Every year on the fourth Saturday of November, Ukraine commemorates the victims of the tragic events that took place in 1932-1933 and were labeled as Holodomor. The word refers to the artificial, Soviet-made famines that were aimed at destroying the Ukrainian nation, which has always aspired to be an independent state with its own policies and interests taken into account by others. But the totalitarian communist regime of the USSR understood that the former Russian empire could not rebirth and retain power in the region without Ukraine — the key resource basket.
To suppress the will of the Ukrainian people, expressed in a number of protests, uprisings and demonstrations, the Soviet Union invented a complex of restrictive, prohibitive and compulsory measures. These started with the confiscation of lands, property and grains, the blocking of villages and cities, unrealistic forced grain procurements and in-kind fines, and ended with the prosecution of those who stood up against the authorities. This policy created conditions that inevitably led to the massive physical destruction of Ukrainians. According to official data, the number of people killed was as many as 5 million. Social and economic links between people were destroyed and the consciousness of the Ukrainian nation was morally and psychologically wounded.
Since the independence of our state, we have concentrated a significant part of our efforts to gaining international recognition of Holodomor as an act of genocide. So far, 15 other countries have officially recognized the horrific crime committed against the Ukrainian people. On the national level, in 2006, the Ukrainian Parliament passed the law known as “On Holodomor of 1932-1933 in Ukraine” and, in 2015, the legislative body adopted a special act condemning the totalitarian communist regime.
Without a shadow of doubt, in 1932-1933 the world witnessed a genocide of the Ukrainian people. These were people who could impede the imperialistic plans of the Soviet Union leadership machine, which never recognized the value of a human life. The most prominent example of the latter is today’s Russian war in Europe, taking the lives of thousands of civilians and rejecting the mere idea of peace, prosperity and well-being.
Without a shadow of doubt, in 1932-1933 the world witnessed a genocide of the Ukrainian people
Despite the fact that the USSR no longer exists, the continuity of its policy is clearly visible in the actions of today’s Russian leadership. And, unfortunately, on a much greater scale.
On Oct. 29, Russia suspended its participation in the Black Sea Grain Initiative for food exports from Ukrainian ports, thus threatening and undermining global food security. The Kremlin used a false pretext to justify this move and blame Ukraine. Russia’s attempt to withdraw from the agreement was yet another example of its hunger games with the world. It continues to use food as a weapon in order to achieve its political goals. There can be no justification for Russia’s actions, which put millions of lives in Africa, the Middle East and South Asia at risk.
At the same time, Russia continues its missile attacks on Ukraine, causing severe damage to critical civilian infrastructure. Strikes have led to electricity blackouts and heat and water supply disruptions, worsening the already severe humanitarian situation. Russia’s deliberate and targeted strikes on critical energy infrastructure are undisputable war crimes, for which we will certainly hold it accountable. They are also part of Russia’s genocide of Ukrainians, as they are aimed at creating unbearable conditions for people, making them freeze during the coldest period of the year.
Despite the fact that history tends to repeat itself, right now Ukraine is exerting all possible efforts to totally demolish the Russian threat to ensure that these dreadful and appalling events never happen again.
No matter how many decades have already passed and how many are yet to come, one thing will remain unchanged: Every fourth Saturday of November, Ukrainians will commemorate the victims of Holodomor, sitting by the window in silence with a lit candle and honoring the souls of all the men, women and children so unfairly deprived of their lives.
It is important to recognize historical truths and come to the painful but totally necessary conclusions that should lay even more solid foundations for the support of Ukraine today, as we stand defending our country, and to join Ukraine in its postwar economic recovery. This will definitely also reinforce regional stability, while enabling food security for Africa, the Middle East and South Asia for many generations to come.
Anatolii Petrenko is Ambassador of Ukraine to Saudi Arabia.