Today for the first time in weeks, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that the peace talks between Russia and Ukraine had reached a ‘dead-end”. The Russian President then described his attack on Ukraine to be ‘clear and noble,’ promising that its results would achieve triumph. This address came after claims were made about Russian use of chemical weaponry after an outpour of Ukrainian women claimed to have been raped by Russian Officials and after all of the other war crimes Russia has pursued. State television illustrated Putin visiting the Vostochny space base in Russia’s Far East to mark the anniversary of the Soviet success in launching the first crewed space flight.
The West believes that Putin’s war is a land grab; however, Putin calls the war a “special military operation” to disarm Russia’s neighbor. Putin said Russia had no choice but to fight because it had to defend the Russians living in eastern Ukraine and prevent Ukraine from becoming an anti-Russian springboard for Moscow’s enemies. Putin went as far as to call Ukraine a puppet for the U.S. The Russian President has kept himself hidden while his war raged on in Ukraine. In Putin’s speech celebrating the anniversary of the first space launch, he seemed to have used it as a metaphor for the current of Western sanctions in Russia’s tide pool, “The sanctions were total, the isolation was complete, but the Soviet Union was still first in space,”
A long-time friend of Putin, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, joined him at the space base and further condemned the sanctions getting put into place. The official said, “Why on earth are we getting so worried about these sanctions?” his quick dismissal of sanctions shows how far off the beaten path Russia has already gone. As Russia continues to move towards its worst economic contraction since the years following the 1991 fall of the Soviet Union, Putin seems to bully and mock those who try to impose themselves into the war that many deem uncalled for.
Claims of chemical weaponry came in Monday following Ukraine’s President Zelenskyy’s address to the West, asking for stricter sanctions and urging civilians in the east to flee. Ukraine’s Azov regiment claimed three soldiers were injured by “a poisonous substance” in an attack. Pavlo Kyrylenko, The governor of the eastern Donetsk region, said he had seen incident reports on possible chemical weapons use in Mariupol but could not confirm them.
It is also imperative to acknowledge that this war is neither about land nor success; it’s about Russian Forces’ continuous blatant disrespect for Ukrainian civilians. Rape stories coming from women ages as young as 16 to as old as 83 have broken both headlines and hearts with their words. The graphic and horrific women’s stories describe how they were beaten and raped, one-story brought a writer to tears just reading about it. The victims said they live in a rural neighborhood to the West of Kyiv. Some women’s husbands got killed in the process.
When soldiers were finished and got met with the question, “can I put my clothes back on?” they would intimidate their victims further by either screaming at them, shooting their firearms, or beating them. The victims believe their attackers were from Ukraine’s far east, a region controlled by Russian-backed separatists. One victim, 83, said she wished the soldier had killed her.
Amid the outrage and stunning nature of how Russia continues to handle its conflicts comes much pain. Putin metaphorically sat back and basked in the chaos he created as his cockiness and ignorance were further confirmed through the words, “We don’t intend to be isolated; it is impossible to severely isolate anyone in the modern world – especially such a vast country as Russia.”