Our current situation reminds me very much of the UPR and the events of 100 years ago. Although the UPR may seem like a museum relic to some today, we can now understand what Grushevsky and Petlyura were dealing with – you stubbornly want to win the war, recapture territories, you have a heroic army, but you are really mired in problems and troubles.
The UPR army had exactly the same problems – lack of weapons, low wages, involvement in difficult sectors of the front, disputes at the level of the military-political leadership. The West seemed to sympathize with the abstract idea of “liberation of peoples” or “struggle for national freedom,” but it had its own agenda, which was very difficult to break through.
The UPR was precisely faced with the problem of a protracted war. Such a war at some point sharply loses the support of the population, depletes resources and rests primarily on the personal trust of soldiers in officers and generals. The UPR sent diplomatic missions to many countries, asking for support, while its soldiers tried to do at least something against the invasion from the east. The UPR had no order in the rear – few Ukrainians and Ukrainian women understood where the country was heading. State funding went mainly to the needs of the war; only the agrarian cycle was fully operational – and then for the reason that Ukrainian peasants simply cannot imagine any other life than sowing and harvesting, completed on time.
In terms of its complexity, our current situation differs little from the situation in the UPR. The main problem of the UPR was that it was always late. At first she was late in assessing how aggressive Lenin’s government was. Then she was late in explaining her position on socio-economic issues to the population. In the end, she debated for too long whether to declare complete independence from Russia. Everything seemed too radical, and there were plenty of critics.
A protracted war is a problem in itself. I don’t want to sound like a pessimist, but people are already getting used to the front line as one with which we will live for a year, or two, or longer. Ukraine has a certain reserve of resources – economic and human – but their further use for military needs will have its own considerable price for our internal situation. How did the massive American mobilization for the operation in Vietnam end? Because Henry Kissinger proposed simply withdrawing American troops from Vietnam.
The need of the Armed Forces of Ukraine to fill vacant positions and the need for people is quite understandable. However, politically there lies such a big, big crisis that at one time it scared even Kissinger. It is noticeable that the fighters, the fighters from the Armed Forces of Ukraine, are saying: “Don’t sit at home, mobilize.” And they are our heroes and heroines who perform great feats every day. No one has the right to downplay this feat. The intensity of these passions, judging by reports, falls on visitors to the city’s gyms and restaurants. “Why are we at the front and you are not?” – one hears the argument from social networks and blogs. Perhaps it would be possible to give summonses to all these people, but it is not a fact that the army will become stronger from this. But the political crisis can be played out.
The protracted war is a story of discontent and complaints about what went wrong. It’s always the same as it happens: you start complaining about one thing, then another, and in the end you can’t stop. It is already noticeable that party signs are being introduced into conversations about the war – and this, it seems to me, is more due to a lack of understanding of the complexity of our situation and a little from a misunderstanding of wartime politics. We are in a very, very difficult situation – and I don’t think that Poroshenko’s business trips abroad or anonymous insights from participants in discussions in the OP can help. These are all attributes of our usual policy, but this does not help us in any way in the war. Almost two years of war somehow had the effect that the old instincts for power and popularity began to awaken – but it’s still too early. Each and every one is beginning to regain the old sense of normalcy, but there is no room for this yet. Every man can be at the front tomorrow, and every woman can become a widow. Against this background, the pettiness of political games is simply our common big, big pain.
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War has ceased to be linear. It was like this for about a year and a half, our army was advancing – and talking about faith in victory was popular, it was cool. Now, in response to such a conversation, you get the answer: “Dude, did you look around the telethon and don’t know how bad everything is with us?” This tone is gaining dangerous momentum. And this is a problem rather than even the reality of the fronts, as a protracted war as such. There is probably no other protracted war. Unpleasant conversations and unpleasant assumptions and forecasts begin to appear.
In this quagmire, where we read every day about disputes between President Zelensky and Commander-in-Chief Zaluzhny, life is extremely difficult for society. Once upon a time, reading about political conflicts was a story about “stock up on popcorn” – now we have a story about something else. Our story is about human lives and the fate of the country. The Financial Times has already published an article about our internal political quarrels – where Klitschko and Poroshenko blame Zelensky, who is in conflict with Zaluzhny. Some kind of hell. People in the West revere and simply think to themselves: “Well, Ukraine is as always – it has always been like this.” This is what a protracted war is.
If there is a word “SOS” in diplomatic language, then this word should already be used in conversations with the West. We’re stuck. And at the same time, we cannot afford to have a protracted war. Even if a thousand analysts and columnists predict every day how long we will fight, we simply cannot afford it. It’s not a matter of Ukraine’s weakness—I think we all already imagined our own doom. Instead, the point is that we do not fall apart politically, where our heroic Armed Forces of Ukraine will remain separate, everyone else will go to work in the rear with a feeling of guilt with the stigma of “useless civilian”, and dudes from city gyms will search Google for the most innovative attempts at deviationism with the opportunity to travel abroad with a “volunteer” certificate. This situation would be complete hell.
The authorities need to find the right words and explain to the West that the situation in Ukraine is not getting better from a protracted war. New risks arise every day. Glory to the Almighty, we are not quite the UPR, about which no one knows or understands anything. We are Ukraine, which has its place in Europe, its role, its status and its limited amount of resources. We live in a situation where we do not have answers to most questions about the future. We check the news daily, sometimes hourly, and nothing else matters. Have ours advanced? Haven’t made any progress? What statistics from the General Staff? That’s all. I don’t want anything else anymore.
Our main risk is not losing the war. We will not lose the war. But judging by current events, we can be firmly stuck in the current situation, because politics has begun actively everywhere. Maintaining the intensity of protection along the demarcation line during the ATO-JFO cost us 5-6% of GDP per year. With the current front line and the intensity of the fighting, we are giving all our taxes to the front. What other argument can be used that a way out of the current situation needs to be found? For victory in a war – the harsh truth – you pay either with people or with money. Putin decided to pay his price with people. Let’s not be like Putin – let’s choose to invest in defense, in defense capability. There is a lot of money in the world, but it needs to be attracted. Be able to attract. It is clear that this is not easy – but if you are distracted by incomprehensible political maneuvers, if you spend time fanning internal polarization, then money for the war will be even more difficult to find. Every political mistake now has a huge, gigantic price. Let’s not do them.
The author expresses his personal opinion, which may not coincide with the position of the editors. The author is responsible for the published data in the “Opinions” section.
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