Emerging reports of a pattern of Russian atrocities shows why Ukraine must fight to liberate its occupied areas, and why the international community must help.
The patterns of behaviour by the occupying troops now emerging as Ukraine liberates areas around Kyiv have direct implications for how the war between the two countries can - and must - be ended. It is now harder for Ukraine's friends and supporters to ignore what Ukrainians - and other countries bordering Russia - have known from the start: that they are defending themselves against a war of annihilation.
Organized mass murder of civilians in the occupied areas of Ukraine is not only a natural function of the manner in which Russia fights wars. It also flows entirely logically from the image of Ukraine that has been relentlessly inculcated by Russian domestic propaganda over the course of a decade.
Ordinary Ukrainians with a belief in their own country and its independence from Russia upend the entire foundation of what Russians have been told about Ukraine, simply by inconveniently existing.
The atrocities Russian troops commit as part of Moscow's genocidal assault must be turned into Ukraine's most powerful weapon for winning the war, by ensuring its Western friends find no excuse for slackening munitions support or pushing Kyiv to make concessions in order to end it.
Despite the ongoing destruction of Ukraine's economy and the appalling trauma to innocent civilians under direct occupation or indirect shelling and blockade, paradoxically the greatest danger for Ukraine is an end to the fighting at this point. Emerging evidence of how the civil population is suffering makes it all the more vital to liberate Russian-held areas. But this is far from the only danger a ceasefire would bring.
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