by Miceál O’Hurley
KYIV OBLAST, UKRAINE — Yulia X. (named changed to protect her identity) spoke with Diplomacy in Ireland – European Diplomat from just outside of the City Centre in the Kyiv Oblast. With 16 people, aged 1-year senior citizens gathered in a small house, the fighting rages on in the distance with the day constantly interrupted by the sound of fighting.
"If Russia were to stop fighting, the war would be over," said Martyna X. "But if Ukraine stops fighting, our nation and our future disappears. For our sake, and the future of Europe, we will fight-on and Ukraine will never give-up," she told Diplomacy in Ireland - European Diplomat.
In battles that will be remembered alongside Thermopylae and Bastogne, Ukrainians are fighting, falling, rising-up again and defending their homeland in towns the name of which the West will remember for eternity. By their blood sacrifice and heroism, endurance and determination, Ukrainians are giving humanity a lesson in the true cost of freedom, democracy, human rights and self-determination. Europe’s future is not being forged in Brussels or Berlin but in Kyiv and Kharkiv.
Ukrainian forces and civilians have combined to stop the Russian juggernaut in its tracks. It has come at a high price. However, Ukrainians seemed determined to do whatever it takes to save their homeland and guarantee their future. Russian hopes of their ‘blitzkrieg’ to topple the Ukrainian Government and subdue the entirety of Ukraine within 100-hours has failed. Miserably. Russians have begun surrendering as their tanks have run out of diesel, they have gone hungry, their units scattered by surprisingly effective and fierce resistance by Ukrainian forces.
The realisation by many Russian soldiers that they are not the “liberators protecting their fellow Russians from genocide” but rather the perpetrators of war crimes has begun to set-in for many of them, undermining morale. However, this can, by no measure, indicate that the fight is nearing and end or close to ending. Russian forces continue their onslaught 5-days after they begin offensive combat operations against Ukrainian forces, civilian infrastructure, hospitals, homes, orphanages and schools.
President Volodomyr Zelenskii has offered negotiations with Russia “without precondition“. Today, Russian and Ukrainian diplomats will meet near the border between Belarus and Ukraine. What might come of this dialogue remains anyone’s guess.
The man many Westerners had derided as a mere entertainer and comedian has risen to the occasion and, despite standing only 1.7 meters, Zelenskii towers above all other leaders on the world stage today as proven by his personal courage and leadership while the existential question of Ukraine’s future is at stake. The world owes Zelenskii and every Ukrainian woman, man and child a debt of gratitude for what all must now acknowledge is the true defense of Europe and European values as the issue of NATO membership being the cause for Russia’s war and war crimes has been proven to be a mere excuse for imperial ambitions.
All that is known now is that Putin may have over-played his hand and, realising he will face overwhelming resistance on the ground in Ukraine, he has now resorted to threatening nuclear holocaust. How long Russia will allow Putin to drag them into greater isolation while he escalates the threat to the point of using nuclear weapons must weigh on the minds of those inside the Kremlin.