The grey-haired man with a hunting rifle who guards the entrance to the village from strangers at night is an older brother or father to each of us.

“There have been worse times…”

What’s worse is when the occupiers burn down the residential areas of Kharkiv with Grad rocket launchers, and foreign armoured vehicles crawl into our cities… What’s worse…

But all this has happened in our history. There was a wild stinking horde that burned cities. And almost the same cities burned by Peter the Great for Ivan Mazepa’s intransigence, and the German invasion, and the Bolshevik devastation. Our land, rich in wheat and freedom, has been burned many times.

Without Iskander missiles and vacuum bombs, but just as ruthlessly, inch by inch.

So what has changed?

The answer is that earlier, having arranged another devastation, the invader did it by the hands of Ukrainians themselves – setting the left-bank hetmans against the right-bank ones, inciting Haydamachyna and Koliivshchyna, and glorifying Yurko, the son of the great writer Mykhailo Kotsyubynsky, with bloody crimes against Ukraine.

This was the basis of all our defeats – separation and alienation in the struggle for lentil soup, when brother went against brother.

So, there were worse times…

And in 2014, Putin followed the well-trodden path – when yesterday’s schoolchildren from ORDLO were forcibly recruited and prepared to kill Ukrainians.

But this time I see that the Kremlin chief slipped down on this. Because he calls on Ukrainians to bring down the “Bendera regime,” and the Ukrainian Armed Forces to “seize power,” not understanding who and what he is addressing. And that makes him funny. Even though it is disgusting.

Fighting with us for eight years, and nurturing vengeful plans for another 15, he was unable to study either the Ukrainians or the motivation of Ukrainian soldiers. Nothing is written about this in the Soviet eulogies about the “great victory.”

And we did not know much about ourselves.

Let’s remember that only a week ago we were swearing at each other and were not ready to lend a hand.

And suddenly we became some kind of incomprehensible monolith.

What happened to us?

For Putin, this is a big state and military secret, which the FSB never figured out. And we know what united us instantly. The poet called it – “the feeling of a single family.” It’s not a metaphor, if you think about it.

One philosopher wrote that a nation is like a great family, with an infinite number of people united by some incomprehensible and illogical blood relationship.

We can live a thousand kilometers apart, consider different languages as mother tongues, believe in God in our own way, and never meet each other in our lives.

But when Kharkiv residents are killed by Muscovite Grad rocket launchers, the ashes of burned Oleksiivka, Saltivka and Pavlopol touch the hearts of inhabitants of the distant Zakarpattia region. Relatives may quarrel, but when trouble comes, all feuds are forgotten. And we rely on yesterday’s opponent without fear. Because the guy next door will not betray.

Among us there are people of different ethnic groups and different races. But Kipling’s “We be of one blood, ye and I” is repeated every time, when we stand in line at blood transfusion centres.

Who among the patriots believed that the cities of the east, whose inhabitants were suspected of latent capitulation, would put up such desperate resistance to the enemy?

Even those who yesterday scolded the Maidan, sang about “one nation” and did not admit that the war was going on for eight years, suddenly they saw the light and pointed a finger at Putin and compared him to Cain. And, who knows, maybe something stirred in the depths of the soul of yesterday’s “vatnik,” and something woke up under the thickness of hardened imperial myths?

We are all relatives. We see a grey-haired man with a hunting rifle guarding a checkpoint in the village at night as our common older brother or father. Field hospital nurses are all our sisters and our daughters. And those 18-year-old conscripts of the National Guard who miraculously burned down four enemy tanks near Kharkiv and saved the positions of Ukrainian forces are our children and grandchildren.

We pray for everyone. And the Ghost of Kyiv, who has already painted a dozen downed double-headed eagles on the fuselage of his MiG-29, is also our relative. Although we do not know either his name or age, or whether he was born in Ukraine and whether he has Cossack ancestors and Slavic roots. It doesn’t matter to us – we are just of one blood. And let the Kremlin understand it as they wish.

I think this is the difference between our current people’s war and all the past ones: Ukrainians did not agree to betray each other, no matter what carrots they were promised. So, the worst times will not come back.

We are the family. Our genetic kinship test is simple. It is in the sharpened formula of our coexistence: “Glory to Ukraine and Death to Enemies!”

Yevhen Yakunov, Ukrinform

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