Thoughts from Kyiv
I've written this before and I'll say it again: I wish Professor Snyder was the President's National Security Advisor or Secretary of State. I have become so frustrated by the waffling (at least that's what it appears to me) within the the Biden Administration in providing needed strategic and tactical support to Ukraine. Professor Snyder exposes the perniciousness of Russian propaganda and the dangers of pushing for a "negotiated settlement". Russia must lose this war or we all lose--we being, Ukraine, the US, the West, indeed the world. Again, I'm grateful to Dr. Snyder for his commitment to speaking and writing truth to power.
Stay safe, Professor. But it is good to hear your first-hand observations of the war and they are spot on in terms of what needs to be done for Ukraine to win and put an end to it. Ukraine has been like the canary in the mine, here resisting autocratic aggression in violation of international law. The western countries must throw everything they have to support Ukraine with arms, funds and humanitarian supplies - as you so pointedly say, Ukraine is doing the very fighting in defense of the west that NATO would be expected to do, and it is doing so on its own, in terms of its country’s expenditure of blood and treasure.
More should be done to isolate Putin’s Russia from the rest of the world. That is tough to do with China and North Korea cozying up to Putin, but further steps should be taken than even the sanctions now in place.
Further, measures should be taken by the UN to sanction Russia and suspend its membership in the Security Council. I understand proxy wars, but it is abhorrent that a member state can wage a genocidal war on another member state without UN consequences.
Thank you Dr Snyder, from far away New Zealand, where we have lost two soldiers and a brave civilian. standing with Ukraine. I wholeheartedly support you and Ukraine. My parents both fought Hitler, at sea, and on comms ashore, and Japan. They risked their lives, their families lived through terror bombing, V-1 and V-2 bombardment in London. The world must act against this fascist terror unleashed by Putin’s regime in Russia. We all know how well appeasing dictators works - September 1st has just gone. 1939-2023, what have we learned?
Thanks for the update. I do not see any signs that the Russian leader would ever uphold any "promises" that are made in a negotiation. I am not sure what drives him in this direction, but he seems to have made a terrible mistake. Unfortunately the Ukrainian people are bearing the brunt of this mistake. I also don't understand that those US politicians who appear to be pro-Russia in this are not able to see the dangers in their stance. The Ukrainians deserve all the help they can get from freedom-loving countries.
It is impossible to win a defensive war. It is necessary to give Ukraine the means to cut the Russian supply lines and the means to move around the defensive positions and cut them off. The other strategic necessity is to cut the supply lines ie bridges to the Crimea with the means to cripple the military ships using the Crimea naval base.
Good to see you are back in Kyiv Professor Snyder. Interested in your views as to why the US and Germany (amongst others) are declining to send the arms that Ukraine have asked for - namely ACTACMS from the US and Taurus from Germany?
Also why does Joe Biden not articulate that we will support Ukraine until their victory rather than the meaningless drivel “we will support Ukraine for as long as it takes”.
Outstanding post, Professor Snyder.
I am just sorry we have such a divided government bickering about what backing
Ukraine needs to win this war
they didn't ask for and never
Thank you. Just watching this horrible war,( but all wars are horrible, there are no 'nice' wars) is very hard. Though not as hard as fighting it, to be sure. I take comfort from the fact that Britain has been steadfast in support of Ukraine and unlike the US, France, Italy, Germany, does not contain any significant numbers of Putin sympathisers or deluded pacifists. No doubt because our racial memory of June 1940 is still so strong in us. Been there, done that.
Thank you, Prof Snyder, for this commentary.
You seem to be one of the few people who clearly sees the need for the Ukrainian success of its self-defense. Thank you for making this need understandable and very understandably, humanly essential to all of us.
This defense effort is a difficult and costly self-defense; doing it well for the long term security of the Ukraine and other European nations (along with others) means demonstrating that genuine defense of the international, rules-based system that secures each nation's political self-determination is a common, international defense commitment that will not be tolerated, will be carried forward until all the conditions for durable postwar cooperation and security are firmly and credibly re-established.
Speak and act truth to power.
Interesting is your observation: "When the war does not quickly end, we jump to the idea that it is a “stalemate,” which is a situation that lasts forever. This is false, and serves as a kind of excuse not to figure out what is going on. This is a war that can be won, but only if we are patient enough to see the outlines and the opportunities." I suggest it may only be well-understood in the context of another of your observations: "This war has brought an entirely new theory of what a defensive war means: fighting only on one’s own territory. This does not correspond to international law and has never made any sense." This is a legal self-defense against an explicitly illegal and vicious aggression, combined with illegal occupation and crimes against humanity.
In conducting this legal and necessary self-defence, the Ukrainians demonstrate a peculiar humanity, resolve and global humanitarian concern and commitment by defending, with clear and exhaustively communicated strategic understanding, the international legal order that Putin is actively endangering and working to end.
I do and will continue to support the Ukrainians, and will again act on your advice to support all their needs, both defense support and humanitarian supports. Again, sincere thanks.
Finally, and with sincere concern, it is important to note the immense challenges the Ukrainians will all confront -- immediately and without respite -- once they succeed in the defense and enter the moment of internal political, economic and social reconstruction, while maintaining an always active (proactive), humanitarian, foreign relations involvements. We should not be content to see anything but the Ukrainians taking the lead in facet and every decision of these efforts. Now is the time for any of us to speak clearly to our elected representatives about this. Each of us can also comment to international agencies and institutions to affirm this support for the Ukrainians.
Very grateful for this substack environment for candid dialogue and for informing our respectful, critical, factual mutual understanding.
One key argument the Prof is making, and an important one to realize, is that too many in the West have internalized Russian propaganda about the threats, reasons and prospects of this war despite all the evidence to the contrary. People like Elon Musk and part of the Republican party are especially guilty of that, because of their inordinate influence on global affairs.
In parts of Europe where I spent some of my time it is also fashionable to point to the past of Ukraine as barely above the Russian example when it comes to Oligarchic corruption, authoritarianism and lack of democracy. What these folks - maybe conveniently ignore - is that the Maidan and what happened since are precisely efforts to overcome this past, which of course is the real reason Putin is afraid of modern Ukraine and desperately wants it under his thumb.
Thank you. Bravo!
It’s so good to hear from you. So very grateful for the update. Thank for keeping us informed. It helps.
In 1776, in the pamphlet "American Crisis," Thomas Paine called on colonists not to give up on our fight to establish a democracy in the U.S.. Like Ukraine's war with Russia, ours was fought against a much larger, better equipped, and richer enemy. Like Ukraine, It had many setbacks, causing many colonists to despair and some to give up. Today we consider the outcome of that war inevitable, but what if colonists, uncertain about the future, had given up and gone home? Barely a year and a half into its own battle for independence and democracy, Ukraine's fight is just beginning.
Yesterday the George W. Bush Institute organized thirteen presidential foundations and centers to issue a statement that implicitly supports Ukraine and criticizes the U.S.: "Americans have a strong interest in supporting democracies around the world because free societies elsewhere contribute to our security and prosperity at home. But that interest is undermined when others see our own house in disarray."
Ukraine is not the only place fighting for democracy and against autocracy. We have our own war here at home. Thomas Paine understood, and I suspect Snyder might too, that we the people must win that war. Ukraine is today's city on the hill to which we citizens can look for inspiration, and Timothy Snyder is today's Thomas Paine to whom we can look for guidance and grit.
Very grateful for this synopsis of the war, Prof. Snyder, and for the opportunity to support "COME BACK ALIVE." It is an excellent feeling to contribute in Uah's .
Harvey Simon, Scottsdale AZ
Does anyone know why we have not supplied Ukraine with the A-10 Thunderbolt ground attack fighter. It was designed specifically to support ground attacks. It is much simpler to fly the the F16.
Thank you. It is hard for those of us who do not have access to direct sources to make sense of what is printed for the public. I appreciate your clearing my cobwebs. I hate war and feel extremely chagrinned that Ukrainians die and we shackle them with our slow-footed and ultimately inadequate supplies of materiel. Does real-politic admit of a conscience? Tragic.