A fledgling wartime tourism sector is gradually emerging in and around the Ukrainian capital. Many visitors travel out to the Kyiv suburbs to witness the scenes of Russian war crimes and pay their respects to the victims. The city itself has several open air exhibitions featuring a range of captured Russian tanks and other weapons of war on display.
While these sights are all worth seeing, the real value of a visit to Kyiv comes from observing European history taking shape in real time. The war currently raging in Eastern Europe is likely to mark the final chapter in three hundred years of Russian imperial domination over Ukraine and confirm the country’s emergence as a genuinely independent European democracy. Given Ukraine’s status as the largest nation wholly located in Europe, this has profound implications for the entire continent.
“A Ukrainian victory would have huge psychological and practical implications for both sides. It would demonstrate to international audiences that the Ukrainian military is more than capable of forcing Russia to retreat from well-established defensive positions and convince Ukraine’s partners to continue providing military and financial support. Meanwhile, defeat in Kherson would be personally humiliating for Vladimir Putin and would spark further demoralization within the ranks of his depleted invasion force.”
“Intent on inflicting maximum disruption, Putin openly menaces the heartlands of European democracy. The writing is on the wall and may no longer be ignored. Enough of the half-measures and the dithering! Nato should act now to force Putin’s marauding troops back inside Russia’s recognised borders.
It’s not only Ukraine that requires saving. It’s Europe, too.”
“Moscow’s economy has declined, but Russia’s sales of commodities will keep Vladimir Putin’s regime supplied with the necessities of war for a long time. Ukraine’s productive capacity, on the other hand, has collapsed between 40 to 50 percent. Almost 13 million Ukrainians have fled their homes. Kyiv cannot export most of its harvest to earn foreign currency. The best guesses are that Ukraine needs between $5 billion and $6 billion in assistance each month just to stay afloat. Nevertheless, heroic Ukrainians have managed to maintain basic governmental functions while supporting an army at war.”
“Thankfully for Europe and the United States, Ukraine is fighting this dark force, and it is motivated to keep doing so until it wins. But we cannot succeed alone, and the West must understand the stakes and consequences of our failure. If we lose, there will not just be no more Ukraine; there will be no prosperity or security in Europe.“
What happens if Putin decides that he is losing in Ukraine? He will act to protect himself by declaring victory and changing the subject. He does not need an off ramp in the real world, because that is not where his power rests. All he needs to do is change the story in Russia’s virtual world, as he has been doing for decades. This is just a matter of setting the agenda in a meeting. In virtual reality there is always an escape route, and for this reason Putin cannot be “cornered.” (Neither, for that matter, can the actual Russian army in actual Ukraine. When Russian units are defeated, they just cross back into Russia).
“Putin, celebrating the 350th anniversary of Peter the Great’s birth, is confused about history again,” wrote Andrei Kolesnikov, a Russian political analyst. “Peter the Great has opened a window to Europe, Putin is hammering it up with rotten planks from the time of Ivan the Terrible.”