What to learn from Ukraine’s experience

STRAIGHT TO THE POINT - Atty. Ruphil Bañoc - The Freeman

It all boils down to self-interest or the interest of one’s country. That’s how countries, particularly the powerful ones, decide on whether they go to war or take side in a war.

And this is the reason why Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy found himself left alone and abandoned by countries he thought would come to help his country in its war against powerful Russia.

“Who is ready to fight alongside us? I don’t see anyone.” Zelenskyy said, “we’re defending our country alone. The most powerful forces in the world are watching this from a distance,” he added.

He must have expected help from US. However, that help is very limited. While US extended defense assistance to Ukraine, US President Joe Biden made it clear that their country’s forces are not, and will not engage in conflict with Russia, in Ukraine.

“Our forces are not going to Europe to fight in Ukraine, but to defend our NATO allies and reassure those allies in the east,” Biden said.

This statement of President Biden came after Russian President Vladimir Putin made a stern warning that any country that interferes with his country’s attack on Ukraine will experience what it has not yet experienced in its history.

No one in his right mind will dismiss such a threat as empty. Russia is Russia. Biden has weighed things out; hence, he is very careful in issuing a statement against Russia.

Putin feels that the United States is inching towards Russia’s doorstep, endangering the latter’s position, particularly militarily. The US can say all it wants that it is only spreading democracy all over the world. But that is not how other countries perceive it.

To be very frank, US also does not have the moral ascendancy to tell Russia to respect international bodies like the UN, for it went to war against Iraq without the Security Council’s approval.

Time has changed, so is the way wars are conducted. A mere press of a button can mean obliteration of a particular place. And countries with weapons of mass destruction, whether we like it or not, have an advantage. We cannot look away from this fact.

Don’t get me wrong. I’d like to emphasize that I am not in favor of Putin’s action. It is indeed condemnable. But this is the reality. I hope that this will make us realize and understand where President Rodrigo Duterte is coming from in his stand on our problem with China in the West Philippine Sea.

President Duterte saw this way ahead of anyone else. His “friends to all and enemy to none” policy has plucked our country out of a possible confrontation with China on a level that Ukraine now experiences with Russia.

It’s a folly to think US will fight tooth and nail for us in the event we go to war with China. The US must calculate the cost of damage versus gain in taking any action.

The thought of fighting for one’s country to the last drop of our blood is noble. And that is only true if all avenues have been exhausted. Diplomacy remains the best path, and it is not synonymous with cowardice.

In the case of Ukraine’s war with Russia, the prudent path for us is the path of neutrality.

As Christians, let us pray for the end of this war. Our thoughts and prayers, particularly, for the innocent civilians!


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