If you are looking for any information on the book with the same title or the film starring Brad Pitt, you are in the wrong place. This is a family blog that has nothing to do with world wide zombie infestation, but instead will be a contemplation on the war that Russia is wagging against a sovereign country of Ukraine. Did I use the famous title as a clickbait – yes and no. Yes, because it might attract an extra reader who will discover my blog and read it and like/dislike it. No, because the Z stands for the letter that Russian forces are using as the emblem of their promotion for the war – as far as I understand it, the Z means “Zmaga”, Victory. This makes me sad because we should know by now that in wars there are no real victors, only people who suffer and those who suffer more. We have seen this so many times before – before Ukraine the war in Syria touched upon the EU through the refugee crisis.
For Europeans such as us it was much easier to distance ourselves from the atrocities that were raging in Syria and other Mid-Eastern countries, mostly due to the relative distance and cultural differences of those countries from our part of the world. Regardless how hypocritical that must sound, that is how it was. Maybe there was also some element of hubris involved in the relative ease of our ignorance of the war in Syria, as we ignorantly thought that strife on a scale of a war would never touch our part of Europe. Oh, how quickly we forgot the Balkan wars. Even when the first attacks started in Ukraine a month ago, the European leader mentioned mostly the aggressions at the start of the Second World War, while my memories brought back feeling of the time when the former Yugoslavian leaders from Beograd decided that they did not like the self-determination of the former Yugoslavian republics. Now, suddenly, Europe finds itself on the borders of a war, a massive military invasion of a world military power against a sovereign Republic Ukraine. Surprisingly, I noticed on social networks that a pro-Russian sentiment is forming. Most of those people had a stance that Ukraine provoked the war with their wish to enter the NATO and EU and that Russia is therefore justified in attacking these provokers (these arguments were made by Slovenians). Again, I contemplated this argument and was taken back to the moments in Slovenia’s short history, when after the separation from Yugoslavia we as a young nation, decided to integrate in the EU and join the NATO. I wonder if these people also felt that Serbia or any countries of the former Yugoslavia would be justified to “curb our enthusiasm for western and European integration” in the same way as Russia now feels it is justified in bringing in-line its former part of the Soviet Socialist Republic. Would any Slovenian take the position that Serbia is justified in stopping our sovereign decision to join NATO?
Outside of these geopolitical contemplations there are quite more personal concerns when it comes to the war in Ukraine. When I studied in Dundee, I had a colleague from Ukraine and we became friends and we stayed in touch after he moved back to Ukraine and we returned to Slovenia. When there was talk of war, I asked him how things looked from the genuine Ukrainian position (I must admit that I also have developed a relative skeptical view of the media, who is indeed at times capable of presenting a one-sided view of things – so I like to check different sources and develop the most objective view as I can). When there were reports of imminent Russian attacks before, he would brush the reports off and say that this is just exaggeration. This time it was different. Even my friend had no idea what was happening. And when things got clearer and the war became a fact, he was very surprised that Russia would go that far. Since then we talked a few times and we write to each other regarding how things are developing. Luckily, my friend lives in Lviv, which is one of the most western cities in Ukraine, and that means that he is mostly out of harms way. Regardless, even the most western parts of Ukraine have had evidence of war (this is a video he sent me of explosions going off in his city):
Next to this, Ukrainian war effort means that everyone that is still in the country (on the day of this post more than 4 million of the 44 million people have fled the country) is in some way involved in the war effort. For him that means helping with the effort in his spare time on the back-lines. And he sees what the war is doing to his country. This once closely connected country with Russia, where Russian was a obligatory second language, is now severing its ties with Russia. Countries media, owned by Russian oligarchs are now being reorganized, Russian is not the language of broadcasts anymore, and Ukrainian nationalistic sentiment is reaching previously unimaginable heights. If the intention of Russia was to make Ukraine Russian again, they have achieved the opposite. They have alienated the Ukrainian people for generations to come if not forever. Next to this, the promulgated goal of the Russian agenda was to liberate the part of Ukraine that was held by the Russian separatists even before the war broke out (part of the Donetsk and Luhansk region). These parts of Ukraine have seen the most fighting and completely against the Russian declared agenda, the Russians do not seem to be interested in liberating these regions but on destroying the cities and its people. The reports on attacks on civilians are now so numerous that there can be no doubt that Russia is deliberately and massively targeting civilians and civilian targets – thus committing war crimes. Some of the cities in these predominantly pro-Russian regions have been hit so hard that there is nothing left of the cities. My Ukrainian friend tells me that that not that the building in the cities have been destroyed so much as the cities base have been damaged beyond repair. The complete infrastructure, the sewage, electrical and water infrastructure are beyond salvation. This means that the bases of the cities have been disabled and there is no possibility or even hope for restoration of the cities after the war. One of these cities is Mariupol (most talked about in the media), however my Ukrainian friend tells me of cities that we don’t hear in the media, that have been completely erased. I am quite certain that is not the kind of liberation that the pro-Russian Ukrainians were hoping for from their Russian “liberators”.
Meanwhile, the world is helping in any way it can to help Ukraine with the war effort, helping the millions of refugees, imposing sanctions on Russia to curb the influx of money into Russia which will then in turn be used to fund the war. While I am amazed at how the world came together to sanction Russia, I am completely against the demonization of Russian people and the Russian culture. The reasoning behind this was that this Russian presence in Slovenia can potentially be used to promote Russia’s arguments for the war and spread misinformation about the war – without showing any evidence that this was a real possibility or that in-fact this already occurred. Therefore, I was quite opposed to the closure of the Russian-Slovenian cultural institute in Ljubljana solely on the reasons that it is connected to Russia. Complete de-Russification of Europe and severing all ties with Russia will not help the diplomatic efforts in stopping the war. Especially, now in times of extreme violence, the cultural interactions and exchanging of experience, sharing culture will bring us more together. And it is much more difficult to wage war on people you feel closer to, than the people of which you have distorted information and know only from vilified news reports. We must remember that the war in Ukraine is mostly the decision of one man, Putin, and not the Russian people, who have been misled and misinformed and pressured into supporting the war. Hating them will yield nothing in my opinion – quite the opposite, it may lead us into perpetual reciprocal aggression of nations against nations. In other words, it will lead us into another world war that will scar us indefinitely.
I support my Ukrainian friend and wish them that they stay safe – that is the reason that Hertourage is wearing the Ukrainian colours.