The May 6 editorial “Erasing Ukraine” hit the nail on the head. The root of the problem lies in history. Kyivan Rus, the 9th-to-12th-century state, with its capital in Kyiv, included much of the territory of present-day Ukraine and parts of Belarus and Russia. At that time, there was no Moscow, until a Kyivan prince founded it in 1147 and gave rise to Muscovy. Ancestors of present-day Ukrainians brought Christianity, literacy, literature and philosophy to neighboring Muscovy and for many years provided it with bishops and teachers.
All of this must have weighed heavily on Muscovite czars through subsequent ages. After the Mongol siege of Kyiv and surrounding areas in 1240, Kyivan Rus had a hard time trying to get back on its feet. Czar Peter I grabbed the ancient name Rus from the former Kyivan Rus state and applied it to Muscovy. In 1708, Peter I decided to punish the Ukrainian leader, Hetman Ivan Mazepa, for trying to keep Ukraine independent, and fought against him in the Battle of Poltava the next year. In the early 2000s, an archaeological dig in Baturyn found remnants of that savage massacre: skeletons of men, women and children with bullets in their heads. Makes one think of today’s Bucha.
The Mongol ruler Genghis Khan would have been very proud of his successors Peter I and Russian President Vladimir Putin for the barbaric manner that they both used so intensely (and unsuccessfully!) in their attempts to erase Ukraine and Ukrainians. Ukraine has a right to exist and to thrive.
Larissa Onyshkevych, Columbia