Following the Russian invasion of Mariupol in Ukraine, Russian forces have slowly gained complete control of the city. University of Wisconsin experts are questioning if peace is on the horizon and how Western nations can support Ukraine.
This siege of Mariupol is part of Russia’s Eastern Ukraine Offensive in the two Donbas provinces in Eastern Ukraine, Luhansk Oblast and Donetsk Oblast, according to the NPR. The capture of Russian cities has forced Ukrainian citizens to seek refuge in neighboring countries — including Israel.
Francine Hirsch, who is a UW historian and expert on the history of Russia and the Soviet Union, believes there is no sight for peace between Russia and Ukraine in the near future.
Hirsch said that because Putin’s regime has announced its intention to wipe out Ukraine, peace is unlikely following this illegal war of aggression. She is unsure about how Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy will negotiate peace talks with Putin given this scenario.
Since the beginning of the war, Russian leaders have falsely claimed Ukraine was an “artificial state” that was currently being run by Nazis, Hirsch said. This rhetoric has escalated as Putin is now calling for “de-Ukrainization” — the elimination of Ukraine, according to Hirsch, who noted this as an incitement to genocide.
Russia continues to forbid the safe passage of Ukrainian citizens in Mariupol following the bombardment of the besieged Azovstal iron and steel works, Hirsch said.
“Thousands of civilians have been killed and thousands more are in danger,” Hirsch said. “Mariupol’s mayor said [yesterday] that Russian troops have buried as many as 9,000 civilians in these graves to cover up Russian war crimes.”
The U.S. government has supported Ukraine since the beginning of the Russian invasion in February 2022. President Biden continues to send military aid to Ukraine in efforts to prevent further Russian invasion, according to Hirsch.
“The U.S. and its allies should aid Ukraine by sending more weapons, including heavy artillery,” Hirsch said. “They should also introduce more and stricter sanctions against Russia. This is especially important now, at a critical point in the war.”
The Western world is condemning Russia and avoiding Russian representation of their current motives following the capture of major Ukrainian cities, Hirsch said.
The Boston Marathon and Wimbledon banned Russian athletes from participating amid Russian invasions of Ukraine in 2022. This decision to ban Russian athletes from participating in these events is justified given Russian efforts to wage an illegal war of aggression, according to Hirsch. By acting as a bandit state in this international conflict, Russians have lost their right to participate, Hirsch said.
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Putin’s aggression will affect the whole world economically. Hirsch said that since Ukraine is a major supplier of wheat to the world, prices will increase and food shortages will occur.
“Of course it’s important to stop Putin and support Ukraine for other reasons too — first and foremost to stop genocide,” Hirsch said.