Ukrainians on Ukraine

In the US, there is a tendency to see all foreign events through the lens of US policy, so that conservatives trust whatever conservative American outlets tell them, whereas liberals find the most contrarian possible position, generally through foreign news sources (this is of course why Al Jazeera and RT have English outlets). I think it is valuable to listen to the people with the largest stake in the situation – in this case Ukrainians themselves. The following are conversations I’ve had with Ukrainians – both inside and outside of Ukraine. I don’t claim it is a representative sample – all of them are young and speak English; the majority come from from Eastern Ukraine and speak Russian either natively or fluently. Some I asked for their opinion directly, other quotes come from other (public) conversations on the topic. I have edited their responses only slightly. In these and other conversations, I have yet to encounter a position strongly contrary to the ones expressed here.

All are anonymous – most have family members in Russia or in parts of Ukraine that have a small but real chance of being part of Russia in the future.

Finally, all the Ukrainians I’ve spoken to have agreed on one point – they all appreciate Americans seeking information and caring about what happens to Ukraine.

Because these are not my views, and the people who expressed them are not here to defend themselves, comments have been disabled. I’ll be giving my own thoughts on Ukraine when I get a chance – but these are in any event more valuable.

“Otto von Bismark once said that any contract with Russia isn`t worth even the paper on which it was signed. So it`s normal for them to break diplomatic agreements, but is US and Britain`s role then better, when being the guarantors of our safety they just keep on talking and watching how our soldiers are being killed, journalists kidnapped and Tatars repressed? I`ll tell you more – such political impotence of the world`s greatest organizations – NATO & EU, provokes in Ukrainians` discussions more interest towards renovation of atomic weapon, because facing the “great bear” all alone we have to be ready to protect ourselves. That`s the most upsetting realization of what is happening now – NO WORLD WILL HELP. That`s OUR war. We came to Maidan first on 22 November because we wanted to EU. You can ask me now if I still want there, when they don`t keep their contractual promises – No. They can be understood – it`s UNIMAGINABLE how the whole world became dependent on Russia, on this, as McCain called it – the world largest petrol station!”

“at the moment the latest news : declared military mobilization (all who served in the army before),and people are prepared for the worst, women cry and men are ready to fight for their families for their Ukraine!!! my parents live in the east of Ukraine, my dad and my brother are ready to stand up to the end! What do we expect? We await help, of course we will stand until the end, but we really need help! at the moment I live in Kiev, capital of Ukraine.everything is temporarily calm. I expressed my personal opinion, which all my friends agree, all employees at work, family.”

” I’m from western Ukraine. A few interesting points from my conversations with people back home and from reading Ukrainian internet forums: 1) people seem to be very critical of the interim government and wishing it to take a stronger stance against Russia, even if that means encouraging open war 2) people are very disappointed with the lack of action on behalf of the signatories of the Budapest memorandum (the one where the UK, US, and Russia act as guarantors of Ukraine’s territorial integrity in exchange of the latter giving up its nuclear arsenal). Consequently, there are quite a lot of angry voices entertaining the thoughts of restoring that arsenal. 3) People seem to like McCain, for his hardline stance – a support he rarely enjoys in American media 4) all of these events, from November until now, have been transformative and largely a positive influence on the formation of Ukrainian national identity – for the first time I see amazing sense of fraternity between Russian and Ukrainian-speaking Ukrainians, and it’s so heart-warming 5) people seem to be largely anti-Yulia Tymoshenko – there is a lot of distrust, and a desire to see fresh faces, faces of people unblemished by any previous scandals. Anyway, these are just general perceptions, not mine, but a general overview of sentiments I scope out from actual conversations and forum monitoring. Hope this helps.”

“Its a little hard for me to write something about it as Im not in the country right now and try not to get into all the news there are not to get upset every time I see or read smth about Ukraine. But from that little what I hear and know from my family and friends I can just express my personal opinion. So I am from the eastern part of Ukrainian was raised speaking Russian and always believed Russia and its people are like our brother nation and country but I never considered Ukraine and myself as a part of Russia, I never minded us being close and working together as I have some family living in Russia and almost everybody I know has some parts of their family living in Russia. so talking about politics i would sometimes get into argument with my friends from other parts of Ukraine supporting out ex president Yanukovich and his tight connections with Russia. I never was his biggest fan but i believed he was a nice man and would help our country to get stronger….but….I was very badly disappointed learning from latest events that not he just wasn’t trying to see or do whats better for his country, not all he was caring about was getting his own pockets full of money but i also start thinking that this person kind of lost his mind and as Angela Merkel said about Mr Putin lost his connection with reality….after he fled the country his mansion was open to public and seeing there a loaf of bread made out of gold laying on the table, zoo, and so many unimaginable things just blew my mind completely……on money stolen from students, doctors, teachers, old people who cant afford buy themselves even normal food!!!! and now when it seemed all was over and he has no way of getting away with this, he sits there in Russia and tries to say something about he is still president and ask help from Putin? And Putin who I always thought was a great man now looks no much better to me that Yanukovich…these to people who think of themselves as some emperors or gods or i don’t even know what, crazy people think they are try to make us brother nations Ukrainians and Russians shoot at each other against the border…because that’s what literally is going to happen…I know people my age in Ukraine who were drafted into the army and their own blood brothers were drafted and now they have to sit there and point guns at each other…even though Ukraine is little country compared to Russia, I believe our people finally felt like they cant take it any more living in country ruled by corrupted people, they just want to live normal life and be able to work, eat, wear clothes and not being worried about whats going to happen tomorrow, our people are proud and strong nation with some fire in their hearts and always been it just took some time to get away from post soviet influence and mentality and remember who we are and what we deserve. But of course its still left there in some people from old generations. I believe Mr Putin has to be stopped somehow because I don’t think Crimea is the only part of Ukraine he want since he believes Ukraine is not even a country!!! And never was. but we can’t do it alone. It would be great if all the world worked together but for now I don’t see European Union doing anything except for talking or the US it kind of reminds the situation with Georgia….it will be very sad if the world waits until many people are killed to do something but we small but proud nation finally woke up and will stand till the end to protect our beautiful country from poisonous paws of a crazy dictator. and what is very sad that we are really brothers and sisters with Russian people but our countries and leaders forgot that….”

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