Timothy Snyder: Ukraine holds back apocalypse and famine

March 5,2024 1614
Timothy Snyder: Ukraine holds back apocalypse and famine

Ukraine’s resilience in the war against Russian aggression averts apocalypse and global famine, writes Timothy Snyder, an American historian specializing in the history of Central and Eastern Europe, the Soviet Union, and the Holocaust, on his Substack blog.

The resistance of the Ukrainian armed forces and Ukrainian civil society is holding back every form of modern catastrophe.  Ukrainians are preserving an order established after the Second World War, but also pointing the way towards a brighter future.  Their tremendous daily efforts have pushed the world toward a set of better alternatives we would all lack without them.  But they need us at their back,” the historian writes.

An elementary form of apocalypse is genocide, Snyder says. “Russia is making war on Ukraine with the genocidal goal of eliminating Ukrainian society as such.  It consciously fights its war with its own national minorities, and takes every opportunity to spread racist propaganda (including about African-Americans). … Ukrainian resistance, though, has put the backbone into “never again.”  Where Ukraine holds territory, and that is most of the country, people are saved.  Ukrainians have shown that a genocide can be halted – with the right kind of help. When we cut off that help, as we have done, we enable genocide to proceed.

Global hunger is an important scenario for catastrophic global suffering in an age of drastic inequality and resource strife, Snyder writes. “Here no country is more important than Ukraine.  For more than two thousand years, since the ancient Greeks, the fertile soil of Ukraine has fed neighboring lands and civilizations. Ukraine today is capable of feeding something like half a billion people. Russia’s war against Ukraine has also been a hunger war.  Russia has mined farms, flooded others by destroying a critical dam, targeted grain-storage facilities, and blockaded the Black Sea to prevent exports. In 2023, Ukraine was able to win an astonishing victory, clearing the western Black Sea of the Russian navy, and opening lanes for export of grain.”

Furthermore, humanity has been rightfully concerned about the issue of global warming for half a century. “Whether we get through the next half century will depend upon a balance of power between those who make money from fossil fuels and lie about their consequences and those who tell the truth about science and seek alternative sources of energy. Vladimir Putin is the most important fossil fuel oligarch. Both his wealth and his power arise from natural gas and oil reserves. His war in Ukraine is a foretaste of the struggle for resources we will all face should Putin and other fossil fuel oligarchs get the upper hand,” the historian writes.

If Ukraine is abandoned and loses, there is little chance of another opportunity to restrain the fossil fuel oligarchy and save the climate, argues Snyder. The way to prevent all catastrophes is to help Ukraine win, says the historian.

Read the full text by following the link.

Cover: Kostiantyn Huzenko/Global Images Ukraine via Getty Images

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