Why Ukrainians Don't Want to Fight for Ukraine? Part 1

Ukrainians are divided. Ukraine’s corrupt elites lived long
at the expense of Ukrainian people. Now the elites badly
need those people to defend them from the Russians.

Image by Amaury Laporte, CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

I noticed in my youth how annoying it was to live in Ukraine because of many unclear prohibitive laws and various bureaucratic rules. I wished then that all Ukrainians who were annoyed by that could go somewhere else, and only those who wrote these laws would stay. I wanted them to try to live and work by their rules and laws.

People are the main resource of any country.

Any war requires two resources: weapons and men.
Both weapons and men should be enough quantitatively, but the main factor here is men because they are the ones who use weapons.

Weapons can be produced (better in advance), bought or asked from allies in case of need.
People need to be raised, educated, trained, and this is long and difficult process. Therefore, any state tries to maintain a high level of patriotism and unity of the nation in its citizens, especially on the eve of war. Even a small country with modern weapons and united population which is not divided by internal contradictions is practically invincible. For example, Russia lost the First Chechen War to small Chechnya.

However, over the last 40-50 years the economic inequality between elites and people has deepened in many countries, the middle class was disappearing everywhere, and many nations were divided into rich minority and poor majority. The rich minority (the elite) rules the country on behalf of the poor majority (the people) and constantly abuses its power.

Elites are more or less the same everywhere.
They are on a different rung of the social ladder in any country and take advantage of that, telling their people about equality of opportunities. Representatives of the elites can easily avoid draft like Mr. Trump did during the Vietnam War. However, someone has to defend the homeland, so the elites send the people to war by any means. This is unfair and divides the nation, therefore such countries may lose their war even if they have enough modern weapons.

Ukraine may find itself in such a situation because the nation is heavily divided for many years.

The main problem of Ukraine is not the arms, but the lack of manpower. Is that so?

Ukraine has been having problems with weapons for the last six months (especially with artillery shells), but recently the US finally approved the long-awaited aid bill and restored the supply. In addition, Europe is increasing its supply of weapons and money to Ukraine, too.

I think that now Mr. Putin will throw all his reserves into the war in order to break the resistance of Ukraine during the spring-summer of 2024 before the arms supplies from the West reach their maximum.

There is an opinion in the West that Ukraine lacks manpower at the front line. And Ukraine actively supports this opinion: President Zelensky has been saying since December 2023 that about 500 thousand civilians are needed. Now the figure seems to have been lowered to 300 thousand. However…

There are people in Ukraine, of course, but different ones and they belong to different levels of hierarchy in the country. Wikipedia writes about 1 million of active personnel and 2 million of reservists as of 2024, while some Ukrainian sources report that a large number of military active personnel do not take part in hostilities.

Politico confirms that and even provides some figures:
«Overall Kyiv has around 680,000 active military personnel with around 200,000 on the frontlines.»

CNN gives similar dаta:
According to a Zelensky aide, of the almost 1 million Ukrainians mobilized, only 200,000 to 300,000 have served on the front line. The rest, he said pointedly, “are very far from the war,” adding it is up to the new army chief to change that before coming to Zelensky and asking for an increase in the draft.»

This obviously raises questions.
Why are only 200-300 thousand military men fighting on the front line? And why are they poorly rotated if there are at least 480 thousand more professional military personnel there? What are they doing? And why then is Mr. Zelensky going to call up civilians who need to be equipped, trained, etc.?

A. Zagorodnyuk, the former Ukrainian defense minister, partially answers these questions and agrees that reform inside the military is needed: “The bureaucratic apparatus of the armed forces is a bit inflated. There are too many commands, there are too many administrative units, and so on.

The answers to inconvenient questions above.

1. 200-300 thousand Ukrainians who have been fighting for 2 years+ on the front line is the number of patriots from people and army who are there since the beginning of the war.

2. These 200-300 thousand are poorly rotated because it is very hard and dangerous at the forefront, and all other Ukrainians do not really want to go there. The patriotic upsurge of the very beginning of the war when enlistment offices sent home those, who wanted to fight, evaporated after two years of war.

3. These minimum 480,000 rear military personnel in the army are formally engaged in providing troops with everything needed, but I think that in reality everyone of them simply profits from the war by reselling military equipment, arms, food, etc. They can earn good money and shouldn’t be interested in the ending of the war. In addition, they receive salaries, titles, awards, wear a uniform, but do not fight and risk with almost nothing. This is the ballast, the corrupt component of the Ukrainian army which, as you can see, is twice as large in number as the fighting troops.
So, is there a shortage of manpower in Ukrainian army or not?

4. Mr. Zelensky wants to call up another 300-500 thousand civilians because soldiers are really needed at the forefront, but he apparently understands that sending corruptionists from army, law enforcement agencies and other parts of state apparatus will not work. The state apparatus of Ukraine (which is called the “Deep State” in the US) stands on a solid, long-term foundation of corruption. It, in fact, is the source of corruption. Government officials will buy their way out of mobilization or pass self-saving exceptions and amendments to the laws and will not go to war anyway. This means that just the ordinary people will have to defend the homeland. Therefore, Mr. Zelensky decided that it was easier to send people to the forefront than struggling with the powerful Ukrainian “Deep State.”

The recently passed law on mobilization in Ukraine serves just this purpose.

The law on mobilization: “We decided that you should...”

The Ukrainian government doesn’t want (or cannot) use the country’s internal reserves (in particular, 480 thousand active military personnel) and therefore a controversial law on mobilization has passed in mid-April 2024 which would come into force on May 18.
In particular, the law says nothing about the demobilization. There is also no provision for mandatory rotation of military personnel on the front line, and those 200-300 thousand Ukrainians who are now there for 2 years+ will apparently be fighting until the very end of the war.
Of course, the new law with such attitude towards soldiers causes rejection among many Ukrainians both at the front and in the rear.

Also there is an interesting clause in the law on the suspension of the provision of any consular services to Ukrainians outside Ukraine. All men from 18 to 60 years old will be denied to renew their passports in Ukrainian consulates abroad, etc., if they have not updated their military registration data. This means that all the men of conscription age can’t get any Ukrainian document unless they return to Ukraine.

Foreign Minister of Ukraine D. Kuleba explained the move as the needed preparation for the new law on mobilization and the restoration of justice: “It’s about justice -- justice in the relationship between Ukrainian men abroad and Ukrainian men inside of Ukraine.
The Ukrainian refugees in many countries perceived that news with concern and anger. Most likely, these people will never go to Ukraine even for a new passport. That's not what they left Ukraine for.

The new law has made a lot of noise in Ukraine and abroad. Different countries reacted in a different way. For example, Poland is going to help Ukraine to return Ukrainian men to their homeland. Germany, on the contrary, stated that it would not expel Ukrainian refugees to participate in the war against their will.

Passions are running high, Ukrainian society is being more divided in and out of Ukraine, and this is a very dangerous path during the war. Obviously, Ukrainian government and Ukrainian people no matter where they are have opposite points of view on the subject.
I used to call to myself the state point of view about almost every law "we decided that you should …" This is the usual way of communication between elites and people in Ukraine.

A brief history of independent Ukraine as I see it.

I have already written about Ukraine’s history in some detail in my series of articles “Hopeless Ukraine.”

Ukrainian elites (clans) rushed to tear off their pieces of the legacy of collapsed USSR in 1991. They created their parties and immediately started a war among themselves for access to the budget of Ukraine, completely forgetting about the people. The people were pushed out to survive at the market places, where many became addicted to alcohol and drugs. Everyone smoked then. Ukrainians sold/bought goods in Poland/Slovakia/Hungary, gradually expanding the geography of their business trips. Small businesses began to rise in Ukraine and extortion and banditry flourished. The police received bribes from the bandits and did not interfere. Inflation went high, the young Ukrainian business got under the additional pressure of the created tax authorities, and extortion from the “bandits in uniform” began (and it's still going on.) Then came the turn of raider takeovers: the clans took away tidbits of the economy from each other using the legal court rulings made by the corrupt judges.

All state positions were bought and sold starting from president Kuchma with his corruption scandals, various clans pushed their proteges into the executive and legislative branches of power which passed tons of biased contradictory laws, the courts made decisions in favor of the highest bidder, the Ukrainians deceived, robbed and sometimes killed each other ... The elites openly abused their power and the police covered them up.

The Ukrainian people divided into parts, proving to each other that thieves were better than bandits, and voting for “their” thieves and bandits. The main principles of coexistence of people in any state - justice, self- and mutual respect - were completely destroyed and the crisis in Ukraine deepened. Meanwhile, the Russians bribed Ukrainian politicians, security and law enforcers, they created their lobby in the Ukrainian parliament and put pro-Russian V. Yanukovych as the Ukrainian president at the second attempt in 2010. By the way, V. Yanukovych was a convicted criminal and also had a rich corruption history.

The endless confrontation between bad and very bad Ukrainian parties and their followers divided the country and resulted in the following events:
- the Orange Revolution in 2004-05 which brought to the presidency V. Yushchenko with many corruption scandals among his “dear friends”;
- the Revolution of Dignity in 2014 which was shot by the President V. Yanukovych. (Mr. Yanukovych fled to Russia after that);
- the surrender of Crimea to the Russians in 2014;
- the loss of the bigger part of Donbas in 2014-15.

The Russian-Ukrainian war started from Donbas under President P. Poroshenko with his corruption scandals and it turned into a full-scale war under President Zelensky with his corruption scandals after Russia attacked Ukraine on February 24, 2022.

During all years of independence, the Ukrainians became poorer, Ukrainian elites got richer, thousands of people emigrated, millions went to Russia and Europe to earn money. According to estimations of the State Statistics Service of Ukraine the number of Ukrainians in Ukraine has decreased from 52 million in 1991 to 42 million in May 2021 (before the big war with Russia).
Currently, less than 30 million people reside in Ukraine.

Thus the country lost people and several territories, I think, not only because of the “bad Russians”, as many Ukrainians say, but mostly due to the greed and betrayal of Ukrainian elites, and ignorance and connivance of Ukrainian people.

(to be continued)
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