Ukraine has a long, glorious and yet tragic history in its struggle for freedom. One of the literal readings of Ukraine’s national emblem — the Trident — is none other than the iconic word “freedom” in Ukrainian. The sacred idea of freedom, of having our own independent country and being master of our own land, has been smoldering in the hearts of all Ukrainians since the collapse of medieval Kyiv Rus in the 13th century. The struggle for freedom has gone through ups and downs while shedding on the pages of history both the tears of the brutal invasions of our enemies and the triumph of the spirit of the free Cossacks, the blood of thousands of patriots Ukrainians and the joys of their victories paving the way to an independent Ukraine.
Few people know that the world’s first democratic constitution was drafted in 1710 by Philip Orlik, a high-ranking Ukrainian Cossack officer who was exiled from his homeland after the defeat of the Ukrainian-Swedish army in the Battle of Poltava one year earlier. . Even fewer people are aware of the many national uprisings that have accompanied Ukraine’s history over centuries of statelessness. And we are talking about distant history, not just the Orange Revolution of 2005 and the Dignity Revolution of 2014.
Although locked in the “prison of nations” – the Russian Empire – suffering from slavery, cut off from its European roots and deprived of the development of language and culture, our nation has managed to preserve its identity and, with the voices of Taras Shevchenko and other national bards of Ukraine, to transmit the word freedom to the generations to come.
This voice was heard at the beginning of the 20th century with an attempt to establish the Ukrainian state which only existed for a short time. The bloody storm of Petrograd that followed the invasion of Russian Communists, including Stalin’s repressions, the Holodomor famine of 1932-33, World War II and the Sovietization of Ukraine after the war, cost life to millions of Ukrainians.
While trying to silence the Ukrainian language and execute our best artists and intellectuals – all of Ukrainian culture doomed to oblivion – the Russian Communists have tried to kill the very soul of Ukraine. Nevertheless, the Ukrainian liberation movement continued as both armed (1920s to 1950s) and nonviolent (1960s to 1980s) struggle.
The collapse of the Soviet Union gave the Ukrainian nation one more chance. The historic decision of the Ukrainian parliament, on August 24, 1991, to proclaim independence opened a new chapter in the history of Ukraine.
The 30 years of independence that followed showed the world that Ukraine had become a state capable of asserting democratic values, defending freedom and dignity and developing a free market economy.
But freedom is not free. On February 24, Ukraine was attacked without provocation by Russia. Therefore, on the 31st anniversary of their country, millions of Ukrainians must celebrate in the trenches with arms drawn, in cities that are no longer peaceful under enemy bombardment and suffer the hardships of war as prisoners of war or refugees.
Russia launched the war against Ukraine to stop its European integration and to punish its desire to be free, to decide its destiny independently and to take the path of the Euro-Atlantic community. The enemy did not treat the Ukrainians seriously and expected to conquer our country in just three days. But he seriously miscalculated. Already six months later, Ukraine, its army and its people are still fighting against the aggressor.
Although our men and women are brave, they could not stay strong without the support of Ukraine’s friends and partners around the world, including Japan.
Japan and its people extend a hand of support and compassion, providing Ukraine with financial and humanitarian assistance. Unprecedented in its post-war history, Japan is also extending non-lethal military assistance to Ukraine. Japan has imposed 13 tough sanctions packages against Russia. Hundreds of thousands of Japanese have contributed to various humanitarian funds. We are grateful to the Japanese government, Diet, businesses and people for their valuable support to Ukraine. We also invite Japan to participate in the reconstruction of Ukraine. There will be a lot of work to do.
Don’t fool yourself into thinking that Ukraine will win this war. We will share this victory with our friends and partners. Ukraine will be reborn like a phoenix to appear to the world as a democratic and prosperous friend and partner.
This content has been compiled in collaboration with the Embassy. The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of the newspaper.
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