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THINK TALK: Putin’s War in Ukraine: Now a Stalemate?

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MATALAM, North Cotabato (MindaNews / 29 March) – On many instances TV cameras caught verbal confrontations between Russian soldiers and Ukrainian civilians. In one such confrontations shown on TV, a Ukrainian is telling the Russian soldiers: “I am also Russian but I live here in Ukraine. Aren’t we cousins? Why are you destroying our country? What do you want from us?”

Soldiers are trained to follow orders but they are not immune from being human. These soldiers would hesitate to shoot, sometimes, especially when they do not completely understand what they have been sent to fight and possibly die for. These soldiers, if they had a choice, would most likely retire to their barracks and enjoy the warmth of their tents rather than fight a war in freezing temperatures. Many Russian soldiers were reported to be suffering from severe frost-bites.

These Russian soldiers don’t see Ukrainians as their enemy and they do know that what they have been ordered to do, that is kill Ukrainians, is completely wrong. They are forced to do something that is quite against their will.

In psychology, this is called cognitive dissonance – a situation when an individual is engaged in an action which goes against his own internal moral compass. As the war drags on and more and more civilians are affected, this cognitive dissonance increases.

I bet many, if not majority, of these Russian soldiers sent to Ukraine are thinking to themselves they don’t believe in this war and they don’t want to be a part of it. Sooner or later, one brave military officer will voice out an opinion in a circle of trusted men that he is uncomfortable with the things they had been doing. As everybody agrees with him, the tanks will make a U-turn and retreat to a distance. This military officer will then be summoned back to Moscow but he won’t go and has an army behind him.

This seems to be already happening quite sporadically and will soon cascade through the ranks. It would probably go like the Carnation Revolution in Portugal where Portuguese soldiers refused to shoot, or when Russian soldiers in 1991 refused to shoot civilians when the Soviet Union was imploding.

As the war in Ukraine approaches a stalemate Putin must be very worried that he may not achieve his three “stated objectives”: 1) to purge Ukraine of some “dangerous nationalists”; 2) to demilitarize Ukraine, or at least weaken the Ukrainian army; and 3) to “denazify” Ukraine. Of course, we know that all of these were mere smokescreens to hide Putin’s real objectives, and that is, to force Ukraine into submission. He will then use this as a template to intimidate former countries of the federated Soviet Union such as Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. Ukraine was also a former member of the Soviet Union. Unfortunately for Putin he can no longer use the Ukraine war for this purpose as he failed to achieve a short, easy and fast victory.

As it appears now Putin is getting the exact opposite of all three objectives. First, instead of seeing a few “nationalists” the entire Ukrainian population have never been as united as now that the call for unity is a matter of survival than before when there was strong regional polarity between and among the population. Second, the war in Ukraine has only strengthened the resolve of the Ukrainian army to fight. Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, provoked or unprovoked, is seen by NATO countries and the United States as an unjustified aggression made more deplorable by the continuous targeting of civilian population centers. This has inspired them to send more and more humanitarian aid and military equipment and ammunitions to Ukraine. And third, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is a Jew by blood and to be Nazi-like is the last thing he will do or would like to be.

Some US military analysts say the war in Ukraine has come to a stalemate. But for as long as Russian shelling of population centers and missile strikes on vital infrastructures inside Ukraine are happening there is no such thing as a “stalemate.”

(MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. Maugan P. Mosaid holds a doctorate degree in rural development. He is a freelance writer, planning consultant and teaches Statistics and Methods of Research in the graduate school.)

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