A critical link in the solution is missing.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is the international crisis that presents the biggest global threat the world has seen in decades.
More than 4M Ukrainians left the war zone and found initial refuge in neighboring countries.
They were the incredibly lucky ones.
Out of those who chose or had to stay in Ukraine, thousands have been killed or injured. The latest reports from the town of Bucha support the conclusion that many of the civilians have been the victims of horrific acts of violence perpetrated by the brutes hired by the Russian army — soldiers, mercenaries — or sociopathic “volunteers”. The formal investigation and trial are years away, but we’ve seen the videos, the photos, and heard the accounts from survivors. I’ve made up my mind based on that — a variety of war crimes have been committed in Ukraine. Cities have been flattened, and civilians have been tortured and killed. The hell in Ukraine is ongoing.
The World, minus Russia
The impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine can be seen on a variety of levels. Several types of crises seem to happen at once: economic, social, and military effects create a wide range of problems and instability in the world.
People worry about food shortages, utility bills, and their income.
Most of all though, many of us are concerned about the potential expansion of the conflict, which can spill from Ukraine into NATO territories, thus triggering a large-scale war that can involve the use of weapons of mass destruction.
A nuclear war, although considered by some military officials a real, yet unlikely outcome, it’s what many of us fear the most. The end of the world as we know it.
My view is that Russia may decide to use such weapons if its leaders’ military actions are threatened to end in defeat. The use of nuclear bombs, or other WMDs, can be the result of desperation, frustration, as well as that of narcissistic and sociopathic traits.
In an attempt to not allow this perspective to become reality, the majority of the world’s countries took severe economic measures against Russia, provided military and humanitarian assistance to Ukraine, and started to activate and strengthen their own military defense mechanisms.
To put it simply, we’re all activated. Most of us, anyway.
Officials look for solutions, armies go through specific training, and people help the refugees the best they can.
If you’re completely ignorant regarding the world you live in, then probably you’ve continued living your life in the same way you did before, maybe being only slightly bothered here and there that your projects aren’t met with the success you thought they deserved, all because of this nagging subject everyone’s been talking about lately. This may especially be the case if you live in a geographical area that is far away from Ukraine, or even better, if you have no idea where Ukraine is on a map, and what a nuclear war may mean for your own safety.
Russians, to be more precise.
The regime itself is destroying Ukraine. Some Russians support this “mission”. Indoctrinated or not, these are the terrorist kind themselves.
Then there are those who somehow managed to preserve their humanity while living in a dictatorship. They don’t support Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
Some of them protested against the regime, against the genocide. Many of them were arrested. They are the courageous ones.
And then you have the cowards who fled the country. Because “reasons”. All of them narcissistic — to protect themselves, to protect their families, to avoid sanctions, to avoid the regime, to have a better chance at life, etc.
Why do I consider them cowards?
And I take full responsibility for using the term.
Putin’s regime is the product of Russians. They allowed that crowd to thrive, the newer generations didn’t even bother to understand what was wrong with their country, even though they had access to all kinds of information and data.
Are Russians to blame for what’s going on in Ukraine? For what happened in Crimea? No. Not directly.
Do I think they’re all bad people? No, of course not.
Do I think they all need to feel the bite of the international sanctions and the social isolation? Yes. 100% yes. Not because I want them to suffer, or to be punished directly for a crime they did not commit. No.
I want them to feel the repercussions of this crisis because I think this is the only way for them to understand they have to do something. If they are not motivated enough to understand and attempt to change the abuse that their regime is inflicting on other people, then I think it is safe to say that they may be more interested in changing their own fate or the fate of those they love.
I don’t want them to flee to cozy places. I see some of them posting videos on social media about how they’re exploring the new countries they arrived in. It’s like a freaking vacation! Some call them refugees as well and consider them victims of Putin. While I do believe they are secondary victims, I do not want their situations to be considered equal to those of the Ukrainian refugees. It’s inappropriate, it’s disrespectful, it’s insensitive.
I am Romanian. Romania, just like many other countries that found themselves under the boot of a dictatorship, got out of it through a revolution.
It was bloody. It was painful. It took more than 30 years to recover from it. Romania is still healing.
But the generations before mine did it. They took the risk, fought their abusers, and emerged victorious.
Some Romanians left before that revolution. I consider them cowards as well.
In most situations, big social changes require the action and courage of the people. Running from an uncomfortable economical and social situation is an option, sure. You can take that way out. It’s available to some. It is also a sign of privilege.
In this context, many Ukrainians did not have the option to flee. They stayed and fought. To their death, in many cases. They were attacked and many couldn’t escape the attackers.
Why would Russians be given the option to take the easy way out and face no repercussions, even if only social, in the land they emerge?
Why aren’t we seeing this as a huge sign of cowardice? This is their mess to clean. Not the Ukrainian invasion. The Russian dictatorship.
Why don’t they stay and start a revolution? Why don’t they join the courageous ones who already started protests? Why are they leaving their own without backup?
Simply saying you’re against Putin’s regime, and taking a flight to some other country, while letting your neighbors deal with it, if they — still — can… it’s an ugly step to take.
Why not do what we expected from young men in Afghanistan and Ukraine? Let the women and children run to safety, and the men can start the revolution. They can stay behind and fight.
Spare me the “gender discrimination” comment regarding what I just wrote above. Whoever wants to stay and fight can stay and fight. Whoever wants to flee can flee. I will regard those who stay and attempt to trigger change as courageous, and those who leave to save their ass — not their life, as cowards.
Since the pandemic started, I allowed myself to indulge in the use of cognitive distortions, and sprinkled labels everywhere I saw fit. Here, I see it fit.
What are the Russians waiting for?
For their neighbors to go through the bloody part so that they’ll be able to come back to a safe Russia when it’s all over?
For the international armies to step in and clean their mess, at the expense of their own countries and people?
Do they want us all to act as if we don’t see their role in the current events and simply regard them as legitimate victims?
Do they want to write the books, sell the movie rights, and go from talk-show to talk-show retelling their story of “exile”?
Do they want to be praised as anti-Putin, anti-regime, pro-democracy, simply because they state their so-called position, when all they did to “prove” it is buy a plane ticket and post on social media?
If this is their strategy, I will continue regarding them as cowards. And I will add opportunists.
I really hope that there are enough brave Russians out there, willing to take a chance at making their country a safe environment for themselves and their families, and also for the entire world. Russia gave so much to the world in terms of art and technology. It would be such a shame to see it all go to waste because of one evil individual and his crowd.
I am looking forward to better news from the East. Until then…
Dealing with Putin’s regime is Russia’s only ticket back to civilized society.
This article was originally published on Medium on April 7, 2022.