March 19, 2023
Russia, long condemned for preying on its neighbors, is now indicted by the International Criminal Court for stealing Ukraine’s most valuable and precious — its children. Even Hitler did not do that.
By definition, for the crudest and most basic genocide Putin’s noose awaits him in Nuremberg.
It started in the late middle ages when Muscovy was trying to become a “real” kingdom, like the French, Dutch, British and others. The problem was it needed three things it did not have and could now grow — a real history, a navy and a religion that would proclaim the leader of Muscovy not just “Great” but also Tsar (meaning king). Fortunately for the Muscovites (and less so for the Ukrainians) Ukraine had all three — a maritime history going back to the Vikings and ancient Greeks, a Christian history second only to the Armenians, and the guts to stand up to the Great Khans (whom the Muscovites serviced.) So, the Muscovites moved in and declared Ukraine and all things Ukrainian to be “Russian,” just like they’re doing today.
“Russia” was probably the Muscovites’ cleverest invention as it implied it was all just a continuation of Volodymyr the Great’s Kyivan Rus, which converted en masse to Christianity in 988, and ruled much of Eastern Europe. It’s worth noting that while there was a Minsk Rus and an outpost at Novgorod, there never was a Muscovite Rus, only a Kyivan Rus. Moscow didn’t exist at all until 1147 and wasn’t more than a bit of a swamp until centuries later. The name “Russia” itself derives not from the ancient Rus but from the Ukrainian word used to describe the sweeping arm motion when scattering seeds. Ukrainians referred to their northern neighbors as “Rosiiany,” meaning “the scattered ones,” which, they were.
By the 1,500s the world entered a major phase of empire building. Everyone had to have an empire — The Brits, French, Germans, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, Turks, and, yes, especially Russians, who reached out as far as Alaska and California, where local Russian Orthodox youth camps still train with AK47s and post signs saying, “We took back Crimea. We’ll take back California!”
Ukraine is one of the few nations that never had an empire, and did not seek one. Why bother with an empire when you have everything you could ever want at home — beautiful forests, gorgeous people, rich rivers, magnificent fields of the richest farm land on the planet. You could plant a broom stick and it would sprout in the spring! When the Industrial Revolution came, Ukrainians found huge deposits of iron ore, coal, copper and other precious gifts from its own lands. Post WW II Ukraine quickly recovered and became the center of the Soviet Union’s agriculture and military industrial complex. The engineers that built the Russian rockets were Ukrainians in Dnipro. The Soviet aircraft industry, including the largest operating airplane in the world, the Mria, was in Ukraine. The aircraft carrier Liaoning, now the flagship of the Chinese Navy, was built in Mikolayiv, in Ukraine.
Throughout all this Russia’s efforts to destroy Ukraine and all things Ukrainian proceeded without interruption. Between WW I and WW II, Muscovy imposed three waves of genocide, mostly by mass starvation, on Ukraine and Ukrainians. The Holodomor Genocide of 1932-33
was the largest mass murder of civilians in history, with millions dead in 500 days. Entire regions of Ukraine were depopulated. Travelers reported going days without seeing a single living thing — not just no people, but not even a dog or a bird. These areas were repopulated by ethnic Russians and Belarusians, many from the military. They fled and had to be captured and returned to Ukraine; the houses they were given stank of death and their fields turned up human skulls. Ukrainians fought both Communist Russia and Nazi Germany in WW II. For Ukraine they were two sides of the same coin, equally evil. When the Allies gifted Ukraine to Stalin, all Ukrainians knew it was not over, only paused.
Historically, Ukraine has also been a leader in peaceful development of civilization and democracy since its inception. The earliest Proto-Indo-European Root Language (PIE) emerged some 30,000 years ago from lands that are today’s Ukraine. The earliest agricultural communities — some with cities of 25,000 inhabitants — were in Ukraine some 7,500 years ago — that’s about a millennium before “the birth of civilization” in Mesopotamia. The significance goes beyond agriculture — Ukrainians were also the first to establish peace as a way of life. You can’t raise crops in a world of war. The fighting destroys the crops. During the time between planting and harvesting you have to have peace — that means you have to learn to get along with your neighbors, to have peace — a lesson Muscovy never learned.
Ukraine, under Hetman Pylyp Orlyk, produced the world’s first written constitution, in 1710. It set forth a bicameral legislature, a strong executive and an independent judiciary. Sound familiar? Yes, but it was in 1710, some 80 years before the newly minted “Americans” gathered in Philadelphia to sign off on theirs.
Is it any wonder when in 2022 the US offered to evacuate Ukrainian President Zelensky, he replied, “I don’t need a ride, I need guns!”
The new generation of Ukrainians, those born into freedom and democracy, will never go back to Russian primitivism. They were born free and will stay free. It is Russia that is entering its death throes, not Ukraine. Ukraine is slowly taking back its heroes, its art, its culture, its language, history and identity. There is no need to take back its faith as Ukraine’s faith is the one thing Ukraine and Ukrainians never lost.
In a decade or two, Ukraine will rebuild to be the best, wealthiest, most modern country in Europe, old or new. For NATO, Ukraine will be the eastern anchor and security guarantor. Left in peace, Ukraine will feed the planet and give its people the luxuries of modern life. If the US and NATO keep their promise to stand by Ukraine, peace and wealth will sprout like flowers after an April shower. If, God forbid, the US and NATO fail to keep their promise and betray Ukraine, there will be a lot more to worry about than just Ukraine.