Ukraine's Fight for Survival: A Plea for Global Solidarity and Action
By Ulyana Shtybel
We invite diverse voices to contribute to our blog. The opinions in this blog reflect the personal views of the author and not One Young World.
The current situation in Ukraine resonates deeply with me, as my roots tie me to the country despite residing in the UK. With family scattered across different regions, some more affected than others, the war feels remarkably close. It's a painful reality for many Ukrainians witnessing their nation under aggressive attack by a neighbouring state.
This conflict is not a new chapter in history but a continuation of a long-standing struggle. Throughout centuries, the Russian Empire, Soviet Union, and now Russian Federation have sought to erase Ukrainian identity, language, and sovereignty. The invasion of Ukraine in 2014 and the subsequent full-scale invasion in 2022 is a stark reminder of the historical attempts at russification and genocide perpetrated by Russia.
A 400 centuries-long list of Russian aggressions underscores, in my view, a blatant disregard for international norms. From the liquidation of Cossack Hetmanate by Catherine II troops in 1775, the 1918 invasion by Bolsheviks (Soviets), Soviet-made famine - Holodomor (1922-1923; 1931-1933), Red terror (1929; 1947-1953), Executed Renaissance (1933) to the annexation of Crimea in 2014, the expansionist agenda has left a trail of devastation.
Deliberate deportations of about 200,000 Crimea Tatars in 1944 and the deportation of millions of Ukrainians from their ancestral lands during Soviet occupation showcase imperialistic techniques employed to reshape demographics and erase cultural identities.
The Russian Federation currently repeats the same crimes, including the forceful deportation of Ukrainians during the current war.
Since February 24th 2022, in Mariupol alone, 20,000 to 200,000 people have been killed, and now Russia is populating this occupied territory with Russians from the Far East—a continuation of the imperialistic techniques used during the Soviet times. Russia has deported 900,000 to 1.6 million Ukrainian citizens from Russian-occupied regions of Ukraine in a systemic “filtration” operation.
Understanding this context is crucial to avoid falling into the trap of Russian propaganda. The aggression against Ukraine is not an isolated incident but part of a larger pattern of Russian expansionism and oppression. The heartbreaking repetition of history underscores the urgent need for global awareness and action.
The world must acknowledge the gravity of the situation: a nation fighting not just for its sovereignty but for the very survival of its identity. Ukrainians are united in their stance — an insistence on the de-occupation of all territories and resistance against any attempts by Russia to manipulate Ukrainian politics.
Negotiations with Russia should, in my opinion, be approached with a keen awareness of historical facts—their long history of lies and broken agreements. The Budapest Memorandum of 1994, where Ukraine surrendered its nuclear arsenal in exchange for security assurances and sovereignty guarantees from Russia and the USA, serves as a stark testament to broken promises and the imperative of cautious diplomacy.
While the United States has a legal obligation to defend Ukraine’s sovereignty under the Budapest Memorandum, the rest of the world, in my opinion, must take a unified stand against aggression and violation of international law. It's essential to expose the truth, condemn human rights violations, and apply diplomatic pressure on the aggressor.
As the world confronts the rise of totalitarian and terrorist states, supporting Ukraine's defence becomes, in my view, a global imperative. The urgency lies in providing swift military support towards empowering Ukraine to defend itself, restore Ukraine's sovereignty, and prevent the horrors of genocide and colonisation.
In my opinion, the alternative—a passive stance in the face of aggression—is too grave to contemplate. Standing with Ukraine, in my opinion, upholds democratic principles and sends a resounding message that the defence against terrorism and the pursuit of peace is a collective responsibility for the preservation of freedom and human dignity.
The Power of the One Young World Community:
The One Young World community has the power to challenge misinformation and contribute to a nuanced understanding of the Russia-Ukraine war. Drawing inspiration from successful peace promotion examples worldwide, here are some potential resolutions that can be promoted by the OYW community:
1. Support for Ukrainian Defense:
Research your country's current stance on supporting Ukraine's defence capabilities. Consider writing to your elected officials about providing military assistance, training, and equipment, which can empower Ukraine to better defend its sovereignty and act as a deterrent against further aggression.
2. Ukraine’s Membership in NATO:
Ukraine's membership in NATO, coming into force within a one-year horizon, will send a strong message and additional motivation for Russia to de-occupy territories. It can strengthen collective efforts to address the aggression, promote stability, and support Ukraine's sovereignty.
3. Diplomatic Isolation and Sanctions:
Have you thought about writing to your favoured brands to condemn Russia's actions? The taxes of companies operating in Russia are being used to fund the war in Ukraine.
4. International Tribunal for War Crimes:
Advocate for the establishment of an international tribunal to investigate and prosecute war crimes. While this might not be possible in the near future, Russian leadership should be held responsible for human rights violations, acts of aggression, and genocide. This is not only to ensure justice for Ukraine but to give a chance for Russia to change its totalitarian system and ensure that Russian imperialism with consecutive invasions of neighbouring countries does not have a chance for repetition.
5. Solidarity and Information Campaigns:
Foster international solidarity and information campaigns. In my opinion, raising awareness about the situation, highlighting the historical context, and debunking misinformation can garner global support. This could create a united front against aggression and contribute to a more informed international community.
6. Reform of the UN Security Council:
UN Security Council was created to secure global peace; so far, we see it’s inefficient and incapable of fostering any resolution. I encourage young leaders to advocate for a reform of the UN Security Council because the number of conflicts and aggression in the world is growing every day. So far, we still don’t have an efficient mechanism to prevent and punish aggression and the violation of human rights by Russia or any other state. This is critical if we want to have a stable world, which is crucial for progress and our ability as a global community to unite for the resolution of global challenges, such as the climate crisis.
Ultimately, the resolution may require a multifaceted approach that will ensure sovereignty for Ukraine and uphold the principles of international law. This is critical to protect a global security framework and ensure that any aggressors in the world will know that, eventually, they will be accountable for aggression.
The promotion of peace and its pursuit is undoubtedly a critical endeavour, yet it should not come at the expense of fostering dictatorship. Historical evidence warns against reconciling with legal violations and human rights abuses for the sake of peace, as such tolerance can lead to catastrophic global consequences, fueling the growth of dictatorial power as it happened with Russia after the invasion of Georgia in 2008 and the annexation of the Crimea in 2014. In the pursuit of peace, global leaders should not provide terrorists or dictators with additional time to accumulate resources and accrue unchecked power, as their subsequent actions can have dire repercussions.
We ought to have gleaned valuable lessons from the fall and rise of civilisations, from the mistakes leaders made in the past century. And now, it falls upon the young generation to learn from history and ensure that these same mistakes are never again repeated.
Ulyana is a One Young World Ambassador, Co-founder of the Enkidu platform for institutional donors, and Co-founder and CEO of Quoroom.com