Until this year my knowledge of the Republic of Ukraine has been minimal. I knew little of the country’s geography and even less of its history. Over recent years there have been increasing press and broadcast reports and now in 2022 it is the world’s headline, it is awful and evil.
After the Twentieth Century with two World Wars and many subsequent regional conflicts, it is shaming that the all-out Stalinist devastation that the Kremlin is now unleashing on Ukraine can happen with only the bravery of the Ukrainians standing in defence.
Today I have been looking at the history of Ukraine, it is a long and awful tale of repression, serfdom and yet triumphs against the odds. Kyiv was an important town before Moscow was significant, yet Ukrainian history is full of tragedy. The Scythians were in those lands seven centuries before Christ, the Greeks came and the Slavs settled long before the Vikings came, Oleg capturing Kyiv in the Ninth Century A.D. Later the Mongols – Ghengis Khan’s grandson – invaded.
Later it was the Polish/Lithuanian empire that wielded power over the ever-changing boundaries of Ukrainian lands. The Turks came until the Cossacks – (Freemen) – rebelled before Tzarist Russia and Austria claimed their lands.
In 1917 there was all too brief independence before it was subsumed into the USSR. Stalin collectivized peasant agriculture, in 1932/33 there was famine when millions, mostly in Ukraine, died. Stalin’s purges then predated the Nazi onslaught with millions, mostly Jewish, murdered. Stalin,’s return led to reprisals assuming the people were disloyal.
In more recent history with the ending of the USSR, Ukraine moved closer to Europe as have other states, but there was hesitation and the opportunity was not taken. How wrong that looks today with the Stalinist Kremlin dictatorship. The utter cruelty of current events is the measure of man’s cruelty to man. It exceeds the worst of the animal kingdom.