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Cemetery of Illusions

Oleksandr Voznyak, MD President of Ukrainian Association of Neurosurgeons

Thirty years ago, Ukraine withdrew from the Soviet Union and declared its independence. Today, it is the youngest democracy in Europe, building its own model of a democratic society. Proof of this is the presence in Ukraine of a large number of political parties, the statutory right of citizens to free will – both ensured by regular democratic government elections. During the short democratic history of Ukraine, 5 Presidents have changed, 9 compositions of the Parliament have been re-elected, and the government composition has changed many times. If, after the collapse of the USSR, Ukraine chose a democratic way of development with the Euro-Atlantic vector of building the political system, its northeastern neighbour Russia has taken a completely different path. The last decades have been marked by the development of a totalitarian fascist regime. In this country, only the illusion of a multi-party system was created, but in fact, power is concentrated in the hands of one person, supported by a narrow circle of criminal-oligarchic clans. For the past 22 years, the country has been ruled by one dictator, and the political majority in parliament has always been the party under his control. Over the last decades, Russia, with the help of a carefully designed and well-funded disinformation system, has built a system of illusions for its citizens, the people of Ukraine, and the world. Thus, the 2021 annual budget for mass media was 102.8 bn rubles ($1.37 bn). Russia controlled a large number of media in Ukraine, Europe, and the world: actively working openly promotional TV channels “Russia Today”, “Sputnik”, and others. Under the guise of false misinformation, Russia continued to pursue its aggressive policy: Transnistria, Abkhazia, Chechnya, South Ossetia, Crimea, and parts of Ukraine's Donetsk and Luhansk regions were seized. Russia's violation of the security memorandum in 2014 should have been a powerful signal of a global threat to the world. Unfortunately, both Ukraine and the world continued to live in an illusory nature created by the invader. It is the underestimation of potential threats from the aggressor, and the lack of real steps to deter it, that led to an unprecedented insolence and inhumanity invasion of Ukraine. Among the illusions that Russia managed to impose on its citizens, the Ukrainian political society, the entire world community at the time of the invasion of Ukraine, I would like to highlight the following:

  • Illusion of Ukrainian national and European collective security

  • Ukrainians and Russians are brothers on the basis of mutual history and similar mentality

  • Russia is a civilized democratic country

  • Ukraine is an economically and militarily weak country and cannot resist massive external aggression

  • Russian aggression to Ukraine is a local conflict

  • The world can stay aside from the Ukrainian – Russian war that persists since 2014

The war that Russia launched against Ukraine on February 24, 2022, at one moment destroyed the illusory world that the aggressor country had been building for decades. The audience of their false propaganda remained only in Russia itself. And today, it is unlikely that there will be a sane person in the world who would believe the Kremlin's narratives. Unfortunately, Ukraine has realized that it will not be able to count on large-scale military support from NATO or individual countries: guarantees of its security have remained only on paper. The Ukrainian people have shown the world their unity and their will to freedom from Russian enslavement. Over the past eight years, Ukraine has managed to create a modern combat-ready army that successfully resists the aggressor, with an army exceeding Ukraine’s in number and equipment. In order to reduce casualties among the military, Ukraine introduced programs to provide them with personal protective equipment (primarily helmets and bulletproof vests), increase the professionalism of the military, and change the tactics of hostilities. Along with modernization of the army in Ukraine, the system of medical care was significantly changed: it was rebuilt according to NATO standards. A system of effective interaction between military and civilian medical institutions has been established, a system for transporting and triaging the wounded has been re-established, and many civilian doctors have received special training in the treatment of wartime injuries. As a result, today, despite intense hostilities, the hospitals of the Armed Forces of Ukraine are not overloaded and the situation is far from the epidemic of combat injuries that took place in 2014. As the events of recent days show, Russia is not going to stop the war, but is ready to escalate the conflict and spread aggression to European countries, especially the Baltic states and Poland. We should not forget about the aggressor's nuclear arsenal, which is managed by a person with an unhealthy psyche. I would like to emphasize the inhumane and openly genocidal methods of Russia's warfare. After unsuccessful attempts to demoralize and destroy the Ukrainian army, the enemy launched an outright genocide of the Ukrainian people: houses, hospitals, maternity hospitals, and social infrastructure facilities were deliberately shelled. As a result, Ukraine is suffering huge casualties among the civilian population. Repeated accounts of sanitary automobile and humanitarian convoys, as well as the use of vehicles with medical symbols for the transportation of weapons and sabotage groups were noted. The last illusion of the aggressor about a possible victory over Ukraine is melting every day thanks to the heroism of the Ukrainian people and the unprecedented support of the whole world. P.S. The whole civilized world believes in the victory of Ukraine, but I would like to warn against the tendency to build new illusions, namely:

  • Ukraine will be rebuilt in the near future

  • Nothing will be changed in the world after this war

  • Russia will stop aggresion, say “sorry”, and go on with its international policy aheaded by the same dictator

Unfortunately, Ukraine has a long and difficult path ahead for the post-war reconstruction – our consolidated nation is ready for it! Regardless of how this war ends: the victory of Ukraine or the victory of humanity in World War III, the world will be different and will create preventive mechanisms in the future, that will stop the uncontrolled militarization of separate countries. And one last thing: I cannot imagine Russia's existence in the post-war world as it is today: this country must be demilitarized, devoid of nuclear weapons and pay reparations for many years to countries affected by its aggressions.

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