Ukraine: Resisting the Dark Ages: One of our contributors has just returned from Ukraine

Russia has done this before. 1933 child dead of starvation lying in street when Stalin tried to starve Ukraine into submission

Ukraine, November 2022. Pale faces, people’s faces, faces closest to my own, were like the pale asphalt underneath them, trammelled down, defiled, broken into — recognisably unrecognisable when laid bare after a wreckage — and each one had, like the fat-roll sandbag barricades on roads, guarded eyes for company. The certainty of another day’s uncertainty pervaded the midday in Lviv, Ukraine as I stepped out of the station. And all at once ’the conscience of a blackened street / Impatient to assume the world’ was there, the words that T.S. Eliot wrote down in 1910-11, wherein only one small tweak was needed: ‘Impatient to consume the world.’ I never thought I’d hate to witness Preludes literally. Meanwhile soldiers walked, like taxi drivers walk, toward the entrance and in the winter steam of late-November conversations, a single question threaded through from mouth to mouth: how long will this blackness stay?

The Russian bombardment of power grids and stations radically intensified following Ukraine’s counter-offensive in September, starting in the Kharkiv region. By the morning of 21st of November 2022, as I stepped back onto the country of my birth, 10 million had been left without power throughout 17 regions in Ukraine as well as our capital. Strict restrictions on water, heat and electricity ensued throughout the country over the past two months in a race to mend, redistribute and reconfigure power sources before the next salvo of Russian shells was encountered and best-as-could-be countered. A shutdown schedule was released every day, I was told, via ‘Telegram’, an app that produced all the up-to-dates and up-to-hours on the goings on of war. The business of getting on with the day-to-day relied, in other words, on pop-ups on the phone screen, which informed one where life would be popped out, when. ‘Холодом і голодом він хоче нас морить’ (He wants to torture us by starvation and by cold), an old woman said to someone on the street. I didn’t care to find out who she was — it ceased to matter. She knew, like everyone around here knew, what’s meant by ‘Holodomor’, and from her mouth escaped the neatest, purest summary of what the Western media debates and NATO is aware of: what Vladimir Putin’s up to next.

This piece is not concerned with the pro and contra regarding the legitimacy of Russian shelling of Ukraine’s infrastructure. Had I been inclined to reason on this, the first port of call would be to ask what reasonable person can possibly debate the legitimacy of war tactics in an illegitimate war. Reason, however, tends to go out of the window when you’re witness to dismembered veterans, rags wrapped round their yellow stumps, rolling their way in and out of Soviet-era hospitals — older than the ones in Kyiv, where surgeons had to operate though blackouts; children, between 2 and 12, weaving camo-nets inside a near sub-zero volunteer block (‘little spiders’ they were called) and drilling homework in bomb-shelters; old ill grandparents making their way through the darkness with the tender steps of infants — one false move, a candle flicker, and seventy years of wisdom, love and tenderness is gone; or people starving, starving, out on the streets, stomping down the bitter, rabid cold, all ready for oncoming death. Already waiting.

And even as I write this now, I cannot help trying to pretty it all up — to untwist, at least a little, my own inverted, torn up dream of a country I once knew — the diehard passion of my people to survive, protect their home at the cost of home itself. The point is this, I think: human spirit will erode the physical reality if it’s the only thing that we’ve got left. Because it will go on in-spite of all. Ukrainians will keep on fighting even if it means a hard, cold,hungry death — the kind of death that’s spreading every time the lights go off — because they will not live under the Russian yoke again. And knowing this, knowing that resistance will continue ad necessitam, I wanted to share, at least in part, what these blackouts are, what people face within them, and why the West ought not to shy away from helping people in desperate battle for enlightenment.

Power infrastructure is fair game so long as targeted solely for military purpose, Additional Protocol 1, Article 2 (2) of the Geneva Convention (1949) tells us. And if one wants to play at Russian apologist, one need not telescope it down to just Iraq in 1991, Yugoslavia in 1999 or Iraq in 2003 as examples of where Western coalitions made use of this themselves (if you will, however, try to equalise, you’d better also come on up with equal criticism produced against these ‘battle tactics’ within Russia to parallel that which was produced within US / UK; and also provide evidence for the minimisation of destruction as per ICRC), one can simply bring one’s mind back to the Dark Ages and say: there’s nothing new here! they can’t get through into the castle, so they’ll keep lobbing, burning stuff inside and wait for the defenders to burn out. This in no way exhausts what Russians have done, do and will continue doing in this war, and though I’ve become convinced that it’s quite futile to expect anything beyond a 14th century mentality from Muscovites, I do admit it’s a reductive way of putting down what their boys are doing to my home. Pre-empting all the military experts’ smacking of the lips and call outs ‘just hold on a second! surely it’s a little more complex than that — they’re not bombing indiscriminately’, however, I’ll say this: it isn’t you that’s holding on.

And had they been allowed by NATO to do with bombs what they did with their hands in Bucha, Mariupol or the torture chambers of Kharkiv and Kherson, there would be far less debate on whether we should label Russia as a terror-state. If the notion of shelling electric power grids, stations and transformers seems fair play to you, because those inevitably support Ukraine’s ‘war sustaining’ efforts, try to portion out some of this rationale to consider what happens to the civilian populous once water isn’t running and the food begins to rot; once the sewage system overflows; once medical supplies, and heat and law and order all start to disappear; once you cannot call for help because every phone line’s dead. Struggling to imagine what would happen if you, a person living in the 21st century, were to be submerged into a full-scale, full-time blackout during Winter? Perhaps you will not need to. Plagues tend to spread if Dark Ages aren’t put in check.

“He hopes that this will force Zelia [Zelensky] to his terms, that people will rise up. There’s talk of a partition. Moscal’s now standing up in Belarus as well — border’s mined to f***, so difficult to cross — but he [the Russians] don’t need to cross in [yet], he just needs us stretched, on guard, so we can’t push back as we did. Meanwhile they’re bombing about in weekly intervals — why? ‘cause they’re running out of rockets, and our boys would take ‘em all down unless they shoot 70 to 80 minimum, all in one go, which, ‘course, gives a little window of prep time… point is, kiddo, this is all still flowers compared to what will be once Winter truly hits” my godfather said soon after the attack on November 23rd, before returning to the febrile online search for a petrol / diesel generator seeing as his ‘Chicken’s dying’. He, like every man that accepted the duty to provide, had to familiarise himself with the broader geopolitics as best he could to ‘try ’n predict’ what his children will come face-to-face with the next day. It wasn’t, howbeit, his self-taught military and political analysis that struck. It was the swiftness with which he then cut it off; it ceased to matter — to exist — for him, soon as the basic necessities for the continued existence of his loved ones were cut off.

Still now, like him, in mid-December, I don’t know, and no one does, what the next day will bring. And the longer Ukraine’s plunged in darkness, nor will we. Perhaps then it might be prudent to consider some things we do know. Ukrainians, for one, are a people with a history, culture and traditions that distinguished themselves around the year 862 A.D from other Slavs under the rule of the Varangian warlords Askold and Dir and later Oleg in the late 880s, at least 3 centuries before there was a whiff of Muscovy. And it is perhaps because of a “remarkable similarity” we share with Russians, as Mr Peter Hitchens called it on GB News a little more than a week prior to the events described, that Ukrainians will not give up resistance. Too much had been given for too long, and there’s not a chance in hell that Putin is proposing that they’ll agree to cease a sovereignty and land that they spent generation upon generation bleeding for. Though it might be difficult to grasp for global minds, the concept of one free-thinking people — one sovereign nation state — is one that is as embedded in Ukrainian hearts as it is in our coat of arms. It’s a shame that some independent minds, who likewise still believe it here in Britain, don’t seem to grasp why the concept needs to be defended east of here. As to the question of all the billions spent already, refugees and the economic strife this put on UK, Europe and US, all that will be ‘flowers’ — to borrow the expression from my godfather — merely flowers compared to the loss of life, the cultural destruction, economic strife and the terror that insurgency will bring if this war is lost.

Historical Photographs of the Holodomor

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11 Comments on Ukraine: Resisting the Dark Ages: One of our contributors has just returned from Ukraine

  1. At the risk of appearing trivial or merely facetious why does Zelenskyy feel the need to permanently swathe himself in Combat and Camouflage apparel? Even the Capitol? I cannot quite put my finger on it but there is something bogus about this chap Not a “rounded” person one might say.

  2. Everyone knows about Stalin, but Stalin has nothing to do with modern Russia.
    The Russia today is not the Russia of 1930. Equating the two doesn’t make any sense; it’s bad logic. That’s like comparing 1930’s England (prosperous and gentlemenly) to the 2023 (thugs and losers). You cannot keep calling upon historical examples of atrocities, then claim those atrocities are being committed now.

    The situation in Donbas has nothing to do with 1930. It has everything to do with Minsk agreement. Even Angela Merkel has come out and said that Kiev violated the Minsk agreement. It’s a known fact. That is what caused this war, not Stalins invasion in the 30’s.

    Now there have been some claims that the shelling of Donbas is a “false flag” to give Putin the moral precept he needs to attack. Yet, whenever journalists ask for evidence of a false flag none is given. Zero! No documents. Nothing. Nada. Just more incoherent babbling and prattling…

    The photos of dead bodies in Ukraine and the bombings of power grids only confirms that a war is taking place. The photos don’t talk about why that war started, the moral center of he war, and Kiev’s involvement and the hardships faced by people living within the Donbas region.

    And for those who scream communism and totalitarianism: Russia in 2023 is a republic employing capitalism as their mode of production.

    Now Putin, of course, has gone after his political rivals and that has taxed their republic; and one could say they are totalitarian because Putin loves cronyism and operates with a hard hand, but that’s not the same as communism. The state doesn’t control the means of production in Russia. Unlike England, it’s a country with very low debt, and a country that is employing capitalism as their mode of production.

    I very much doubt that Putin is trying to take over Ukraine. He’s more or less protecting Russians in Donbas from shelling which has been ongoing for at least seven years now.

    There is always two sides to a story. So less opinionated bias and more facts please.

    And stop the wild accusations and false analogies to the 1930’s. Times have changed. That’s the equivalent to calling German’s totalitarians because Hitler was a menace eighty years ago. Should we start talking about Queen Elizabeth I and her religious tyranny statutes, or should we call England totalitarian because in 1062 they didn’t have a parliament, or because there were a massacres in Ireland and Scotland in the 13th and 14th centuries? How silly to make these comparisons.

    And the roots of communism don’t exist in Russia. There are always a few wacko’s, but if you took a poll in Moscow 90% or greater would totally oppose communism. after all, nobody knows the horrors of the gulags more than Russians.

    So if you write about Ukraine, then focus solely on the facts in Donbas and the violation of the Minsk agreement, and whether or not Donbas has the legal and moral right to declare unilitaral separation. If you believe, for example, that Bosnia deserves the right to unilaterally separate from serbia, then why can’t Donbas separate?

    hmmm….

    …consistency in logic is important.

    • Well said.
      I’m also tired of the propaganda.
      And the baby boomers are the worst. Most of them are still living in the 60s.
      Ukraine needs to compromise. They’ve had seven years and they still cannot come to an agreement. And the west needs to stop sending weapons otherwise this could lead to WWIII and I’m not going to fight over a region of Ukraine that wants to be part of Russia. I could care less if Russia takes Donbas. It’s not my problem and it doesn’t affect me at all. If the people in Donbas didn’t want to be part of Russia, then their militant groups wouldn’t be fighting alongside them.
      I mean we have enough problems to worry about at home.
      And quite frankly, we’re more communist/socialist than Russia.
      The USSR was obviously different.
      Not that I would want to live in Russia. Putin is a thug. But at least they’re not woke and broke.

    • ”I very much doubt that Putin is trying to take over Ukraine. He’s more or less protecting Russians in Donbas from shelling which has been ongoing for at least seven years now.’ Putin ordered the invasion of Ukraine. That invalidates your argument.

      • If you take the emotion out of it, it was a botched show of force to secure the Donbas and threaten Kiev/Kyiv to perhaps force a change of government. That failed and Ukraine portrayed it as an “invasion” “Putin wants to reconstitute the soviet empire” and other nonsense. So rather than confining it to the Donbass the war escalated. No peacemakers emerged and war has a logic of its own most of it brutal.

        You must have seen the interview from years back with one of the nazi style Ukrainians looking forward to a war with Russia to somehow define the nation and bring everyone (the Hungarian, The Romanians, the Galicians, the Russian speaking Ukrainians and perhaps some Russian speaking Russians) together into one happy Ukrainian family and make a new nation. Certainly there are no fence sitters now.

        They could have played east against west for the benefit of all citizens as even low IQ Philppines and Indonesian do but the Ukrainian leaders, brought up on a manufactured history of heroism (when it was the opposite – the most disgusting behaviour of WW2 was by Ukrainians on both sides!) decided to continue a war with US support. US by the way cares more for an owl in its forests than any Ukrainians.

        This was clearly a mistake and will cost the country dearly. The decision will play out. Kyiv or another city will be probably be flattened to bring leaders to their senses. The hatred will last generations and Ukraine will be impoverished for another generation thanks the politics it has chosen.

    • Interesting. I’ve ignored SR email notifications for months because I’m frankly disgusted with the Gleichschaltung going on (perhaps you think I’m guilty of the very thing you criticise; I use the term much as Dinesh D’Souza has; I think he’s right). I’ve similarly tentatively had a look at Skeptical Doctor to see if TD has anything to say about vax related deaths; he appears to be avoiding the matter; dodgy investments?
      I recall Russell Brand being criticised on the unofficial TD Forum about ten years ago… who’d have thought then he’d now be doing more vital commentary than TD?
      Re Russia; The U.K. establishment is far more aligned with Pussy Riot than Dame Vera Lynn. We have lost the moral high ground.

  3. Victory must have seemed a distant prospect when my father, with the RAMC, was evacuated from Dunkirk. The Americans were told by their embassy that supporting Britain would only prolong our suffering.
    With the spirit of Vichy now threatening to spread beyond France, this is, as Maggy would say, “no time to get wobbly”. We must back our friends to the hilt.

    • To the comment above: What a load of misplaced sentimental rubbish. Russia may well be a problem for Ukraine but it’s way down the list of problems for the people of the UK.

      No one is going to bed at night worried about the Russians rampaging through Europe or threatening the way of life on our shores. It’s smoke and mirrors designed to deflect attention away from our real problems.

      Our problems are Islamic fundamentalism, the infiltration of academia and institutions by Marxist socialist group think, the environmental movements vendetta against reliable fossil fuel energy, the destruction of our Judeo-Christian rational law abiding culture with a tribal superstitious Afro-Arab medieval culture and the poisonous addiction to social media fueling groups like BLM and Just Stop Oil whilst destroying the minds of most people under the age of 40.

      The true shame about the Russia-Ukraine problem is that the only type of men left who would fight to defend the Judeo-Christian Western way of life from our invaders are busy killing each other and not their common enemy.

      The sooner China intervene and take the lead in the running of the world the better. At least they are proud of their way of life and have National pride and wont give any quarter to the rubbish coming out of Africa and the Middle East.

      • The Chinese seem to be taking over what the politicians have left of Britain, as it is. No “Judeo-Christian” apprehensions there. However, I prefer WHITE (yes, white) unity worldwide to protect and promote our threatened civilization.