Living in a state of war

We hear updates about the war in Eastern Ukraine every day. There are so many, that it is easy to become immune to another dramatic news that reach us. ‘Us’ living far away from the conflict zone. Do we ever wonder how is it like to live in a country which is under attack or what to do then? Can you keep calm and carry on? Can you keep on being non-violent, when  you are under attack? The Ecosprinter interviewed a political activist from Ukraine Taras Rusnak in order to bring the local perspective closer and answer some of those questions.


Photo by Sasha Maksymenko under  Creative Commons Licence

Ecosprinter: How did the Russian aggression change the life of the people from your region and yours personally?

Taras Rusnak: It changed dramatically. In different areas of life. By different criteria. In negative and even positive ways.

The biggest impact is caused by the economy. Since the beginning of war actions on the East and Crimea, the national currency was in an uncontrolled falling. And I’m not talking about 8-10% which would be horrible in most European states, but the 260% by the present day, and even reaching 500% few months ago. This simply led many people to poverty. Even for middle class, many everyday habits become luxury. Standards of basic elements of life, like quality food or medical care, worsened.
Most of businesses struggle to survive, the least efficient ones went bankrupt.

Another horrible issue for our economy since the war started is, that international and especially European enterprises do not wish to start or continue business relations with Ukrainian companies, considering Ukraine as not stable and not worth risking their money.
And I’m not even talking about Investments, which were disclaimed many times in media (“WAR=NO INVESTMENTS”).

Those economic issues are one of the main targets of Russia as they destabilize the whole country and start panic.

Difficult to believe, but there are also some good outcomes, such as the rise of volunteer activism.
Maidan has become a birthplace of allukrainian volunteerism, where every persons regardless of age, gender or background tried to help the protesters at the revolution as much as they could.

Military volunteerism became no exception. Some recent studies show that almost 40% of the adult population of the country are actively engaged in volunteer activism. Starting from collecting medications, lifesaving gear for soldiers, finishing with building Mad Max-styled armoured assault vehicles made of stock SUVs and creating high tech systems such as pilotless radio controlled planes and drones with built in interactive artillery aiming systems for the needs of the aero intelligence.

This all sounds more like a movie plot, but the truth is that in this rough times the Ukrainian civic society finally takes its start. It’s neither government, nor politicians, but some strange model of a social network of people all around the country, who work together for one goal, which is to win the war.

Another big thing, which was established only now – during rough war times, is the language question being solved. There’s a total consolidation between Ukrainian and Russian speakers, because half of Maidan spoke Russian, half of army speaks Russian, pro Ukrainian activists, volunteer military units, people accept each other’s languages . There’s no hate speech, like it had been years ago, which was fuelled by Kremlin funded parties like nazi party Svoboda, the communist party or whoever else who wanted to benefit from people stereotypes. Basically, Russia got a total bounce back of what it was developing for a decades.

Ecosprinter: What do you think about the reaction of EU and UN?

Taras Rusnak: I ask you for an excuse but question about UN reaction simply made me laugh. I don’t even know any other more useless and bureaucratic organization than UN. Still, thanks UN for considering Crimea as Ukraine. But what else they do?

First of all, I want to say thank you to all you European taxpayers for funds you gave us to bail out from economical crisis and help to recover from war losses. Same time I want to truly apologize for all money our government stole, and which are already at the offshore. As a citizen and as a military volunteer I will stand till the end to make justice arise.

There is a regularity, that some European states such as Poland, Lithuania, Estonia, Finland, Sweden ( which sometimes called Baltics-to-Black Sea Alliance) coupled with Britain react on our war as our steady allies. We cannot underestimate their support. I’m not sure we could resist so successfully without their help.

Talking about bureaucratic EU, or to be exact, “countries who decide”- Germany and France- yes, economic sanctions were a good idea, but it didn’t work out.
More to say, that damage Angela Merkel caused to Ukraine with her Minsk1/Minsk2 agreements are destroying any belief in Europe as a political organization.
I will remind you that, according to the Minsk2 agreements, ceasefire agreement obliged the Ukrainian military forces to step back, letting the criminals capture, rob, kill and rape the inhabitants of the stronghold cities. Angela Merkel is a very diplomatic and smart person, and I would love to see her explanation to people who were left to die because of their agreement.
What was the reason for such reaction of EU? – Weak Europe.
Europe which cannot protect itself, which cannot rely on NATO, which is good only for assaulting and bullying some far little countries.
The story behind it is that Ukrainian military were kicking out Russian forces day by day, city after city, regardless how many tanks Russia brought every day.
The US was willing to provide the most advanced anti-tank weapons. With their help, all tanks which all entire Russian Federation have, could be destroyed in two weeks. But Putin warned to bomb Europe with nuclear bombs.
Europe didn’t find a better solution than Minsk2. It is still Ukrainians dying, and not Germans, so who cares?
Another case of how socialism works only for humans of some chosen nation. 1940? No, 2014.

Ecosprinter: What possible solutions of the conflict do you see now?

Taras Rusnak: To be honest, I still believe in the proverb that Russians don’t give up. Even though so many of their best officers and intelligence agents have passed away in Ukraine and even more will, I don’t think it’s a nation who will ever give up a vanishing idea of world imperialism.

Ukrainians used to have hope for the Russian democratic revolution for so long, with beliefs that there are so many nice people besides Putin zombies, but it’s not meant to happen.

Absolute majority of Russian people love Putin. For his intolerance to Jewish people, to LGBTQ people, for supporting orthodox church and family values, for total authoritarian state doctrine which is called stability, for strong ultra right wing movements, for Soviet Union.
Those primitive values fit well with primitive society, and the things are not getting better.

Basically, we can only rely on other way, which is to politically destabilize Russian Federation, help Putin loose his, already uncertain, control over country and leave Russian Federation naturally crack to pieces, to be led by regional vassals who seek power but not strong enough to capture it all.

Only when Putin’s regime falls, this war will end. If not, it’s utopia or populism, or disinformation made on purpose.


Ecosprinter: In your opinion, is there any alternative to a violent reaction when your country is attacked?

Taras Rusnak: It depends who is attacking and what is their purpose. In our case it’s nazis and terrorists, and there must be no compromises, only physical elimination. Ukrainian people lost sovereignty for centuries since middle age times. And it will never happen again.
I think the best way is to prevent conflicts (than deal with them when it’s too late), stay strong and have good relations with neighbours. Additionally, it is important to work on promoting the democratic values worldwide.
Also if EU should be structured less vertically, more like a coalition of smaller neighbour countries, plus powerful countries that would make a dialogue possible. Every voice ought to be heard.


Aleksandra Koleczek

Ecosprinter Editorial Board