It’s 6 PM here on the east coast, but it’s 0100 in the morning in Kyiv. It is already Ukraine’s Independence Day. There’s predictions this will be a tough day for our friends, as Russia hates independence – freedom and sovereignty – when it concerns great nations.
Putin threatens more death from the skies – from Russian rockets, missiles, whatever is left – and promises to rain these devices on civilians. They threaten strikes on Kyiv’s Khreshchatyk Street, the one stretching from European Square through the Maidan to Bessarabska Square. The State Department is telling US citizens to seek safety because Russian rockets aren’t precise & Kyiv is likely a target. That’s prudent.
So today, I’ve been thinking more about Ukraine…Ukrainian soldiers, seeing Ukraine’s culture… during my last few years in the Army. I’ve been thinking about our 4 July celebrations, too. The day we celebrate independence gained over 2 centuries ago. We didn’t take our freedom for granted back then. I thought about Washington leading an Army from July 1776 to October 1781. His army had tough times.
History tells us on July 4, 1778, Washington could only give his troops a double ration of rum for celebration. By late May 1780, he was writing missives to Congress saying his battered army needed rations, weapons, clothing, and pay & his troops were exhausted. His friend Lafayette pressed the French for support to the colonies. But it was slow in coming. Aspiring “to render themselves more useful,” the women of Philadelphia, who noted the inadequate government response, rose up. Their story is phenomenal
These were tough times in our nation – from the signing of the Declaration to the victory at Yorktown – but those tough times contributed to who we are, what we aspire to be. Ukraine is a great partner today, and they will be an even greater and phenomenal ally in the future.
Comment: Just a series of tweets by retired LTG Mark Hertling thinking of Ukraine’s Independence day celebration in terms of the early celebrations of our Independence Day. He refers to a short Library of Congress essay that illustrates the harrowing desperation of our early struggle for independence and freedom. It also illustrates an early expression of FIDO and how that spirit once defined us. It certainly defines the Ukrainian people today.
Unless I’m entirely wrong and Russia has manufactured this entire crisis since 2014, which I doubt, then Hertlings sentiments are off the mark. Ukraine didn’t have to fight for it’s independence. It is however now fighting for the dubious “right” to persecute the Russian half of its population.
Furthermore we are supporting them not because we have any attachment to the country but because they are a great proxy for attacking or calathumpia had picked a fight with Moscow instead of Ukraine, we would be expressing the same fine sentiments on their national day.
You are right. Ukraine d/n have to pick a fight in 2014. It has been fighting Russia for independence since 1914. If you are an American I’ll bet you know a couple of people with Slavic back grounds. Maybe even Ukrainians. Ask them about this war. Better yet, in an unguarded moment, ask a couple of Russian American friends what they “really” think of those Ukies. You may get a different opinion… maybe not. Best.
Ukraine has been fighting most of the time since 1914 for independence from communists not Russians. However let’s remember it was those same communists that gave Ukraine Crimea in 1956.
And was the killing of Jews and Poles by the Banderites in WW2 part of that struggle for independence?
Dear Klapper; Ukrainians started their fight for independence around 1900 against both Austrian Grand Duke Fernidand and Russian Czar Nicholas. No commies yet. By the time Russia exited from WW I they were communists. Ukrainians hoped for independence after 1917 but found they were fighting Russian Communists, incidentally, many of whom were Jews. I mention this b/c you referenced Bandera. That fight for independence continued through (and after) WW II. BTW, Russian Communist Jews held many important positions and supported the repression of Ukrainian independence post ’17, the Holodomore of ’30-’32, and repression of Ukrainians after WW II. This Jewish involvement w/communism was not just a Ukrainian “phenomena”. Bandera like units also existed in Finland, Armenia, and Lithuania. Russia, communist or not, Jewish populated or not, was fought by many eastern Europeans. If I may, I think you are saying Communist rejected Ukrainian independence but Russians were cool w/it? I have known Russians and Ukrainians my whole life. I think Russians have been told forever that Ukrainians are “unter mensch” and they believe it. History is never a straight line. The more I know the more I know I don’t. I read more history, I find I was more ignorant.
that should read that Finland, Lithuania or calathumpia would be just as useful as Ukraine as a proxy for attacking Russia
I remember reading about what Ukraine did to help us in our war for independence, and the other war against the British, and in the war to preserve the Union and free the slaves, and all the rest over the past centuries. Ukraine, our sacred ally.
“The State Department is telling US citizens to seek safety ”
The war has been going on for six months now and they just issued a warning, now? This after all we’ve heard of the Russian army being defeated and their economy being ready to collapse? How can that be?
Some western analysts seriously want us to believe that UA has only suffered 9,000 KIA.
Otoh, Russia didn’t hinder US in it’s strugle for independence. They didn’t support the naval blockade the British imposed and traded freely with the US colonies.
“Unbeknownst to many….” says the wiki page. I’m sure trade with Russia under Catherine the great was just a massive amount of, well, probably not much other than tobacco and “West Indies goods”, which could also be got from the British, French or Spanish.
With the colonies yes. But no Russian ships directly reached the ports of America during the war due to Catherine’s declaration of neutrality. Trade, other than a few Yankee ship captains bartering for furs in Alaska, did not restart with each other until after 1783 when the war was long over.
I knew this situation was complex but as others have stated, it’s more complex than anyone today could understand not only from specific regions in the country but different timelines in those regions.
End of the day only thing that matters is who can hold the ground. Ukraine has a bunch of independence days. Think the capitol has changed hands at least a dozen times in the modern era. Which one are they actually celebrating? Assuming the most recent one…for now.
Great post TTG. Just like the Revolutionary War this war is the crucible in which the new nation of Ukraine is being forged. The Ukrainians have fought like lions and withstood the might of Russia. A victorious Ukraine will have an irrepressible spirit and the country will be awash with heroes from its greatest generation. That’s some powerful medicine on which to build a future.
I have always thought America had no business pulling the Brits/French/Russians out of the fire in WW I. Ask an Irishman’s son; they were all disgusting imperialists. A pox on all of them! We should have made money selling stuff to both sides! I believe Wilson and other anglophiles liked Britain more than Germany – that simple. We owed the Brits and Russians squat, but we did owe the French BIG TIME (Lafeyette, nous avon arrive, or something). What do we owe Ukrainians. What is a Ukrainian any way? Ukrainian, Neptonian; who what are they. Some may be surprised but Ukrainians and many other Slavs, are all around us in America. America is more than just the people (like me) who arrived from northern Europe. But we shouldn’t help them b/c Ukraine has done nothing for America. Despite what other correspondents constantly write, independence d/n start for Ukraine in 2014. Just like America fought for our independence from Britain (not that long really, the colonies and the King were buddies just ten years before Lexington/Concord.) the Ukrainians have fought for theirs for over 100 years. But for those from the hard ass school of intl’ politics – yeah, America really doesn’t owe anyone anything. What other country has EVER done anything to help America (oops, except those French). But consider, on this day in ’91 Ukraine had the balls to declare they were free men and women. Thirty one years later Russia says no, you do not exist, you’re just a subordinate administrative unit to greater Russia. If Ukraine successfully secures their independence, they will offer hope for all of eastern European nations held submissive under the Czars heel. The Czar, c’mon man he be dead. No, he just changed names. He lives in the same palace and still believes the Russian nation superior to those lesser peoples which surround it, and don’t think Swedes to Hungarians are not watching this fight closely. BA is right about this moment. Ukraine is forging a generation of heroes who will b/c their greatest generation. But for the negative of mind … yeah, America don’t owe shit to no one.
Goddamn this war! And thank the Lord that during our own struggle for independence the British imperialists only had 16 & 24 pounders and Brown Bess muskets. Could we have stood up to TOS-1 thermobaric rockets and Kalibr cruise missiles being dumped on women and children in our cities? Putin is trying to overwhelm Ukraine in a sea of civilian blood and a mountain of child corpses.
Great looking squad there in your pic of the 54th Mech Brigade. Definitely in the fight to protect their families, and for Ukraine’s independence. All smiles excepting the one guy on the right of the back row, but then every unit has ten percent misfits. When was that photo taken? If you believe Baghdad Bob Konashenko of the RU MOD, the 54th just lost their Battalion Command Posts to RU aviation and artillery a few days ago. More like wishful thinking or phonied-up BDA estimates IMHO. I believe the 54th (or elements of) is/are holding a line somewhere west of Donetsk City. They’ve been there a while and have been doing well. Ukraine was supposed to last only two or three days against Putin’s juggernaut. Yet here she is six months later fighting the RU Army, the Wagner mercenaries, and the Chechen headchoppers to standstill.
What are you talking about? The serious people are telling us the UA has only suffered 9,000 KIA in six months.
As you know, or should know, that 9000 figure was from Ukraine Ministry of Defense and was only speaking of military KIA. And even that may be fudged. Why would you openly tell your enemy how many of your servicemen he has killed.
the enemy probably has a pretty good idea and needs not be told by Ukraines”s MoD.
Perhaps someone in Russia may have a ball park estimate. But official numbers of enemy KIA are typically inflated by lower echelon reports – no matter which country. We’ve been guilty of it ourselves.
In any case I doubt Shoigu and Gerasimov believe the claim of the DPR Militia that they killed and/or seriously wounded 193,000 Ukrainian troops since February:
Leith: The idea that we as Americans should be “strategically lied to” really rubs me the wrong way. I am not Ukrainian and I don’t care about Ukraine. I care very much that our government–and people paid by our government–are quite comfortable trafficking lies just keep the aid money rolling.
How would you know that we are being lied to? Do you suppose that the media represents America? There are undoubtedly more private and secure communication channels between Kiev and DC where truth can be spoken. Those numbers may or may not be different. And those numbers may or may not be a lie. They may be believed at the Ukrainian MoD who had only been keeping score on what was reported to them by subordinate unit reporting.
A historical reminder:
Everyone here will have learned that Kiev is the seat of Russian civilization, founded by Vikings sailing into the Black Sea and up the Dnepr who intermingled with the ancient peoples they found there and infused them with new vitality to become the Kievan Rus.
Kiev burned in the early 13th Century, it and other Russian cities (including Moscow, then nothing more than a cow town) devastated and fired by Mongol invaders for not accepting the Khan’s rule. The sole exception was the principality of Novgorod, saved because Alexander Nevsky, facing a serious incursion by Lithuanian princes, submitted to the Horde rather than fight another enemy. Russian culture would have burned with Kiev except for Nevsky.
In the following centuries most of Ukraine lay first under Mongol and then under Ottoman or Polish suzerainty. Catherine the Great reconquered Crimea and Ukraine at the end of the 18th Century, subsequently raising them into modernity (and founding modern Odessa).
For Kiev/Kyiv to assert that Ukraine and Ukrainians have nothing to do with Russia and Russians is disingenuous and worse, and a significant proportion of Ukrainians do not agree. This war is damaging to the Russian psyche because it truly is a war between brothers; remember that the chief Russian pretext for mobilizing for WW1 was kinship for the more distantly-related Slavs of Serbia.
I will not celebrate casualties by either side in this war (indeed, if casualties are ever a thing to celebrate; remember too that gentlemen and ladies turned out in their finery to observe the First Battle of Manassas or Bull Run–they found out soon enough the deadly seriousness of war). Regardless of whether Russia or Ukraine and the West is at fault, this war is a tremendous historical tragedy.
I will not celebrate this war.
Jim’s, Should we then bow down to the Britts, then, for establishing the colonies in American? Oh, by the way we speak the same language. Perhaps the Britts could reclaim lands they likely have held titles to in some dusty file cabinet.
Al, notice I prescribed no policies to Ukraine and Ukrainians, offered no advice; nor did I tell anyone how historical fact ought to be interpreted, even.
But to your point:
Most of the Founding Fathers considered themselves–and had proven themselves–loyal subjects of the Crown up to the point it became clear the Crown would not honor its obligations to them, as loyal subjects. After the war, while our two nations held each other in deep mistrust, no special enmity existed between the British and American peoples, and the former Colonials continued to embrace their British heritage.
The US Civil War, which saw families split as brother fought brother, saw little repudiation of kinship and common heritage despite much hot rhetoric. Even a botched Reconstruction did not prevent the reunification of families and friends, and most Confederates received pardons and amnesty. CSA Gen. Joseph E. Johnston attended the funeral of his one-time foe, USA Gen. William T. Sherman, on a February day. Urged to put on his hat, Johnston answered, “If I were in his place, and he were standing here in mine, he would not put on his hat.”
Yet Kyiv has severed the mystic cords of memory precipitatively, foolishly. And for what? Europe will reject Ukraine: it rejects her even now. Moscow’s rhetoric, in contrast, has been quite measured. Tell me, when since 2014 has Kyiv’s rhetoric toward Russia and its own Russian-speaking citizens contained anything but enmity and bile?
On the principle of self-determination I expect we agree: if Ukraine is determined to be separate and apart from Russia, best let it go. Now let’s apply that same principle to Crimea and the Donbas oblasts. (And before you object, let me say that the referendums there seem to me more honest than the 2020 US presidential election.) And if we had in 2014, would this war even have been necessary?
JimS, with this your statement, “… After the war, while our two nations held each other in deep mistrust, no special enmity existed between the British and American peoples…”
How convenient on your part to skip over the War of 1812, with USA invading the Britts in Canada, with intents of taking Canada.
Jim S you might ask Genl Anthony Wayne and Pres Andrew Jackson about post revolutionary war enmity.
As to obligations it was the British Govt which felt colonist were not honoring their obligations to it.
Jim S –
Sorry to be pedantic but:
The Vikings came to Kiev from the north. They did NOT sail into the Black Sea and then ‘up’ the Dnieper. They came from Sweden through the Baltic Sea, then via lakes and rivers and went ‘down’ the Dnieper to Kiev. BTW Kiev already existed as a settlement by the time they arrived – they took over but they were not the founders. Later they portaged downstream past the rapids finally arriving in the Black Sea. They were Swedes, but were called ‘Rus’ meaning rowers or those who row. Under their reign Kiev ruled over Ukraine, Belarus, European Russia, and parts of Poland. They also sailed down the Volga River to the Caspian Sea and traded for Muslim silver.
So the Vikings are to blame for this mess ?
I’m not surprised. They were always troublemakers.
One even tried to take over the Capitol in January last year.
Those Vikings!!! Shoulda known …..
In the news today Putin calls for increasing Russian troop strength up 137,000 troops (why not 140M???). This can’t be started until after 1/1/23. I wonder where the add’l troops will go? Maybe to protect north western Siberia? RM can’t put them on the line until June ’23. Does Putin intend to stay in Ukraine another year? A depressing thought for Ukraine. I don’t think it can hold on for another year.
Perhaps the Swedes should recapture Kiev, Moscow, and Minsk. They have an earlier claim than Putin does.
Leith, I quite appreciate the correction, and the patient manner in which it was delivered. Thank you.
Jim S, well said
I recall and interview with an old Ukrainian lady back in the days they were defending Kyiv. She said that Putin has done the impossible: Unite the Ukrainians.
Yes. If “Putin the Poisoner” has done anything it’s united Ukrainians. How he thinks he can subdue the whole Ukraine nation is beyond me. The Russians will be/are viewed as the new Nazis.
History repeating itself?
On August 24, 1814, two hundred eight years ago today, British forces captured Washington D.C. during the War of 1812, following their victory at the Battle of Bladensburg. After ransacking the White House, they burned it down. They also looted and burned down the Capitol building, destroying all the books in the Library of Congress. Numerous other buildings were destroyed as well, including the Treasury Department and the War Department.
What this doesn’t tell you is why the Brits torched it. The reason was payback for the Americans burning down government buildings in York (now known as Toronto) when they invaded Canada in 1812. The invasion didn’t succeed very well and resulted in the French descended and French speaking residents of Canada becoming very pro British and ultimately Canadian.
The same is happening with all Russian speakers in Ukraine. No one likes their towns destroyed and neighbors killed.
You left out Buffalo NY, but poetic license and all that, like leaving out the Quebec seperatist movement that wasn’t all that long ago. I’m sure the Ukrainians will welcome a similar movement by Russian speakers in Ukraine. Will they vote the same way the Crimeans did recently? History repeating itself, perhaps?