By Paul Goble
A gap is opening up between Ukrainians and their Western supporters. The latter seek to promote peace as such even if it requires enormous sacrifices by Ukraine, but Ukrainians, Svetlana Chunikhina says, want peace “but not at any price, including the price of territorial concessions or capitulation.”
“Now, after the bestial crimes of Russian soldiers on the territory of our country, after all the destruction and all the victims, the vice president of the Ukrainian Association of Political Psychologists says, “there cannot be for them any talk in general about peace on the conditions of the aggressor” (apostrophe.ua/article/politics/2022-05-10/ukraintsyi-hotyat-polnoy-i-bezogovorochnoy-pobedyi-nad-kremlem–politicheskiy-psiholog/45850).
Ukrainians “want a complete and unconditional victory over the enemy army,” Chunikhina says, a view that is entirely natural given that their country has been invaded and one that would have characterized the thinking of most people of good will in a pre-nuclear age but no longer does.
Instead, because Russia has nuclear weapons and because Vladimir Putin has threatened to use them, Western analysts, diplomats and politicians have focused on achieving peace rather than on defeating the aggressor, fearful that doing anything that might threaten that outcome would lead Putin to put the world on track to Armageddon.
But if Ukrainians feel as Chunikhina says, and that is both natural and supported by what evidence exists, then Ukrainians are sooner or later going to have a problem with those who advocate that they must sacrifice part of their territory, their sovereignty, or their freedoms to avoid a wider war.
That difference in perspective already evident on occasion is likely to become increasingly important in conversations between Kyiv and Western capitals, especially as Russian crimes against humanity in Ukraine mount and Ukrainians become even more convinced that Russia must be defeated rather than appeased.