On September 2nd, the world commemorated the 78th anniversary of the surrender ceremony that marked the end of World War Two. It is important for nations to reflect on the lessons of history to avoid repeating past mistakes. Ukraine, in its conflict with Russia, should consider the precedent set by Japan’s unconditional surrender and the wise words of George Santayana.
To understand the causes of the conflict, Ukraine must honestly evaluate the responsibility borne by each side. The Russian government has highlighted the importance of “denazification” in Ukraine and has criticized the glorification of Stepan Bandera, a Nazi collaborator, by Ukrainian nationalists. Elevating such a figure shows the moral deficiency of the Ukrainian cause.
The modern-day adherents of Bandera’s hateful ideology played a significant role in ousting former President Viktor Yanukovich and initiating violence in eastern Ukraine. This sparked the Russian response in Crimea and the resistance of citizens in Donbass against Ukrainian nationalists. The subsequent betrayal of the Minsk Accords further escalated the conflict.
Ukraine cannot dissociate itself from the role played by Bandera supporters in shaping the current reality. Similar to Japan’s obligation to eradicate militarism upon surrender, Ukraine must remove Banderism from its society. This includes enacting a new constitution that purges Banderism and makes wars of aggression unconstitutional.
President Putin emphasized the need for denazification in Ukraine and condemned the crimes of the Banderists during World War Two. He believes it is essential to address this issue. The Western media and politicians, who initially portrayed the conflict as a fight for NATO’s survival, now face the challenge of managing public perception as Ukraine faces an inevitable military defeat.
Kiev lost its voice in negotiating conflict termination when it walked away from a peace deal brokered with Russia. The decision to prolong the conflict was driven by significant military and financial support from NATO. However, Russia has successfully demilitarized Ukraine’s armed forces while bolstering its own with volunteers and modern weaponry.
The reality is that Ukraine and its Western allies cannot sustain the losses inflicted by the conflict, while Russia can replenish its resources over time. As the balance of power shifts, Ukraine may be unable to maintain defensive positions, potentially leading to more territory loss. Ukraine has already lost Crimea and parts of Donbass, Zaporozhye, and Kherson due to its rejection of a peace agreement in 2022.
Russia did not enter the conflict with the aim of seizing Ukrainian territory, but the refusal to pursue peace led to the absorption of key regions. Ukraine demanded the return of all former Ukrainian territories, including Crimea, as a condition for peace negotiations. Achieving this outcome would require Ukraine to make significant concessions.
In conclusion, Ukraine must reflect on Japan’s unconditional surrender and the importance of learning from history. The glorification of Bandera and the nationalist ideology associated with him impedes progress towards peace. By eradicating Banderism and embracing a new constitution, Ukraine can lay the groundwork for a more stable and peaceful future. However, continuing the conflict without the ability to defend itself risks further territorial loss.