While much of the world has jumped on the pro-Ukraine bandwagon, painting Vladimir Putin as a tyrant and dictator and seeing the conflict as one between the forces of tyranny and a democratic society, the reality is that there isn’t much difference between Ukraine and Russia. The only reason the whole world has rallied behind Ukraine is because successive Ukrainian governments have found it advantageous to themselves to play themselves off Russia, sucking up to the West since NATO sees Ukraine as a useful counterpoint to Russian influence in Eastern Europe.
The reality is that Ukraine is just as corrupt as Russia. According to US News & World Report, Ukraine’s corruption score was 33, versus Russia’s 30. By comparison, New Zealand and Denmark were the least corrupt, with a score of 88. In fact, the whole reason President Zelensky was elected in Ukraine was because of such widespread corruption within the political establishment, corruption that he has been unable to tame.
This isn’t a battle between a horribly corrupt regime and a country that is the epitome of Western democracy – it’s a battle between two corrupt post-Soviet states whose attempts at democratization and privatizations have largely stagnated. After all, remember that the US itself overthrew the democratically elected Ukrainian government in 2014, so Russia isn’t doing anything that hasn’t been done before.
The only good guys here are the innocent Ukrainian civilians who are caught in the crossfire. They unfortunately will become victims of their government’s inability to govern well. Yes, it sounds nice that civilians are being armed to fight off the invaders. But that means that every Ukrainian civilian could now be an armed combatant, and could be treated as such by Russian troops.
This is what happens when your country fails to arm itself for decades, even with the threat of Russia right next door. Now Ukrainian civilians are going to suffer for their government’s laziness and corruption. We can only hope that this war ends quickly, so that suffering is minimized. And this conflict should serve as a warning that wars are rarely ever black and white, and that very often neither side in a conflict can claim the moral high ground.