Earning Our Tomorrow
By Philip Ella Juico
Our hearts and those of others who defend the democratic and peaceful way of life bleed for Ukraine and the courageous Ukrainians repelling the Russian invaders who are surrounding, as this column is being put together, the capital city of Kyiv.
As Filipinos celebrated the second day of the 36th anniversary of the EDSA People Power uprising, a truly brutal and savage dictator bullied his way into a sovereign nation which had made a decision many years ago “not to be part of Russia or any other country.”
Ukraine helped establish the USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) in 1922 but declared its independence in August 1991 as countries all over the world freed themselves from dictators, starting with the EDSA People Power uprising in 1986.
On the third day of the invasion, preceded by what Putin calls the mobilization of “peacekeepers,” the Russians are meeting unexpected fierce resistance from Ukraine. Ukraine is determined to mobilize all human resources to defend itself and has banned the departure of males aged 18 to 60 years old, to provide resistance to the 200,000 strong troops fielded by Putin. The Russian strongman believes that this number of troops is sufficient to control a population of 40 million and a country with a land area two and a half to three times that of the Philippines. And this kind of equation has emboldened veteran military tacticians and strategists to say that this spells trouble for Russia whose “logistics system or lack of it” makes it difficult for it troops to succeed in Ukraine. They add, “Putin miscalculated this and thought that this invasion would be a walk in the park.”
This early therefore, these strategists are predicting a prolonged guerrilla struggle against Russian troops right in the modern city of Kyiv which has a population of three million. The Russians are coming into Kyiv from different points. The Ukrainian government, on the other hand, has urged civilians to fight and plans to distribute weapons and ammunition worth $50 million reportedly to arrive soon from the United States.
US military analysts say that Ukrainians are “doing an excellent job” with an extremely strong military and the political leadership of 44-year-old President Volodymyr Zelensky, a former comedian who won the presidency by a landslide. Zelensky has appeared on television to assure Ukrainians that he intends to stay in Kyiv and fight it out with the rest of the Ukrainians. Putin has specifically targeted Zelensky, members of his family and officials, businessmen and civil society groups which brought Ukraine closer to the West. Zelensky and Ukraine have now become the latest symbol of freedom fighters, like Corazon Aquino and the Filipinos were during the EDSA People Power uprising. Zelensky has so far declined offers from the US government to evacuate him from Kyiv, even as thousands of Ukrainian women and children desperately flee the country.
Zelensky was known to have begged then-President Donald Trump to release the $400 million in aid that the US Congress approved for Ukraine precisely to prevent the possibility of a Russian incursion which is what is now taking place. Trump was going to order the release of the $400 million only if Zelensky agreed to investigate Joe Biden’s family for alleged corruption. In short, as Mike Smerconish declared, “Trump was willing to throw Ukraine to the wolves,” in this case, to his close buddy Putin who was generous in helping Trump in his presidential run in 2016. Putin, in many moments of megalomania and insatiable greed for power, has always wanted to restore the old USSR as it was prior to its break up in 1991. He has never considered Ukraine a separate country.
The reaction of the world has been to condemn Putin in the strongest possible terms. A CNN “woman on the street” interview drew the following response from a woman who appeared calm and composed despite the imminent danger to Kyiv: “I just hope that somebody in the world would eliminate Putin.”
But in a most horrible display of extreme partisanship, Trump and sectors of the extreme right of the Republican Party, like Fox News commentator Tucker Carlson and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (who is an ex-West-Pointer, former congressman from Kansas, and former CIA Director), expressed support for Putin, Russia, and attacked both Biden and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). It is worth noting that Putin was director of Russia’s spy network and counterpart of the CIA, the KGB.
As this conflict drags on and images of refugees, corpses of women and children, and widespread destruction all in the name of the defense of democracy are shown on American prime time television and online platforms, Trumps’s and the Republican Party’s 2024 fortunes could very well be endangered. And they only have Trump and his soulmate Putin, together with Congressman Jim Jordan of Ohio, defender of the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection, to blame.
NATO, once derided as “No Action, Talk Only” and ridiculed by Trump as “antiquated,” has come together and could even become stronger as Finland and Sweden are reportedly expected to join the alliance as the conflict plays out over the long haul. The main commitment of NATO is “if you attack one (member), you attack all” or a whole system of mutual defense treaties which is what Putin had feared would strengthen Ukraine if it joined NATO.
Trump had mocked NATO purportedly to protect US interest — the US was taking a disproportionate part of the defense burden — but in reality, he disliked NATO and its leaders, notably Germany’s Angela Merkel, because of the leaders’ good working relationships with Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama who Trump intensely disliked.
In the meantime, there is widespread talk of Russia engaging in a massive cyberattack against the US and its NATO allies that will affect business and critical infrastructure. On the other hand, there is speculation that the US response could be conventional warfare if lives are lost because of these cyber-attacks.
Western economic sanctions against Russia are being carried out even as former Russian president and prime minister, Dmitry Medvedev, a Putin puppet, branded the sanctions as a “myth.” Russia will soon be isolated from the international financial system which will hurt Putin’s reported financial interests.
The rest of the world is in solidarity with Ukraine as anti-Russia, anti-war protests broke out in New York, London, Spain, Brazil and other countries. But, perhaps one development that bears close watching are the anti-war protests in Moscow, St. Petersburg, and other major cities in Russia, which has so far resulted in the arrest of about 2,700 protesters.
All these fast-paced developments spell quite a bit of trouble for Putin, who failed to improve the advanced economy and quality of life in Russia despite 20 years at the helm and after an initial economic boom in his first year in office, mainly attributed to high natural gas and oil prices.
As civilians desperately flee Ukraine, the Ukrainians remain defiant. It will be a battle between Russian soldiers fighting without purpose except out of fear for the dictator Putin while Ukrainians are fighting for love of country and freedom. One Ukrainian woman’s defiant declaration in another CNN interview says it all, “Putin is a psychopath.” She’s probably right. All dictators are psychopaths, insecure and greedy.
Philip Ella Juico’s areas of interest include the protection and promotion of democracy, free markets, sustainable development, social responsibility and sports as a tool for social development. He obtained his doctorate in business at De La Salle University. Dr. Juico served as secretary of Agrarian Reform during the Corazon C. Aquino administration.