Solidarity with Ukraine

I don’t think I realized how serious the Russian invasion of Ukraine was until I heard a neighbour who is in the Royal Navy speak of it in the same breath as 9/11.

It is so hard to predict the end game. Wars can last years, even decades, and a situation like this could draw many more countries in. Like with Covid, there could be much longer term effects than we’re currently expecting.

I attended a candlelit vigil for Ukraine in the town square on Friday.

I donated to the Disasters Emergency Committee’s Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal at church yesterday morning, and will donate more. (Those in other countries might choose to send money through Doctors Without Borders, the Red Cross, or UNICEF.)

And I was prompted by a friend’s post to assemble this “Solidarity Stack” on Instagram over the weekend:

But I still feel like I have done so little.

I can hardly bear to keep up with the news; we don’t have a television or get a newspaper and I never listen to the radio, but I do see the headlines through my Facebook and Twitter feeds. Some heartening stories, but mostly horrible ones.

I wish I knew more about Ukraine. The only books I can think of that I’ve read by Ukrainians and Ukrainian Americans are Deaf Republic by Ilya Kaminsky, Death and the Penguin by Andrey Kurkov*, and My Dead Parents by Anya Yurchyshyn. There is a Ukraine setting to The Summer Guest by Alison Anderson, and Henry Marsh goes on medical missions to Ukraine in Do No Harm. Everything Is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer is about his Ukrainian Jewish heritage (as is his mother Esther’s I Want You to Know We’re Still Here); The Reason Why by Cecil Woodham-Smith and The Rose of Sebastopol by Katharine McMahon are about the Crimean War.

Over the past couple of weeks a number of Ukrainian reading lists have come out, like this one from Book Riot. Ron Charles (of the Washington Post) also put me onto I Will Die in a Foreign Land by Kalani Pickhart, which is about the 2014 revolution in Ukraine (when Putin tried to annex the Crimea). A portion of her proceeds will be donated to the Ukrainian Red Cross.

*Apparently on a most wanted list for his vocal opposition to Putin; his work has been banned in Russia since 2014.

Any other thoughts on what we can do to help, understand, and work for the good?
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28 responses

  1. On Saturday the lovely Mr B’s Emporium donated their profits to DEC which seems an effective way to help. Would that our government might follow such a generous example in offering sanctuary.

    Żanna Słoniowska’s The House with the Stained-Glass Window is the story of Lviv told through four generations of women and offers a vivid insight into what it is to live in a border city whose country changes with each conflict. It made me want to go there and I hope some day I will.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I saw that – good on Mr B’s!

      That sounds great, and a lovely cover too. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36335868-the-house-with-the-stained-glass-window

      I just came across an ironic discussion of Ukrainian sovereignty and Russian imperialism in Karl Ove Knausgaard’s Spring yesterday evening.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I wrote in my review that it was a novel probably of little appeal to those without much of an interest in Central Europe but that’s many more readers now for the saddest of reasons.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I was thinking that to myself recently: why is it that we only become interested in an author or artist after their death, or in a country or idea once it’s notorious for all the wrong reasons? I suppose increasing our knowledge of the world is never a bad thing.

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  2. It seems impossible to think of practical things to do. Money, or devising schemes to raise money seems to be the most we can achieve. My fear though is that though the need is so great here, it remains great in other conflict zones such as Syria and Afghanistan. I hope their donation-pot doesn’t suffer. I wish our own government would show more humanity and compassion, but have little hope that it will.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Some in our community have also been gathering physical items to be driven in trucks to the Polish border, but we hear that Poland is now overwhelmed and it’s hard to know if that will all make it to the people who need it. It does seem that donating money is the best strategy.

      Yes, my husband reminded me last night just how long the conflict has been going on in Syria, and how we all quietly overlook that. (Though we do have a Syrian refugee family who live down the road from us.) I can’t imagine this government stepping up with more aid, so we have to go through charities, I suppose.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Indeed. Just so long as those charities can make their voices heard.

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  3. The only other Ukrainian book I remember reading is A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian by Marina Lewycka, but it’s more about her life as an immigrant rather than the home country. The House With the Stained Glass Window sounds a wonderful way to learn something of the history of Lviv. It was completely flattened during WWII, so everything there is post-war.

    I donated some bedding yesterday, and saw requests for warm clothing, but If I send clothes, etc. into the void now, I won’t have anything left to donate when refugees arrive here.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. A keyword search through my book list files brought up lots of secondary characters from Ukraine and Ukrainian heritage, more than I would have expected.

      I’m sure the Netherlands will be more hospitable than the UK. Brexit was partially a result of xenophobia, and an excuse for more isolationist practices.

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  4. Dear Rebecca
    We wrote about this war in our last two blog posts and about the feeling that we cannot do anything.
    All the EU countries give free entrance to Ukrainians who flee this war.
    “A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian” and the other books by Lewyckais are the only books we read by a Ukrainian author.
    All the best
    The Fab Four of Cley
    🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. One of many reasons why I wish the UK was still in the EU 😦

      Liked by 1 person

      1. We agree 🇪🇺

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  5. Donating to DEC is effective, and putting pressure on the government to open up to Ukrainian refugees (stop asking them to apply for visas! For God’s sake!) is something we can do that doesn’t depend on donation (which can be tricky for people for a number of reasons). Re. reading, I read Catherine Belton’s book Putin’s People last week and found it incredibly illuminating about the slow burn towards autocracy that’s been going on in Russia since the ’90s. The foreign policy decisions he’s making—and, upsettingly, the extent to which Russian influence has embedded itself in the West through financial institutions—make a lot more sense to me now.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I always wonder what good online petitions do. But they certainly can’t hurt!

      Good for you for reading something about contemporary Russia and Putin. I’m not sure I could bear to.

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      1. Online petitions, but also literally handwriting a letter to (or cold-calling) your MP’s office. It’s much more effective, in general.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Good to know! Our (Conservative) MP is bloody useless 😦

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  6. We’re on a similar wavelength with our posts today, Rebecca. It’s beyond heartbreaking.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I certainly feel very helpless on this side of the world, watching it all unfold on television.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. All I could think for you to do is donate what you can. Given the nuclear threat, you’re safer there than I am here! (I live just 12 miles from the Atomic Weapons Establishment in Aldermaston.)

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Helpless is how I feel.
    Our library is lit up at night with blue and yellow lights. It’s beautiful and heartbreaking.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m proud of my town for flying the Ukraine flag from the town hall.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. […] of BookishBeck fame, who’s built a #Solidarity Stack of books, which you can read about here. Like her, I’ve used books from my shelves to tell something of the story of the disaster […]

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  10. I’ve copied and adapted your idea – such a good one – in my latest post. I’m only offering 50p a ‘like’ as I got jittery about how many ‘likes’ it could get. If it doesn’t get many, I’ll make it £1! Money seems to be all we can offer, and badgering the government here to show some humanity to refugees wanting to come here. https://margaret21.com/2022/03/09/bookstack-challenge/

    Liked by 1 person

    1. What a great idea! I think I got about 35 likes over on Instagram, so I’ll donate at least another £35 but can probably double or triple that in the end.

      My husband e-mails our MP all the time (usually about the climate crisis) and all she does is parrot the Tory line. She’s an ambitious career politician who doesn’t seem to care about her constituents’ views.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I email our MP so often, we’re even on Christian name terms. That doesn’t mean that I like him, or what he says. Party Line Rules, apparently.

        Liked by 1 person

  11. What a great idea: good thinking! As to points raised in some of the comments above, I agree, that it’s true that we need to remember to look beyond the headlines; there are many who need support and compassion right now, around the world, and not all of them make for equally convenient and rewarding topics for politicians and journalists to cover.

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  12. Like Margaret21, I’ve been concerned about other forgotten people who have been the victims of other war; as a practical point I’ve donated to the Red Cross in general rather than a particular fund, trusting them to put the money where it is needed. I’ve also continued to lobby my MP about refugee visas, as I have done for other waves of refugees – fortunately he’s decent and puts my concerns forward. I have been concerned about the amount of “stuff” going over, having read various bits about physical items overwhelming people in need at different times, but will be collecting and donating when people start to arrive here.

    Like

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