Europe, Do You Still Remember Ukraine?


Although this country's name rhymes perfectly with the word "rain," this country finds itself in nothing short of a storm. Think of any analogies you like: a sumptuous cheese fighting black mould, a healthy pair of lungs fighting back a virus which threatens to infect it. Our lands are inhabited by a resilient people. A woman braids her hair with one hand and chops wood with the other. A man dons shorts one day and camouflage gear the next. When you ask both of them if it's worth it, they give you a proud look and utter words: "I may wash myself with sweat, but I will not drown in blood". 

The ear-splitting power of the Ukrainian woman and man has been sucked out of the soil. This is the soil on which Viking swords fell, from which Greek cereals have sprouted, on which Scythian horses trampled. 

The argument for why Ukrainian women and men should win seems worn out - the answer is evident without any need for explanation. Let's look around us: the Western world is beginning to be surrounded by skeletons that have crawled out of the graves of history: revisionism, imperialism, absolutism. We are in the minority; if this is not visible to someone yet, it should be. There are far too few subjects of international law in the world who are willing to defend the principles of democracy and personal freedoms to the point of pain in their throats, as Ukrainians do. Geopolitical impotence, geographical blindness, and ethical neglect have accompanied the policies of the past for too long. Eastern Europe has always been given too easily over to Russia, vilely seen as the porch of the Russian bear. Let me remind you how that ended: from the East, the Russians moved towards the Center. Yes, it was fun to tear down the Berlin Wall, but it would not have been necessary if only a clear message had been sent earlier: you do not belong here. Unfortunately, the fear of excessive movement has taken root. The old political leadership of Europe was afraid of breaking bones while the Communists were already breaking them in the abandoned, conquered nations. A fate Ukraine knows only too well, and since 1991, it has been unable to pry its hands out of the iron grip.

In the eighteenth century, there was a panic about the Beast of Gévaudan. In the twenty-first century, it seems accurate that another beast was for all this time in Moscow. The Beast of Moscow will not stop at Ukraine, it does not seek de-escalation, it is alien to the principles of international law, and it has never considered itself part of our European, Westphalian system. Will we eventually become a single entity, a united Europe, so different but not indifferent to the grief of others on the continent — a knight from old European tales who fights any evil entity? 

Ukraine's victory is not only a victory for the country itself, but for the values for which we are ready to navigate turbulent tides. You won't be able to eat brioche and discuss the fascinating pastel colours of the new Hermès collection if Ukraine loses. It will mean a return to the dark ages, where every time you want to be free, you find a dagger in your stomach. It will mean shame for our community, and a green light for other authoritarians and totalitarians. “Is Ukraine no longer on the map? Oh, maybe we will divide up the Polish pie once again?”. Our weapon against any such painful after-effects can only be continuous assistance to the people of Ukraine. There cannot be "no", there cannot be a "but". After all, what will we do when we wake up to missiles being fired at other sovereign nations as it has been done towards Ukraine? I’m afraid then there’s only "oops" will be left.

Tourists from the Netherlands and the Czech Republic should be swimming in the Ukrainian Black Sea, not fighting in its trenches. Bees should fly over Ukraine, not bombers. The streets should not be black, and the absent laughter of children should not punctuate the playgrounds. Ukraine is a sister we have lost so many times because of selfishness and indifference to its cause. It is time to embrace the fact that souls grow stronger only in common struggle. Ukraine needs to be free, and we can all help it. After the victory, the European family will gather in Kyiv to taste borsch, the most delicious dish for the Ukrainian heart — alongside its freedom. 

But for now, let us prepare the bullets - only after that, may we return to forks and spoons.



The views expressed herein are those of the author(s) alone. These views do not necessarily reflect those of LYMEC.

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