Russia has long depended for its successes on its ability to intimidate by instilling fear in its opponents. That was the basis of its successful run in ice hockey that was ended when the US team in 1980 was led by a coach who told his players that they would not be intimidated by the Soviet team.
It was also why the Soviets were so alarmed when Pope John Paul II returned to his native Poland and repeatedly told the millions of people who came to hear him “do not be afraid,” a message other Poles felt might lead Moscow to invade but in fact marked a turning point in the Cold War and a major step to the demise of communism and the USSR.
Now, Oleksii Reznikov, the defense minister of Ukraine, has issued a similar appeal that is a sign that Russian intimidation isn’t working among his people, something that represents a bigger victory for them and a bigger defeat for Russia than anything happening on the battlefield.
An informal translation of Reznikov’s words follows:
Today, I appeal not only to the leaders of the free world but also to the residents of all the countries of the world. Two weeks ago, the world was changed. Everything was changed although not everyone understands this.
Russia attacked Ukraine. Eight years ago in Crimea and the Donbas, they said ‘none of ours are there.’ But now the Kremlin demonstratively is conducting a war against my people. This is taking place in the center of Europe.
Rockets are flying hundreds of kilometers inside the country and destroying peaceful cities. Today these are our cities. Tomorrow they can be anyone’s including Yours.
No warnings, attempts and dialogue or expressions of concern have helped. Nor have any international rules and mechanisms. The Kremlin spits on your attempts to talk. It isn’t affected by what is happening at the UN, PACE or any other institution, in which you are trying to maintain its presence.
The Russian soldiers are conducting themselves like terrorists and cowards.
Over the course of 11 days, the Russian occupiers have destroyed more than 200 Ukrainian schools, 34 hospitals, and more than 1500 apartment buildings. It has already been established that Russian soldiers have killed 36 Ukrainian children and wounded 70 more. More than 400 peaceful Ukrainian citizens have been killed and more than 800 wounded. These figures are undoubtedly incomplete. And in Mariupol alone, some 400,000 Ukrainians have been taken hostage. They are constantly being shelled by air, artillery and rockets.
The Russian interventionists are shelling humanitarian corridors through which civilians are trying to save themselves. They are killing those whom they promised to release. They are killing those who are trying to save the hostages taken from terrorists from wounds and hunger. These are military crimes, and this is a terrible grief for Ukraine.
But I want to remind you that Russian soldiers are killing residents of a European country.
[quote]Where are your values and standards? Where is the work of international organizations which have billions of dollars in resources? Where is the UN, the Red Cross, the OSCE? They have been hiding.[/quote]
I draw your attention to the fact that about 10,000 foreign students in Ukraine are today the targets of Putin’s terrorists. More than 2,000 of them have already been taken hostage by Russian forces. Many of them are from India, China, Türkiye and the Persian Gulf countries.
Young people remain in cities blockaded by Russian troops – Chernihiv, Sumy, Kherson, Mariupol. The Russians are shelling these cities, but they are actually at war with the entire world and even with those who are trying to remain neutral. Neutrality won’t work, because evil does not act selectively.
Let me remind you that Ukraine has been and remains the home of representatives of more than 100 different nations. We have always lived in peace. We have many ethnically mixed marriages from which beautiful children have come. And those children are now being killed by the occupiers.
The occupiers are holding journalists hostage: we know about British journalists in the village of Stoyanka-2 where Russian forces fired on them and wounded another journalist, a British citizen. Also a victim of this was a citizen of Switzerland who was robbed by the invaders in Mykolayiv region. Unfortunately, you still allow the occupiers to do this.
[quote]Today, I want to say to you one thing: don’t be afraid. Don’t be afraid, as we are not afraid![/quote]
In the course of 11 days, Ukraine has completely destroyed the myth about the military power of Russia. Ukrainian fighters have already destroyed more than 11,000 Russian soldiers. This is more than were lost in the two Chechen wars which lasted six years; and in a few more days, Russian losses in killed and wounded will exceed Soviet losses in ten years of war in Afghanistan.
Russia has lost hundreds of elite soldiers. They have been spreading terror in Africa and the Middle East but not in Ukraine. We are destroying them like all the other terrorists who are reining down rockets on our cities and shooting our children.
Do not be afraid! As are not afraid our young guys who are stopping the enemy, as are not afraid out farmers who are seizing the enemy’s armored columns, as is not afraid the worker of a postal company who shot down a Russian plane with a mobile rocket launcher.
[quote]Today, Europe has a chance to defeat the tyrant who has for decades frightened everyone around.[/quote]
For that to happen, Ukraine must remain standing. Russia will not be able to defeat us in open battle. It will not be able to frighten us by criminal shelling of our cities. But in order to win, we need help, a closed sky and arms. We are defending ourselves and you as well. We are not afraid of the Russians. Many of them have already run away and hundreds have surrendered and been taken prisoner.
Ukraine needs more than weapons: it needs resources to clothe our army and feed our people and to restore what has been destroyed as quickly as possible. Moreover, you must increase the pressure on Russia and on all those who take money from Moscow. They will bring this war into your own home countries.
The world has changed. You must make decisions very quickly. But there is a war going on in Europe, and the Kremlin can light new fires.
[quote]We will still fight and win; the entire Ukrainian people will resist. But your help will help save lives, including the lives of your children and relatives.[/quote]
Every day the war goes on, there are dozens of deaths among civilians, among Europeans. Thanks to everyone who is already helping us. I urge everyone to show that the free world is not afraid of tyrant now hiding in a bunker.
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