Russia’s war against Ukraine is not only a war for territory. It is a war full of war crimes. Putin has already started massively killing civilians by bombarding residential buildings, launching missile strikes at city centers, and indiscriminately shelling civilian infrastructure. And ethnic cleansing and extermination of Ukraine’s intellectual and political elites should follow, judging from Putin’s statements goals.
Putin’s true intentions were exposed when a writer praised him for “solving the ‘Ukrainian question’ so that it wouldn’t be passed on to future generations.” The threat of genocide was expressed directly and clearly. Putin’s claims that Ukrainians are not really a nation and that they are incapable of statehood are a recurrent Russian narrative, the latest episode of which resounded in his infamous speech on 21 February 2022. These repeated chauvinistic claims and genocidal objectives have been analyzed many times. Now, it is essential to highlight how Putin’s plans are unfolding today and what can be done to stop them before it is too late.
Having not conquered Ukraine by land forces, Putin is now destroying Ukrainian cities and population through air bombardment.
portable anti-aircraft systems
So far the world is only watching. White House press secretary Jennifer Psaki said that a no-fly zone that Ukraine has been requesting would require:
“… implementation by the US military — it would essentially mean the US military would be shooting down planes, Russian planes … That is definitely escalatory, that would potentially put us in a place where we are in a military conflict with Russia. That is not something [President Joe Biden] wants to do.”
On 4 March, after a meeting of NATO foreign ministers, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that Russia is likely to intensify its attack on Ukraine and it is “likely to be worse” with the killing of civilians. However, NATO planes should not fly over Ukraine, Stoltenberg stressed.
Meanwhile, additional Ukrainian requests to the West for military aircraft or air-defense systems have had no clear response, although Ukrainian Minister of Foreign Affairs Dmytro Kuleba said on 3 March that negotiations continue.
Extermination of civilian population and other war crimes were clearly outlined in speeches of Putin
After the initial Russian blitzkrieg failed because of fierce resistance by local Ukrainian populations, Putin reverted to Plan B: to exterminate the Ukrainian people. The strategy is to inflict heavy civilian losses, destroy Ukrainians’ fighting spirit, and leave people without the means to survive.
That very end-plan was unwittingly revealed in an article by Petr Akopov, a political commentator for Russian state-owned news agency RIA Novosti. Russia invaded Ukraine on 24 February and the article was published two days later, the morning of 26 February. Strangely it disappeared almost immediately but had already been recorded in a web-archive. A copy is now also available in Uzbekistan’s Sputnik outlet.
The incident would not have attracted much attention had the article not been deleted so expeditiously. The most telling misstep was revealed in the phrase “This problem is now gone – Ukraine has returned to Russia.” At least that was how “the return” was supposed to play out. The article was obviously prepared in advance with the expectation that by the time of release Russia would have achieved a whirlwind victory over Ukraine. But the plan failed because Ukraine ferociously resisted the first Russian strike.
Although now un-published, this non-article gives a very worrying insight into what Putin’s plans could be. Akopov writes:
“Vladimir Putin took on a historic responsibility by deciding not to leave the solution of the Ukrainian question to future generations. After all, the need to solve it would always remain the main problem for Russia.”
It is critical to make this point very clear. History remembers that there was another man who “finally solved the Jewish question,” 80 years ago. Putin’s message is not that different from Hitler’s.
Putin openly states that “Ukraine is an anti-Russian project constructed by the West,” not a nation. He claims that the very existence of Ukraine and Ukrainians is a threat to Russia.
Hitler stated in his master treatise Mein Kampf that Jews were allegedly “corrupting” the German nation.
Putin considers Ukraine to be part of Russian history. Echoing his words, Akopov adds:
“If Russia didn’t ‘take Ukraine back’ there would always remain a complex of a divided people, a complex of national humiliation when the Russian house lost part of its foundation – Kyiv.”
Akopov’s language is exactly that of the Kremlin leader – completely denigrating towards Ukrainians, saying they don’t have their own will. Moreover, Moscow can allegedly rule as it wishes since Ukraine is simply a component of the Russian world:
“Ukraine has returned to Russia … its statehood will be reorganized to its natural state as part of the Russian world.”
The preemptive claims of victory coincided with the massive shelling and air bombing of civilian population show how Putin’s plan is unfolding. The plan which was already announced by Putin.
When he stated that the Ukrainian nation does not exist but was only created by the West as a tool against Russia:
While using Hitler’s “big lie” techniques to demonize Ukrainians as alleged “Russophobes,” and to mobilize Russians for war:
Finally, stating that Ukrainians are in fact Russians and that the small segment of elites are allegedly just deceived nationalists from whom Ukrainian land should be purged.
This “little” detail does not fit Putin’s narrative. What we currently observe in Ukraine is an attempt to bend reality to fit Putin’s narrative, and that may cost a lot of lives if Putin is not stopped now.