Updated: Mar 10, 2022
By Anna Kultin
The groundswell of anger triggered by Putin’s war against Ukraine is reaching a fever pitch. A simple axiom – there is no excuse for war and Putin is a manifestation of evil – is universally accepted.
I urge you to understand a few things that may provide you with a deeper, richer perspective on the situation. Although Mr. Putin forbids the people of Russia from referring to the event as a “war on Ukraine” and rather insists on calling it a “military operation”, in truth this is not a RUSSIAN WAR at all, but rather - PUTIN’S WAR.
The last bulwarks of liberal Russian media were summarily shut down last week, forced to cease publication even from their Internet sites. And it is not as if they were well-treated before, slapped with endless fines and having to endure non-stop barking from the Kremlin media watchdogs, ranging from rabid condemnation of TV station “Dozdh” and “Echo of Moscow” to the vicious jailing of Navalny after the release of his final masterpiece documentary “Putin’s Palace”. Other independent media chose to exit the game even before the harsh sanctions struck. Just a few days ago, anonymous government votes approved a law which could sentence anyone up to 15 years in jail for broadcasting any fake news. (Guess what they can choose to classify as “fake news”!)
Of course, the tentacles of the Kremlin octopus also ensnared foreign media, banning BBC, Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Deutsche Welle, and the website Meduza. The Russian people are trapped in a local media echo chamber, unable to gain access to other sources.
Many of the 7000 Russians who recently took to the local streets to protest against the war were detained. And jail in Russia is not a cozy place; forget basic “human rights” and having access to a lawyer. It’s a brutal, overcrowded institution with torture a very real prospect on the near horizon. Those people were – and still are – risking their lives.
It wasn’t just the average person who was caught off guard by the “military operation”, but all Russian intelligentsia, as well as many government experts across the globe. Until the very beginning of Putin’s war, people shrugged and assumed it was just a bluff.
Beyond the Ukrainian civilians caught up in the danger and destruction of the war itself, 146 million Russians have also been hit hard – in their case, by all the sanctions targeting Russia imposed by virtually every other country on the planet. My younger brother is one of those affected; he is desperately trying to get help, as he has a 4-month-old baby who is ill and needs special food that will probably never be delivered. His 4-month-old sick baby is not guilty, just another victim without a voice in the assignment of blame.
Regardless of whether Russia wins – and yes, they will most likely take over Ukraine – the Russian people will face the barbaric consequences of the war and the retaliatory sanctions for years to come.
Some may condescendingly state that Russians are reaping the bitter fruit of their humility, that they allowed the regime to thrive; others, that they were trapped in the chains of a pro-government narrative. How many experts on Russian psychology might even say: those obedient Russians would rather suffer from whatever arises, according to their beliefs?
The truth remains that THE WAR IS AN OVERARCHING TRAGEDY, and we must strive to separate all the innocent people from the politicians.
This is Putin’s war. While he might not be an evil person, evil is as evil does.