Ukraine’s Passion

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Jesus cried. Ukrainians know a similar agony.

Over Easter I thought on Ukraine’s Passion. Conspired against by Vladimir Putin, a high priest of Russian revanchism and zealot who believes the Soviet Union’s collapse was the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century, Ukraine’s crucifixion proceeds.

First Crimea, Ukraine’s garden, was captured by a braying crowd of thugs-for-hire and Russian soldiers. Its indigenous people, Crimean Tartars, are now persecuted, and Ukrainian speakers harassed – their exodus to the still-free lands of Ukraine already begun.

Yet Ukraine was not undone by the philistine Putin alone. There was a Judas, Viktor Yanukovych. His betrayal complete, his ‘thirty pieces of silver’ palmed, this Iscariot fled into the wilderness of Rostov-on-Don. Of no further use to Moscow – no state long harbours a traitor – he could soon be swinging off a scaffold in the steppes. He won’t be missed, nor mourned.

Yanukovych’s treachery was not companionless. Many Western European deceivers prostituted themselves for the oozing lucre of the oligarchs, warming on Siberian gas while servicing Ivans, feigning obliviousness to the troubling shadows cast down from Ukraine-now-become-Golgotha. Thus we bear witness to perfidious Albion, the City’s temples bloated with moneylenders, hearing not the cock that crows, valuing only gold. And America – God save it – parades the Pilate of our age, a president washing his hands of responsibility, intoning fine words while doing nothing to stop a slaughter he could have prevented.

Even now Ukraine is being scourged by forces sent forth by the Kremlin’s Cain. So Ukrainian flesh, the meat of Abel, is rendered. The blood of innocent Ukrainians will stain Putin and his children’s children, forevermore – they will bear this century’s mark of Cain.

Do not think what happens far away matters little here. As Russian imperialists mutilate Ukraine so too they butcher Europe’s hope. Which nation hereafter can trust any other – having seen how allies are misled, how they turn a blind eye to the massacre of the lamb when it is more profitable to mollycoddle the bear. Wise counsel to those who hear: arm yourselves, trust no one, anticipate betrayal – for that is the legacy of Putin, the KGB man now president-in-perpetuity, whom Kirill, Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church, hailed as a “miracle of God.” No god I know of.

We have seen the Righteous stand and fall – most notably the “Heavenly Hundred” murdered on Kyiv’s Euromaidan. Ukraine’s Jews and Crimean Tatars marshalled beside them, in common defence of the homeland. For doing so they are targeted. Paid dissemblers, whorish Western public relations firms, and Russian agents of influence, challenge reports about a leaflet recently circulated in Donetsk, obliging registration of all pro-Ukrainian Jews. We’re told this was a ruse, foisted by Ukrainian nationalists, calculated to impugn a genuinely pro-Russian movement in eastern Ukraine. I wish Ukrainians were that clever.

So who crafted this protocol? Would any Russian be so vulgar or foolish to issue a blatantly anti-Jewish tract? Say “Da.” Don’t forget that Russian ‘poet’ swaggering just outside the Donetsk synagogue, spewing on about “drowning all the kikes in Russian blood.” And what of the burning of Jewish and Ukrainian books by Russian goons in Crimea, on 7 January? No similar holocaust has soiled Europe since 10 May 1933, when Putin’s brown-shirted Nazi predecessors premiered this particular barbarity. And what about anti-Jewish graffiti smeared on synagogues in Simferopol and Sevastopol after the Russian take-over? Or the 23 April defacement of a Holocaust memorial, in Sevastopol?

Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.

Just before the end our Lord said: “It is done.” Ukraine may soon be. Still I won’t despair. I know Christ’s cry signalled not defeat but victory. Even if Ukraine is entombed there is, in my faith, the promise of Resurrection. So I believe Ukraine will be again. And I know Mr Putin, his Moscow minions, and his Western apologists, all these latter-day Pharisees and Sadducees, will eventually be recognized for who they are and denounced for what they do. They are fated to fail. Amen.

Lubomyr Luciuk teaches political geography professor at the Royal Military College of Canada

and is editor of Jews, Ukrainians and the Euromaidan (Kashtan Press, 2014).