Russia does not want peace | International

Most of the calls to Russia and Ukraine to negotiate and reach a peace are surely well-intentioned, but in the current conditions they are unrealizable and peace seems more and more distant. From the outset, it is necessary to distinguish between the aggressor and the attacked and both cannot be placed on an equal footing.

Of the two countries facing each other in this war, it is up to Russia to give the signal to begin peace negotiations, but the militarist State of Vladimir Putin wants to continue the war, and so indicates with pseudo referendums aimed at “justifying and legalizing” the Russian cause and also to intensify aggression, by calling up hundreds of thousands of citizens under the pretext of defending “Russian territory”. If Russia had wanted peace, not only should it not have taken these steps, but – as a sign of goodwill and in advance of its willingness to dialogue – it should initially withdraw from the Ukrainian territories occupied since February 24.

Calls for peace in the West are based on various motives that are not always explicit, including naivete, escapism, material selfishness and fear of a nuclear catastrophe should Putin feel cornered. Among the agitators for peace there are also agents of the Russian cause, seduced by the perks that Moscow provides them.

A true call for peace, which does not confuse desires with realities, implies understanding the most important conflict that has occurred in Europe after the Second World War. This war cannot be judged with the clichés and ideologies of other times. Nor can it be justified based on the chain of errors of one and the other that preceded the invasion. This conflict is not the culmination of an escalation of mistakes, but rather responds to an expansionist will and a personal obsession. Facing reality means clearly understanding that the risks range from the loss of comforts to the loss of life.

With a balance of thousands and thousands of dead, Ukraine is fighting for its right to exist against an aggressor who denies it. It is the Ukrainians who must decide whether there is a tipping point at which they would be willing to accept the loss of territory in the name of life, a position towards which some politicians and intellectuals in the West are indeed pushing them. But this option may not even exist, because Russia’s appetite increases when it feels strong and furthermore Putin has expressed – and the pseudo-referendum in four Ukrainian provinces confirms this – that his desire is to recover Novorossiya, a tsarist administrative unit that was formed in the 18th century in the territory conquered from the Ottoman Empire north of the Black Sea. Novorossiya existed discontinuously and with territorial fluctuations until 1802 and, as a denomination of a common space, it ceased to exist at the beginning of the 20th century, to fall into disuse in Soviet times. Putin’s trick is to transform the administrative character of Novorossiya into a Russian cultural and ethnic identity that never existed.

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The Russian president raised the flag of Novorossiya in the spring of 2014, but had to lower it in the summer of 2014 due to lack of conditions for it to fly throughout the coveted territory. Now Putin is hoisting it again and to complete his reconquest consistently, he would have to bring together all the pieces that made it up, including the province of Odessa and the secessionist region of Transnistria, in Moldova.

The set of territories where the pseudo referendum is held (all of them part of Novorossiya at some point in the past) is not homogeneous. Residents of the self-styled Donetsk and Lugansk people’s republics are largely already integrated into Russia, as the population loyal to Ukraine left those territories. Those who stayed have remained bombarded by propaganda in a Russian protectorate. That contingent traded hryvnias for rubles and fought poverty with seasonal labor emigration to Russia. kyiv did not go to great lengths to attract Ukrainian citizens trapped in secessionist territories and thereby made it easier for the Russians.

Due to its degree of brutality, the situation in Kherson and Zaporizhia is more pressing than the one in Donbas in May 2014 when the secessionists in Lugansk and Donetsk called plebiscites on independence. As in Donbas eight years ago, part of the civilian population has left the battlefield and taken refuge in Ukraine or Russia. Among the ruins were the frightened (intimidated by ballot boxes guarded by armed rebels), as well as the indifferent (whose only wish is for the violence to end) and also the collaborators and pro-Russians. It is impossible to know the relationship of forces between these three groups and the pseudo referendum adds nothing to the respect. However, the proliferation of attacks against the occupation authorities indicates that there is resistance against the invader. In any case, the front line today does not go through the language (Russian or Ukrainian) but through the antagonism between an independent Ukraine or a Ukraine engulfed by the Russian giant.

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