image caption: Gurmukh Singh

The Bravery of the Ukrainian People

As a journalist put it, the world has been awed by the bravery of the Ukrainian people. Many Ukrainian women from war zones moved with their children to adjoining countries like Poland leaving their men - husbands and sons over 18 &ndash behind. Some mothers carry their children over the borders, pass them on to safe hands of relatives and friends and return to their homes to fight the invading Russians. That indeed is show of determination to fight to the end. The children look confused and frightened but they do not cry and seem to take courage from their parents. It is as if they understand what their parents have to do for their future.

Many old people stayed behind and younger women have joined the war as soldiers. Others provide the fighters with food, medicine and other essential commodities or simply moral support. Journalists agree that Ukrainians have gone to unimaginable lengths to protect themselves and their country. The Ukraine war has created many role s like President Zelenskyy. He chose to stay and lead his people. appearing defiantly and daily before world journalists and parliaments.

When asked how the Ukrainians are able to fight with such courage against heavy odds, an Ukrainian field commander said that the invading Russians are paid soldiers while the Ukrainians are fighting for their land and freedom.

Whatever the Russian case for supporting Russian-speaking Ukrainians in the eastern Donbass region, or pushing back the perceived creeping NATO military threat, they cannot justify invading Ukraine on such a massive scale, killing civilians and destroying sprawling cities as part of their military or geo-political strategies. Even after allowing for an element of tactical propaganda as part of warfare by western media, what we see on our TV screens cannot be justified in the 21st century. Putin expected an easy victory and hoped to divide Europe with the invasion. However, he has managed to do the opposite: more countries are now applying for NATO membership.

The Ukrainian people are fighting for their survival while the world is watching. The geo-political stakes for Russia and the Western powers are high. Russia and NATO - North Atlantic Treating Organisation which includes America &ndash have thousands of nuclear bombs which can destroy the world many times over. The danger of escalation to a nuclear war was never greater. Due to the global impact of the war and intensive coverage made possible by advances in media technology and reporting networks, no war in human history has been watched more closely than the horrors of this war. Scenes of all aspects of the war, including military and civilian casualties and destruction of sprawling cities, are brought to our TV.screens.

According to Prof Cynthia Pury, a psychologist, people show courage when they choose to fight and risk their lives because they have something worthwhile fighting for. It is that free choice which moves courage from a thing that people do into the category of being a virtue. It is selfless courage to fight for a community and for doing what is right. Such courage against seemingly impossible odds has great societal implications.

Today, in the 21st century, the Ukrainians remind the Sikhs of their own freedom struggle against the invaders from the North-West and the mighty Mughal Empire in the 18th century. We empathise with the Ukrainian people.

Gurmukh Singh OBE

Principal Civil Servant Retd.