In a ‘decisive rout,’ Ukraine gives Russia a tutorial on fighting for freedom


Ukraine is fighting not just for its own existence but for European values, human rights and democracy, Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelensky, said in an address to the US. Congress today.

As reports emerged of a possible compromise settlement, a war-weary Zelensky, speaking from his office in Kyiv, called on the United States to do more to protect his country and people in an extraordinary appeal (above) to the world’s largest military and financial power at a critical moment, CNN reports.

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“Right now, the destiny of our country is being decided, the destiny of our people, whether Ukrainians will be free, whether they will be able to preserve their democracy,” he said. What is happening today in Ukraine is something “Europe has not seen in 80 years,” and it’s not about Ukraine alone, but a conflict that will impact democracy and freedom beyond its borders.

Fighting for values

When he paused to play a video depicting the impact of Russia’s bombardment—including scenes of dead children, pools of blood and mass graves—audible gasps and sighs could be heard throughout the room, The Wall Street Journal adds.

“We’re fighting for the values of Europe,” Zelensky said.

“Russia has attacked not just us, not just our land, not just our cities; it went on a brutal offensive against our values, basic human values,” he continued. “It threw tanks and planes against our freedom, against our right to live freely in our own country, choosing our own future against our desire for happiness, against our national dreams, just like the same dreams you have, you Americans, just like anyone else in the United States.”

His speech came as news emerged of one of the war’s most decisive routs when Ukrainian forces eliminated most of a Russian battalion tactical group on March 2 and 3, Yaroslav Trofimov reports for The Wall Street Journal. In the two-day battle of Voznesensk, local volunteers and the military repelled the invaders, who fled leaving behind dead soldiers, 30 of their 43 tanks, infantry fighting vehicles, multiple-rocket launchers and trucks, as well as a downed Mi-24 attack helicopter.

“We didn’t have a single tank against them, just rocket-propelled grenades, Javelin missiles and the help of artillery,” said Vadym Dombrovsky, commander of the Ukrainian special-forces reconnaissance group in the area and a Voznesensk resident. “The Russians didn’t expect us to be so strong. It was a surprise for them. If they had taken Voznesensk, they would have cut off the whole south of Ukraine.”

The episode confirms New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman’s observation that “Ukrainians have given Russians a tutorial on fighting and dying for freedom and self-determination.”

Putin’s ideological nationalism has fed a project to resurrect Russia’s imperialist ambitions, observers suggest.

“Russia without Ukraine is a country. Russia with Ukraine is an empire,” said the Atlantic Council’s Daniel Fried, a board member of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). “And that’s where Putin seems to be headed. That means a lot of wars and a lot of dead people,” he told PBS’s Front Line (below).


“One of the ironies of this entire disaster has been that in many ways Putin has gotten the opposite of what he wanted,” said Duke University public policy professor Simon Miles, an expert on Russia and former Soviet Union.He wanted a fractured West that was just squabbling over sanctions; he’s gotten the opposite. He wanted Germany sitting on the sidelines; he’s provoked a revolution in German foreign policy. He wanted Ukraine never in NATO, never in the European Union. I think both of those are fair game at this juncture.”

For Russian democracy activist Vladimir Kara-Murza, “The only way to end these wars and this oppression and these crimes that the Putin regime is committing is to get Putin out of power. Needless to say, only Russians can effectively change Russia.”

“Russia and the Putin regime are not one and the same,” he added. “There are many people in my country who are opposed to these crimes just as categorically as they are opposed by people here in America.”

Kara-Murza this week joined other prominent Russian democracy activists in establishing an anti-war committee which proposed innovative approaches to reducing the Kremlin’s leverage through Europe’s dependence on Russian oil and gas supplies.

Marina Ovsyannikova, the Russian state television employee who interrupted a live news program to protest against the war in Ukraine has been released from custody and fined about $270 – but still could face a prison sentence. Ovsyannikova broke the state propaganda machine – others will follow, Russian journalist

With her action, a long silence has been broken, he writes for The Guardian. I have heard that at least two important correspondents, one from Channel One and one from NTV – Zhanna Agalakova and Vadim Glusker – have handed in their notice. A source I know at VGTRK, the state media holding company, has said that many others at the main news program were considering resigning, and the mood among remaining employees was nasty. They said: “If we didn’t have our mortgages, we would quit too.”

A day prior to his speech to Congress, Zelensky was described as a “champion for democracy” by Canadian premier Justin Trudeau prior to three standing ovations after he addressed the Canadian parliament via video link (below).

“Volodymyr, in the years I’ve known you, I’ve always thought of you as a champion for democracy,” Mr Trudeau said. “Now, democracies around the world, are lucky to have you as our champion.”

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