EUGENE TSIBULENKO: Is the War in Ukraine the Doing of Putin or the Russian People?

As we reach the tenth year of the Russo-Ukrainian war, with one and a half years of full-scale invasion, the persisting claim that it is Putin’s war while the Russian people are somehow not involved raises a pressing question: Is there a limit to human infantilism? Moreover, this thesis is actively promoted by the Russian «liberal» pseudo-opposition and still finds popularity among our Western partners, writes lawyer and publicist Eugene Tsibulenko.

Let’s try to understand this issue. Firstly, when we mention the Russian people, we refer to the political community of people living in Russia, not their ethnic background. I won’t rely on numerous opinion polls that unambiguously show the vast majority of Russians supporting the war. Critics will immediately claim that one cannot trust opinion polls in Russia, completely ignoring the fact that these surveys are conducted among Russians both within and beyond the aggressor state.

Now, let’s examine the facts. As of now, the Ukrainian Prosecutor General’s Office has officially registered 98,063 (!) military crimes (yes, almost one hundred thousand, and this number grows every day; the actual figure can be checked on the official website of the authority, where an updated table with the number of crimes is available in English). These are mainly crimes documented on liberated territories. The situation on occupied territories can only be speculated, but the number can easily be multiplied by two or three.

The mass graves near Mariupol, visible from satellites, speak volumes. This is not just about supporting or not supporting the war; this is about war crimes. It is impossible to accuse the Ukrainian prosecution of manipulations because experts from the International Criminal Court and numerous international organizations are already involved in collecting information.

Given the size of the Russian military contingent, this means that practically every Russian soldier at all levels — from privates, sergeants, junior and senior officers to generals, and even the supreme commander-in-chief (conscripts, contract soldiers, regulars) — has individually or as part of their units committed military crimes. These are ordinary sons, brothers, fathers, and husbands.

If we look at the list of military crimes provided in Article 8 of the Statute of the International Criminal Court, we will see that there is no military crime not committed en masse by the Russian occupiers. These crimes range from killing civilians, rape, theft of toilets and dog kennels (and this is not an exaggeration) by ordinary soldiers to deliberate destruction of critical civilian infrastructure at the strategic level and the state policy of stealing children, for which, by the way, the International Criminal Court has already issued an arrest warrant for Putin.

Anyone who dares to claim that this is Putin’s war should simply pay attention to this statistic and stop denying the obvious. That’s all. Denying this in light of the aforementioned can only be done by a liar or, excuse me, a completely misguided person. As I have repeatedly written, Putin is not the cause of the society’s illness; he is the end product of this sick society.