SIX MONTHS after Russia launched its brutal invasion, Ukraine remains defiant and free.
Few predicted the war would last this long, the Kremlin expected the Ukrainian government to run and its armed forces to crumble within days.
And when Kyiv was on the verge of being surrounded in March, when terror engulfed the nation, it seemed those predictions were about to be realised.
Instead, thousands of Ukrainian soldiers and civilians sacrificed their lives for an idea more powerful than any bullet or bomb – the right to be free.
As Ukrainians have said all along, this war is not about Russia vs Ukraine, it is about the ability of a sovereign nation to choose its own future, unhindered by threats from imperial tyrants.
Today, August 24, millions of Ukrainians celebrate their country’s independence day, an occasion marking its transition from Soviet occupation to a proud nation which has earned the right to stand tall in the international community.
The cost of standing up to Russia’s invasion has been enormous. The war crimes are well documented.
In occupied Ukrainian territory, where Russians have raised Soviet flags bearing the hammer and sickel, children have been raped in front of their parents, prisoners of war have been castrated with their hands bound, and civilians have been slaughtered.
Odd then, under these circumstances, that some on the British left are crying out against western countries supporting Ukraine.
Former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, for one, criticised the British government for sending military equipment which is preventing Russia from taking more Ukrainian land.
Ukraine has also been blamed for rising energy costs, and accused of not putting up enough resistance despite gaining hold of modern weapons.
It is a privileged and peculiar position indeed, to welcome refugees who have lost everything, many of them women and children, and then tell them their cause is not worth supporting.
In reality, there is resistance all around in Ukraine, and as the war enters its second phase there is a real chance of reclaiming occupied territory.
Almost daily, there are reports of partisans attacking Russian troops, civilians rallying, saboteurs targeting military infrastructure behind enemy lines, even Ukrainian flags being flown in the face of the occupiers.
Is that not resistance? Is that spirit and drive to be free not something worth backing?
As difficult as it will be, Ukrainian soldiers will once again have to put their lives on the line to engage the Russian occupying force in close combat.
Without doubt, this will see hundreds if not thousands more die. But Ukraine has no other choice, and all of this could be avoided if Russia pulled out its troops today.
The alternative could see stalemate, giving Vladimir Putin another chance to build up his strike force and attack Ukraine again.
Ukraine can win this war with western support, and it has already proved itself more than capable of taking on the Russian army and winning.
Now is not the time to question or delay on sending military hardware or financial aid, a choice which would only embolden the Russian soldiers causing untold misery.
It is the right thing to back President Zelensky and the Ukrainian people to the hilt, giving this country seeking democracy a chance to defeat the forces of dictatorship which belong firmly in the past.
Ukraine won’t ever, can’t ever, be the same nation it was before this bloody and unjustified attack.
But whether it becomes a place of freedom or tyranny is still undecided, the West can and should be doing everything it can to ensure the right result is found.
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