By Advocate Tongai Mutindi and Rachael Loraine Dhliwayo

“War is horrendous. The horrors of war cannot be fully captured with mere words. The aftermath extends for centuries and beyond.” Anonymous. THE HISTORYThe conflict between Russia and Ukraine has been marred with theories and opinions that are as different as night and day.

This is rightly so because this conflict did not just start on February 24th of 2022 and the possible reasons behind it are also numerous. A study of the history between these two nations will show that the conflict between them was impending since the dissolution of the Soviet Union on December 31, 1991.

The former superpower was replaced by 15 independent countries, including Ukraine. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia engaged in several conflicts. Some post-Soviet conflicts ended in a stalemate, referred to as frozen conflicts. Essentially, a number of former-Soviet states are left sovereign over the entirety of their territory in name only. In reality, they do not exercise full control over areas still under the control of rebel factions. Notable such cases include Abkhazia and South Ossetia in Georgia, Transnistria in land near to Moldova’s eastern border with Ukraine; and the Donetsk People’s Republic and the Luhansk People’s Republic breakaway areas in Ukraine.

As such, there has always been unrest since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

However, Russia kicked it up a notch around 2014. The Global Conflict Tracker established that in March 2014, Russian troops took control of Ukraine’s Crimean region, before formally annexing the peninsula after Crimeans voted to join the Russian Federation in a disputed local referendum.

The excuse that the Russian President Vladimir Putin cited was the need to protect the rights of Russian citizens and Russian speakers in Crimea and southeast Ukraine.

As may be expected this worsened the already tense relations between the two states. Violence incurred which resulted in thousands of deaths but Russia denied involvement. It is also a matter of fact that in July 2014, Russia took down a plane that killed 298 people over Ukrainian airspace.

They again denied it contrary to the evidence at hand. This brings us to this war, Russia’s excuse for moving its troops towards its border with Ukraine was for “peacekeeping” purposes.

However, before the full assault, Russia was warned by United States of America and NATO to pull back and in response Russia sent a list of demands to NATO and its allies. One demand of importance was that NATO was not to allow Ukraine to join its ranks.It is important to note at this juncture that Ukraine is a sovereign state, free to make its own political decisions and enter into any treaty it deems fit.

However, essentially Russia is saying no to that, as we have established, sovereignty is more of a suggestion than a reality with regards to the former member states of the Soviet Union. Regardless, NATO, obviously refused to comply to Russia’s demands, hence the war.

In a bid to justify the war, Russia has stated that it is protecting itself from military assault from NATO. However, this is a baseless excuse considering that at no point did NATO threaten Russia with war. Russia preemptively attacked a sovereign nation just because it was “suspicious”. Be that as it may, this war would not stop NATO from attacking Russia if it saw it fit.

BULLIES OF THE WORLD From a general perspective, this war may seem unthinkable.

However, from a bird’s-eye view one may see how Russia may feel justified. A bully is a bully regardless of which corner of the world they are from. As Vera Nazarian once said, the only thing faster than the speed of thought is the speed of forgetfulness. The world seems to have already forgotten that America did the same to Afghanistan and Iraq.

Of cause the Americans had a “reasonable” explanation. The 2003 invasion of Iraq was the first stage of the Iraq War. The invasion phase began on 19 March 2003 by air and 20 March 2003 was the ground attack and lasted just over one month, including 26 days of major combat operations, in which a combined force of troops from the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and Poland invaded Iraq. The explanation was that, according to U.S. President George W. Bush and UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, the coalition aimed “to disarm Iraq of weapons of mass destruction, to end Saddam Hussein’s support for terrorism, and to free the Iraqi people”, even though a UN inspection team had declared it had found absolutely no evidence of the existence of WMDs just before the start of the invasion.

It seems the world has forgotten of these events. Russia is just doing the exact same thing these nations did but the international community now cries foul. Russia is using the exact same excuse and it is no different from America and the United Kingdom. A bully is just a bully.

THE RUSSIAN PESPECTIVE In an article published by Putin on the Kremlin website, he made it known that it was his belief that Ukraine is an invention by the Soviet Union leaders. According to him Ukraine’s existence is myth created by Nazis.

This is a clear attack on the sovereignty of Ukraine.It comes as no surprise then that Russia would so shamelessly attack Ukraine. Russia clearly regards Ukraine as its “Little brother” and as such can make such a bold move. From the point of view of Russia, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has been telling Russians that the objective of his war in Ukraine is the “demilitarization and denazification” of the Ukrainian government.He claims Kyiv has been carrying out a “genocide” against the Russian-speaking population of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, since 2014.

Putin, in 2015 stated that “this smells like genocide. ”From that context it would be difficult to blame the President of a nation for trying to protect his people, it is the human way to protect your own. Putin sees this war as protecting his people from systematic genocide.

There is however no evidence of any genocide, just as there was no evidence of WMDs in Iraq. THE UKRANIAN PESPECTIVEPutin is taking a leaf out of Stalin’s book. History will tell you that in the 1930s Stalin made an undertaking to starve Ukrainians which resulted in over 4 million deaths. This was genocide. Stalin also destroyed Ukrainian cultural cites and promoted Tsarist notion of Ukrainians as the Russian “younger brothers.

”Ukraine is a sovereign nation and yet for years its sovereignty has been ignored by Russia. It is the 21st century and still Russia somehow feels entitled to occupy Ukraine. There is no justification whatsoever for the war. This war is just one man trying to rewrite history, or rather restore the past.THE RAMIFICATIONS“War has no winners and peace has no losers.” AnonymousThis war has been called a senseless war with a far-reaching ripple effect that goes beyond Russia and Ukraine. What is of concern now, firstly are the people of Ukraine as well as the members of the international community. The War has displaced thousands and violated numerous human rights.

The Geneva Conventions, which Russia is a party to, protect civilians in armed conflict but these have just become more of guidelines and have been disregarded in this war.

Not only has this dramatically violated sacred rights of every human being it has drastically affected the world economy. Telltale signs of an unprecedented increase in gas and fuel prices are already showing. The war is already affecting the life of the common man who can no longer access the city because of the hike in fuel prices.

The Russian economy has taken a blow as analysis shows that the Russian economy could shrink by 7% as result of Ukraine sanctions. This war is clearly more damaging than anything else.

Needless to say, that this war has resulted in loss of human life on both sides, the soldiers and civilians alike. After all, has been said and done, was it worth it? The deaths of the young men who took an oath to serve and protect were certainly not worth it. The displacement of children in the cancer unit in a hospital in Ukraine to be displaced and forced to flee the war, risking their health and ultimately their lives was certainly not worth it. The deaths of civilians due to the cold was not worth it.

What seems to be going over the heads of many pro-war people right now is what of the common man. There is no aim to this war. If Russia wins, which is likely, there would be no gain to them. It is possible Putin wants to build a legacy for himself but there is no clear endgame to this undertaking. Even the Russians are protesting the war, meaning they see that it is not in anyone’s best interest.

The world is a global village, and as such, no one should think they are safe from the war. When the elephants fight, it’s the grass that suffers.

We, the common men, we here in Zimbabwe are just the grass that will suffer because of this war. No one is safe. A time will come and now is, when this war will affect you in one way or another.

There are multiple dispute resolution options like negotiating a peace treaty. If Russia can do it, anyone can do it. We need a better way.

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