I am a Ukrainian-American. I was formerly a translator for a Ukrainian pro-democracy news website, not unlike a Ukrainian version of The CT Mirror. I have followed events in Ukraine closely since the 2013 Revolution of Dignity (“Euromaidan.”) My heart has broken many times for my ancestors’ homeland, but never so painfully as in the past few days.
Vladimir Putin’s unprovoked and unjustifiable war of aggression against Ukraine began eight years ago, with the Russian invasion and occupation of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula. However, the violence and destruction of the last few days have reached levels unimaginable since the 1940s.
Even as I write this, Russian forces lob high-explosive shells at residential high-rises in Kyiv– a city with a population nearly as high as that of the whole State of Connecticut. Kharkiv, Mariupol, and Kherson are under immediate threat as well. Melitupol may already be occupied.
It may be difficult for most Americans to appreciate the magnitude of the threat Ukraine faces. Putin has ranted about his desire to “de-Nazify” (sic) Ukraine – a country which elected, with 75% of the popular vote, a Jewish president. Putin’s words are based on Soviet era slander – the equation of the former USSR’s ultimate enemy, the Third Reich, with anyone who believes in Ukraine’s right to self-determination.
When Putin talks about “de-Nazifying” Ukraine, he really means Ukraine’s total destruction – militarily, politically, and culturally – and its subjugation to Russia as a colony. This was Ukraine’s fate during the 1920s and 1930s, when Ukraine was conquered and absorbed into the Soviet Union, and Putin fully intends to retrace the steps of his hero-tyrant Josef Stalin.
Ukrainians suffered horribly at the hands of foreign oppressors during those two dark decades. The Soviet power structures murdered at least 4 million Ukrainians in the winter of 1932-1933 in an act of genocide now known by its Ukrainian name, the Holodomor. I have no doubt that Putin will have to repeat such brutality, if he conquers Ukraine. The Ukrainian people have no desire to bow to him. Their willingness to fight and die for their country over the past eight years proves it. Putin will have no choice but to rule through terror if he is to rule at all.
While the events of the last days have broken my heart, the courage and resolution which the Ukrainian people have demonstrated has inspired me with hope. Though Ukrainians have not received nearly the level of support from Western nations – not least the United States – as they deserve, they are not without friends in the West. I am particularly grateful for the consistent, strong support that Sen. Chris Murphy and Sen. Richard Blumenthal have shown to Ukrainians since the 2013 Revolution of Dignity. I believe that Murphy and Blumenthal are Ukraine’s two greatest allies in the United States Senate, perhaps in the entire U.S. Government.
Nonetheless, there is much more that can be done for the people of Ukraine as they fight for their survival as a free nation. I urge Senator Murphy, Senator Blumenthal, and the rest of the Connecticut Congressional Delegation to do all they can in Congress to allocate resources for, and expedite the provision of, military, financial, and humanitarian aid to Ukraine.
I urge every reader of the CT Mirror to write to our senators and your representatives to urge them to support Ukraine, not just with words, but with legislation which will support the Ukrainian Armed Forces and Ukrainian citizenry.
To many Americans, Ukraine may seem “a faraway land of which we know little.” However, if we allow nearsightedness or apathy to cloud our judgment, we will be setting the stage for untold human misery, just as the originator of that quote – Neville Chamberlain – set the stage for the Second World War and the Holocaust when he referred to democratic Czechoslovakia with such disdain.
Like Hitler, Putin will not be content with a conquest of Ukraine. He has not been contented with Chechnia, Georgia, Crimea, Donbas, nor Syria, and even an ocean of blood will not slake his thirst for destruction. If we are to avoid a repetition of the last century’s horrors, then as American citizens, born to a land of liberty, and as people of good will, we must do all we can to support the Ukrainian people in their fight for freedom. We must make our voices heard to Ukraine’s friends in our federal government.
Peter Koropey lives in Granby.