Putin’s invasion of the Ukraine has brought back tragic memories of aggression and death from World War II. In a chapter out of Hitler’s acquisition of Austria and Czechoslovakia, the West has unwittingly embodied interwar British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain’s appeasement policy, resulting in the same catastrophic effects. At this moment, world leaders are grappling to formulate a coordinated response to the invasion. A lack of strong, decisive measures has only emboldened Russia’s Vladimir Putin in his quest to conquer the Ukraine, which is but a part of his vision to re-establish the territorial boundaries of the former Soviet Union.
The Ukrainian people may be the unfortunate casualties of Putin’s megalomania, but they are not giving up without a fight. From the marine who blew-up a bridge – and himself – in the Kherson region near Crimea to the Ukrainian guards on Snake Island refusing to give themselves up to the Russians, the Ukrainian people are shining examples of heroic patriotism and valor.
World leaders have demonstrated varied responses to the invasion. U.S. President Joe Biden has condemned the invasion in an unimpressive press conference, while the European Union countries are struggling to coordinate their actions. Notably, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has offered asylum to the Ukrainian people, while the Greek diplomatic corps stationed in the Ukraine refuse to leave the country. They are offering solidarity to the Ukrainian people and are providing as much assistance as possible. This show of support is indicative of the Greeks’ resolve against bigger and more powerful countries. While Greece is a small country with little ability to change the course of the invasion, the actions of the Greek diplomatic corps is a testament to how the Greeks are willing to put their lives at risk for a just cause.
Most significantly, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky refuses to leave his country and acknowledges that Putin’s forces are targeting him for assassination. Zelensky displayed his determination and loyalty to the Ukrainian people by going on social media to show that he is still in the capitol. He has also exposed the hypocrisy of many of the Ukraine’s supposed allies for not providing tangible assistance in his country’s fight against Russia. The formal denunciations and press conferences by world leaders seen on television and social media to him are hollow gestures lacking any tangible impact.
In a poignant and chilling commentary about our world leaders, Zelesky stated that "We have been left alone to defend our state. Who is ready to fight alongside us? I don’t see anyone."
However, there is a glimmer of hope. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has taken leadership of the situation and is currently amassing troops on the Estonian border. He is the only world leader willing to confront Putin’s forces and not hide behind useless political rhetoric. Will other countries join Prime Minister Johnson in defending the Ukraine or will Zelensky and his country be sacrificed to the altar of empty promises and political rhetoric?
Time will tell.