Opinion

19 April, 03:40 PM

A history of adversaries, not brothers. Why did this war happen?

Volodymyr Vyatrovych

Ukrainian historian, MP

Probably, no one in Ukraine and in the world has any doubts that we are currently going through times that our descendants will read about in history books.

Yes, we are really in the vortex of history.

It is difficult. It is often scary and very difficult to navigate in rapidly changing circumstances. And the problem is not only in the large amount of information that we are flooded in. Every minute, every important news.

Much of what is happening around us today is impossible to understand without going back to the past.

So, I will try to explain to you what you see today, to explain the reasons that are hidden in previous years and centuries.

I'll start with the basics. Why did this war happen?

For some, this question sounds even more dramatic: how did this war become possible?

Or even more dramatic: this war between fraternal peoples.

As for the latter, let us immediately forget the thesis about fraternal peoples, especially fraternal Ukrainian and Russian peoples. This is the thesis of Soviet propaganda, which has nothing to do with history or the present.

Ukraine's and Russia's history is a history of confrontation, not brotherhood.

Russia as such emerged after the takeover of Ukrainian lands.

It was the gradual destruction of the Ukrainian Cossack state that marked the beginning of the birth of the empire with the name Russia. The name was stolen from Ukrainians.

Then the centuries of imperial policy came. The goal of this policy was to dissolve Ukrainians in the imperial sea or, better to say swamp.

Various methods were used for this: from the attractive incorporation of the descendants of Cossack officers into the Russian nobility. This was attractive to the Ukrainian elites. To the systematic destruction of the Ukrainian language and culture, which challenged the empire.

But the Kremlin has failed in this fight

At the beginning of the twentieth century, Kremlin had to fight the Ukrainian national movement, which was already developed. The weakening of the Russian Empire led to the fact that the Ukrainian movement succeeded in a national revolution, and created a nation-state.

The Ukrainian People's Republic proclaimed in 1917, almost immediately found itself at war with a new imperial Russian project led by the Bolsheviks.

The Ukrainians lost this four-year war, but they severely weakened Russia. They provided an opportunity for the independence of other territories of the Russian Empire. Now, these territories are in Poland, Finland, and the Baltic countries.

The fall of the Ukrainian state did not mean the end of the Ukrainian national movement.

It remained the main challenge to the Russian imperial project for the following hundred years.

Ukrainians weakened the empire with uprisings in Central and Southern Ukraine until the mid-1920s. They frightened Stalin by the mass resistance to collectivization in the 1930s. Stalin responded to this with an artificial Holodomor.

Ukrainians challenged the Soviet Union, which had just defeated Nazism and conquered half of Europe. They launched a large-scale insurgent movement in Western Ukraine that the Kremlin could not suppress for more than a decade after World War II.

Ukrainians demonstrated their ability to resist the empire by nonviolent means, and organized one of the most active dissident movements in the 1960s and 1980s.

Eventually, the Ukrainians killed the Russian imperial project called the USSR, declaring independence in 1991.

But the USSR death was not the end of the Russian Empire. Russia acknowledged loss of Ukraine only for some time.

Gaining strength and accumulating resources at the expense of oil and gas, Russia began to make attempts to return to Ukraine in the early 2000s. First, by political methods through pro-Russian political forces, which have long determined the political agenda of Ukraine.

But the Maidans, the national uprisings of 2004 and 2013-2014, effectively deprived Russia of this tool. Russian political forces in Ukraine (Communists, SDPUO, PR, now OPZZh), despite enormous support from Moscow, lost their electoral base.

Therefore, in 2014, Russia restarted its efforts to return Ukraine to its influence by military means. First occupying the Crimea and capturing part of the Donbas, now launching a large-scale offensive against Ukraine.

That’s why today we have the 23rd day of the eight-year war, which has been going on for over a hundred years.

The peculiarity of this stage of our century-old war is that Ukraine has never been so strong. Russia has never suffered such large-scale losses from Ukrainians. And the world has never supported us so united and actively. This means that we have the opportunity, the chance and the honor to end our long, century-long war for independence.


The Ukrainian People's Republic proclaimed in 1917, almost immediately found itself at war with a new imperial Russian project led by the Bolsheviks.

The Ukrainians lost this four-year war, but they severely weakened Russia. They provided an opportunity for the independence of other territories of the Russian Empire. Now, these territories are in Poland, Finland, and the Baltic countries.

The fall of the Ukrainian state did not mean the end of the Ukrainian national movement.

It remained the main challenge to the Russian imperial project for the following hundred years.

Ukrainians weakened the empire with uprisings in Central and Southern Ukraine until the mid-1920s. They frightened Stalin by the mass resistance to collectivization in the 1930s. Stalin responded to this with an artificial Holodomor.

Ukrainians challenged the Soviet Union, which had just defeated Nazism and conquered half of Europe. They launched a large-scale insurgent movement in Western Ukraine that the Kremlin could not suppress for more than a decade after World War II.

Ukrainians demonstrated their ability to resist the empire by nonviolent means, and organized one of the most active dissident movements in the 1960s and 1980s.

Eventually, the Ukrainians killed the Russian imperial project called the USSR, declaring independence in 1991.

But the USSR death was not the end of the Russian Empire. Russia acknowledged loss of Ukraine only for some time.

Gaining strength and accumulating resources at the expense of oil and gas, Russia began to make attempts to return to Ukraine in the early 2000s. First, by political methods through pro-Russian political forces, which have long determined the political agenda of Ukraine.

But the Maidans, the national uprisings of 2004 and 2013-2014, effectively deprived Russia of this tool. Russian political forces in Ukraine (Communists, SDPUO, PR, now OPZZh), despite enormous support from Moscow, lost their electoral base.

Therefore, in 2014, Russia restarted its efforts to return Ukraine to its influence by military means. First occupying the Crimea and capturing part of the Donbas, now launching a large-scale offensive against Ukraine.

That’s why today we have the 23rd day of the eight-year war, which has been going on for over a hundred years.

The peculiarity of this stage of our century-old war is that Ukraine has never been so strong. Russia has never suffered such large-scale losses from Ukrainians. And the world has never supported us so united and actively. This means that we have the opportunity, the chance and the honor to end our long, century-long war for independence.

Другие новости

Все новости