Article dedicated to the 70-th Anniversary of the Victory over Nazism in Europe
Ukraine was a strategic battlefield then and now.
During the years of independence a lot of changes of crucial importance occurred in Ukraine in all spheres. Among these changes that entailed a new vision of reality is a true look at the Ukrainian history. The soviet interpretation of history in general, and Ukraine’s history in particular, was badly affected by the soviet ideological precepts. History was many times rewritten and adapted to the soviet views on how things should have been rather than what they actually were. Sometimes this process acquired anecdotic shape. As a person who lived in the Soviet Union I remember the times when all looks about the WWII were hailing Stalin as the main Hero and genius commander to beat out fascist forces. After his death all these looks were immediately withdrawn from the circulation and Mr. Joe was replaced by the then leader Mr. Khrushev. After his passing away the same fate happened to his “enormous contribution to the victory” and the Soviet people at last “faced the truth”. The War, as appeared, was won due to the “guidance and military bright talent of Mr. Brezhnev”. It could sound funny, if it was not so pity. Because at the same time millions of soviet soldiers and middle rank officers – a real heroes and winners over fascism were suffering from wounds, lack of normal treatment, small pensions and so on.
If to compare how veterans of the WWII were socially protected by their states in France, Italy, USA and other anti-fascist countries of non-Soviet block, we will see very pale picture. Why do you think all veterans of the WWII of Jewish nationality immediately rushed to Israel, Austria, Canada and even Germany, when the Soviet borders became a bit opened after the Helsinki Act of 1975? The answer is simple – the relevant medical care, normal food, pensions, respect and real everyday care, not only on the 9th of May, as it was in Soviet Union.
Nowadays, Ukraine again became a battlefield, but this time – of Russia’s “hybrid war”. The military support of Russia provided to separatists and rebels in eastern parts of Ukraine was proven by NATO, OSCE Special Monitoring Mission and others. In spite of cease-fire Agreements reached in Minsk, Russia does not abide by withdrawal of all foreign armed formations, military equipment, as well as mercenaries from the territory of Ukraine.
Ukraine has always been important because of its strategic geopolitical position and its reach natural resources. Ukrainian people for hundreds of years were persecuted by invaders, who wanted to seize their land. They always did it by force, because Ukrainian nation is very patriotic and spiritually strong.
It is often said that the devastating and merciless hurricane of the WWII swept across Ukraine two times – first from west to east, and then from east to west. It was on the battlefields of Ukraine that about 60 percent of the Wermacht (Germany’s armed forces) divisions were deployed and almost half of the Red Army divisions. It was in Ukraine that many battles of strategic importance were fought. It was from Ukraine that the Red Army troops marched into Central Europe and the Balkans in pursuit of the retreating Nazi forces. Ukrainians themselves showed that they knew how to fight the enemy well.
In Hitler’s plans, Ukraine had a special place. In fact, the occupation of Ukraine was a priority. From the other hand, in Joseph Stalin’s strategic plans, special attention was always given to Ukraine also.
Current leadership of the Russian Federation seems to follow the same ambitions. The Kremlin is always advising us or even imposing upon something, for example - Eurasian economic space, Customs union, federalization, language and cultural policies and finally refusal from cooperation with the EU and prospective of Ukraine’s integration to the EU. Doesn’t it remind the Soviet Union policy towards its Soviet Republics?
The most important message, that I want to convey to the readers during these celebrative days of May, when 70 years ago the Nazi Germany in Europe was broken, is that we should not allow politicizing and monopolizing the results of the Second World War. We need to honor the memory of all those who struggled against fascism and not only one day per year, but do it always.
Recently the president of Russia Vladimir Putin made a statement regarding the results of the bloodiest war in human history, that the Russia in 1941-1945 defeated fascism, while not mentioning the contribution of other peoples - representatives of other former Soviet Union, European countries, Caucasus, Central Asia and others. The official figures of Ukraine’s losses in the war come up to ten million people, with the whole of the Soviet Union losing twenty-seven million. Among them were people of various ethnic backgrounds – but likewise the soviet dictator, current Russian president emphasized the role of only the Russian people. It is not only insulting the memory of the heroes, but first of all its the absolute disagreement with historical realities, a kind of ideological fake, which is taken as the basis of current historical doctrine of the Russian Federation.