Russia will not yield to its post-soviet army…
Education, within Ukrainian military units is believed to be unnecessary and outright garbage and thus they don’t provide adequate time or attention to its potential benefits. The reasons are an obvious poor understanding primarily by the commanders – most of whom are soviet thinkers, and for whom it is not understandable nor necessary.
From 2004, lectures about the “History of the Ukrainian Army”, taught in higher military educational institutions, ceased to be provided at all. By comparison, the history of the military and it formations is studied at all western military academies. This forms an essential component of the preparation of any type of officer – the knowledge of the history of one’s own military.
Moreover, the history of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) during the latter half of the last century was studied by military historians in the USA. Yet in Ukraine, at the Military Institute at the Taras Shevchenko Kyiv National University, the walls are still covered with the portraits of the leaders of the red and white movements and, in the Kyiv Military Lyceum, there exists a bust of the warlord who liquidated the Cossacks. It appears that the primary forces of Russian propaganda are at work here – ie., “that the truth is somewhere in between”. Sadly, we are not aware of our own historical truth.
Researchers at the Ukrainian Institute of National Remembrance are trying to break through the barriers placed by the Ministry of Defence and have individually taken up the challenge to work with some military groups.
Recently the institute began to collaborate with “Patriot Defence”. At the completion of their courses the military participants interact with researchers from the institute regarding the history of the armed forces in Ukraine and about (Ukrainian) history in general.
One such meeting in mid-January, the participants had an opportunity to meet with the Director of the Ukrainian Institute of National Remembrance, Volodymyr Vyatrovych. His presentations are published as separate documents.
The Identity War
The war, which is currently going on in the East, is not a war about territory. In reality, Russia does not need Ukrainian land. Russia needs Ukrainians so as to realise its global goal of “russkyj myr”.
The realisation of this would be undertaken by those Ukrainians who see themselves as being close to Russians, as well as those who have a sentimental attachment to the soviet past. They are the main proponents of the ideology of “russkyj myr”, which in fact remains the very same soviet ideology that is today evident in elements of Russian Orthodoxy.
Therefore, the current war is by definition a war for identity, and about whether Ukraine shall exist as such.
The communist regime had as its aim, the destruction of awareness, which effectively meant the extermination of Ukrainians and the creation of “one” people. It is because of this that the people that were exterminated were those that effectively remembered (the past). The aim of the soviet authorities was to destroy the ties between generations.
Soviet propaganda prevented a Ukrainian from being a leader, nor a hero, or even a good soldier. This type of Russian propaganda is currently being repeated. Over the last year, we constantly hear the Russian side touting that Ukrainians do not know how to fight a war, that they are incapable of defending themselves, that Ukrainians can only ruin their army, not rebuild it.
Russian propaganda has created a situation that Russians themselves believe, that it is truly such as this. Therefore, when in 2014 they commenced their actions against Ukraine, they were convinced that it will go very smoothly, very quickly – Crimea collapsed and, in a few days they will be in Kyiv.
The extraordinary ability of Ukrainians to create a Ukrainian Army
But it happened differently. Against a background of Russian aggression, a completely new Ukrainian army was being formed. It fired up long forgotten and effectively destroyed historical experiences, which lay in the fact that Ukrainians are capable of creating an army under extreme conditions even in the absence of the State.
This was the case in the Cossack period, when Ukrainians did not have their own State, but were able to form an army – one of the most effective of its time, which in the end, during the mid-17th century created the Ukrainian State.
In fact, during the period 1917 – 1921, the creation of a Ukrainian army was undertaken, again without the participation of the State, and often against the will of the policy of the State.
Another such example occurred during the Second World War, when in 1942, Ukraine was occupied by the Germans. At this time in Volyn a platoon of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) is formed and, commences to initially fight the Germans. Ukrainians again displayed their extraordinary ability to form a State. The ranks of the UPA saw an enlistment of over 100,000 soldiers over a period of ten years. There was absolutely no material assistance provided by any other country to the UPA – they only relied on the resources of their own people.
And for God – a candle, and for the Devil…
Amazingly odd is the situation at the military lyceum in Kyiv. The lyceum has as its patron the cossack colonel, Ivan Bohun. Nevertheless on the property of the lyceum there is also a bust of Olesandr Suvorov, a Russian General (warlord), who is credited specifically for his liquidation of the Zaporizhian Sitch. Thus the heading: For God – a candle, and for the devil – a candle.
At the Military Institute at the Taras Shevchenlo Kyiv National University, the walls are adorned with portraits – simultaneously we have Simon Petlura, one of the leaders of the armed forces of the Ukrainian National Republic (UNR), Oleksandr Kolchak – one of the leaders of the white movement, as well as Shors, a leader of the red movement. An obvious question comes to mind – who in fact are we educating? Are we educating a person who will fight for a “single, indivisible Russian Empire”, for the Soviet Union, or for a person who will rebuild Ukraine?
The Russian army cannot be defeated and shall not be defeated some post-Soviet army. It can be defeated by the Ukrainian army, which is currently be formed and which remembers that it is the successor of military traditions which has its place in Ukraine.
We need normal technical provisions, and also to be secure ideologically. We do not need “either or”! I don’t mean for us to be naked and barefooted, but we do need to be adorned with blue and yellow flags. But equally, even if we have the technical provisions, but the military have no idea about what they are fighting for, this will also be demoralising.
Like never before, Ukraine is ready for change
Leaders do not arrive in pale helicopters. That, which is currently happening, is the same as that, which allows for such a leader to be born. I am of the belief, that both a political and a military leader, specifically in the middle ranks, are in their infancy, and they will be there for the future.
Those, who currently occupy the higher political or military positions, are not the ones that we need at this time in this situation. But some will grow who are prepared to shake them up, and they will shake them up.
In Israel, a State which has fought and, which is currently in a hostile environment, resulting that the people arose for the battle and created an army. The officers, arising from the lower ranks to occupy the higher ranks have now moved to politics and have started to change the country. This is the same direction which Ukraine could follow.
War takes a lot of resources and many lives. Equally it provides for the opportunity to speed up changes which are taking place in the country. At the moment, Ukraine is ready for serious changes at a rate much faster than ever before, because there is a military and civil leadership whom are very different.