My Answer to Canadian Friends Worrying About The War in Ukraine
By Halyna Mokrushyna
Mar 1, 2022 - 6:03:28 PM
Mon, 28 Feb 2022
Ukrainians shelter in soviet era metro / air raid shelter. Photo: AP
We, the NCW editorial team, welcome back Halyna, who, as one of the earliest contributors to NCW, returns to share her thoughts and insights on current events in Ukraine.
By Halyna Mokrushyna
I see pictures of my fellow Ukrainians sleeping in subway stations in Kyiv and Kharkiv, with their kids, pets, blankets, warm clothes. These subway stations were built as bomb shelters during Soviet times, to protect civilians in case of war. They were built in the country in which Ukrainians and Russians were brotherly peoples, and the vast majority did not divide friends and family by ethnic origin.
Now Ukrainians are running to these bomb shelters because Russian troops are advancing towards Kyiv, as I write this, and Russians are already in Kharkiv/Kharkov, and I see videos of local people greeting Russian soldiers as liberators. I also watch videos of a Russian soldier captured by Ukrainians. He is standing with his hands tied behind his back and I hear a male voice ordering him to say: 'Glory to Ukraine'. He refuses and says instead: "Glory to Russia".
In one of his addresses to the Ukrainian nation, the former comedian turned president of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky, responding to Vladimir Putin's words about the pro-Nazi power holders in Ukraine, said that there are no Nazis in Ukraine. Zelensky said that he himself is a grand son of a Soviet soldier who saved the world from Nazis. And he said this in Russian.
Yet it is under his presidency that Ukraine became a monolingual country when, according to the new law on languages, the Russian language was banned from schools, universities, public spaces. The Russian language that is a mother tongue for millions of Ukrainians. And it is under Zelensky's presidency that official ceremonies honoring the Nazi collaborator, nationalist leader Bandera were held throughout Ukraine.
Most Ukrainians voted for Zelensky in 2019 because he promised to end the war against Donbass and bring piece to Ukraine. The only way to achieve this was through the implementation of the Minsk agreements, signed in February 2015 between Ukraine and the break-away republics of Donetsk and Lugansk after difficult and tense negotiations between the Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel, President of France François Hollande, President of Russia Vladimir Putin, and the President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko. Essentially, these agreements provided for an autonomous status of Donbass within Ukraine, with Donbass' right to keep Russian as the official language, to develop close economic ties with neighbouring Russian regions, to have their own judges and local forces of order. The Minsk agreements were signed by the OSCE] Ambassador Heidi Tagliavini, second President of Ukraine Leonid Kuchma, the Ambassador of the Russian Federation to Ukraine Mikhail Zurabov, and the leaders of Donetsk People's Republic Alexander Zakharchenko and the leader of the Lugansk People's Republic Igor Plotnitsky.
It was a compromise, and as any compromise, nobody was totally satisfied with it. But these agreements were a road map to end the civil war in Ukraine, where the fighting sides were supported by the West, on one side, and by Russia, on the other, to prevent the escalation of the conflict on the global level between the collective West and Russia. Yet Ukraine did not keep its part of the agreement. Year after year, Russia has been waiting on Ukraine watching how Ukrainian army shelled Donetsk and Lugansk, killing thousands of civilians, watching how in Kyiv the post-Euromaidan government was adopting laws glorifying Nazi collaborators, condemning the Soviet past and Soviet achievements, banning the Russian language.
Moscow has appealed many times to Paris and Berlin to put pressure on Kyiv. Nothing but evasive promises and false assurances came from the high offices in Europe and Washington.
And yet the West ignited the flame in Ukraine by giving Ukrainians the same false promises to welcome them in the European Union, to accept them in NATO, while knowing all too well that these promises will never be kept. And it is the West who said nothing when neo-Nazi paramilitary was driving the violence on Euromaidan, when multicultural bilingual Ukraine was burning in flames on Maidan, and when Kyiv sent troops in April 2014 to crush the Russian spring in Donetsk and Lugansk
And now Ukrainians are paying with blood and death for their naivety and the lack of understanding of the fundamental geopolitical forces that shape the world we live in. They wanted a better life and European salaries. Who can blame them? But the road to that life leads through pluralism, tolerance, respect for law and the opinions of others. And all these democratic values that the West proclaims so loudly and proudly were not embraced by all in Ukraine.
There is so much to say about the causes of this tragedy. But I will just add one comparison for my Canadian friends: Ukraine is the neighbour of one of the greatest political and military powers of the world, exactly as Canada has an elephant neighbour down south. And Canada almost always follows in the footsteps of the US when it comes to foreign policy and military actions abroad. The US is also the biggest trade partner of Canada. Can you imagine all the repercussions if these ties were suddenly cut?
Everybody contributed to the eruption of the war in Ukraine. It will probably end by the victory of Russian troops. From what I have seen, they deploy all the efforts to spare civilians in Ukraine. Russians did not want this war. But the collective West, lead by Washington, cornered them. And they pushed back. For Russians, it is a defensive move, their last stand before NATO bombs would fall on the Russian territory. When the war in Ukraine will be over, Russia will take necessary steps to ensure that the new government of Ukraine will swear neutrality, just as it was before Euromaidan. And I hope that this time people who will come to power in Ukraine will realize how important it is to be inclusive, tolerant, and democratic.
This is but a simple outline of the factors that led to the tragedy we are witnessing now. I could go on about the West's interventions in Libya, Syria, Iraq. But you get the picture. Right now, European countries, one after another, are sending weapons to Ukraine. They will not send troops. And the American war hawks will fight against Russia till the last Ukrainian. History has not taught them any lesson: Russians will fight till the end. Despite harsh economic sanctions, closure of air spaces, exclusion from sport events, despite any efforts to make Russia a pariah state. They will fight because no matter what we think, they consider Ukrainians their brothers.
And the awakening will come to Ukraine. Right now, I can only pray that it comes with minimal casualties and suffering. I am a Ukrainian, and it hurts. I am half-Russian as well, through my father. I have never lived in Russia, but I grew up in the Soviet Union, reading great Ukrainian and Russian literature, learning by heart Ukrainian and Russian poetry. I love Russian people and Russian culture. And I know for certain that one day, sooner than later, when canons fall silent and the dust settles, Ukrainians and Russians will become good neighbours again. And peace will reign on my native land. And Ukraine will become again a country where all are treated equally and respectfully, no matter the language, where the Soviet history is rehabilitated, where Ukrainians have decent salaries and prosper on their own land and do hot have to leave to work on strawberry fields in Poland or on construction sites in Italy, Greece, Spain. To build such a prosperous country, Ukrainians need Russia's help, and good relations with the West. This is so obvious to anybody with a common sense and sober thinking. Once the war is over, it will be up to Ukrainians to understand it and decide for themselves what country they want to build.
About: Halyna Mokrushyna, Ph.D., is an independent researcher and journalist. Her research interests include the challenges of the post-Soviet transition in Ukraine; social and economic inequality in the post-Soviet context; historical and cultural divisions within Ukraine; social memory and politics of memory; relations between Russia and Canada and the broader context of the post-cold war world and relations between the East and the West. Her articles on these subjects were published on Counterpunch, Truthdig, and Truthout websites.
Editors' Note: While we don't necessarily share the views we publish on New Cold War, we do attempt to provide readers with a range of views. This is because your right to make your own mind up depends on your being fully informed.
Comment: Also to other Canadian friends, none should look away from their current backyard, look away from Nazi skeletons in the Canadian closet, nor what is in plain view as reminders that most people pay no attention to.
Canada has a momumental Ukrainian Nazi problem
From 2014, join CrossTalk that looks to fascist whitewashing:
SOTT EXCLUSIVE: U.S., Canada, Ukraine whitewashing fascism - CrossTalk
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