Russian President Vladimir Putin has made a terrible miscalculation.
When he launched his full-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24, Putin apparently thought it would be possible to wage war specifically against the country’s political leadership. He appears to have fallen into the trap of believing his own propaganda and assuming today’s Ukraine was just like modern Russia, with its largely passive and apolitical population. Based on his own experience of dictatorial government, Putin thought it would be a relatively simple task to intimidate or remove a few key Ukrainian leaders and take over the country.
Instead, he now finds himself at war with an entire nation of 40 million.
Putin has made every single Ukrainian his enemy. During the first five days of the conflict, he has learned the painful lesson that Ukrainian society is far more capable of mobilizing our collective strength than any citizen of an authoritarian regime could possibly comprehend.
The whole of Ukraine has risen to the challenge of Putin’s invasion. Tens of thousands of Ukrainians have enrolled in Ukraine’s territorial defense forces. Queues have formed in cities across the country to give blood. Ordinary Ukrainians in towns and villages have set up improvised militias to hunt down saboteurs and slow the advance of Russian forces.
Staff at garbage sorting stations have begun retrieving glass bottles for later use as Molotov cocktails. Metalworkers are busy constructing anti-tank obstacles for the thousands of checkpoints sprouting up across Ukraine. Activists scour cities for tags left by Russian agents to aid airstrikes or guide paratrooper landings.
Meanwhile, media outlets provide Ukrainian audiences with practical tips on how to sabotage Russian fuel supplies and offer guidelines on the best way to prepare Molotov cocktails. [Continue reading…]