A Brief Note About Ukraine
Like many of you I’m sure in the past few days, I’ve been closely—if not obsessively—following the war in Ukraine. I don’t have many thoughts on the subject yet except to say that this unprovoked invasion of a peaceful neighbor is a disgusting and horrifying spectacle. The spirit of defiance shown by the Ukrainian people and their elected leaders is something I deeply admire, but I want to emphasize it’s admiration I feel and not enthusiasm: the decision by a civilian population to take up arms against an invader is a grave one and will come with terrible costs. But, again, that recognition does not diminish at all my profound respect for this kind of courage.
I also want to give a moment of thought to the people in Russia and Russian citizens abroad publicly opposing the war. Political activity in Russia comes at significant personal risk for those who undertake it, not only for themselves, but for their families. As we post online all day in the West, making jokes and insulting comments about our politicians, it’s worth keeping in mind that the same behavior, even if it is totally without any real political weight, can result in imprisonment in Russia. Even swearing online can be used as a pretext for jailing someone.
It’s also worth reflecting on how the tragedy of this war is built partly on fratricide: many Ukrainians and Russians have friends and relatives in each others’ countries. It is likely that many young Russian conscripts will roll through a burning town or city where an uncle or an aunt lives or a parent was born.
The choices being made right now by ordinary Ukrainians and Russians are of a kind that most of us in the West will never have to even contemplate, God willing. A romantic part of me certainly wants to see this vile and outrageous act of aggression thoroughly defeated and punished, but in truth I just sincerely hope there’s a diplomatic resolution to this war very soon, for the sake of the people of Ukraine, Russia, and the world.