Russian troops are beginning to mass along the Belarus border that runs along much of northern Ukraine. Unlike the “special military operation” that was repelled last winter, this one will be bolstered by thousands of new Russian recruits. It could be a tipping point for beleaguered Kiev, unless……
I was once a speechwriter, so I want you to imagine the president of Poland delivering this one:
I am addressing this not just to my countrymen and our allies in the struggle to uphold Ukraine’s independence, but to anyone in Russia who is able to elude government censorship.
Today we are announcing that the armed forces of the United States, Great Britain, Germany, France, and Poland are being placed on standby alert, ready to rapidly deploy at strategic positions along the border between Ukraine and Belarus.
Should Russian troops invade south of this border, we will mobilize this force to engage them.
We will also deploy these troops if our joint command determines that Russia and/or Belarus is massing sufficient men and materiel along this border so as to constitute an imminent threat of invasion.
Should the latter be necessary, we will at the same time urge our fellow NATO partners to admit Ukraine as a member and to militarily support its defense according to our shared obligations under the NATO Treaty.
And now, I address the remainder of my remarks to those citizens of the Russian Federation who are able to hear me.
For months you have been told that your so-called “Special Military Operation” was launched because: (1) Ukraine persecutes its Russian-speaking citizens; (2) Ukraine threatens your Russia’s newly annexed provinces in the Donbas; (3) NATO threatens to attack and/or rule your country.
The first allegation has been fabricated by Russian agents and propagandists ever since they began infiltrating Ukraine more than ten years ago. I ask you: does France invade Canada because millions of its citizens speak French? Does Turkey invade Germany because of its large Turkish-speaking population? Enough said.
The allegation that Russia must “defend” its newly annexed provinces in the Donbas is ludicrous. The so-called referendum that caused your president to annex these Ukrainian territories came after most of their citizens had fled the onslaught of Russian bombings and after a rigged election among those who remained.
Most absurd of all is the charge that the United States and NATO wish to attack and rule the Russian Federation. I can tell you that I have never heard of any such plans in the so-called West. I have never even heard the subject mentioned.
And why would we? Russia is a proud nation with more than a thousand years of unique traditions and language. How could strangers even think of ruling the world’s largest nation with its different language and ten time zones?
No! The reason for this war is that you are ruled by a dictator who is steeped in the KGB tradition of spying on and disrupting democratic institutions. Your leader views the collapse of the Soviet Union as a great tragedy that can be remedied only by re-creating the empire of the tsars and Stalinists – one that is well-buttressed by subservient satellite governments.
Your dictator wants Ukraine to be foremost among them. But I ask you: how can anyone win the hearts and minds of Ukrainians by bombing their homes, schools and hospitals? How can they become your willing subjects when your missiles have forced them to endure a cruel winter with no water and electricity? Instead, the hearts of Ukrainians have hardened to your dictator and to his military machine. And no one wants to be a vassal in someone else’s empire.
Even before your invasion, Ukrainians expressed a strong yearning to live in a society of honest elections, free speech, fair courts of law and ease of travel between borders. Yes, they seek the fresh air of the democratic European Union.
You may ask why the president of Poland is addressing you tonight when it might have been another head of state. The reason is that Poland knows more than any of them about the harsh, cruel reality of being a subjugated satellite in the Russian empire. And we will never return to it.
I hope I have helped to explain why my colleagues and I believe that Russia’s war on Ukraine is the most crucial conflict in our generation - and for those to come. Right now, you and your dictator tsar are on the wrong side of history. We hope the decisions conveyed to you today will begin to reverse that fact and point us toward the day when Russia joins a free and democratic Europe.
Just imagine what we could all do for this earth – our common home – without the crushing burden of tanks, bombs, and missiles!