that the President of Russia has strong imperialistic ambitions. In his rhetoric, all post-Soviet countries must stay together in various economic, political, and military agreements. This means not cooperating with the so-called enemy, the West. When Georgia had pro-Western intentions in 2008, Russian troops were sent to a separatist area and ordered to fight with the Georgian army. As a result, the Kremlin’s army is still in Abkhazia. Invading an independent sovereign country is Moscow’s infamous character. So, Putin’s troops are now trying to occupy Kyiv with the aim to put a new, pro-Moscow government that will not have pro-Western motives. 

Address

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Demonstrators march with a banner that reads: “Ukraine – Peace, Russia – Freedom”, in Moscow, Russia, February 24, 2022, AP Photo/Dmitry Serebryakov

You might have noticed that I tried to use terms like Putin’s and pro-Kremlin instead of Russian as much as possible. One of the article’s purposes is to prevent aggression against Russians. There is no point in blaming them for Putin’s violent actions in Ukraine. He is as cruel to Ukrainians as to Russians. Citizens of my Motherland are beaten with the same ruthlessness during protests and in prisons. In fact, thousands of people around Russia went on peaceful demonstrations against the war. However, many of them were met with harsh violence from police and almost two thousand were detained. Vladimir Putin made it impossible to protest him. This was one of the reasons why I left Russia. Yesterday, I was protesting in front of the Russian embassy with hundreds of Ukrainians, Russians, and even Spaniards. We were lucky to picquet in peace without violence. On the other hand, I am sorry to say that I know some people who support Putin’s actions. It breaks my heart to hear opinions about freeing Ukraine from “nazis”. Still, no matter how and where, true Russians are against Putin’s war and respect Ukrainian sovereignty in addition to territorial integrity. Although Ukraine may have a neo-nazi problem, it is an issue of a sovereign country, and Russia has no right to physically meddle in it. Russians understand what impact such aggression is going to have on both countries. Our country is about to be isolated from the whole civilized world while Ukraine has days, if not hours, left to resist Kremlin troops. In both cases, it is ordinary citizens who will suffer the most. My family, like all Russians, is petering out with every kilometer of Ukrainian soil conquered by Putin’s army. Thus, I am against the war. Russia is against the war. 

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