In the 15 months of full-scale war in Ukraine, the West has learned that Ukrainians are courageous warriors, patriots, and formidable military strategists.
Gone are the days when the world only associated Ukraine with post-Soviet corruption endemic to Russian satellite states.
The current war has displaced almost 13 million people.
It has also displaced people’s value system.
This change in perception is predicated on Ukraine’s surprising ability to mobilize and fight off Russia’s unprovoked and savage aggression.
The Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU) showed the world that Ukrainians are worthy of their sovereignty, and Russian military is at best not measuring up to world power status and — at worst — is outdated, unmotivated, brutal and brutish. Many politicians in Ukraine who had high popularity ratings before Feb. 24, 2022, have not maintained them during the war.
The new Ukraine has embraced a utilitarian approach to its political, social, and economic agenda. The impact of social networks, Telegram, and YouTube channels has increased in a myriad of ways.
The positive results of state mandated de-oligarchization have become clearly visible.
There is a demand for military presence in Ukraine’s political life, pointed out Ukrainian General Yuri Dumansky in one of our many conversations.
This writer regularly speaks with Ukraine’s top brass as well as the businessmen that chose to stay in Kyiv to serve their country, despite options to relocate to Europe, Turkey, or the UAE.
Both groups have embraced the new culture of military style pragmatism and accountability that previously did not exist in Ukrainian society.
And these are far from all the new cultural traits that have vividly manifested in Ukraine over the last one year and three months of war.
In this context lies the noteworthy revelation that Soviet-style gangster authority is being scorched out of Ukraine.
This may seem paradoxical for a country at war, where marauders and foreign agents scavenge for opportunities. Yet, this is exactly what is happening in Ukraine now, and we as Americans ought to take note.
Consequently, the view of Ukraine as a corrupt post-Soviet republic has shifted.
Now Ukraine is a worthy friend. It's reinventing itself.
Given that Ukraine has become a country at war, there is a rejection of the old post-Soviet "way of life."
The same happened in Georgia under President Saakashvili’s first term, when that nation purged its organized crime establishment known as the "thieves in law" developing from the old Stalin gulag culture.
These Georgian Godfathers aka "Thieves" eventually moved to other countries — Greece, UAE and so on. They left Georgia because they faced a harsh government ultimatum — leave or be marginalized through the stern enforcement of the rule of law.
The same recently happened in Ukraine with the oligarchs, many of whom have been highlighted in Ukraine’s media under the moniker, the Monaco Battalion, with an investigative feature that tracked various toxic Ukrainians lounging on their yachts in Monaco.
In principle, there were two strata that were widespread throughout the post-Soviet times: the "thieves in law," who lived by the established criminal codes known in Russian as the "understandings," and the self-styled "bandit-athletes"; both were trying to pose as important "decision-makers" in business and politics.
This lasted quite a long time.
But, today it looks like in Ukraine there is not only de-oligarchization, but also de-banditization — spawned by its transition towards a military oriented society.
The organized criminal world is being repelled by Ukrainian society, and military structures are coming to the forefront in terms of influence.
Power in Ukraine is now in the hands of the military and government, not oligarchs and bandits, points out on background a Ukrainian general that I became friends with.
There are remnants of the latter, of course, as the cultural reset escalates.
Cultural stains from years of Soviet colonialism do not disappear instantly, tells me a high ranking SBU official that I got to know.
Yet, the war is shaping values of accountability and patriotism that supplant those of criminal rule through authority figures and expediters who are often called "moorchila," referring to their role as criminal negotiators that communicate in the Soviet prison jargon to persuade parties and mediate a dispute.
People who do not participate in defending their country, but instead sit wrapped in blankets in cafes, drink vodka and intimidate bystanders, are no longer accepted.
Ukraine of today has no tolerance for them or what they represent.
Yes, they can still influence at a ministerial level, bribe low level officials.
However, they are now an anachronism.
They are remnants of the past, tumbleweeds in a nation at war.
They will have to either reinvent themselves or leave Ukraine.
Similarly, people who used to “rule”, but left Ukraine during the war — a country they were looting — it will be very difficult to come back.
The war has led to many deaths.
At the same time, it changed the mentality of Ukrainians.
Therefore, the authority of all these gangsters is no longer respected, points out the longest serving Attorney General of Ukraine and head of the Association of Attorneys of Ukraine, Svetoslav Piskun.
Even when this war ends, Ukraine, will operate by the example of Israel, where the military service and lifestyle are paramount.
Western experts this writer speaks with at political think tanks and academia seem to hold this view. Of course, it is possible that many of the Ukrainian women and men who excel in the military will go into business, perhaps political or cultural life.
Yet, the military complex in Ukraine will always be venerated and receive deferential treatment.
No matter how Ukraine is rebuilt after the war, it will always be a military power. The war has changed Ukrainian people's value system. Money --- as the Soviets used to say --- cuts steel.
Ukraine was the quintessential illustration of this cliché.
It was. Yuri Vanetik is a private investor, lawyer and political strategist based in California. Read Yuri Vanetik's Reports — More Here.
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