The invasion of Ukraine

My field is not international relations/security nor is it Russian or East European affairs. So I won’t say a lot, or pretend to be speaking from expertise. I will speak more personally. It has been quite some time since an international event has upset and shocked me as much as the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

While I did not believe Putin was bluffing, I was not prepared for such a massive assault on positions all around the country. I guess I was in denial, as the leaked intelligence reports of the week before suggested it could be a really extensive attack.

It is an unprovoked aggression. I would say more unprovoked and more dangerous than any of the other invasions of sovereign states that we’ve seen in many decades. But, again, this is not my speciality. And Putin will get away with it because…. well, because no one with the means to stop him will try. And trying could be… risky. It is just a deeply depressing situation, and feels like a real shift in the international order, whatever that means.

Photos with this post were taken by me in 2005, on one of the most meaningful and interesting foreign travel experiences I have ever had.

6 thoughts on “The invasion of Ukraine

  1. I think you are underestimating the Ukrainian people and their willingness to make it harder for Russia to take over their country, ending the relative autonomy that came with the Orange Revolution.

    I also think Putin is more vulnerable than we presume and that ultimately God will bring Putin down.


  2. Thanks for posting this Matthew. I feel much the same, shocked by events, but really depressed about the fact that Putin may be right, that those who can do something about it do not have the resolve.


  3. I was shocked. Few expected this.

    It makes me sad. Not only because of the suffering of ordinary innocent people rather close to home. Putin felt challenged by Ukraine just because it’s more democratic and is longing for the West. So it feels to me as if democracy is at stake here. (For the same reasons, I was saddened by the attack on the Capitol, by the outcome in Hong Kong, by the self-coup in Tunisia, …)
    In my opinion, structural world peace can only come by democratisation. Democratic countries are inherently more peaceful and do not wage war against each other.
    If Russia lost its so-called sphere of influence, those countries chose so. They were convinced by soft values. And we must keep defending those values.

    I am also a bit in despair. It’s a thin line between standing up for those values on the one hand and not provoking on the other hand. How far can we escalate knowing Putin has nuclear weapons and we need his gas and oil? But if we react too weak, warmongering dictators may think they can get away with anything.

    To end with an uplifting note: the war cleared the view over some fundamental choices like democratic versus authoritarian rule. It’s a guilty pleasure to see how former Putin-admirers in the West now try to turn out of their rabbit-hole.


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