Existentially Yours

Ideally, people should live peacefully and united by things like democracy, the rule of law, education and healthcare. Ukrainians however, are united by famine, war and oppression.

In a previous blog Homesick, I mentioned how the current Russian war of aggression in Ukraine is the fourth genocidal event forced upon the people of this great country in the last century. A look at these events in more detail reveals why war, famine and oppression deeply scar the Ukrainian psyche and defines their national identity.

Existence is futile

First was the Great Russian famine of 1921-23 which killed an estimated one million Ukrainians. The famine was the worst on record and attributed to a combination of the Bolshevik revolution and resulting Russian civil war, brutal Communist grain policy and poor rail transportation links.

Barely ten years later, Ukrainians suffered another famine courtesy of Josef Stalin and the Soviet Union. The Great Holodomor of 1932-33 was a concerted effort by the Russian government to suppress Ukrainians and ultimately eliminate resistance to the Communist regime, including efforts to build an independent Ukrainian state. Sound familiar? Four million Ukrainians starved to death over two years and many thousands more left for greener pastures in North and South America.

World War II resulted in the largest extermination of Ukrainian people to date. The invasion of Ukraine and Russia by Nazi Germany and the resulting resistance killed an estimated 10 million Ukrainians including more than 600,000 Ukrainian Jews. A quarter of Ukraine’s population was lost during this third national calamity in only 24 years.

Seventy years of relative peace in Ukraine ended in 2014 when Donetsk, Luhansk and the Crimean peninsula were forcibly annexed by Russia. Tragically, on February 24th 2022, full-scale war returned in the form of Vladimir Putin’s illegal and unjustified “Special Operation”obsessed with the destruction of an independent Ukrainian nation. 

Never Again

This time it’s different. The Ukrainian people have had enough of Russian murderous aggression. Ukraine won’t go down without a fight, and they’re proving to be pretty damn good at it.

Every Ukrainian I’ve ever met has lost someone to famine or Russian aggression. Furthermore, every Ukrainian has family living beyond their homeland, those who were forced to leave horrendous conditions. It’s a terrible legacy, but it also fuels a shared strength to rally and declare in unity, “Not this time!”

Existential threats like the current Russian invasion define the Ukrainian people and unites them in a common cause. I’m proud to be just one on the millions who support Europe’s peace-loving eastern flank. Slava Ukraini!