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“Memory makes us stronger.” Ukraine marks 105th anniversary of symbolic battle against invading Russians

“Memory makes us stronger.” Ukraine marks 105th anniversary of symbolic battle against invading Russians

On 29 January 2023, Ukraine commemorates the 105 anniversary of the Battle of Kruty.

On that day in 1918, nearly 600 Ukrainian troops fought with the 3000 Soviet Russian bolshevik troops 130 kilometers northeast of Kyiv. The Ukrainians managed to slow down the Russian advance and destroy the railway, allowing Ukrainian political leadership to evacuate, continue diplomatic work, and mobilize more troops to continue the fight for the new Ukrainian republic until 1920 when it was ultimately occupied by bolsheviks.

Ukrainian Commander in Chief Valeriy Zaluzhnyi commemorated the battle of Kruty, writing:

“Both in the winter of 1918 and 2022, the best of the best stood up to protect Kyiv and all of Ukraine from the Russian invasion. The price of struggle is high. But the price of defeat, and we know it from history lessons, is much higher. Therefore, we will not stop until we drive the lasting enemy from our land. We must be strong enough to win and protect the state from new attempts of military occupation.

 The funeral ceremony of fallen Ukrainian soldiers in Kyiv on 29 January 1918
The funeral ceremony of fallen Ukrainian soldiers in Kyiv on 29 January 1918

The Battle of Kruty took place on January 29, 1918, between Nizhyn and Bakhmach in contemporary Chernihiv Oblast. Bolshevik Russian troops led by colonel Mikhail Muravyov tried to seize Kyiv to destroy the newborn Ukrainian Republic. The Ukrainian army was only building up and 600 hastily organized troops were ready to defend Kyiv at that time, having only 1 cannon and 16 machine guns.

Thanks to the heroism of the fighters, the Ukrainians managed to inflict significant losses on the Russians and stop them until the evening. Then, under the pressure of the enemy, most of the units retreated in order to the echelons at the station nearby and went towards Kyiv, destroying the railway tracks behind them. But one group of students — 27 young men — got lost in the dark and returned to the Kruty station, which at that time was already occupied by the Bolsheviks. They were all executed by the bolsheviks. The youngest victim was 16 years old.

Символічна могила крутян на Аскольдовій могилі у Києві, до 2012 р.
Symbolical grave of fallen Ukrainian soldier during the Battle of Kruty in Kyiv.
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