Dr. Olexiy Haran

Head of Research, Professor of Politics 

18 October 2022

Ukraine`s war is Ghana`s war too

Source: Business24

By Dr Olexiy Haran

When Russian troops rolled across Ukraine's border in February, the world looked on in shock. Russia's invasion was an act of naked, unprovoked aggression: a huge muclear-armed state trying togobble up its smaller neighbour to satisfy a dictator's dreams of empire.

This is no abstract game of geopolitical chess. Ukrainians are dying every day. My own daughter was living in Kyiv when the Russian bombs began to fall, She fled to Vinnytsky where she again found herself huddled in a shelter. underground as explosions rocked the city.

Finally, in Lviv, far from the front line, on the border with Poland, she still could not escape the shelling. There are no safe havens in Ukraine anymore. Ghanaians know better than most what it is to have your fate decided by foreign powers. For over a century, Great Britain dictated Ghana's laws plundered your natural wealth. and stole your people.

This imperial arrogance was supposed to have been consimed to the dustbin of history when Africa threw off its chains, but now, in the midst of the 21st Century, Vladimir Putin is raising the putrid spectre of colonialism e again. once

Ghana's own history informed your leaders choices when they along with other nations that had suffered the scourge of colonialism, founded the Non Aligned Movement.

The values of that movement
- respect for territorial integrity and sovereignty; non-aggression; non-interference in domestic affairs: peaceful co-existence

- these are guiding lights that remain as important today as they ever were And Russia, through its brutal dismembering of my country, tramples on them all.

For this is not as Russian propaganda would have you believe, a Russian defensive war against NATO and the West. There were no NATO soldiers in Ukraine when Russia invaded and neither are there today. Ukraine belongs to no bloc.

Indeed, in 1994, after we declared independence and voluntarily gave up our arsenal of nuclear weapons inherited from the USSR, our territorial integrity was guaranteed jointly by the US UK and, ironically, Russia. Ukraine is a proudly independent sovereign state with a long history and vibrant, distinctive culture.

Coveting our land, Russian leaders have long sought to undermine our national identity, to airbrush Ukraine from the historical record. I grew up under the Soviets and remember how at the top Ukrainian university in Kyiv we endured Russification. forced to suppress our and speak only Russian. Now, in the territories under Russian control, the propagandists are running the same tired playbook, once more prohibiting the Ukrainian language. But what the Russians fail to understand is that Ukraine is more than a mere language or an ethnicity - it's an idea of freedom/

Since the war started, people across the country have flocked to the banner and taken up arms against the invaders. Working to Ukrainians. deliver humanitarian relief where the war is hottest, Ihave seen first- hand how ethnic Russians living in Ukraine. Muslim Crimean Tatars, Jewish, Ukrainians, are all fighting and dying for the Ukrainian Motherland.

Whilst the war is first and foremost a fight for Ukraine's survival it is no mere local skirmish,oneoflintleconsequence to Ghana. In actual fact, Ghana's future and that of the whole world are at stake. First of all, there is the economic fallout.

Russia's illegal actions have sent shockwaves across the world, plunging countries everywhere into economic crisis Ghana has felt the pain of this more than anyone, with prices spiralling beyond control and only the prospect of an IMF bailout to save the country from bankruptcy.

Secondly, Russia's choking off of Ukrainian grain exports has ensured that people across Africa are going hungry and famine stalks the continent once more. This is a grim echo of the Holodomor the man-made famine inflicted on Ukraine by the Soviet dictator Stalin, which killed millions of Ukrainians.

Now Putin is trying to inflict of tyranny similar horror across the world. On top of this, Putin flirts ever closer with nuclear disaster. deliberately shelling Zaporizhia power plant, the largest in Europe.

 A meltdown would send radioactive material swirling across the world, ruining crops and squeezing food supplies even more. But even without nuclear Armageddon, Russia's angels of death have already spread their wings across Africa.

Mercenaries from Putin's private army, the so-called Wagner Group operate with impunity in Ghana's own backyard. In Mali and in CAR these hired thugs are killing and raping whomever stands in their way and even those who don't.

Violence and the threat of violence is how the Putin regime engages with the world. If allowed to succeed in Ukraine, Russia will only be emboldened and Ghana is in no way immune. I am traveling to Ghana in October to meet with leaders across politics, business and civil society to understand better how Russia's war has hit Ghanaians and to explore how our two countries can better work together to stand up to the threat of tyranny.

I believe that there is much that unites the Ghanaian and Ukrainian peoples and together we can achieve great things. We share the same common values and pride in our heritage. Together with my colleagues from Ukrainian civil society we extend a hand of friendship and dream of a brighter future.

Dr Olexiy Haran is Professor of Political Science at the National University of Kyiv-Mohyla (UKMA) and Research Director on Ilko Kucheriv Democratic Initiatives Foundation. Since 2002 he has served as founding Director of the UKMA School for Policy Analysis.