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A surprising comment from Foreign Affairs: After recapturing the Ukrainian territories, Zelenskiy will have a problem

A surprising comment from Foreign Affairs: After recapturing the Ukrainian territories, Zelenskiy will have a problem

In his article for “Foreign Affairs” Milakovsky stressed that “there is a spectrum of shared responsibility, from direct betrayal to passive participation.”

Zelensky declaration

Our approach has always been and remains clear and fair: if someone has not served the occupiers and betrayed Ukraine, there is no reason to consider such a person a collaborator – he declared in October President Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky.

In Milakovsky’s opinion, Ukrainian the leader will have to consider striking a balance between penal and reintegration measures in regions such as the Donbass, where much of the administration remained in office during the occupation. Since its withdrawal from Kiev and other regions of northern Ukraine in March, Russia has focused on the occupation of the Southeast.

Putin he calls this region – a vast stretch of steppe and coastline that the tsars wrested from the hands of the Ottoman sultans in the 18th century – Novorossiya. Despite the fact that ethnic Ukrainians have always constituted the majority there, Putin is obsessed with the idea that it is a lost Russian province, “Milakovsky described.

Complex national identity

As he pointed out, National identity in the Southeast is very complex, and that is a lesson Putin should have learned as early as 2014.

During the first days of the occupation, the pro-Russian residents, who wanted to support the occupation army, were mainly retired people feeling nostalgic for the Soviet Union, the specialist noted. However, with the introduction of a new normality in the form of Russian rule, the more demographically diverse pro-Russian population began to show up in the streets and squares, waving flags on Russia Day and sticking to their cars with the letter Za russian symbol of invasion.

The frequency of those who welcomed the Russian occupation with open arms varies by occupied territory in the Southeast in a way that generally reflects the differences that arose in 2014, Milakovsky noted.

Sympathy for Russia

“Sympathy for Russia is greatest in remote villages and depressing mining towns, where economic optimism is rare” – assessed the author.

“Local residents who supported Russia fled Kharkiv Oblast and Donbass in the aftermath of the Ukrainian military counteroffensive, blocking border crossings to Russia. A treacherous bureaucratic elite, driving expensive imported cars, and people crammed into Soviet vintage vehicles took part in this emigration,” suggesting that supporters of Russia with modest incomes also fled. Some explained to Western journalists that they feared reprisal and worried about their collaborators in the Kherson region, “Milakovsky wrote.

In his opinion, these are not unfounded fears. Many Ukrainians demand that those who collaborated with the Russians be punished. The law adopted by Ukrainian parliament in March, it crimes cooperation with the aggressor state. The only occupational categories excluded are doctors, emergency workers and municipal workers. Other government employees who remain in office may be tried. This is the case, for example teachers and social workers.

Another potential source of trauma

Peace activist Almut Rochowanskiwho has been working with activists in Ukraine since 2014, said that some teachers and social workers continue to do their jobs because they fear that no one else could serve victims of domestic violence and rape, two crimes that dominate the war zone. Ukrainian activists are also in favor of punishing local officials who collaborated with the Russian occupiers.

“The identification and punishment of collaborators by the Ukrainian government must be carried out in a transparent and responsible manner so that they do not become another source of trauma for the war-overwhelmed population. Ukraine should avoid sudden collective penalties against an entire category of alleged collaborators, granting them the right to appeal and taking into account Exceptional Circumstances. Just managed, such a process can strengthen accountability, integrity and the rule of law in regions emerging from the nihilist Russian occupation, “concluded Milakovsky.

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