Takes from Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine
February 24, 2022, will ever remain etched in the annals of Ukraine, not for any memorable fanfare, pomp or pageantry but that of a long drawn out war foisted on it by the invasion of its territory on the orders of Valdimir Putin, the Russian strongman.
The invasion has not been a walkover as Putin had thought, with the war dragging into the second month amidst mounting death tolls on both sides.
Gory images emerged of the alleged gruesome killing of civilians in Bucha by Russian forces, some of the victims had bullet wounds to the head, which Bucha mayor Anatoliy Fedoruk described as execution-style killing, besides 410 bodies of victims of war atrocities were found in towns around Kyiv according to Ukraine’s prosecutor general Iryna Venediktova.
Moscow however denied its soldiers committed such atrocities, which if proven, are war crimes.
Ukraine also witnessed massive destruction of infrastructure and buildings from missiles fired from Moscow.
Russia has had its casualties and scratches too, figures from Ukraine and Western sources indicate that Russia has suffered significant losses in personnel, ranging between 7000 and 18000, though the Kremlin trims down the figure to over 1000.
The dead include generals as well as conscripts, who are not expected to be drafted to the frontline. Russia is equally counting its losses in military hardware if figures by Ukraine’s armed forces are anything to go by 123 aircraft, 127 helicopters, 856 tanks, 1694 armoured vehicles, 1150 vehicles, 66 UAVs, 73 fuel tankers and 7 boats.
The war has been described as one between David and Goliath, an allusion to the Biblical story of the fight between young David and Goliath of Gath, the champion of the Philistines.
Obviously, Putin had strategized for the invasion with the deployment of forces to Belarus for a phantom joint military exercise, while at the same time massing hundreds of thousands of troops at its borders with Ukraine.
However, Russian forces found themselves bogged down by logistics, fuel and food shortages, while tanks got stuck in muddy terrains.
Amateurs talk strategy while professionals talk logistics, General Omar Bradley famously said.
However, a big take from the war is the resilience of the Ukrainians against Russia’s war machines and huge personnel deployment, which numbered around 150,000.
Ukraine’s military had its personnel buffered by citizens who submitted themselves to impromptu military training on the use of arms while others quickly got to learn about making Molotov.
Perhaps, the most endearing face of Ukraine’s trained civilian resistant army was of a student, 22, an expert in the use of Igla missile launcher, who shot down two Russian fighter jets and a helicopter.
Other unarmed Ukrainians had dared Russian soldiers, confronting them and urging them to go back home.
This is an image of a nation, of the vast majority, speaking with one voice volubly against the perceived existential threat from a well-armed neighbour.
United we stand, divided we fall, goes a saying. Ukrainians have stood united, though there have been sprinkles of traitors, who have been caught by authorities.
Bear Grylls said, ‘Survival requires us to leave our prejudices at home. It’s about doing whatever it takes and ultimately those with the biggest heart win’.
Ukrainians have shown big hearts!
What lessons for Nigeria and sister African nations confronted by extremists who have gone on killing sprees. In Nigeria in particular, Boko Haram had continued its atrocious attacks on citizens since 2011 with thousands dead in the Northeast and Northwest, and tens of thousands becoming internally displaced.
The horror has been aggravated by incessant attacks by bandits, with daring assaults on the nation’s defence academy, Kaduna airport, Kaduna-Abuja railway, taking many hostages as usual for ransom after killing some of the passengers in a bomb attack.
Politicians have been at the usual game of exploiting the unpleasant situation to sway public opinion while the government has kept its toga of blame trading and seeing any criticism as bad belle.
The issue at stake calls for collective efforts rather than polar blitzes and disparages on the political landscape.
The involvement of civilians in the formation of the Joint Task Force has been helpful. However, there is the need for government to unite the nation behind it as security forces battle to curtail vampires on the loose.
Divisive comments, ethnic colouration and politicization of the current invasion of socioeconomic order by bandits and insurgents will not matter.