Ukraine’s Just War Against Russia’s Unjust Aggression

Photo by Remy Gieling on Unsplash

Anna Floerke Schied and Tobias Winright write:

The just war tradition is anchored in the principle of neighbour-love, which calls us to imitate the Good Samaritan and be the neighbour who acts out of love for those in dire need and distress (Luke 10:25-37).

As the twentieth-century Methodist ethicist Paul Ramsey asked, had the Samaritan arrived upon the scene while the crime was in progress, what might he have done? We think that he would, if possible, have intervened nonviolently; if necessary, though, perhaps he would have used force.

Ukraine has been invaded and its cities are being bombed into submission. It certainly has just cause and legitimate authority to resort to armed resistance in self-defence….

Ukraine has a right to defend itself. Not only is nonviolent resistance by citizens and others to an unjust and immoral invasion justified, but, in our view, with the outcome of the conflict still uncertain, armed resistance is also justified. Of course, Ukraine must abide by the principles of how a just war should be conducted that are enshrined in international law, including right intention towards establishing a just peace; not deliberately targeting civilians; and the humane treatment of prisoners of war. As for Nato’s responsibility, not only to its member nations’ citizens but also to neighbouring Ukrainians, we fervently pray for the virtue of prudence; as the Catechism says: “The evaluation of these conditions for moral legitimacy belongs to the prudential judgement of those who have responsibility for the common good.”

A joint letter that rejects a strategy of appeasing Putin:

For three weeks, Ukraine has been courageously repelling the military aggression of a treacherous and more powerful enemy. Ukraine’s strength has two sources. The first is the bravery of her soldiers and volunteers, who are defending their families, their homes, their native land. The second is the solidarity and assistance of her Western neighbors and the international community: they are supplying Ukraine with necessary resources, welcoming refugees, and weakening Russia with sanctions.

But at the same time, we hear individual voices in the West saying that Ukrainians should be more accommodating, sit down at the negotiating table and renounce NATO membership. These arguments are naïve at best. First of all, no one has offered Ukraine membership in NATO, even in the distant future – but this did not stop Putin from attacking her. Second, those who know Putin all say that he will not sit down to negotiations because negotiations are a search for compromise, and for him, compromise is tantamount to personal defeat. And third, he will not be satisfied with even a part of Ukraine, nor with its neutral status. He wants the total annihilation of Ukraine as a nation state and its transformation into a part of “Great Russia.”

And chiefly: who can believe Russian guarantees? After the violation of the Budapest memorandum, according to which Russia promised to respect the independence and territorial integrity of Ukraine? After Putin’s repeated assurances that he would not attack Ukraine? After his declarations that Ukraine must be liberated from the rule of “Nazis,” while the president of Ukraine is a Russian-speaking Jew whose grandfather spent all of World War II in the Red Army?

One cannot resist the analogy of the Munich accords of 1938. One cannot trust Putin any more than Hitler.

Steven Lee Myers and Stuart A. Thompson on Putin’s many lies:

In the tense weeks before Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, Russian officials denied that it planned anything of the sort, denouncing the United States and its NATO allies for stoking panic and anti-Russian hatred. When it did invade, the officials denied it was at war.

Since then, the Kremlin has cycled through a torrent of lies to explain why it had to wage a “special military operation” against a sovereign neighbor. Drug-addled neo-Nazis. Genocide. American biological weapons factories. Birds and reptiles trained to carry pathogens into Russia. Ukrainian forces bombing their own cities, including theaters sheltering children.

Disinformation in wartime is as old as war itself, but today war unfolds in the age of social media and digital diplomacy. That has given Russia — and its allies in China and elsewhere — powerful means to prop up the claim that the invasion is justified, exploiting disinformation to rally its citizens at home and to discredit its enemies abroad. Truth has simply become another front in Russia’s war.

Using a barrage of increasingly outlandish falsehoods, President Vladimir V. Putin has created an alternative reality, one in which Russia is at war not with Ukraine but with a larger, more pernicious enemy in the West. Even since the war began, the lies have gotten more and more bizarre, transforming from claims that “true sovereignty” for Ukraine was possible only under Russia, made before the attacks, to those about migratory birds carrying bioweapons.