Ukrainians have demonstrated a firm resolve to defend themselves against Russian aggression
Lubomyr Luciuk is a professor of political geography at the Royal Military College of Canada, in Kingston, and a fellow of the Chair of Ukrainian Studies at the University of Toronto. He is the author, editor, or co-editor of 31 books dealing with Ukrainian and Ukrainian Canadian issues, a frequent contributor of opinion-editorials to Canadian and foreign newspapers, and an active member of the Ukrainian Canadian Civil Liberties Association. In 2019 he was distinguished by Ukraine with the Cross of Ivan Mazepa for his services in the international arena. He is currently completing work on a major manuscript for McGill-Queen’s University Press on Soviet counterinsurgency operations and the Ukrainian nationalist movement as well as writing his memoirs.
What is your view on the Ukrainian response to Russian aggression since February 2022?
Ukrainians have demonstrated a firm resolve to defend themselves against the unprovoked aggression of the Russian Federation, and they have been so resolute in their self-defence that the Free World has been left amazed and has become ever more supportive of Ukraine’s continuing defence of its political independence and territorial integrity. At no time in history has Ukraine ever been better known, or respected, than at the present. That is entirely to the credit of the brave men and women who refused to kowtow to the KGB man in the Kremlin.
Can Ukraine secure higher military support from the West or there is a chance for its reduction?
Ukraine has been provided with significant military support not only from neighbouring countries but from the Anglo-American world. While this military and political support is critical and most certainly appreciated by Ukrainians (be they in the homeland or the diaspora), there is no doubt that more military aid is still necessary to allow the Ukrainian nation to recover all of its occupied territories. Unfortunately, some of the aid being provided is arriving slowly and in insufficient quantities to make an immediate difference. However, it is also evident that the skill, bravery, and morale of the Ukrainian armed forces, and of the people on the home front, are very keen, and so there is genuine, if slower than hoped for, progress on the battlefields and in the political arena. This will lead to Ukraine’s victory, sooner or later.
Do you think there is a risk of Western allies pushing Ukraine to seek compromise with the Kremlin?
Ukraine has been very clear about what its goals are - victory over the foe, the withdrawal or removal of all Russian occupation forces, the bringing to justice of all those who planned and perpetrated this war of aggression against Ukraine and whose forces indulged in crimes against humanity and war crimes, and the payment of reparations to Ukraine for the enormous harm done to the country and its people. Most significantly, Ukraine needs to have its future security confirmed, most probably by membership in NATO and the EU, failing which the country might do well to revive its ability to produce, deploy and, in self-defence, use battlefield nuclear weapons against any invaders. I do not think any of Ukraine’s allies or supporters will ever attempt to oblige Ukraine to concede territory or sovereignty in return for “peace.” Western support for Ukraine remains very high. That is not likely to change.
How can Putin be stopped in Ukraine? What are risks for Ukraine and the world if he succeeds?
A victory by Mr. Putin is highly unlikely. He is already an international pariah and will face charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity. He does not seem to be fully conscious of his predicament - his only allies are other rogue states which suffer under one-party regimes. So he will not succeed. He has, indeed, already failed. The only question is how much longer he will survive. I don’t anticipate he will have a pleasant end. There is no such thing as honour among thieves.
How can Ukraine strengthen its defense capabilities to advance its counteroffensive efforts?
Ukraine has, painfully, learned a very important lesson from the experience of war that Ukrainians have endured since 2014 - that a country’s self-defence must rely on its strength, and not necessarily count on allies or others to come to the rescue. Ukraine’s political leaders, in the past, allowed Ukrainian capabilities to deteriorate, either deliberately or otherwise, making Ukraine a (supposedly) easy victim of predatory neighbours. The miscalculation of the latter is that they did not appreciate how bravely and resolutely the Ukrainian nation would rise up to defend itself against an invader. Today, the world admires "Ukraine’s Moses," President Zelensky, for leading his people in these difficult times. Very obviously, the Ukrainian nation, a liberal democracy, has rallied, is united as never before, all in defence of the common good and national survival. Ukrainians must win the war against the genocidal agenda of the KGB man in the Kremlin and his confederates. The lesson learned going forward is that investments have to be made in Ukraine’s military and its "home-grown" defence capabilities, more attention needs to be given to forging regional alliances, getting into NATO (and the EU), and to building up AND maintaining whatever level of military preparedness is required to make sure that any future (potential) foe is deterred. Ukraine does not covet anyone else’s territory. Ukraine has no designs on any neighbouring states’ lands. Ukraine is an entirely benign state, determined only to secure its rightful place in Europe and to remain at peace with all other states. That makes Ukraine very much a European state. The Russian Federation is a relic, an imperial project, that will decay and collapse.
Concerning the counter-offensive, Ukraine is making progress daily toward the destruction of the invaders and the restoration of its sovereignty. The world needs to appreciate that, sustain Ukraine’s efforts, and continue rallying behind Ukraine with military, humanitarian, and political support, doing so until victory is won. It will be.