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Opinion

Chapter 7: What it means to be Ukraine

Publicerad: 31 maj 2022, 12:52

Aleksandra Marchenko, på flykt från kriget i Ukraina, och Carin Roeraade, Creative Director på Sanders Agency, bloggar på Krigsdagboken. De frågade ett antal kreatörer vad det betyder att vara från Ukraina.


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Since February 24th Ukraine has been the most discussed country in the world. Barbarian violence of Russians and unprecedented resilience of Ukrainians keep it on the main pages of all international media, in the cabinets of world policy makers, in artistic and sport performances and most importantly in the hearts and homes of people throughout the globe. 

Only three months ago the world didn’t know much about Ukraine, its culture and its citizens. We invited Ukrainian creatives, marketers, entrepreneurs to share their vision on what it means to be Ukraine, if the country were a person, and what it means to be Ukrainian. We let them talk to you directly.

Aleksandra & Carin    

Volodymyr Smyrnov, design director and partner at Spiilka Design Bureau that bridges engineering approach with visual aesthetics  

To be Ukraine means being somewhere between the worlds, in the middle of nowhere, and constantly swaying on emotional waves. Your usual world was destroyed in one day, and now three months later – you live outside your home, trying to save your family, help the army, save your business and reorient it to Europe and the United States. Your planning horizon has shrunk to a few weeks. You try to make your next day better than today, and then the day after, and after, and so on, to the inevitable victory.

To be Ukrainian means to suffer from the endless tragedy of your citizens – murders, rapes, destructions and at the same time to feel constant anger at the Russians who are doing all this. And to feel like something new was born now, like a new, better Ukraine, which you want to save after victory. A modern brave technological Ukraine, ready to help anyone, with a strong army, with a sense that Ukrainians can do anything.

Natalka Denysenko, founder of video production Videofirma, author of the blog Tomatoes and Salt 

To be Ukraine now is to be a civil society. In its ideal form, without any mutations. To understand what you are as a country, what all Ukrainians strive for, what future we are heading towards, what kind of political power we need. Now we all came to a common and consistent understanding of it: if it’s a president or a soldier, a journalist or grandmother in the mountain village. To be Ukrainian is to place freedom ahead of fear. And on February 24th, all Ukrainians made a unanimous decision to do it.

That’s why Ukraine has already won. Because a heroic and truly integral nation has already been born from this brutal war.

Dima Shvets, CEO and Co-founder of Reface, a leader in applying AI/ML technologies for personalized content creation

To be Ukrainian today is to be the bravest. Literally, each of us today impacts our country’s existence and post-war development, and I couldn’t remember any other case when I felt such responsibility so clearly. But everyone also becomes a country’s brand ambassador and honorably takes this role in such unprecedented times. 

To be Ukrainian means to cheer your freedom as an essential value. To be free to chase your goals, despite everything. We do what we mark as important and desirable, even in challenging circumstances, even in the most devastating ones – the war.

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But what I love most about our people is that we are a nation of grassroots initiatives. Maybe it’s our Cossacks past, who knows. But I might say that horizontal structures and self-organization have probably been born in Ukraine as a phenomenon. 

3Z Studio, a Ukrainian design-bureau, whose only workers Serhiy Mishakin, Tania Borzunova and Dmytro Verovkin spend their lives in Kyiv and Kharkiv, providing services of graphic and communication design, corporate identity, visual branding and advertising

To be a Ukrainian means to be self-organized. We don’t need to be told what to do when the hard times come (or ever). We don’t wait for some orders from above — everyone does what she/he can do best, people volunteer, form units, and do their thing. We hate the idea of ”a strong hand” to rule us, we never worship our leaders, we only worship our freedom on our land. And this is what unites us in a nation, whatever language we speak or whatever god we believe in.

Yulia Gumeniak, CEO of One Philosophy consulting group, a women-led consulting group that future-proofs brands, reputation, teams, and society

Being a Ukrainian means being resilient. Three wars, artificially-created famines, persecution of Ukrainian culture and identity – over 10 mln people are considered victims of the communist regime in the 20th century, in WWII alone Ukraine lost from 8 to 10 million people.

My generation of middle-aged Ukrainians has seen the collapse of the Soviet Union and resulting chaos and poverty, two revolutions, too many economic crises to count, a global pandemic, and now – a war where Ukraine is fighting for its right to exist as an independent nation. And despite it all, we are rebuilding our country already, even though air raid sirens and shelling is still a reality of everyday life, and no person is safe in Ukraine.

According to research, 99% of Ukrainians who had to leave the country due to the war have plans to return home as soon as the situation becomes more safe. 

Being a Ukrainian means being human. In the face of brutality and ruthlessness of the Russian army Ukrainians focus on love, support to the army and the weak and less fortunate, and working together towards victory. 

Tetiana Lukyniuk, top-manager at Kyivstar, #1 telecom in Ukraine

This war has crystallized what Ukrainians are about as the nation. One essential word is ‘independence’. Independence of mind, living and overall existence for each of us individually and as a group. Independence in acting, thinking and deciding our own fate. We are ready to make our own decisions and take full responsibility for those. This is the foundation of the strength and bravery which we are now fighting unitedly for our state’s freedom and future.

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