Support Us

Ode to Joy. How Europe and the World are passing the Ukrainian test 

Saturday, 12 March 2022, 16:34

A few years ago we went on an excursion to the Maginot Line together with some friends.

For those who don’t know: it is a system of French fortifications, which was built on the border with Germany from 1929 to 1940. The total length of the fortifications was about 400 kilometers. The structure included 70 bunkers, 500 artillery and infantry units, 500 casemates, as well as dugouts and observation points. France spent a few billion francs to build the line and it was intended to protect the country in the case of war with the Germans.

The Maginot really makes the impression. An underground city in which it is interesting to spend a few hours, wandering through endless tunnels. There is a hospital, and the kitchen. Even today everything looks very well thought out and modern.


Already at the exit from the museum, while waiting for my friends, I decided to read the book of visitors' reviews. Among the hundreds of comments in French, English, and German, one caught my eye:

"We are Russians, we are Russians, we are Russians. We will rise from our knees. Russland uber alles".


The war, which has been raging in my country for sixteen days now, reminded me of this episode, because it is hard to find a better analogy for what is happening now. 

No, not only in Ukraine, in the world.

Some historical background here. Despite the expenditure of billions of francs and the complexity of the Maginot Line project, it was not able to stop the German invasion. In June 1940, German troops were able to cross the line, cutting it off from the rest of France. Many troops of the fortress simply surrendered after the armistice. They raised the white flag.

The defense system, which required so many resources, turned out to be actually a sham. And now it is simply a museum.

The same can also be said today without any further ado about the collective security system, which the entire civilized world was building after the Second World War. 

Billions of dollars and human resources were spent on it. But what is the sense in it when today a full-scale war is being waged in Europe? It is happening right now on the borders of NATO and the European Union. Only at the sight of the actual catastrophe, the civilized world had moved from deep concern to action. 

But that is not enough already. 

The war in Europe did not really begin on 24 February 2022. 

It began in February 2014, when the "green men" appeared in the Crimean cities. Even then it was obvious that the UN had turned into a bureaucratic machine that could not be launched, and the reform of the Security Council was needed yesterday.  That neutrality and signing "security guarantees" end up with the fact that part of your territory can simply be stolen. 

The civilized world had eight whole years from the moment of annexation of Crimea to make conclusions. But they were not made.

The lessons of the 20th century history were not enough for the people not to be forced through the heat of the Great War again.

The world put up with Russian propaganda, which for years had been destroying Russians' minds – Russia Today channel was working in European countries till the last minute. 

Till the last minute Germany was counting on the fact that the Nord Stream would be finally built and launched. 

And, admittedly, in some informal talks European diplomats and officials told us to forget about the Crimea, "because Putin will never return it".

Just a month ago the German generals talked about it at closed meetings, the content of which was later shared with the public. And I was surprised – how can you speak like that in the country that was divided by the Berlin Wall 30 years ago, and the people of this country went through this separation and the inability to see their loved ones? Why do we all have such a short memory?

The answers to these questions is hard to find. As well as the hope that the West will finally close the sky over Ukraine. 

They will not, because they are afraid that this will lead to an escalation of the conflict. 

Just as we all were afraid that eight years ago a major war would break out after the annexation of Crimea. That the diplomatic forces would be enough to fight the beast, who, fascinated by the ideas of returning the Soviet empire, decided to raise that empire from its knees and from the ashes. 

But the war has begun and continues. And right now it is tearing apart not only my country, it is eroding all that humanity has created, in order to prevent "never again" from happening. 

And "never again" will definitely happen if Putin and Russia are not stopped now. This is only a matter of time. Moreover, the nearest time.

In the current war, Europe and the world are taking a value test together with the Ukrainians. 

Europe gives a standing ovation to President Zelenskyi and all the Ukrainians and is inspired by their courage. But at the same time, Europe lacks the courage to accept a war-torn country into the European community. A country that, at its historic stage of development, has embraced European values. And pays a great price for it every day. 

It's true that our young democracy has many problems – corruption, lack of a long-term strategy, we are poor in the long run. It is clear that nobody wants to deal with all of this. But at this moment, just remember what happened to Europe, which was devastated by the war in 1939-1944? What did several generations of Europeans have to go through?

The time for great action began yesterday. 

But we still have a chance. When international agreements, statutes and security systems stop working, we have to focus on values. In the context of good and evil, they are timeless and completely understandable.

And when bombs fall on children's hospitals, maternity hospitals, residential areas, everything is also obvious.

On the second day of the war, when I was already in war-stricken Kyiv, which I was forced to leave in the end, I met a boy whose personality still remains in my head. 

He was hiding in the shelter of our house together with his mother and dog. In his hands he was holding a digital piano, which among other melodies, every 2-3 minutes disturbed the silence of our shelter with Beethoven's Ode to Joy. 

The suffering composer wrote his most famous work in 1823. For many years he had been dreaming of depicting Joy. 

Joy, as the triumph over sorrow and grief, which was very abundant in Beethoven's life. And who knows, if it were not for the number of trials the composer underwent, perhaps the world would never have heard this masterpiece.

Now I dream that the Ode to the joy sounded in the ruined, violated, devastated cities and towns in our beautiful country, which today is ravaged by war. 

In peaceful Ukraine, which will pass through all these trials with great dignity.

Sevgil Musayeva

Disclaimer: Articles reflect their author’s point of view and do not claim to be objective or to explore every aspect of the issues they discuss. The Ukrainska Pravda editorial board does not bear any responsibility for the accuracy of the information provided, or its interpretation, and acts solely as a publisher. The point of view of the Ukrainska Pravda editorial board may not coincide with the point of view of the article’s author.

Ukraine is an inspiration to the entire free world

40 Years of Wilderness for the "good russians"

International experts within Ukrainian competitions: the lessons learned

Сommon sense arguments: why the U.S. should designate russia as a State Sponsor of Terrorism

War Speeches. 190 Days of Propaganda, or "Evolution" of Statements by russian Politicians

How the International Commission on Missing Persons works in Ukraine