The appearance of a mural in Melbourne of Russian and Ukrainian soldiers hugging is a chilling attempt to diminish the reality of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and draw a false moral equivalence between the aggressor and the victim.
“This is not a conflict with two equal combatants. This a valiant attempt by a beleaguered nation to defend itself from unwarranted and illegal aggression and violence,” said Mr Stefan Romaniw OAM, Co-Chair of the Australian Federation of Ukrainian Organisations (AFUO).
“To imply that Ukraine should hug its oppressor is a profound insult which detracts from the bigger issue – the brutality of the Russian army, its treatment of civilian populations, its war crimes, and its unwillingness to negotiate unless Ukraine gives up its independence and territorial sovereignty,” he said.
“What would people think if a mural featured a rapist and a victim hugging? Wouldn’t that offend any decent person’s conviction that to ask a victim to excuse their rapist while the crime is still occuring, not been acknowledged, and not been atoned for, is wrong?” he said.
“Ukrainians would dearly love peace. They want to go back to their homes, their jobs and their lives. But until Russia stops its brutal war in Ukraine and withdraws from areas it has occupied, how can true peace be obtained?” said Mr Romaniw.
“Trying to be ‘even-handed’ and accepting a false narrative that ‘all we need is peace’ in this case supports evil. It endorses Russia’s actions and enforces on Ukraine an obligation to accept attempts to destroy it,” he added.