‘Slava Ukraini!’

Russian forces have taken the southern Ukrainian city of Kherson, an important administrative, economic and Black Sea port. This is a considerable setback for the Ukrainians, for it gives Russia the opportunity to deploy its navy to bombard southern strategic Ukrainian targets. With Russian forces pushing south and north, Putin’s war plan appears to be based on a classic pincer movement, trapping Ukrainian forces that will be squeezed into the centre of the country. How long Kyiv can holdout against a mounting Russian onslaught, is difficult to determine. There is justifiable concern that Putin will show little restraint in using extreme measures if Kyiv continues to offer fierce resistance. There is evidence, particularly from Amnesty International, that Russia has used cluster munitions in Ukraine. This should not come as any great surprise given the hard evidence of the use of these weapons in support of the Assad regime in Syria.

Zelensky has asked Putin for face-to-face negotiations to end what is fast emerging as an humanitarian disaster, with already an estimated one million refugees seeking sanctuary, many of them being offered shelter in Poland. The Ukrainian President, unlike his Russian despotic counterpart, has shown statesmanship in the face of unprovoked aggression. Sadly, it is unlikely Putin will heed Zelensky’s request. The Russian leader is convinced he will win the war, and the odds are undoubtedly in Russia’s favour. The West, falling short of military intervention, is systematically increasing pressure on the Russian economy that will hit oligarchs, Putin, as a very rich politician, and ordinary Russians alike.

There are encouraging signs that Russian artists wish to distance themselves from Putin’s actions. Kirill Garrievich Petrenko, chief conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, has condemned the war against the Ukraine. Hopefully other members of the Russian intelligentsia will add their voices to the rising tide of criticism of Putin. Even though the Russian state has warned people not to protest against the government, issuing threats of lengthy terms of imprisonment, there may well be a groundswell to remove Putin. The ordinary Russians didn’t want this war, and when the bodybags begin to arrive, and they will in significant numbers, then President Putin may face his nemesis.

About the Author
Peter John Beyfus is an historian, published author, poet, and a person who prides himself on “thinking outside the box”. I have written many essays on Jewish themes, published in various journals, including ‘Wessex Jewish News’ and ‘Westminster Quarterly’, the magazine of Westminster Synagogue, London.
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