What Do You Want, Mr. Putin?

IT is early morning in a city called Lviv. In Ukraine.
Suddenly, an air raid siren blares out. People wake up still groggy. But they know from experience that the air raid warning cannot be ignored, no matter how beguiling the call of continued sleep is.

They have heard air raid sirens, which had been followed by loud explosions. Explosions caused by jet bombers. Or shells fired from tanks. And missiles whizzing past at supersonic speed.

The explosions are always preceded by a flash of yellowish flame, and followed by billows of thick, black smoke. The cries of injured or dying people rend the air. They are soldiers, or civilian men and women. Plus children and babies. They run or are carried out. But where to go? They had thought they were going to be safe at their present location. But that had proved wrong. Where else to seek shelter? Again?

President Vladimir Putin, please why are you putting the people of Lviv, Kyiv and other Ukrainian cities through this routine of experiencing hell on earth each day? Your bombs have been talking to them for a good three weeks. Since your invasion of Ukraine began on February 24, 2022.

What have ordinary Ukrainians done to you, please, Mr. Putin? Are they responsible for the infantile policies of their government? You are the head of a government. Do you consult your people every time you take a decision that affects their lives? You know that is impractical. Why then are you punishing these people so severely because of the mistakes of their government?

Mr. Putin, please call off your soldiers. The only sin of the Ukrainian people is that they were born and brought up in a territory that became Ukraine. In fact, you claim that they are from the same stock as your Russian people! Certainly, most of them speak Russian. So, Mr. Putin, if you don’t realise it, you are killing your own people.

Mr. Putin, even the Ukrainian Government you hate so much has only erred in intent, not in practice. It has said that it wants to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO). Sure.

But that’s only words by mouth, isn’t it? You are punishing them so much for uttering a mere wish, that you have ended up by actually driving them to request NATO to institute a no-fly zone in their skies, that will definitely extend over your territory.

Suppose a MIG-29 piloted by a Pole or a Hungarian was to fly over Russian territory and were to be shot down and its true identity established, what would you do, Mr. Putin? Would you send nuclear missiles to the bases from which the Mig-29 came?

Mr. Putin, you know that the Americans would immediately deploy their own nuclear weapons, don’t you? And that me and my family and my friends, and other harmless people in developing countries, sitting somewhere thousands of miles away from you and your Ukrainian enemies, would become victims of radiation and die?

Mr. Putin, do you consider that fair? For that matter, do you consider it fair that about three million people have already been uprooted from their homes and country, in the three weeks since you attacked Ukraine?

Mr. Putin, please spare a minute to watch the footage of these people arriving with empty hands at railway and truck stations in Poland, Hungary, Germany and other neighbouring countries. Watch the hopelessness in their faces.

But above all, please watch the efforts of the people whom they do not know; people whose language they do not speak; people unprepared to accommodate visitors in their homes. Please watch the willingness; the friendliness; the human warmth that these strangers are exhibiting towards “the poor foreigners” who have managed to cross the frontiers and got to their countries.

Mr. Putin, are you and your Russian soldiers not saying that you come from the same “Great Russian” human stock as the refugees? And yet, do not the total strangers you have driven them to, care more about them than you, their “fellow Great Russian?”

Mr. Putin, please stop this war. You are just making more enemies for Russia, for nothing. Please remember that the world has forgiven Russia for a lot of mistakes it made in the past. The people of Poznan (in Poland) cursed Russians in 1956. As did the people of Warsaw. Followed, in the same year, by the people of Budapest. Then, the people of Prague (1968). Some people in the Crimea and Afghanistan too may not have stored the fondest memories of Russians in their minds.

Mr. Putin, if you care about “Great Russia”, please do not continue giving your country the name of an ogre. For what will all this killing, killing, killing, bring to you and your people?

Please remember that empires come and go, because that is the nature of politics. But the reputations of individuals never die, once established in history. Otherwise we would not remember Genghis Khan. Or King Herod The First; King Leopold The Second of Belgium, Adolf Hitler or Josef Stalin.

So, in the name of humanity – and also in the name of your family – please end this silly war, Mr. Putin. If you continue it, then, rather than create a “Great Russia” in the eyes of the world you will belittle Russia. For great nations, by definition, do not respond with anger every time they are “ribbed” by small nations.

BY Cameron Duodu