They didn’t get to wish anyone Happy New Year.
It’s not hard to understand why the majority of Ukrainians now view Russia as a threat. Eight years of Ukrainian blood staining Ukrainian soil tends to do that. Eight years of Russia’s sickening hate-filled propaganda and Nazi slurs against Ukraine tends to do that. Eighty Ukrainian soldiers killed in 2021 during a so-called ceasefire also tends to do that. And over 4,500 Ukrainian soldiers killed and almost 15,000 wounded, plus tens of thousands of men, women and children killed and wounded since 2014, definitely tends to do that.
R.I.P Brothers in Arms.
Seen above, this arresting image was posted by Novynarnia media. Their article and the below video details 79 Ukrainian soldiers killed during 2021. This Censor.net article posts the details of 80 soldiers killed last year, so one may have tragically died in a none combat accident. But whether in combat or by accident, they all found themselves fighting on a frontline in Europe, and each one of them died because #RussiaInvadedUkraine.
To me, it’s clear Russia’s invasion of Crimea and eastern Ukraine has been a monumental political disaster. This is not about the West wooing Ukraine, it’s about Putin having driven Ukraine into seeing its future lies in the West, not the East – because invading European countries tends to do that. Look upon the face of someone who has died, and you feel understandable sadness. See the faces of a handful of victims and your reaction is one of heartfelt sorrow. But, see the faces of 80 people who died because of the whim of a spineless dictator and your sorrow is tinged with a sense of anger.
Like any other, Ukraine’s military is made up of older veterans and younger soldiers. They are the usual mix of fathers, mothers, sons and daughters. And so bringing us back to my original point about Putin’s failure, many joined up due to Russia’s 2014 invasion and the ongoing fighting in eastern Ukraine. The smile on your face irony is, Russia’s solely responsible for turning the Ukrainian army into one of the most battle-hardened and experienced military forces in the world. So thanks for that Putin.
And lastly, there’s an important difference between how Russia and Ukraine view their military. The Ukrainian media are free to report on any losses sustained by Ukraine’s armed forces. Meanwhile in Russia, you wont find one media article covering Russian soldiers or mercenaries killed in eastern Ukraine. Even in eastern Ukraine, Russia’s sham Donetsk & Luhansk republics cynically play down their military casualties – treating its soldiers who defend their territory are mere cannon fodder. But thanks to social media posts, the discovery of thousands of Russia’s forces graves and evidence from the OSCE on the transportation of bodies out of Ukraine, we know their yearly losses continue to be high.