A funny thing happened on the way to Russia’s conquest of Ukraine: Things didn’t go at all as planned.
Vladimir Putin didn’t expect Ukraine to give much pushback to his bloody, unprovoked invasion. When the Ukrainians dug in and began to fight back, it was apparent they could hold significant territory and this would not be a quick incursion.
But then, the Russians dug in and attacked power plants, schools, farmland, and innocent civilians. They captured territory in various parts of the country, and seemed to be on their way to becoming entrenched.
However, the tide has turned over the last few weeks. The Ukrainian forces, bolstered by weapons, ammunition, and guidance from the US and other NATO countries, have pushed back and recaptured territory. This week, President Zelenskyy said his forces have taken back over 6000 square kilometers previously held in the Northeastern part of the country. Initiatives are underway in other areas as well, including the Donbas.
How can a small country like Ukraine take on and humiliate a much larger, global power like Russia?
Yes, it helps to have friends in the right places to back you up. But it’s also important to remember that the motivation for both sides in different. For Ukrainians, it’s about losing their independence, their country, their way of life. Many of the Russian soldiers were conscripted or sold a bill of goods about the invasion which they’re not learning wasn’t accurate. Their homes aren’t at risk. Their way of life is out of their control.
Never underestimate the power of the underdog to fight for what they can’t afford to lose.
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