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Guest column: NATO military intervention is required in Ukraine

Putin has loudly threatened consequences of direct military interference because it’s the strongest possible point of opposition against their current movements and means to intimidate Ukraine's supporters. Where your enemy says don’t go: you go.
Ottawa ukraine embassy
Ottawa's Ukraine embassy

My family fled Ukraine via Poland to Canada during the Russian Revolution to escape similar violence seen on our television screens this week. On Feb. 24, while my heartache was fueled by my family’s Ukrainian-Russian roots, we witnessed a global reaction that was grossly reserved in responding to these events for what they are: a move towards a world war that threatens us all.

I feel great empathy for the separatist movements in Donbas as having been long distinct from the western regions. In the truest spirit of self-determination, a majority separatist movement deserves to annex. International borders have long been molded by whoever lifted their leg on the fire hydrant last. Russia and Ukraine have been culturally and geopolitically intertwined for over 10 centuries, including by means of forcible Russification of the Ukrainian people through starvation, language and religious persecution. With eastern Ukraine having a deeper history of direct Russian-influence, as well as natural landscape and resource deposits differing by a near diagonal ecological demarcation between the east-west, it has resulted in distinct prominence of Russian culture, language and identity amongst the Donbas peoples.

Donetsk and Luhansk have been recognized as independent republics with various self-rule means by Ukraine, Russia and NATO allies since 2014-15 under the Minsk agreements. These same agreements saw the complete annexation of Crimea, now being used as a southern frontline base for Russian forces this week. These peace agreements have never excused Russia’s manipulation and its intent of taking advantage of Donbas’ separatist history. They have been propelled through Russian state-media propaganda, political intimidation and economic manipulations.

President Vladimir Putin’s actions of Soviet nostalgia are not out of respect for the Donbas peoples self-determination. They are for iron and ore. They are for military and political positioning. They are for precedent of warfare, last seen when Hitler invaded Poland under the guise of persecution to the German people that officially began the Second World War. Donbas separatists have always been pawns in a larger scheme.

‘Now’ is the perfect time for Russia to officially move across the board. Global information platforms are at an all-time algorithmic priority of division and misinformation. G7 leaders are on their heels, with low approval ratings of President Joe Biden heading into U.S. midterm elections; a new German Chancellor; French Prime Minister Macron heading into a federal election; and U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson globally viewed as incapable. Russia recently commended China as a global super-ally. In addition to exhaustion of the global population after two years of a widespread pandemic. People around the world are desperate for an end to bad news and willing to not pay attention for emotional self-preservation.  

Threats of sanctions did not prevent the invasion of Ukraine, just as the announcements of globally-coordinated sanctions in response to the invasion will amount to nothing. Russia will continue to take every inch they are given until it totals the mile. With NATO allies refusing to respond in equal military action within Ukraine, Russia will use this as precedent to move into other non-NATO border countries for their military positioning. With this clear timeline that mirrors history, an appropriate show of force is required.

A geopolitical system ran by aggression, where ‘might makes right’, threatens everyone. The moment we surrender the ideals of an international legal order is the moment the consequences arrive at our doorstep. Putin has loudly threatened consequences of direct military interference because it’s the strongest possible point of opposition against their current movements and means to intimidate Russia's supporters. Where your enemy says don’t go: you go.

Canada has the largest population of Ukrainians in the world, outside Ukraine and Russia. These criticisms of the current global response and my prayers for military intervention are not made with bystander intentions. I write this as someone willing to fight to prevent what my family had to run from and urge fellow Canadians to think deeply about if they would stand up to prevent the same.