And unfair to Ukrainians.
I noticed the trend when trying to add a hashtag to a post on Twitter.
The suggestions for labeling the atrocities happening right now in Ukraine included “#UkraineRusiaWar” and “#UkraineRussianWar”.
I disagree with both hashtags because I believe they are conveying the wrong message about what we’re all witnessing right now.
Let’s make it clear: it’s not the “war” label that I find misleading. That one is completely accurate. There is a war going on right now on Ukrainian soil.
My problem is linked to treating Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as if the two countries somehow decided to take their historical misunderstandings to the battleground — you know, the old-fashioned “declared war on each other” way.
No. That’s not right.
Russia and Ukraine do not have a similar or even comparable position regarding this battle.
One is an invader — Russia —, and the other sovereign country is forced to respond to the military attack.
Very different positions.
If someone were to break into your house and attack you and you would end up fighting them to defend yourself, you’d likely be bothered if someone referred to the home invasion as “that time when you and X fought”.
Because there’s more to the story. Yes, you and X fought but the context is very different from a situation where two individuals have too much to drink at the bar and end up fighting each other.
The main difference is that in the invasion context we clearly have a victim and an aggressor.
Calling the fight “that time when you and X fought” makes it seem like a conflict between two participants, that unfortunately escalated into a physical fight.
But that’s not what happened, is it?
And it’s not only misleading and insensitive, it’s also insulting to the victim.
Yes, sometimes a person makes the steps that lead to the unfortunate context where they become a victim — we put ourselves in known high-risk situations at times — but the abuse itself can only be attributed to the abuser.
Same for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
It’s not a war between two participants who want to solve their disagreement in a military way.
Ukraine was attacked. Russia is the abuser.
Yes, this is a war. But only when we look at the actions happening there — military in nature. The presence of soldiers, tanks, and bombs makes it a war.
But symbolism and label-wise, this is not “the Russo-Ukrainian war”.
It’s a war context exclusively created by Russia.
It’s an invasion of an independent, sovereign state by a barbaric state.
It’s Russia’s war in Ukraine.
It’s the war in Ukraine.
It’s not the “Russia-Ukraine War”.
I’d prefer it if we’d all be fair to the Ukrainian people and refuse to call the tragedy that they are forced to go through a battle with two equally-involved and equally responsible-for-the-conflict parties.
I think that’s what belongs to the so-called “right side of history”.
Thank you for reading.
This article was originally published on Medium on June 21, 2022.