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Sorry Mr Putin, Ukraine is not for you

By Conrad Liveris - posted Friday, 16 May 2014

Everyday it seems as if we are getting to closer to war in the Ukraine. Russian President Vladimir Putin's behaviour is reminiscent of the dogmatic communists like Stalin and Brezhnev – centralised power that is in our face.

Putin is driven by his ego. He never wanted to be prime minister or president he aimed to be Tsar. He has great knowledge of history and understands that the Russian experience has seen many strong and fierce leaders, Stalin, Peter I, Nicholas II and Catherine the Great.

With a background in international law, one would have thought that his knowledge of sovereignty would be stronger. He definitely has an interesting way of showing it.


Unfortunately, Russians typically live and suffer through times of trial. Democracy may change this though.

Henry Kissinger has noted that many Russians believe that Ukraine is part of their heritage and rightfully theirs. Putin has capitalised on this in a time of desperation. He has falling popularity and is holding government because of his own corruption.

Last week, I met with some young Ukrainians while I was in Sri Lanka for a conference. In true East European style they did not mince their words. "We are already in war, and it will not leave" said one young woman.

"We do not deserve this. Ukraine wants a stable Ukrainian government. We are our own people" a young man said to me.

I asked the young woman what the best outcome was. She looked at me with a get real type of look. "Russia won't leave. They think Ukraine is for them - that just is not the case. I do not think they'll leave though."

I pressed her again on the best case scenario. She paused and then said "it would be nice if Russia wasn't here, but Putin is on the nose. If they would leave and take just Crimea that would be ok. But they won't, he won't."


There is much confusion in the global media on the Ukraine situation. Yes, there are a lot of Russians in Ukraine. There are also a lot of Russian-speaking Ukrainians. The international media has deduced incorrectly that because there are Russian-speakers or people of Russian-heritage it means that they are pro-Russian.

This is a naive way to view the Ukrainian experience. The vast majority of Ukrainians want their independence and Russia to leave.

Hillary Clinton is right to compare Putin's actions to Hitler's. There is a difference though: Putin has not won his people over. Putin is taking populist steps because people think he is doing a mediocre job.

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About the Author

Conrad Liveris is a Community Advocate and Operations Analyst, working in business development and policy with a focus on gender equality and intergenerational issues.

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