About the Source
VITALY PORTNIKOVVitaly Portnikov is a Ukrainian journalist, political commentator, author and opinion-maker. Born in Kyiv in 1967, he graduated from the Faculty of Journalism at the Moscow State University. Since he has worked as a parliamentary correspondent for Youth of Ukraine, a columnist for a number of Ukrainian, Russian, Belarusian, Polish, Israeli, Latvian newspapers and online publications. He is also the founder and host of the Saturday Political Club television program which is now broadcast on the ESPRESO TV channel. He cooperates with the Russian and Ukrainian services of the Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.
The news of the death of another Ukrainian warrior – the victim of a virtual ceasefire between the Ukrainian and Russian forces in the Donbas, announced on July 21 – appears against the backdrop of news no less tragic about a nuclear weapon test disaster that released radioactivity with a 16-fold excess of the norm in Severodvinsk, Russia. But the Russian ruler is somehow not very concerned about the catastrophe, which some are already starting to talk about as the “second Chornobyl.” Instead Putin focused his attention on different entertainment: his trips to Crimea, motorcycle rides, and the beating of participants in Moscow protests by his security forces.
If Putin is not sorry for the Russians – victims of his own militaristic experiments – then why should he be sorry for the Ukrainians, for you and me? This is a question that the Ukrainian president should have asked himself first of all. Volodymyr Zelenskyy constantly calls on Putin to come to an agreement, end the war, stop the bloodshed, but in response Putin only makes fun of him.It can be said, of course, that Zelenskyy’s naivety is related to his sincere misunderstanding of the essence of political processes. But this is not quite true. Yes, a politician must be able to take responsibility for people’s lives, but the most important thing is that he must value these lives.Unless, of course, he is an authoritarian ruler. Such rulers are not sorry about anybody’s death, not even of their own children. They are only interested in their intended result. That is why the figures for the Soviet Union’s losses in World War II are so strikingly different from those of the Allies and even the Reich. And yes, it’s no exaggeration. Among the victims of the war was the son of Joseph Stalin.Putin will kill as many Ukrainians as he needs to in order to achieve his overarching goal of regaining Russian control over Ukraine and integrating Ukrainian lands into his empire. Both Zelenskyy and his supporters must understand this: he will kill as many of us as are necessary for that and even more. And as he does, he will not ask who voted for Zelenskyy and who for Poroshenko or Boyko. Children of Zelenskyy’s voters may end up in the same graves as the children of Poroshenko or Boyko voters. As may the voters themselves.If Volodymyr Zelenskyy truly thinks of the lives of Ukrainians – and I hope this is so – then he should not be engaged in pacifying the aggressor, but in organizing resistance to him. To strengthen this resistance, the new president will have all the tools that his predecessor did not fully possess: the majority in parliament, his own government, and security forces. And also credit to society’s trust. What else is needed?The war with Russia will still be the main issue of Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s presidency. Not because Zelenskyy wants this. But because Putin wants it.