This is a photograph which in many ways sums up Putin’s barbaric invasion of Ukraine; a war in which brave Ukrainian soldiers are gradually getting the upper hand against the aggressors. And in this photograph, we see a Ukrainian soldier because he is wearing the Ukrainian flag on his body armour. That flag, the blue and yellow, has become symbolic of the fight of good against evil. And evil it is: retreating Russian troops are killing civilians, women and children and leaving mines in their bodies.
The world is supportive of Ukraine as they defend themselves against evil. The photograph carries mixed emotions. The soldier is Ukrainian and therefore he is doing good in defending his country but he is carrying an iconic weapon of destruction, the AK-47.
And climbing over that weapon and him are a couple of kittens; the paradigm image of innocence. Innocence juxtaposed against the opposite: premeditated human violence.
I see the softness and gentleness of innocence climbing over the metallic hardness of an AK-47 which represents needless human violence and which kills the innocents and the vulnerable.
The soldier is smiling because he is enjoying the moment. I should think that this little moment did him some good. It made him feel calmer for a while. It made him feel happier and perhaps he forgot in that moment what he was called upon to do; to risk his life in defending his country.
And I wouldn’t expect this sort of picture to be taken if the soldier was a Russian. They seem to be perfectly happy to relentlessly shell apartment blocks in which there are kittens and cats and dogs and puppies. And to shell elderly people who’ve lived in their home for many years, perhaps most of their life. They’ve seen their homes blown up and destroyed in front of their eyes if they survived.
That said, Putin has deceived his troops at the outset into believing that they were on an exercise rather than an invasion of an entire European country. This is a major reason why his young conscript troops are suffering a catastrophic loss of morale. They don’t want to fight Ukraine because a significant percentage of Ukrainian citizens are of Russian origin. These young Russian conscripts have been asked to kill their brethren, people of the same race. No wonder some of them have abandoned their arms and their vehicles and walked off to Belarus.
I would expect quite a few Russian soldiers to have changed into civilian clothes and to pretend that they are Ukrainian refugees. But they’ve been called upon to destroy the innocent and the vulnerable. It is truly an act of evil. We are told that Putin has cancer. Perhaps he is dying. Perhaps this forced his hand to invade Ukraine at this time. May be die a painful death as soon as possible.
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