I keep in touch with my Ukrainian journalist colleagues, whom I had the honour to meet in Kyiv in September 2021. Here is a letter from journalist Lyudmila Makey from Kirovohrad in Ukraine, who is celebrating her birthday today. Here is the letter sent on the day of the Russian invasion:
‘Your words of support at a difficult moment in my country’s history are very important to me. My relatives nor I could have ever imagined that the “brotherly Russian people” would become the biggest threat to Ukrainians. Unfortunately, it isn’t delightful to realise this. But in eight years of undeclared war, my loved ones and I have forever given up any illusions about such “friendship”.
Since 2014, the best Ukrainian guys who died in Donbas have been regularly buried in my city. It is impossible to get used to this, just as it is impossible to get used to the idea that one state can safely take a bite out of someone else’s territory in the twenty-first century while cynically imposing its values on others.
But there is good news. I think that in the face of a common threat, people have become more organised and united. So many Ukrainians are ready to defend their country with weapons in hand. They attend training sessions on territorial defence, learning to handle weapons and provide first aid. I have seen men, women and children at such classes.
Of course, I understand that war is the worst of evils, and I can never forgive or justify violence, destruction and killing. But at the same time, I realise that not words, entreaties and concessions, but only force and adequate decisive response can stop the enemy. And something tells me that by his decision to go to war with Ukraine, Putin has signed his death warrant not only for himself as a politician but also for the state of Russia as it exists today.
I have a ” alert rucksack” standing in the corridor. But my loved ones nor I are panicking. On the contrary, we have become even closer and more attentive to each other.
Relatives, friends and colleagues who live in Russia and often write to me. Among them, many sensible people are against the war. My grandfather died heroically in 1942, defending his country from the Nazis, and is buried somewhere near Volgograd. I don’t know how the grandchildren of his comrades-in-arms will be able to kill Ukrainians. But if they do, they will have to pay a very high price.
Thank you once again for your support, dear Ruslanas. I believe that we will meet again and drink to our sincere friendship.
Lydmila wrote to me today:’And you know, from recent discoveries: how a collective tragedy has changed Ukrainians beyond recognition. I am proud of my people!’
Happy birthday dear Lyudmila and Слава Україні!