Notes on the Russian-Ukrainian War

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By Daniel Ofman, blog/opinion writer, @OfmanDaniel

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The conflict between Russia and Ukraine has persisted for almost a year. Since the Ukrainian Parliament removed former President Viktor Yanukovych from his post, the chaos in Ukraine has been uninterrupted.

The issues began with the ousting of Yanukovych, followed by rallies and protests that led to violence on Maidan Nezalezhnosti (Independence Square) in Kiev and Russia’s annexation of Crimea.

I happened to be in Moscow last year during the annexation of Crimea. On March 21, 2014 of last year fireworks colored the Moscow sky and people were celebrating the annexation. Those who were against Putin’s aggression were mostly ignored.

Since the annexation there has been a war in the Donbass region of Eastern Ukraine. Most broadcast and print media outlets have adopted terms like “unrest in Ukraine,” “the Russian Ukrainian conflict,” “Ukrainian separatists,” and “pro-Russian rebels.” If there has ever been a time “to call a spade a spade” it’s now. We are dealing with a war between Russia and Ukraine.

In a time when so much is unclear when it comes to modern conflict and combat, politicians struggle to name these altercations. We have the “war on terror” because there is no clear enemy in uniform. Instead governments try to eliminate terrorist cells and individuals. Even with ISIS the world is fighting a terrorist group so this conflict was never proclaimed to be a war by any country.

The situation in Eastern Ukraine is clear. We are dealing with war. It doesn’t surprise me that the parties involved are doing all they can to avoid this term. World leaders are also bending backwards to keep the situation in Ukraine as a “conflict” or “unrest.”

I am surprised however, that journalists have followed suit with the status quo. It is clear that these “Ukrainian separatists” and “pro-Russian rebels” in Eastern Ukraine are just Russian troops sent to Ukraine by Vladimir Putin. What does that sound like? To steal Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s analogy, “If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then what is it? That’s right, it’s a duck.”

Putin sent troops to Crimea and now his troops are in Donbass. If this isn’t war I don’t know what is.

It is important to call this “conflict” a war because it forces regular people and leaders to deal with the situation. Terms like “conflict” and “unrest” distance the reader, viewer, or listener from the situation. When you hear such terms the immediate reaction is that the countries involved need to sort out their relations and end the violence on their own terms. It’s their problem, not the world’s problem.

I believe that after almost a year of brutal violence and death journalists and leaders have the responsibility to avoid beating around the bush. We are witnessing a war caused by Russian aggression and it’s time that the world acknowledges this reality and expedites the process of ending it.

 

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