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I am Ukrainian, I cannot keep calm

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For the past three weeks, Ukraine has taken center stage in the Western news cycle. During this time, Ukrainian citizens have learned how to stay calm and defeat the media screaming “invasion.”

Political moves from the Russian government have put Ukrainian citizens on an emotional roller coaster since Monday, even though many brushed off the possibility of war. However, the news from Ukraine terrified thousands worldwide Wednesday, Feb. 23.

On Monday, Feb. 21, President Vladimir Putin declared two separatist regions, located inside Ukrainian territory – the Donbas regions – independent. Putin recognized the two regions and announced his order after the ceremony for presenting letters of credence in Moscow. “I ask the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation to support this decision, and then to ratify the treaties of friendship and mutual assistance with both republics,” Putin said.

He got the supported approval for the initiative the same day. Right after the official support, Putin announced another controversial political move. Putin ordered thousands of Russian troops “to maintain peace” in the recently recognized independent republics.

The following day, a wave of new responses, in the form of sanctions by the U.S. and European Union against the Russian Federation and the recently independent Donbas region caused the Russian economy and currency to plummet. Countries worldwide have condemned acts of aggression against Ukrainian sovereignty. 

Late Monday night, president Putin delivered a speech “to speak to the nation” on his earlier decree towards the breakaway Ukrainian regions. The speech was streamed on the national federal channel–the state-run Russian media. The president gave his historical overview of Ukraine. In just fifty-five minutes, Putin re-wrote the history we Ukrainians learned in school. According to the president of the Russian Federation, Ukraine was Lenin’s creation. 

Putin said: “So, I will start with the fact that modern Ukraine was entirely created by Russia or, to be more precise, by Bolshevik, Communist Russia. This process started practically right after the 1917 revolution, and Lenin and his associates did it in a way that was extremely harsh on Russia – by separating, severing what historically Russian land is.”

However, based on the official historical documents, Putin did not mention that Ukraine first appeared as its own territory with slightly different borders than modern Ukraine. Kyiv Rus was established in the ninth century with the capital in today’s Kyiv. 

From 1921 until 1991, Ukraine was an informal name for the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic within the borders of the Soviet Union. During 1941-1944 Ukraine was annexed as a Reichskommissariat, an administrative entity headed by Germany during the Second World War. 

In 1991 Ukraine declared itself an independent country as other Soviet Union republics did. On Aug. 24, 1991, Ukraine received a green light from the Communist Supreme Parliament to leave the Union and no longer follow any laws of the USSR. Thus, Ukraine declared its final independence and its sovereignty from the Soviet Union. 

Kyiv, September 1991
The Wall Street Journal Kyiv, September 1991

In 2014, the Russian Federation occupied Crimea under the slogan “to maintain peace.” Troops of the Russian Federation invaded and illegally annexed key Crimean locations, including airports and military bases. Following international law and simple logic, the annexation of Crimea by Russia was illegal since it was forcibly acquired by Russian troops.

The local council of Crimea scheduled a referendum for March 16. The voting bulletin offered two choices: join Russia or return to Crimea’s 1992 constitution. Those who wanted Crimea to remain as a part of Ukraine under the current constitution had no box to check.

As a result, 96.7% voted to join the Russian Federation. The ethnic Ukrainian and Crimean Tatar population had no choice but to leave Crimea. Ukraine subsequently announced the withdrawal of its forces from Crimea.

BCC News

By late Wednesday PST, Russian troops in Belarus began shelling Ukraine, becoming enemies overnight. At 5 a.m. on Thursday Ukrainian time, Russia officially invaded Ukraine. Residents of Kyiv, Kharkiv, Kramatorsk, Dnipro, and Odesa woke up to the sounds of explosions. Thousands of people were stuck in traffic on the way out of the capital, Kyiv, with air-raid sirens around the city.  

The map of Ukraine, and cities that were attacked Thursday morning
The map of Ukraine, and cities that were attacked Thursday morning
Veronika Pshenytska | The Seattle Collegian

CNN showed video footage of Russian troops moving into Ukrainian territory from across the border in Belarus

Troops cross from Belarus border
CNN News Troops cross from Belarus border.

Ivano-Frankivsk, a peaceful city in Western Ukraine experienced powerful explosions, which happened near the local airport. Now the city is in a state of unrest. 

Western Ukraine experienced powerful explosions
Ukrainian News Kurs

I am writing this article not to convince readers who in this game of political chess to support. However, I would like to reach out to those who do not know how to help or what to do in this situation. I am here to bring awareness that no matter what nationality or background you come from, you can help just by sharing the word. Everyone should understand the level of aggression the Ukrainian nation is experiencing today. 

To set the record straight, no, Ukraine was not created by Russians. Ukraine has its own history. Ukraine has its own language. Ukraine has its own anthem and flag. Ukraine has its own currency. Ukraine has its own traditions. Ukraine is not “a part of” Russia and never will be. 

#StandWithUkraine and help us stop Putin. It is time to act. 

This article was inspired by the social media posts published by @withukraine. If you are willing to support volunteers and the Ukrainian army, please donate only to the official recognized resources – https://savelife.in.ua/en/

Veronika is a student from Seattle Central College, an International Student Ambassador, and a member of the Editorial Board of Seattle Collegian. She loves to cook Ukrainian dumplings, travel in the Pacific states, read E.Hemingway, listen to The Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin. Veronika is pursuing her degree in web development. Her goal is to own her own business and financially contribute to Seattle Colleges Foundations to support low-income international students. While being a member of Seattle Collegian, Veronika is eager to share her own experience of living, visiting, working, and studying in foreign countries.

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