Russian Vs Ukraine

On 24 February 2022, Russia launched a major invasion of Ukraine. Its “special military operation” was intended to quickly seize Kyiv, depose the government, and occupy a large part of the country. It was a massive gamble, and one that is proving to be a major miscalculation.

Its pre-invasion propaganda portrayed Ukrainians as apolitical or ambivalent about Russia, but Moscow’s calculations were off. It was always improbable that all Ukrainians would embrace reintegration into a Russian sphere of influence, especially in the largely ethnically Russian parts of the country. But the Kremlin hoped that enough people, particularly in Crimea, would line up to work with Russian occupiers.

Instead, as we document in our new film, Russian Vs Ukraine, many apolitical Ukrainians—including some who served the state in the past—refused to cooperate and fought back. And the flood of collaborators Moscow hoped to entice to run occupation administrations in places like Kherson and Donetsk has not materialized.

In part, this reflects the fact that most Ukrainians now view Russia as an enemy. But it is also a reflection of the success of efforts by politicians like Petro Poroshenko and now Volodymyr Zelensky to bring Ukrainians together around bread and butter concerns, hopes for an end to violence in Donbas, and a common sense that their nation’s independence makes strategic sense. That is a reversal from the days when some in Kiev, including some in the West, were willing to indulge in tit for tat moves against Russia that could have escalated the conflict.