100 Days of the War - Memories, Impressions and Reflections
Ihor Zhdanov, Information Defence Project, Open Policy Foundation
The project Information Defence of Ukraine offers you new and ever more creative formats for its experts’ analytical reviews.
Minded that by this the 100 day anniversary of russia's full-scale war against Ukraine we would have already provided a lot of high-quality analysis, we have decided to offer our readers something different: personal memories, sometimes ironic, dark and sarcastic thoughts, and impressions of communicating with friends.
1. Ukrainians are a nationality of paradoxes: about ourselves, our wives, about us and Ukraine.
I always say that war raises both the best and the worst that exists in the individual and the nation as an entire being.
Most Ukrainians without unnecessary reminders collect things for support, sometimes giving the last they have to volunteer at the front. But there is always a little group of those who want to “knock off” even the last.
Near the military enlistment offices are the queues to be mobilised for the Armed Forces, the Territorial defence battalions can be reached only having a “special protection” i.e. a legitimate medical reason for not being able to serve in the official forces. A young man dressed in women's clothes was detained at the border and tried to leave for Poland in order not to serve in the army. Another “creative guy” hid in the trunk of a car in a baby box.
My wife Iryna is the owner and director of a small private online school. From February 24th, she has not stopped teaching even for a day, teachers conduct remote lessons under the sound of sirens, and from bomb shelters. She set herself a voluntary task: to provide free distance learning for young Ukrainians who have lost this opportunity. Before the war, she taught around several dozen students, but now she is teaching up to five thousand students for free. I am proud.
In mid-April, I saw a brand-new Maybach near the Arsenalna underground station, which was obviously delivered under preferential customs clearance for private use. My only desire was to take a nail and make an inscription on the shiny lacquered side: “ZSU (The Armed Forces of Ukraine). Goes to the front!”
Many of my friends are at the frontline or in the Territorial defence groups. I sit at home - I have been rehabilitating after a stroke, I have been writing analytics for Information Defence, I am helping the front, step by step, to the best of my ability as a volunteer.
I feel uncomfortable, I am used to being at the centre of events since 2014, I am ashamed now. I met a friend who came from the frontline, he has concussion, I also can't hear with one ear. Therefore, we were sitting and talking, turning to each other on the side that has the ability to hear.
He told me about his courageous feeling. He says, “Yeah, and three more guys need to be sent with you to transfer you to the battlefield” (it is still a little difficult for me to walk). I am slightly relaxed.
2. How Ukrainians learned to volunteer: “Ukraine is above all!”.
Two revolutions – The Orange Revolution and The Dignity Revolution, the beginning of the anti-terrorist operation - taught people to volunteer, supply and replace the government where needed: to help at the back of the Armed Forces, providing food, supply of bulletproof vests and helmets.
The active majority knew what to do and how to do it - volunteer help went to the front in large amounts from the first days of the war.
There is another paradox. Thanks to the coronavirus pandemic - it taught us to work remotely using modern digital gadgets. It would be difficult without it.
We joined the Information Defence project in a few days, although we did not know each other before, some of us have been working in Kyiv, someone in Vinnytsia, and someone in London.
The obscene colloquial vocabulary has become the norm in our wartime.
Drawing by Nikita Titov
The answer of the frontier guard “russian military ship, go fuck yourself!” not only crystallized our attitude towards russian aggression, but also opened the gateways for the use of colloquial phrases on TV.
As for the russian warship, it sank after a "friendly" meeting with a Ukrainian Neptune missile.
I have been talking to one of the best Ukrainian religious intellectuals, Father Heorhii (Kovalenko). The UOC-MP allegedly announced the severance of relations with the Moscow Patriarchate. He said: “In the occupied territories: "UOC plus MP”; in Ukrainian territories: "UOC minus MP"”. In general, the UOC must go with the russian military ship.
3. About war, gifts, and genocide.
A gift for 100 days of the war is 30,000 liquidated russian occupiers. The only thought is “Hell will mend you all”.
Drawing by Nikita Titov
And now about the sad issues: first of all about Bucha as a symbol of genocide of Ukrainians. No one in the 21st century believed that russian occupiers would be so inhuman. The number of civilians killed, and not just as a result of the shelling, is beyond the limits of understanding. Consciousness tries to build a wall, and the mind refuses to believe in what has been seen and heard.
Shortly after the territory was liberated, I went to Bucha, Hostomel, and Irpin, gaining nothing but hatred for the russian occupiers. I think this is right.
I think, like everyone: is this possible in the 21st century, are our neighbours non-human cannibals who have no morals, consciences, or basic human principles?
It turns out, they do not have it, and this inhuman behaviour is possible.
4. About russia, the occupiers and a so-called russian culture.
russia is a country whose name we Ukrainians, without any special agreement, have begun to write in lower case.
As far as we’re concerned, russian culture can follow the direction of the russian military ship. I do not understand this discussion about their culture at all. My compatriots are dying at the front, millions of refugees, whole cities have been and still are being destroyed - that's what you need to think about first of all, that's what really concerns all of us.
russian military "liberators" steal toilets, washing machines, lingerie - that's a real russian culture. And will these non-humans still teach us how to live?
The occupiers - we are all in shock – do not just use colloquial language, they are talking to their mothers and wives using russian “mat” (obscene language). Their mothers and wives are no better.
putin is a “fucking genius” of politics – everything he does has the opposite result. After the russian aggression and Bucha, Ukraine naturally turned from a neutral country into one hostile to russia.
NATO and the United States have strengthened, and russia has weakened and become isolated as a result of military setbacks and economic sanctions. Well done, mr. putin, continue in the same way.
russian propaganda: Ukrainian Nazis are destroying their own civilians and their cities. Surprisingly, if there was no war, we would all be living peacefully; no one destroyed Ukrainian cities with Ukrainian artillery, they went to theatre performances, and did not have to hide in bomb shelters.
5. About allies and “allies”.
“Old Europe” is fluctuating along with its “general line”. Today they declare the need to preserve putin's face and Ukraine's territorial concessions to russia, tomorrow they will give heavy attacking weapons for the Armed Forces of Ukraine. The day after tomorrow, the truth will become clear that this weapon is not available; it must be produced, perhaps by the end of the year, or possibly later.
Boris Johnson (actually Johnsoniuk) is “a real bro” to us.
The United States was not thinking for a long time, and applied the experience that had already successfully worked during the Second World War, adopting a special law on land lease for Ukraine. Now military equipment and weapons must flow into Ukraine like a mighty river.
We need them on time, however. It is not easy for our men who are fighting heroically in the East of Ukraine right now.
Glory to Ukraine!
With the beginning of russia's unprovoked aggression against Ukraine, experts of the project Information Defence of Ukraine prepare daily reviews of the military-political situation in Ukraine in Ukrainian, English and Russian. The first review was released on February 26th. Experts moderate the Telegram channel Information Defence of Ukraine. All project experts work free of charge from February 24th to May 29th, 2022 exclusively as volunteers. This is a team of professional analysts who need your support. Negotiations with donors are underway. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine has provided a letter of support for this important initiative. Today we need your help.
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