Last Friday (Feb. 24) marked the one-year anniversary of the shocking Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Since then, Canada has taken in refugees and supplied Ukraine with both military equipment and non-military aid.
But the war has dragged on far longer than anyone expected it to back in the early days of 2022.
The consensus, both in Russian President Vladimir Putin’s circles, and in the realm of western pundits, was that Ukraine couldn’t last long against an all-out assault by a much larger, much better armed foe.
The Russian tanks would quickly roll over Kyiv, taking at least the eastern half of the country and much of its industrial heartland, they thought. The best case scenario was seen to be an insurgency, and perhaps a remnant of the country left on its western edge. Everyone was wrong.
Since last February, the Ukrainian armed forces have sent a disorganized and poorly-planned Russian assault on Kyiv packing, complete with taunting footage of Ukrainian farmers towing away stranded Russian tanks that had run out of gas.
Ukraine has also taken back significant amounts of territory in the northeast and south of the country. Where Russia has used sheer numbers, Ukraine has relied on superior training and organization, along with weapons supplied by their allies, mostly in NATO.
It’s been a colossal disaster for the Russian military, which has been exposed as overconfident, unprepared, and poorly led.
But Putin, his pride wounded, refuses to withdraw. Instead, the Russian military has responded by grinding forward on several fronts, capturing small amounts of new territory only by levelling towns and cities with artillery. Their army, swollen with conscripts and convicts, is taking terrible casualties – the war is almost as much a catastrophe for the Russian people as it is for Ukraine.
Experts in military strategy, tactics, and logistics should guide the aid we give to Ukraine in its war aims.
Our political leaders also need to help Ukraine’s civil society survive, encouraging both direct aid and continued political engagement with Europe, North America, and NATO.
Most importantly, we can’t grow tired of the war.
We expected it to be over quickly – a mistake that has been made about many lengthy wars over the last century. It wasn’t, and it won’t be concluded for some time, unfortunately.
It’s far away, and it’s not directly our fight, but helping Ukraine protect its independence and democracy is still, one year later, the right thing for Canada to do.
— Black Press