Soviet violence in Ukraine: from 1918 to today


Soviet Russia and Ukraine have always had high tensions, tracing all of the way to the beginning of the Soviet Union. When the revolution against the tsar first began in Russia in 1917, Ukraine took that opportunity in the weakened government to officially break away from Russia and become independent. That independence lasted three years before Ukraine was forcefully taken into the USSR and was fitted with a soviet puppet government.

During their time under Soviet Rule, Ukraine was considered one of the closest advisors to Russia in the USSR. But they also suffered extremely under soviet rule, namely during the holodomor. The word derives from the Ukrainian word for starvation.

The holodomor occurred under Stalin’s rule. He deported millions of Ukrainians – many of which were part of ethnic groups, such as the Crimean Tartars – and sent them to Siberia to starve. There was also mass starvation in Ukraine in general, as Stalin diverted nearly all crops and wheat grown in Ukraine to Russia and other parts of the USSR. It is estimated that during the holodomor, 3.5 to 5 million Ukrainians died, and it is today recognized as a genocide of the Ukrainian people.

Ukraine wouldn’t escape the puppet government until the collapse of the Soviet Union, and it is debatably possible that the puppet government didn’t go completely away until the end of the presidency of Viktor Yanukovych.

In 2013, President Yanukovych was offered a trade pact with the EU, which could have streamlined Ukraine’s membership into the EU. Yanukovych, against most of the Ukrainian public’s wishes, turned down the pact in favor of a $15 billion bail from President Putin.

This led to months of peaceful protest in Ukraine against the President, wanting to expel the soviet leader out of the country. Yanukovych responded to the peaceful protest by sending out state troops and brutally murdering hundreds of civilian protesters. Eventually, Yanukovych was kicked out and banned from Ukraine.

In response to Putin losing his figurehead in Ukraine, he invaded Crimea and the Donbas region in order to regain a foothold in Ukraine. And this marked the start of the 8 year long war that has just recently escalated beyond what was believed to be plausible.

As of the moment, there are over 4 thousand recorded civilian casualties, most likely more that are unrecorded. Over 4.6 million Ukrainian refugees have left the country at the moment, and over 7.1 million Ukrainians have been displaced.

Currently fighting is occurring mostly in large cities in the East, such as Kharkiv, and Mariupol, two cities which have been hit very hard, along with the capital Kiev. But the fighting has also stretched to more western bordering cities, such as Lviv. Due to Russia’s annexation of Crimea, Russia has also successfully been able to blockade Ukraine from the coast, greatly limiting the number of supplies and aid Ukraine has been able to import.

This leaves Ukraine in a dire need for weapons first and foremost, and humanitarian aid. While nobody wishes for war, to avoid total devastation of civilian areas, Ukraine needs to be able to fight back to prevent more destruction and death of the Ukrainian peoples.

The war in Ukraine comes at no large surprise when looking back on the history between Ukraine and Russia. But for the war to occur in this modern age and time when war like this hasn’t occurred in Europe in over thirty years is what is the most shocking part about the war. Putin has declared war on past Soviet countries before, namely Georgia, but never on such a massive scale.

And it was the belief that Putin wouldn’t dare to attack Ukraine in this day and age that led to the state of unpreparedness that Ukraine was in when Putin fired the first missile. Putin’s brutality will have consequences, I can only hope it will come on time.