Dionysia Balafa's thoughts
Disappointment. Desperation. Anger. I have been trying for the past hours to revise my statistics notes, but this triad of emotions keeps invading my brain, spreading in every part of my body; guilt, unease, spikes of terror. The European Union, the institution which had instilled in me a type of religious reverence for its existence through my European School education, has disappointed me.
In Brussels, every meeting of bored politicians who had to decide on fishing policies, carbon emission quotas, organic farming, budgeting, and migration cocooned me with a warm blanket of reassurance. Even if we fight on the CAP, on the EU refugee relocation and resettlement scheme, and other big and small stuff, we got each other’s back, I thought. Even if not every dark-suited bobblehead in Brussels is moved by roses and “common good” ideals, the economic benefits of free trade and free movement, of an ECB buying massive amounts of bonds to help you finance your debt when a stupid pandemic happens, of subsidies and increased FDI, keep us together.
That is why I now ask. Why let Ukraine die? Why let a country that just had a democratically elected government in 2019, with a booming economy, comprised of over 40 million people, a country that had come a long way from the collapse of the Soviet Union, be subjected to the whims of Vladimir Putin? Ukraine might not be a member of NATO or the EU, but it looked like it wanted to be.
Here is the thing; Ukraine matters. Ukraine is a huge producer of grains, metals, and chemicals. It ranks as the 7th largest producer of iron ore in the world, 8th largest producer of manganese, 6th largest producer of titanium, 7th largest producer worldwide of graphite, and 9th largest producer of uranium (think of nuclear energy and weapon production implications) in 2018.
Also important to mention that it is one of the biggest information technology hubs in the world, ranking fourth in the world for the number of certified IT specialists while constituting one of the most attractive countries for its growth in software development. Perhaps, most notably, it is also one of the largest exporters and producers of agricultural products (for example, wheat, corn, sugar, grain, sunflower oil and honey), famous for its fertile black soil.
Ukrainian Black Soil; The breadmaker of what had been the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union that created the conditions of Holodomor, the terror famine which killed at least 3 million Ukrainians in the 1930s. The Soviet Union responsible for the alleged Vinnytsia massacre in Ukraine. Hasn’t Ukraine suffered enough under authoritarian dictators?
Were not Stalin’s plans of “russifying” Ukraine by banning the Ukrainian language in schools and sending Soviet citizens to populate the east of Ukraine enough? Wasn’t Ukraine’s torturous fight to democracy, the annexation of Crimea, the occupation of the Donbas and Luhansk regions enough? When will this country’s suffering stop, when will this country breathe?
European nations are thinking of gas prices, given their incapacitating crude oil and natural gas dependence on Russia. They might even be thinking that if they send troops they will be nuclear-bombed out of existence. They are thinking of public dissatisfaction if they send their own armed forces for a war that on the surface has nothing to do with them. History is starting to rhyme, echoing the time Europe appeased Hitler, thinking his greed would stop at Czechoslovakia.
While some of the NATO members might think they will come stronger together out of this disaster, they might want to rethink. They won’t lose only disillusioned idealistic citizens like me, but they will be forced to recognize they abandoned an important economic and political ally. As China and Russia fortify their budding alliance, they will have to face new demons, while Russia is controlling their grain and gas sources.
A sad day in history is marked today. As the quote goes: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”