Vladimir Putin can call Ukraine a fraternal country all he wants and ask it not to forget the common battle against fascism. It is just unclear what kind of audience he is counting on at that moment. Because Ukraine sees Russia as a country which stole its dream twice.
It first happened in the end of winter. When Maidan, in whose success the people believed rather despite the circumstances, managed to break the seemingly concrete Yanukovych. The same person who concentrated in his hands the factories, newspapers, and boats, who controlled the army, police, and special ops. It was a classical story about David and Goliath, which was impossibly cinematographic in its execution.
However, immediately after the President fled, when it seemed that the ‘bright future’ was practically irreversible and inevitable, Russian troops were deployed to Crimea. It was just like in Hollywood movies, when before the credits roll, the director gives an unambiguous hint of the inevitability of a sequel. The Ukrainian Dream, with the already formed pantheon of heroes in the form of the Heaven’s Hundred and its own heroic concept of the victory of the streets of the government, was stolen.
The following months the only thing the country did was adapt itself to a new threat. The volunteer movement grew, the army learned to fight again, the people became used to discerning the caliber and types of troops. The Armed Forces slowly advanced, fighting for square meters of territory and freeing localities. Army departments created corridors to block the border and held them despite Grad fire. And at the moment when victory was within arm’s reach, Russia intervened in the conflict again. As a result, Ilovaisk happened, a hellhole for Ukrainian servicemen, and mass casualties. For the second time the almost-attained victory was lost.
However, each time the Kremlin made amendments to the Ukrainian dream, it won tactically and lost strategically. Because any time Ukraine was rid of its illusion, it was angered and mobilized further. What is more, thanks to Moscow’s actions Ukraine found solutions to many questions it considered unimportant in the previous years.
Henceforth, it is unlikely that Che Guevara prints will be popular here – just because ontologically he is no different from Igor Strelkov. In both cases we are talking about the export of a dream: One of them imposed it on Congo and Bolivia, and the other on Donetsk and Luhansk. Solidarity with one of them means supporting the other. This is why it behooves Ukraine to forget about the picture of the guy in the beret.
Just like Ukraine decided whom it supports in the Israel-Palestine conflict. Just because Ukraine itself feels like an Eastern European Israel of sorts – with its own Hamas and neighboring Egypt, which supports this Hamas by all means. Just like Tel Aviv constantly conflicts with European leftists who sympathize with the “humiliated and the offended” Palestinians, official Kyiv is skeptical about the distanced observational position of the collective OSCE when determining the future of the ‘DNR’ and ‘LNR.’
A year ago moving the Day of the Defender of the Motherland from February 23 to October 14 (the day of Pokrova of the Mother of God and the creation of the UPA) would have been impossible in Ukraine. It would have evoked ardent discussions, political speculation, and even demands to hold a referendum. Today this news goes practically unnoticed in Ukrainian newsreels, and hypertrophically blown out of proportion in Russian ones.
All because the Kremlin itself took away from Ukraine the variety out of which the multi-vector nature of the past two decades grew. Without Crimea and part of Donbas, the country, for the first time in 23 years, elected a Parliament in which it would be impossible to discuss which city is the capital of Ukraine, Kyiv or Moscow.
The Kremlin wanted to weaken Ukraine and it failed. Former Ukraine, soft and mousy, ceased to exist thanks to its actions. A completely different country emerged by Moscow’s side now, and also started shedding its illusions. In normal life this process is called growing up.