Sunday, October 2, 2011

Those Damn Ukrainians!

In this article, the conflict between Ukrainians and Russians in the Crimean peninsula is portrayed not just as a political issue between the two nations but a cultural issue that in many ways defines Ukraine itself.

The Ukrainian nation as we know it formed right after the fall of the Soviet Union and since then has had a hard time solidifying its national identity. There is a Ukrainian language, but some argue it is just a dialect of Russian; there is a Ukrainian history, but it mostly involves Russia, Poland, and Turkey; There are even great Ukrainian writers, but most of their works are in Russian.

As of now it is hard to grasp what it means to be Ukrainian, and in the era of Russian natural gas domination, it might never be fully possible. Ukraine is in debt to Russia and reliant on cheap natural gas, so some think that Russia might use this to its advantage in reclaiming its favorite vacation spot and putting an end to an independent Ukraine.

Despite all this, there are some lighter sides to Ukraine. They are the creators of Borscht (here is an article and a recipe for it:, they have an interesting form of salted animal fat called "Salo", and they can claim their heritage as that of the mighty Cossack.

Cossacks were nomadic horsemen who formed the first Ukrainian state. The website posted tells you all you would want to know about these people (though it is focused a bit more on the later Cossacks, go to if you want more on them) but in short, they were generally awesome dudes who fought Poles, Tatars, and Russians at different times and resisted rule by all three for a few hundred years until they were absorbed into Russia and used by the Russians for all sorts of things.

That, and they also had cool songs, funny pants, and crazy hairstyles:

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