At the start of the war in Ukraine, few had been able to predict the magnitude that this conflict was going to take. Recent developments, however, give reason to the most pessimistic. Far from being resolved, the situation is getting worse day by day and the worst seems yet to come.
According to a speech delivered by Vladimir Putin on the occasion of Victory Day celebrated last Monday, Russia will stop at nothing to “protect” its interests. As victims grow, are we prepared to sustain our commitment to them for years to come?
A twisted view
Distorting the facts to his advantage, the Russian president did not hesitate to lend a thousand and one belligerent intentions to the West and to NATO in his speech on May 9. Emphasizing the need to defend the “motherland,” he laid out a number of misguided conjectures ranging from the nuclear weapon that the Ukrainian government is allegedly in the process of obtaining, to a NATO plot against Russia.
Although Putin has often resorted to a certain “victimization” in his speeches to appeal to the patriotism of the Russian population and thus justify his policies, even the most drastic ones, this time the consequences of this type of rhetoric are more than catastrophic, especially for the Ukrainian population which already counts thousands of dead and nearly 6 million refugees.
Figures that will only get worse since the vision of the world put forward by Vladimir Putin in his speech seems irreconcilable with a de-escalation of tensions.
Towards martial law?
Barely 24 hours after the Victory Day celebrations, the American intelligence services revealed the presence of several armed incidents in Transnistria, a region of Moldova. These incidents would be indicative of a widening conflict with Russia. While the war in Ukraine already seems to have exhausted the Kremlin’s resources, what means will Moscow put in place to maintain another military front? Will martial law be discussed as some experts predict? If that were the case, it would force the Kremlin to recognize that it is officially at war.
Even if the war is obvious to us, it should be remembered that Russia has maintained from the start that it is rather a “special operation” to “denazify” Ukraine. This language adjustment appears minor, but it would in fact be very significant since it denotes a significant change in perspective accompanied by a significant increase in the resources available to the State to support this war for several months to come.
Are we really ready for such a war?
The Kremlin, the American secret services and the United States House of Representatives, which on May 10 voted an additional 40 billion in aid to Ukraine, all seem likely to be ready for the intensification of the conflict. But what about us? Are the Western populations ready to give their attention to this conflict and support the decisions of their governments to come to the aid of this country for several more months?
While the war in Ukraine is still receiving fairly substantial media coverage, what was expected to be a short-lived conflict will require much more than a temporary change in a Facebook profile picture. The media must therefore maintain their mission to inform and make sure to cover the horrors of this war so that we can maintain support that meets the needs of the victim populations. Because disinterest almost always leads to disengagement.
Sara Germain, Associate researcher at the Canadian Observatory on Humanitarian Crises and Action, responsible for communications and social networks at the Institute of International Studies of Montreal and master’s student at UQA