The key takeaway for 2023: Our adversary – Russia – will not halt at the current front lines or any other demarcation lines until it consumes the entirety of Ukraine.
Russia is a frenzied bulldog latched onto its prey, relentless until it reaches the jugular or is shot down. Even our return to the 1991 borders doesn’t resolve this issue.
Beyond that border, a strong and cunning enemy remains, seeking revenge. There’s no room for negotiations with this foe. The outcome of this Independence War will leave either Ukraine or Russia on the world map.
This must be clear to all: representatives of authority and opposition, journalists, enforcement, and ordinary Ukrainians. The familiar democratic Ukraine, with its diverse political landscape, freedom of speech bordering on licentiousness, and liberal market, perished on Feb. 24, 2022.
Just as society displayed incredible mobilization and self-organization last March, standing with bayonets drawn against the overwhelming Russian forces, the entire state must do the same now: from the first to the last person. We must become a spiked battleship ready to fatally pierce the enemy, regardless of where they approach. We must build a military state immediately, as of yesterday. Only this can break the spine of the “Russian Empire.”
Ukraine faces a formidable adversary with vast resources, particularly human resources. And the enemy does not rest. Furthermore, Russia is gearing up its aggression, redirecting its economy toward the military, contradicting its own claims of so-called “self-defense.” Ukraine's only way forward is to reform into a military state swiftly and effectively. Otherwise, we are doomed.
No one is going to fight for Ukraine. And Western support, at least for the near future, will hover at the bare minimum. This needs to be acknowledged and factored in. Before receiving the necessary lend-lease from the US during World War II, the United Kingdom had to meet its military needs at least at a minimal level independently.
Surviving against an overwhelming horde is impossible in the form of a disorganized volunteer chaos. With politicians willing to sacrifice the country’s future for “applause” from their sympathizers. With journalists “unconscious” of propaganda, but, under the guise of freedom of speech, broadcasting narratives favorable to the enemy. With local “barons” who believe that others, some ephemeral “state,” should fight while they enjoy an illusion of peaceful life. With officials for whom public service is an opportunity for self-enrichment, and corruption is a lifestyle, not tantamount to treason. With dim-witted generals who see “Taras Petrenko” not as a soldier whose life should be preserved but as a line in a mobilization form. With the multi-million audience of Ukrainian refugees and diaspora in Europe and the US whose “help” boils down to discussing a “series” about surviving THEIR country, which they simply watch on TV.
If we want our country to remain on the world maps, right now, we must start building a different Ukraine – strong and united. The kind that is capable of victory. This will demand general mobilization from the state and society. This absolutely does not mean everyone must pick up a gun and head to the front. The state should provide each person with a place where they’ll be most effective in launching the “war machine” that will lead us to Victory.
It should be a mobilization of the entire country, where every citizen is integrated into the existing defense system. And it doesn’t matter where they are: in Lviv or Avdiivka, in Kyiv or Warsaw. Everyone must have an important task. Even working in a café can be part of enhancing the country’s defense. And for a refugee in Prague or Berlin or a representative of the Ukrainian diaspora in Munich or Chicago, there must be an important mission for them.
We must start by changing the state management system. Trying to impose a matrix of “democratic values” on a country bathed in blood will only lead to defeat. Let’s be frank: Ukrainians aren’t fighting for formal “democracy” but for their families, homes, and “cherry orchards” that Russians want to erase from the face of the earth.
If we look at history, only those states survived a massive threat that transitioned to a system of unity. Like in the military. Those states that became an army where orders are not discussed but executed. Where “one voice policy” applies to all citizens: officials, politicians and activists alike. Discussions can wait until after victory.
Volunteering proved vital for Ukraine’s survival in the initial invasion months, while the rigid bureaucratic peacetime system was recovering from shock. The military state, possessing significant resources, is to take over all functions of civilian and military provisioning. Everyone must integrate into the state mechanism, understanding their roles and objectives towards the military and victory.
The activities of political parties should cease during wartime. Assigning every parliamentarian and party official duties towards the state and victory renders the purpose of “parties,” “coalitions,” and “oppositions” irrelevant during wartime. To avoid unsettling some politicians, this could be labeled as a “National Unity Government.” The essence remains unchanged—we all become soldiers in this war, each on our respective front.
Primarily, this concerns the information front. The country’s survival outweighs media permissiveness. During World War II, even the BBC in the UK operated under military censorship. In the era of an “information society,” the media has become a “weapon of mass influence.”
Realizing this role, journalists must also “fall in line.” The media front becomes state propaganda, inflicting maximum damage on the enemy both outside the country and within—denying any chance to the Russian propaganda machine. How to mobilize the information front should be decided by media owners: either through patriotism and responsibility or through wartime nationalization.
Mobilization should encompass the entire industrial business in the country. It must serve as the base for arms production and military provisioning. Whether this occurs voluntarily or through nationalization is for the owners to decide. The increased efficiency of enterprises post their return to state ownership, as seen in “Motor Sich” and “Ukrnafta,” is evident.
Mobilization is crucial for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs). SMBs should support military orders’ mobility and responsiveness. In this sphere, a shift towards a venture-grant system is necessary. The state announces competitions and grants for creating specific weapon samples. Those excelling in innovation and mobility, ready to scale their production, receive state orders.
This practice should also extend to import substitution. Wartime Ukraine cannot afford to import goods unrelated to defense. Everything producible—household items, food, machinery—must be made in Ukraine. Manufacturers should receive funds from the state budget for their contribution to defense. Mobilizing private businesses will prevent capital flight and provide employment opportunities.
The tax system of a military state should be extremely simple and get rid of excessive zeal in the field of fiscalization. This is unnecessary in a situation of de facto nationalization of the economy. The main task of the tax authorities should be to prevent capital from being transferred abroad. And they should always remember that corruption in a country at war is treason and nothing else.
Ukrainian refugees, estimated at no less than 5 million globally, and the Ukrainian diaspora await mobilization. They represent a significant asset, and their voices, irrespective of gender, must resonate in European and US city squares and in Western officials’ chambers. Their voices must be heard. If five Polish carriers, having sold out to Russia, block Ukraine’s borders, then Warsaw should drown in Ukrainians and be completely blocked the next day. If there’s no supply of Taurus, then Berlin gets a week off from work.
Regarding mobilization into the military, tactics like “all men on the front line” in today’s technological warfare are senseless. Especially considering the enemy’s physical advantage in deploying cheap human resources. Even in World War II, not more than 20 percent of any country’s population fought. However, every Ukrainian must possess basic military skills and know how to handle weapons to defend their home and family. The state, in turn, must provide suitable training and armament.
Only a mobilized military Ukraine, armed and prepared, can survive and win. Discussions on democracy and liberal values, unrelated to survival, will occur post-victory. When on the foundation of the military state and amidst the ruins of the “Russian Empire,” we build a Ukraine where our children will want to live.
The views expressed in this opinion article are the author’s and not necessarily those of Kyiv Post.
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