This day is perceived by many Ukrainians as the beginning of the war. And not just because it was much bigger in scale than in 2014, but because it immediately affected a lot more people. Russia’s actions that February morning correspond much better to classical notions of war than the events of February 2014.
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Although, in fact, it was just another stage in our century-old war with Russia.
It is even difficult to determine the exact date on which it began.
Was it February 23 when pro-Russian mass actions started in Sevastopol?
Or on the 27th, when these “green men” – the Russian special forces – appeared in its streets? Or even earlier – February 20? This date itself was formally recognized as the beginning of this aggression by the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, since it was the date inscribed on the medal “For the return of Crimea” of the Ministry of Defense of Russia. Some say the militant massacres on the Maidan were the start, as they likely involved the Russian military.
This uncertainty about the date of the beginning of this aggression in 2014 is not fortuitous. The enemy thought of it.
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This war is “hybrid”, presenting it as a new way of implementing aggressive policies.
But almost all of his instruments have been tested by Russian rulers since the 17th and 18th centuries.
An attempt to consolidate his influence in Ukraine was made through his loyal Ukrainian political circles, the internal political division of Ukrainian society through propaganda, possible overt military intervention and attempts to present the aggression as an internal civil conflict.
All this has happened before – because they supported a foreign Hetman against the one who dared to rise up against Moscow.
The most striking hybrid scenario manifested itself in the activities of the Bolsheviks against the Ukrainian People’s Republic during the Ukrainian Revolution of 1917-1921. Ukraine’s move towards independence was seen as dangerous by both White and Red Russians. That’s why they did everything to stop the Ukrainians.
And if the former tried to use political tools, the Bolsheviks immediately took up arms.
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On November 20, 1917, the Central Rada approved the Third Universal, which announced the creation of the Ukrainian People’s Republic. In response to this step, the Bolsheviks gathered troops around Kharkiv under the command of Antonov-Ovisienko. In the guise of the then “green men”, a meeting took place at which they announced the creation of another UPR – but Soviet. Then the Bolshevik war against Ukraine began, but in the name of this fictitious people’s republic. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?
In the territories of Odessa, Donetsk and Kryvyi Rih, occupied by Russian troops, they announced the creation of local Soviet republics, which requested military assistance.
One hundred years later, the Kremlin is again part of the conflict with Ukraine, representing the puppet states of the DNR and the LNR, and tries to present this war against our state as a civil war.
The advance of Bolshevik troops through Ukrainian territories was accompanied by the then version of the “Russian Spring” – agents carrying out revolts under the guise of uprisings of the “working masses”. The Ukrainians were able to halt the offensive in early 1918 with the help of German allies. But at the end of the year, the Bolsheviks renewed it once again in the name of the fictitious Soviet Ukraine.
Soviet Russia’s Commissar of Foreign Affairs Chicherin, as brazenly as his successor Lavrov a hundred years later, asserted: “A military action on Ukrainian territory is currently taking place between the troops of the Directorate and the troops of the Ukrainian Soviet government, which is completely independent.
The Bolshevik leader Lenin understood: the complete capture of Ukraine was unrealistic, so they had to mask their aggression. He said: “Without this, our troops would be placed in an impossible position in the occupied territories, and the population would not meet them as liberators.”
Eventually, the Bolsheviks succeeded in capturing Ukraine and establishing a communist totalitarian regime for the next 70 years.
After World War II, likewise, through the creation of fictitious pro-Moscow governments as alternatives to legitimate governments, the Kremlin established power in Central and Eastern Europe.
Decades after the fall of the Soviet Union, Russian leaders have resumed hybrid warfare methods in order to bring Ukraine back into the empire.
One of the developers of the latest concept of hybrid warfare, General Valery Gerasimov, presented them as a response to such insidious methods of the West as the “color revolutions”, and in particular the “Arab spring”.
“The emphasis was on the use of political, economic, information, humanitarian and other non-military measures, as well as on the use of the protest potential of the local population. All this must be accompanied by covert military operations – for example, methods of information warfare and the use of special forces.
This was published by the Russian general in February 2013, a year before these methods were implemented in Ukraine. Ukraine’s response to this Hybrid War that started in 2014 has been correct. We started to deploy the armed forces, abolished the Russian agency and intensified information work aimed at both Ukrainians and the world.
As a result, Russia lost the potential to launch hybrid warfare.
The strengthened national identity of the Ukrainian people compensated for the Kremlin’s attempts to trigger a new “Russian spring”. Influential world politicians did not accept the thesis of a civil war in Ukraine.
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So, in 2022, Russia launched a full-scale open invasion. Which again yielded a completely unexpected result for Putin – massive Ukrainian revulsion against him and support for Ukraine from the entire civilized world.
Therefore, Putin will not be able to repeat Lenin’s success in his hybrid aggression against Ukraine.