The essence of the present military clash in Ukraine is that a sovereign country – Ukraine – was invaded and its territorial integrity and national sovereignty were brutally and illegally violated by a far more powerful and heavily armed, imperialist, and predatory neighbor, Russia.

That there are other layers to this conflict and an array of poltical actors involved, including the U.S. and the other NATO countries, who are indirect participants with their own agenda, shouldn’t be surprising. That’s the nature of wars in particular – remember WW II – and political struggles in general. The expectation of pure forms with the good guy on one side and the bad guy on the other, battling it out with everybody else on the sidelines innocently observing the clash, is a fool’s errand.

But the complicated nature of war in general and this war in particular shouldn’t obscure the fact that ordinary Ukranian people, fighting, dying, and running for safety, are the central protagonists in this war and the central demand of this war is to compel Russia to stand down and withdraw its troops.

And yet too many analysts on the left assign a minor role, sometimes no more than afterthought, to the Ukrainian people and their struggle for national independence. Instead the rollback and demilitarization of NATO or the neutralization of Ukranian fascists (sounds like Putin) or the profiteering of energy interests or the suspension of assistance from the Biden administration become the primary lens through which they see the war and its combatants.

Moreover, these same analysts fail to understand – captured by magical thinking – that none of their demands are remotely feasible while Russian boots are on the ground and Russian guns are blazing away in Ukraine.