It was ironic to me back in the beginning of 2014 when the Russo-Ukrainian War began, hearing people say that Ukraine is Russian, as if that was a justification for annexing Crimea in response to Euromaidan. I was reminded of Lenin’s policy of “korenization” in the 1920s which solidified Ukrainian language and culture around what was then a titular Soviet state. At that time Crimea was also especially multi-ethnic.
A decade later, Stalin would launch a campaign to Russify Ukrainians through mass deportation and starvation known as the “Holodomor” in which over 4-7 million would perish. And then, another decade later an additional 6-8 million would die. Ukraine had among the highest casualty rates in Europe, estimates of about 1/5 of the battle deaths in the Russian army were Ukrainian soldiers. While I know it is much more complex and nuanced than this here is my point.
Lest we forget…..1.6 million Ukrainian Jews perished in the Holocaust, the legacy of which persisted under the guise of Imperial Nostalgia….the reactionary movements yearning for the good old days that never really were. Etched in stone at every death camp memorial is the adage “Never Forget”…and yet. While our heads were buried in our phones, politics became a reality show and Democracy began to fail. We squabbled over masks and pronouns, the right to carry machineguns into Starbucks, feeding off the scraps of the wealthy while deconstructing Western Civilization in the classroom…we indeed, forgot.
We also denied the Ukrainian people the means to properly defend themselves while we handed over planes and missiles to our enemies.
2014 was a watershed moment in which Ukrainians showed a willingness, not only to define their own future on their own terms, but to sacrifice themselves for the ideals of Western Democratic values. Yet we have become so comfortable, so used to far away wars, drone strikes on weddings, annexation, and genocide…selling Democracy to the highest bidder…we have lost our way.
Stop the Rape of Ukraine! Never Again!