On Ukraine, March 2014

It’s hard to write about anything but the situation in Ukraine today. And it’s equally hard *to* write, but I will.

I’m not exposed to either Ukrainian, or Russian media. I follow the news via global (well, UK and US) channels and through social media of my friends – in both Russia and Ukraine – on what’s happening. And it blows my mind how devastatingly crazy it all is.

I’m hopeful Ukrainians will define a new future for their country, and I’m profoundly sad at the divisions and hatred that mushroomed around their crisis.

The key here being ‘their’. Yes, there is a complex history and deep cross-cultural relations, but Ukraine is an independent country that has the right to decide on its own what’s going to happen. Whatever opinions we, people from the outside, have about the history and the future of Ukraine, beyond kitchen polemic it doesn’t – shouldn’t – matter. It’s up to the Ukrainian people to define their lives.

I’m so disheartened to learn about the hateful remarks perpetuating the russian blogosphere. And I’m equally disheartened to learn about the calls of extremist right in Ukraine to turn against Russians. How did that happen? Don’t we all know that the actions of the government in Russia still do not necessarily represent the population? That not all Russians think like Putin, that Russian government doesn’t equal Russia?

And on the other hand, where those stupid remarks calling to cut supplies to Ukraine, and comparing nuclear potential of the US and Russia in case of a conflict, come from.  Did Russian media lost their mind completely, and is there no one in the media willing to stand up against the tide? How did young Russians end up so entrenched in the narrow cold-war point of view – against the ones we once stood shoulder to shoulder with – is beyond my understanding. What happened in the last 10 years? When did the political divide turn social?

I’m so sad to see that the many years of our countries (thrown in Belarus as well for slavic brotherhood) sharing common pain and common joys, have gone up in smoke. How? I still think of my ukrainian friends as brothers and sisters that we share so much in common with – and who have their own choices about their own country to make. And I hope there are still people in Ukraine who think the same about Russians (thought might be dwindling by the hour and I woldn’t blame them).

But how did we end up on the brink of a war between Russia and Ukraine? How did we end with troops in Crimea, and with Ukrainians calling to ban Russian language? What sort of surrealistic nonsense is it? Where did hate on both sides come from?

Yes, the road to recovery and stability will be long, but the Ukrainians alreayd know it better than outsiders. Just let them do it their way without throwing the imperialistic tendencies in. I had a feeling that there is a very long way to a proper political system in Russia, but the extra-urgent approval by the upper chamber of Russian parliament to grant the rights to deply troops to Crimea to Putin has me thinking, there is not much hope after all. Any goodwill built up with Sochi is disappearing faster than you can say ‘stupid’.

I don’t want Ukrainian people denied their right to self-realization as a nation, and I don’t want Russian and Russian-speaking people ignored or hurt in Ukraine.  THESE DESIRES ARE NOT MUTUALLY EXCLUSIVE.

All I can think of, sitting in my Sydney apartment far away from it all, is I hope there is no more violence and we don’t cross the uncrossable line. I hope the hysterics in Russian political and media circles subside, and I hope more people speak up about the nonsese of it all. I hope more people will listen.

I hope Ukraine will have a bright – inclusive for all parts of their society – and most of all independent future.

I hope 3 years from now we’ll be talking about this week as “thank god that war never happened”.