I STAND WITH UKRAINE

I’m tempted to just write that Vladimir Putin is the world’s most delusional and deranged prick (the deadly kind) and leave it at that. But it’s not enough. I do not want to be witness to a potential world war in my lifetime. There are some who say that Russia invading Ukraine doesn’t affect us here in the Philippines, but we need to change the mindset that what happens to one nation doesn’t affect another in the world. Even looking at it through both realist and liberalist theory lenses, we cannot deny that we are all interconnected–consequences will reach us like ripple effects of a tsunami. How will it affect us? Any major geopolitical conflict leads to spikes in oil prices in the world market. We aren’t a major player so we follow global market prices. An increase in oil prices is followed by an increase in the prices of basic goods and services. Low-income consumers especially from third world countries like the Philippines will feel the effects the hardest. That’s just one of the more immediate effects. Chaos also breeds opportunists. It’s a given that China and North Korea (both nations notorious for being backed by Russia as well) have their own agendas for expansion–it’s not impossible for China and North Korea to enact any ideas to make an aggressive move on their targeted Asian neighbors. Taiwan is an obvious first target of China given its history of China not acknowledging its independence. But taking into account China’s outright rejection of honoring the arbitral ruling favoring the Philippines in the West Philippine Sea dispute, our country is in a vulnerable position too. As of writing this, China is currently conducting military exercises near Taiwan. Tensions are mounting, and amidst the world’s focus on the conflict in Ukraine, China’s moves are also being monitored closely by the West.

What Putin is doing to Ukraine is not the product of overnight planning. This was years in the making. Back in 2014, when Kremlin pulled off the illegal annexation of Crimea, a shadow was already cast. And suddenly, it wasn’t a matter of “if Russia plans to take Ukraine”, but “when”. It was one of the precursors that led to the invasion and blatant violation of Ukraine’s territorial sovereignty. Ukraine is a free, independent state separate from Russia, but Putin uses force in claiming Ukraine as always having been a part of Russia and justifying the means of the invasion with dangerous lies of cleansing Ukraine of Nazism and NATO influence and by default, saving the Russian people from these “threats”. He’s clearly nuts, but this kind of mindset is dangerous than it is entertaining. Prosecuting Putin and top Russian officials in the ICC (International Criminal Court) may be tricky because of technicalities, but that does not discount what they did as a clear act of aggression and violation of Article 2.4 of the U.N. Charter prohibiting the “use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state”. Countries taking a stand and imposing hard sanctions on Russia, condemning Putin’s actions, and providing arms and financial aid to Ukraine may just be the advantage the Ukrainian government and people need at this time. Our solidarity with Ukraine and against acts of violence and aggression against another nation and its people can tip the scales in favor of justice. We need to be vigilant, firm, and united.

If there’s anything the current world situation has taught me is that we can never go back to what we perceived as normal–the way things were–and on a grander scale, we can’t go back to the old world order. They don’t and would not work at present anymore if we want to move forward, improve our lives, and enact changes for the greater good.

I am reminded of the evergreen Spiderman wisdom, “With great power comes great responsibility.” It is us–the people, who have the power and it is time we reclaim it. We cannot afford to be bystanders and on the fence anymore. Human lives are the cost of inaction, indecision, turning a blind eye on what’s happening. We need to make a stand. Making a stand means we do not condone this injustice happening to another and to us as well.

Make a stand for giving a voice to and upholding freedom, equality, individuality and interconnectedness, sovereignty, human rights. Not just for the people of Ukraine, but starting most of all, in our home turf.

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