Ukrainian nationalism as seen by those ready to die for it


War in Donbas

Russian media has tried its best to show Ukrainian nationalism as a dangerous ideology. We explored who it is dangerous for in interviews with Ukrainian nationalists ready to die for Ukraine in Donbas under attack by Russian-backed militants and the regular Russian army. Our interlocutors are members of the Right Sector and OUN volunteer battalions, the fighters of which defend Ukraine without receiving any pay, provisioning, equipment, or social benefits from the government.


Kyrylo, OUN (Organization of Ukrainain Nationalists) battalion, 22 y.o.

Why did you leave your home to risk your life in Donbas?

Because I love my motherland, because I want Ukraine to be united and independent, because the phrase “Ukraine for Ukrainians” is not empty words for me, because we have to be masters of our own land, because I was born in Odesa [South Ukraine] and my relatives live there,  and I don’t want to cross the border to visit them. Because I don’t want to live how Russians live in Russia now. Because Moscow has always been an enemy of the Ukrainian nation and we have a unique opportunity to pay off for all the sufferings that our people have lived through due to Russian imperialism. Because I would be ashamed to sit at home, I wouldn’t forgive myself, as I am a man. Because my friends are fighting there and I need to cover their backs. I want my future child and wife, when I will have them, to be proud of me. When I was still training I was ashamed to talk with girls and with my friends – I did not know how to explain to them why people are dying in the East and I am still sitting in Kyiv, alive and well.

Kyrylo studied telecommunications, wanted to be a programmer. Before the start of the Euromaidan revolution he coordinated the movement “Kyiv Donor” that searched for blood donors in Ukraine’s capital, organized community clean-up actions.

yaponetsFriend Japanese*, Right Sector battalion

Who is a Ukrainian nationalist? 

A Ukrainian nationalist is a person that wants prosperity for the Ukrainian nation, but in order to be a Ukrainian you don’t have to be born as one, you have to feel yourself as one. You have to be one in your soul and heart. A nation is made up of the people around us that say “yes, I am a Ukrainian! And I want to live here and I will not leave.” All the members of the Right Sector think like that, and that’s why we’re here. That’s why we won’t give up a piece of our land. It’s our land. And there are people there [in the occupied territories] that believe in us and are waiting for us to liberate them.

Russian media paints a different picture of Ukrainian nationalists, calling you “Right sector fascists.”

There is a joke about that. [Leader of the Right Sector Dmytro] Yarosh said once that after watching Russian TV he started being afraid of the Right Sector himself.

*Friend+callsign is the way to address members of the Right Sector battalion. Header image – Right Sector battalion

Interview by Alya Shandra

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