It’s important, I think, to acknowledge individuals, in what some find to be a “great-power struggle” or some kind of “game.” You can’t acknowledge all victims (though they deserve acknowledgement). But maybe a few?
Here is a caption from the New York Times:
Liza Dmytriyeva, a 4-year-old with Down syndrome, died when a flash of fire and metallic shrapnel erupted near her and her mother during a walk in Vinnytsia, Ukraine. Her mother, Iryna, lost a leg and remains unconscious.
• Hanna Liubakova, the Belarusian journalist, circulates a video: “The moment when a missile hit the downtown of Vinnytsia, where civilians were simply strolling and cycling.” Yes, that’s how it happens: One moment, you’re just walking around, going about your business, much like everyone else in the world, and the next moment: Russian bombs, and you may well be dead or dismembered.
That is the reality for Ukrainians.
• Myroslava Petsa, a Ukrainian journalist, circulates a picture, and writes,
Victoria and her seven-year-old son Maksym had an appointment at medical centre in Vinnytsya when Russian missile hit it, destroying the building and killing Maksym and his mother. This is what Russia does when it says it hits military targets only. It targets everyone/everything
“Everyone/everything” — that’s a good way to put it. Is this war, as most people understand “war”? Or mass terrorism?
• More from Myroslava Petsa:
It’s suddenly hit me: my kids will be telling their kids and grandkids stories about Russia’s war against Ukraine, just like my grandparents told me their memories of WWII horrors.
• Anna Myroniuk, another Ukrainian journalist, shows a picture of Kateryna Hula, and writes,
Russian rocket killed her.
Kateryna Hula went to the private clinic in Vinnytsia in the morning not knowing that the Russians would pick it as their target.
She was just 24. A sister of my colleague, a TV journalist Yura Hula.
• This report by Cara Anna of the Associated Press is headed “‘Bang, bang’: Children live and play near Ukraine front line.” The report begins,
The children flicker like ghosts on the empty playgrounds in weedy courtyards deep in a city whose residents have been told to get out now.
Six-year-old Tania has no more playmates left on her street in the eastern Ukraine city of Kramatorsk. She sits on a bench only steps away from the city’s train station that was attacked by Russia in April, killing more than 50 people who had gathered there to evacuate. The remnants of a rocket from that attack bore the inscription in Russian: “For the children.”
• Human-rights lawyer Oleksandra Matviichuk wants to highlight the case of a particular soldier:
My friend Maksym Butkevych was captured by Russians. When he joined army he said: “I have been an anti-militarist all my conscious life and remain so by conviction. But at this time, I feel in my place. These are tragic times. Everyone is doing what they can in the place they are”
• From the Daily Mail: “Briton, 28, facing death by firing squad in Ukraine is forced to sing Russian anthem in prison cell.” The article tells us,
A Briton facing death by firing squad in eastern Ukraine has been filmed in his prison cell singing the Russian national anthem.
Unshaven and in shabby clothes, Aiden Aslin, 28, is seen standing and singing the State Anthem of the Russian Federation in a 140-second video posted on the internet by the Kremlin-backed RT news outlet.
As he sings, John Dougan, an American former police officer, stands beside him smirking. When he finishes, Dougan — a prominent Russian propagandist in Ukraine — says: ‘Amazing.’
• A Ukrainian journalist, Nataliya Gumenyuk, writes,
On a recent trip to a village near Ukraine’s border with Russia, . . . a teenage Ukrainian soldier told me of how he did not want to live under a leader like Vladimir Putin, someone “who believes he may tell others what they should do.” . . . In a neighboring area, a former appliance repairman recounted to me his disbelief that Russian soldiers would invade “and kill innocent people, as if they have no choice.” He would prefer to go to prison, he said.
Gumenyuk then says the following:
As a Kyiv-based journalist working for Ukrainian and international media, I am very much a representative of the professional class, what many may call my country’s “liberal elite.” My circle of friends and I discuss democracy, accountability, and the rule of law, but we long believed we were a minority in Ukraine, that the majority of our compatriots did not care about these abstract terms. Yet in reporting on Putin’s invasion, in traveling through my country, I have heard fellow Ukrainians, without any prompting, explain these enormous concepts better than many academics.
A little more, for it is very interesting, and important:
I listened as those frontline fighters spoke of the freedom to choose who governed them and change course if need be, and the freedom to chart one’s own path in life. I heard a mayor say that his town near the Russian border was defending civilization and fighting on behalf of a world where laws mattered.
A lot of people, styling themselves “realists,” perhaps, hate this kind of talk. And yet that kind of talk . . . is true. And starkly realistic.
• From Jason Farago, an article headed “The War in Ukraine Is the True Culture War.” The author is an art-and-culture critic. He writes,
Why would a critic go into a war zone? Why should anyone care about a painting when cruise missiles are overhead? Because “this is a war about cultural identity,” said the curator Leonid Maruschak — one of so many writers, musicians and scholars I’ve met here who make no distinction between the survival of Ukraine’s people and land and the survival of its history and ideas.
With Russia actively trying to erase Ukraine’s national identity, this country’s music, literature, movies and monuments are not recreations. They are battlefields. The true culture war of our age is the war for democracy, and Ukrainian culture, past and present, has become a vital line of defense for the whole liberal order.
• I would like to end these notes with a portion of a letter from a friend of mine:
Although I read everything you write, perhaps what I read most intensely are your writings about the horrors in Ukraine. When I do, I think sometimes about my grandmother, my aunt and my uncle, all of whom experienced in full the horrors of World War II and its aftermath in Hungary. The three of them all had a certain look on their face, a look that my father, who came to the United States a few months before Pearl Harbor, didn’t have, nor has anybody else that I ever known. I came to the conclusion some time ago that their look was the result of being forced to peer for far too long at the bottom of hell. I’m seeing that look now on the faces of so many Ukrainians. I can’t describe how sad I find this.