[Russia-Ukraine War] Who will listen to Commoner’s Woes? Joyen Uddin
As imperialists have been invading sovereign countries decades long, none but only commoners are prey to their greed, none to pay heed to their woes. On August 24, 1991, Ukraine declared independence from the former Soviet Union. It is the second largest country in Europe after Russia. On the other hand, after the breakup of the Soviet Union, the Russian Republic was formed as the Russian Federation and Russia was recognized as a single state. The ninth most populous country in the world has a population of 143 million.
Russia ranks second among 140 countries in the world in terms of military power. Ukraine ranks 22nd. According to Global Firepower, a military watchdog, Russia has 850,000 troops and Ukraine has 200,000 troops. Two and a half lakh reserve troops of both the countries.
Russia has 12,420 tanks, and Ukraine has 2,596. Russia has 30,122 armored vehicles and Ukraine has 12,303. Russia has 6,584 automatic cannons and Ukraine has 1,006. Russia has 3,391 mobile rocket projectors and Ukraine has 490. Russia has 605 naval vessels and Ukraine has 36. Russia has aircraft carriers, 60 submarines & 15 destroyers. Russia has 11 frigates, one of Ukraine. Ukraine has one Mine Warfare vessel and Russia has 49. There are 6 corvettes in Russia and only 1 in Ukraine. Russia has 59 patrol vessels and Ukraine has 13. These figures make it clear that Russia is far ahead of Ukraine in military power.
Russia is one of the six nuclear powers in the world. They have S-400 missiles, which are effective in air defense. Besides, there are 1,217 airports and 2,063 commercial ships. Russia spends 15.4 billion a year on the military. The number of paramilitary members is two and a half lakh. In comparison, Ukraine has no nuclear weapons. The number of members of the paramilitary forces is 50,000. There are 16 airports. 409 merchant ships. Ukraine spends ?? 1.16 billion on military
Russia is finally launching an operation in Ukraine, despite Western threats of sanctions. Massive casualties have been reported in Ukraine since the military operation began early Thursday (February 24th) at the behest of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky has called for a ceasefire and offered to hold talks with Russia. However, Russian officials said talks could only take place if Ukraine’s military gave up its weapons.
Orthodox Christianity is the main religion in both Russia and Ukraine. Their language, culture and food are interrelated. The capital of Ukraine, Kyiv, is an ancient city and the one-time capital of the Russian people. It was founded centuries before the current capital of Russia, Moscow. Both Russians and Ukrainians claim that Kiev is the center of their modern culture, religion and language.
Eastern Russia is home to many Russian-speaking people and loyalists to Moscow, where Russian influence is strong. In fact, the animosity between Ukraine and Russia was such that during World War II, a section of Ukrainians supported Hitler’s Nazi forces. They thought the Germans would be the “savior” and would be liberated from Soviet rule. Another part of the Ukrainians was in favor of the Soviet Union. However, another third nationalist faction again fought against both the Soviet Union and the Nazi forces.
Russia has long sought to prevent Ukraine from joining Western institutions such as the European Union and NATO. At the heart of Russia’s security demands is that Ukraine never join the NATO military alliance. Russia says NATO is providing more weapons to Ukraine and the United States is fanning the flames to stop Russia’s progress. Russia is also angry that the 2015 Minsk Agreement on Eastern Ukraine is not being complied with. Ukraine shares borders with both the European Union and Russia, but as part of the former Soviet Union, Ukraine has historical social and cultural ties with Russia.
When the pro-Russian president was ousted in Ukraine in 2014, Russia sent troops to occupy southern Crimea in Ukraine. At the same time, with Russia’s help, ethnic Russian rebels took control of large areas in eastern Ukraine. Since then, the Ukrainian army has been fighting the rebels.
Russia wants the alliance to return to its former border with NATO before 1997. They are demanding an end to NATO’s expansion and military operations in Eastern Europe. That means removing NATO troops from Poland and the three former Soviet republics of Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia, and removing NATO-deployed missiles from countries such as Poland and Romania.
According to analysts, the operation is Russia’s warning message to neighboring countries. Now Putin wants to create a Russian sphere of influence in Eastern Europe. Putin also wants to let the West know that Russia is still one of the most powerful nations in the world. But how will Putin pay for the lives of ordinary people in this war?
The writer is freelance contributor to international affairs.