"Good morning, love, time for school", mom says to a child.
"Morning, dear, I’ve made breakfast", you’d hear from a loved one.
"I’ve decided to launch a special military operation against Ukraine. Whoever tries to hinder us, or threaten our country should know that Russia’s response will be immediate and will lead you to consequences that you have never faced in your history", – with these words putin woke up Ukrainians and the entire world.
This statement made by russian president on February 24th introduced Ukrainians to a new life, which has been going more than a month, that awfully seems like a one big nightmare. All you’d expect to happen during this time — happened. Everything you wouldn’t dare to even think of.
Ukraine lights up bright on a world map. But too bad that it's caused by the endless explosions, outbursts and melting fragments of the russian cruise missiles. Our country has received so much support during this period, that the previous 30 years of independence fade in comparison. Decisiveness replaced the worry. Everything will change not just for Ukraine, but for the whole world.
One thing we weren’t ready for, is that Western humanism would hurry to stand in russia’s defense. President of the United States of America Joe Biden said that Putin is the main enemy, not russian people. German chancellor Olaf Scholz said the same. Opinion leaders unite to film "Stop Hating Russians" videos. Marina Ovsyannikova (an editor for Pervyy kanal — russia’s biggest propaganda outlet) is being praised for telling the truth about putin’s regime.
Scholz apparently hasn't been told that every 20th car in russia has that "Nach Berlin" bumper sticker (reference to the WWII and Berlin’s bombing by USSR Army). Those influencers have no idea that ordinary russians used to address neighboring nations by offensive ethnic slurs and have been doing this for decades. No one cares to mention that Ovsyannikova is married to a television director for Russia Today.
This only proves one thing: Western world never tried to understand a thing between russia and Ukraine. European politics and war experts saw the russian army as the second force in the world, thus were terrified of it. About Ukraine, everyone truly believed that a few days into the war we’d be learning to accept a "new tricolor reality".
The only reality right now, is the one where Ukraine is suffering, not russia. It’s not them who lost their homes. They don’t have to run for cover every time there’s an air threat siren.
At most, they wanted this war. 71% of respondents support war in Ukraine and want putin’s rule to continue. Over 86% of russians support the potential invasion of the EU countries. 75% believe that Poland should be next. On March 18th, 200 thousand russians came to Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow to celebrate the 8th anniversary of Crimea annexation. Here’s how it looked like. Does it ring any bells?
All thanks to their aggressive propaganda machine that been working relentlessly for the last decade. russians actually believe that wiping out entire cities means liberating Ukrainians and not destroying them.
You’d think all that delirious agitation about "nazis in Ukraine" was aimed at russian citizen to give them a non–existing enemy. But as it turned out, there was no cold–math in the actions of russian government, who ended up believing their own nonsense.
Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to the president of Ukraine, revealed this about recent negotiations with russians:
"At first, they even publicly said, "We’ll bring everyone to their knees in two days, we’ll destroy the Nazis right now." Of course, we were shocked by this, because it’s a completely distorted view of what was actually happening in Ukraine. These public statements in the first week and a half were some kind of hysterics."
They truly believed that russian army came here to liberate us from the Nazi oppression. That we’ve been anxiously waiting for 8 years for someone to come and rescue us. The truth is, if we ever needed to be rescued from someone, it’s only from russia.
You can blame putin and his ambitions all you want. But it’s not just putin who aims missiles at our residential buildings. Not just putin who shells columns of civilians trying to evacuate. Not just putin who operates tanks and fighter aircraft. But many soldiers who do an actual genocide happening in Ukrainian cities right now.
Schools, hospitals and kindergartens are getting wiped out. Their troops won’t allow the humanitarian corridors for people in Mariupol. People have to melt snow in kitchen pots to get water. 143 children already died during this war. One girl in Mariupol from dehydration. Think about it carefully — a kid died from dehydration in a civilized country in XXI century.
In a recent interview, Dmytro Kuleba (Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine) shared his dialogue with a one of European ambassador on cutting russia from SWIFT. The politician complained that if it comes to that, the entire economy would be at risk, prices will increase and homes in his country won’t have electricity. To what Kuleba replied: "Look, you worry that you won’t have electricity? We worry we might no longer have homes, because they are getting bombed. These are incomparable things, don’t you agree?"
Europe understands that war always has certain consequences, which you can’t avoid, but you can recover from. Not russians though. They have no fear for the war. They have no shame in having allowed it. What they are scared of is losing the connection with a civilized world. But won’t risk anything in order to preserve it. They will endure it.
Classic example. Russian influencers haven’t motivated people to protest on the streets because of the Instagram ban. They complain that their future and homes are being taken away instead. It seems that Ukrainians don’t have to worry about their future and homes then.
If you ever wondered what a real "Wonderland" is, here it is. On the one hand, there are Ukrainian people that think about how they can survive in this war. On the other hand there are Russian people that are thinking of how to save their comfort zone. But not the Russian economy. Sanctions are being implemented, ruble is being devalued, some goods are already out of stock. The whole structure is falling apart like a house of cards — international corporations are leaving the Russian market, and this is fair. But even if you think in an selfish way, are there people protesting on the streets to fight for a better life and future?
Yes, they did fight. But only to get the last cheeseburger from McDonald’s or buying sugar. Or to get the last thousands likes on TikTok talking bravely about their not being bothered about the sanctions and restricted social media. Meanwhile Ukrainians are fighting for their freedom, risking their lives every single minute. Imagine this paradox, people in Ukraine are willing to give bribes to be drafted to the army (but they can’t do it anyway because it is against the rules if they don’t match the characteristics), while russians are giving bribes to flee the country and renounce it. Ukrainians and russians not only obviously share different values, but they always have been.
During putin’s 22 year reign, russia didn’t have even so much as hints at revolution. Meanwhile, Ukraine has had one revolution every decade. During peaceful times, you could hear plenty of reasons on "what do they love about Ukraine", but freedom of speech and the ability to impact the government would’ve never made this list. Because it means taking the responsibility, sacrifice and shed blood if necessary.
On social media you’d see russians praising their cultural legacy, speaking about ballet, literature, science, etc.. Asking whether we could live without all that. Well, to answer that question — yes, easily. Because such attempts to cover the important question with their alleged involvement in the culture are as pathetic as texting their Ukrainian friends "I’m so sorry, but I can’t change that", while we on our side keep wondering whether a russian missile will destroy our home today or tomorrow.
Russians are not victims, simply because they refuse to understand the scale of the tragedy here. Instead, they try to fend it off and keep wondering why, all of a sudden, they became a hate subject. Instead of stating: "I realize, it’s because of war we brought to Ukraine, and I did nothing to prevent it" they keep covering up with "We did nothing bad, we’re just small people who decide nothing".
"Small people". "We decide nothing". Typical victim mentality. Plus Godwin’s Law, but instead of Hitler or Holocaust, russian people would play the "The genocide of russians" card once they’re through with any arguments. By genocide, they mean being losing access to Spotify or not being able to purchase a shark pillow in IKEA. That’s why Ukrainians can not tolerate being put on the same level with russians, or, what’s even worse, someone saying that Ukraine and russia is the one, and that we should live in peace. This victim mentality is an unconscious attempt to take cover behind Ukraine’s grief. Or, as was recently posted by the head of Roscosmos – Rogozin, behind the "Russian Lives Matter" slogan.
They’re afraid to take action, because it will result in a paddy–wagon ride to the police station. In the meantime, we stop tanks without guns. Afraid to be hit with a baton, while civilians and soldiers have their hands and legs torn off in the hot spots. They’re so terrified of changing anything, when the only thing they ever changed in their lives was the order of IKEA furniture in their apartments.
Ironically, they’re too busy with mulling over the possible consequences of their hypothetical riot. Saying, "if it doesn’t succeed, we’ll get in trouble!". But the world is already changing. And there’s an unprecedented chance to become a part of these changes. But, most likely it will go down the "Mumu" scenario: when a Russian man drowned the dog because he was just afraid of losing his comfortable living conditions.
Many times, putin has referred to Ukraine as a "history’s side effect", which resulted in a mistake of the Soviet government. He threatened us with denazification, destruction of all that is related to Ukrainian culture. But instead of falling to its knees, Ukrainian nation has united and self–organized, throwing away all the disagreements to fight the common enemy.
That denazification that putin has been yearning for became a bowling ball for russia. It scattered his nation as ninepins after a direct strike. Everyone there fights for their own freedoms, but not for the common one. The point is in today's era of freedom russians still aren’t free inside. Moreover, they don’t seem to do anything to get this freedom. That’s exactly why they don’t deserve your pity.
Authors: Yurii Bereza, Serhii Scherbyna, Kseniia Karpova