A year ago today, the (almost) unthinkable happened: Russia launched a full-scale war of conquest against its neighbor Ukraine.
I say “almost” because, well, let’s face it, similar things did kind of happen in the past. Russia did, after all, launch a major war against Hungary’s revolutionary government in 1956, in a successful bid to crush the anti-Stalinist revolution and ensure that the country remains firmly in the East Bloc. A similar, albeit smaller-scale invasion took place in Czechoslovakia in 1968.
But still… what is happening in Ukraine is the worst Europe has seen since the end of WW2. And it is naked aggression, more reminiscent of Hitler’s attack on Poland than the USSR maintaining control of the East Bloc during the Cold War.
And it is evil. Let’s not mince words. The excuses are laughable. The aggression is inexcusable. And the war crimes and human rights violations are revolting.
Yet Ukraine stands. Against all odds.
Where this war leads, I have no idea. Frankly, I am surprised that a year later, it remains confined within Ukraine’s borders. Will it remain that way? Or is Ukraine the opening salvo in WW3?
I worry because way too many people now speak of WW3 as something that can be “won”. To be sure, I have no doubt that if WW3 comes, the West will win. But at what price? How many hundreds of millions will die?
Peace would be nice. But we must not confuse peace with appeasement. The world made that mistake in Munich in 1938 and paid dearly for it. Putin must not be rewarded for his aggression. Sometimes, strength is the best guarantee of peace, and signs of weakness invite conflict.