I submitted this OpEd to a few publications..... no luck. So, I hope this gets out. You may share. I am appalled at the pundits and "experts" spouting the Russian and Soviet lines. For them, Ukrainians are not worth the attention, and the nation doesn't count. Disgusting. And the media still invite them on to comment. Check out https://www.facebook.com/emaidanua and other reputable Ukrainian sites.
UKRAINE’S NEVERENDING STORY
He waited until after the Olympics, as was expected. Then he struck. Putin proved what Ukrainians have been trying to tell the world for years, but no one would listen. Finally now, with such disastrous results, Ukrainians are saying “we told you so.”
One thing the world finally realized after the Maidan revolution is that Ukraine really is not Russia, and Russia is not Ukraine. These are two separate nations. But throughout Ukraine’s history, it has been a poor rich nation -- rich in geographical location, natural resources, and people, and poor because of greedy neighbours on all sides who wanted those riches, human and natural. Ukraine’s history has been one of invasion, occupation, persecution, and subjugation. The few bright lights were wars of independence, some successful for short periods of time until the invasions began anew. There were no wars of invasion by Ukraine towards any other nation, just defensive ones.
The occupiers, from the north, west, or southwest, treated the native Ukrainian population as inferior, banning the language (“it never was and never will be”), and yet appropriating the best of Ukrainian culture and science under their own umbrellas. Whether in tsarist or Soviet times, the people were not free, and were not free to be themselves, to be Ukrainian. With all the international political agreements and treaties, and with the Soviets/Russians being Allies at the time, Ukraine lost ethnographic territory after World War II. Ukrainians, living on their ancestral lands for ages and, not moving a step, now became Russian, Polish, Hungarian, Rumanian, and Slovak citizens. The political powers never bothered to ask them. As for the Crimea, it was not Khrushchev’s to “give” to Ukraine. When you steal something, is it yours to give? Tsarina Catherine II invaded Ukraine, including the Crimea. The majority of the population was Crimean Tatars whom, after World War II, Stalin deported to Central Asia. They have been returning to their ancestral home, and support Ukraine. The Russians began arriving there under Soviet times, to a place warmer than Russia.
Why is there a Russian-speaking part of Ukraine? It was not always so – Ukraine was Ukrainian. But Russians moved into eastern and southern Ukraine with Soviet industrialization, Stalin’s great project in the 1920s-1930s. Then most Russians moved into Ukraine for the prime real estate when empty Ukrainian villages conveniently became available. This was after millions upon millions of Ukrainians were forcibly starved to death during the Holodomor of 1932-33 as grain was being exported by the USSR from the breadbasket of Europe.
The pretext for the Russian invasion of the Crimea is a crock. It is the Sudeten issue all over again. Russians and Russian-speakers in Ukraine have not been persecuted, and do not need “protection.” Their language was never in danger. But they did not respect the foreign country in which they were and are living to learn Ukrainian. Whether during Soviet times or in independent Ukraine, Russian was a common and even dominant language in many areas. Russians strongly “implied” over the years that Russian is a “prestigious” language, and Ukrainian is “just a peasant language”.
The Soviet/Russian thing was and is such a misnomer. In theory, Russia was one of the fifteen equal Soviet Socialist Republics. But, as Orwell wrote, one was so much more equal than others. In fact, Orwell’s Animal Farm was based on collectivization and the Holodomor. When it benefited the Russians, Soviet equaled Russian. For them, the two terms were synonymous. But they should not have been. For example, it was not 20 million Russians who perished in World War II. It was approximately 20 million Soviets. Of those, about 10 million were Ukrainians, who perished between 1939-1945, killed by both the Nazis and the Soviets. Twenty percent of those who perished during the war were Ukrainian, the largest number of all the dead lost by a nation in the war.
In 1991, after the fall of the Soviet Union, the referendum on Ukraine had 90.3% of Ukrainians (in the whole country, incl. Crimea) voting for independence.
Pro-Russian propaganda has worked wonders in the world, especially in the media. For many “experts” and commentators, Ukraine still does not exist and has no right to exist. In the social media, the trolls are doing their job. Ukrainians still have to fight to get the truth out. It seems that in this doublespeak world, other peoples can fight wars of independence, but not when it comes to the Ukrainians. Maybe with this latest hellish action by Putin, the truth has come out and the world will understand. But it will not do much.
Orysia Tracz is a Winnipeg writer, translator, speaker, and interpreter.
The following two articles are germane: