Borderland : A Journey Through The History Of Ukraine by Anna Reid

Borderland : A Journey Through The History Of Ukraine by Anna Reid

A compelling exploration of Ukraine’s turbulent history and precarious aspirations for a brighter future. Described as a haunting account by the Financial Times, Anna Reid’s Borderland delves into the harrowing past of Ukraine and the ongoing crisis that continues to shape global energy policies and security architectures. Beyond the current bloody conflict and displacement of millions, this nation has endured centuries of struggle as a contested borderland and battleground.

Reid’s meticulously researched and emotively written work uncovers the multifaceted dimensions of Ukraine’s story. Drawing from her own encounters and conversations with a diverse range of individuals, including peasants, politicians, rabbis, racketeers, dissidents, paramilitaries, and survivors of Stalin’s famine and Nazi labor camps, she unravels the layers of myth and propaganda that have entangled this divided land.

Traversing the landscapes of Lviv’s Polish churches, the coal mines of the Donbass, and Crimea’s Tatar shantytowns, Reid exposes the relentless struggle that has marked Ukraine’s quest for a cohesive national identity. Borderland captures not only the historical context that has shaped this nation but also incorporates first-hand accounts from the 2022 Russia-Ukraine war, offering readers an updated perspective on the present-day battle for Ukraine’s destiny.

For those seeking to comprehend the complexities of Ukraine’s past and the forces influencing its future, Borderland is an indispensable source providing profound insights into this country and its ongoing narrative.

Exploring the Russian Identity of Donbas | Anna Reid

The Donbass region, also known as Dombus or Donetsk, is a historical region that many of us may not be familiar with. It is a coal basin that spans across the present-day Ukrainian and Russian borders. The coal deposits were first exploited by a Welsh engineer named John Hughes in 1870, under a concession from the tsar.

Over the next two decades, Hughes established coal mines, iron ore mines, railways, and various infrastructures, such as hospitals and schools, for the employees. The city of Donetsk, originally called Uzovka, was named after him.

The question arises: how Russian is the Donbass region? While it is Ukrainian sovereign territory, there is a significant proportion of Russian speakers living there. The latest reliable censuses, conducted before Russia’s grab in 2014, indicate that about half of the people in the region identified as Ukrainian, while the other half identified as Russian.

The ethnic Russian population is concentrated in the cities, as they are descendants of individuals who migrated for work during different industrialization waves. In the cities, Russian is more commonly spoken than Ukrainian. Historically, there was a pro-Russian voting bloc in the region, but it was mainly concerned with reducing taxes to Kiev and had reservations about NATO. Reuniting with Russia was not a political consideration at that time.

Donetsk holds strategic and economic importance for both Ukraine and Russia. Since 2014, Donetsk and Luhansk have been under Russian-backed control, with negative consequences for the people living there. Despite their pro-Russian sentiments, the reality of their living conditions has not matched their expectations. Moreover, the area is currently experiencing bombings and shelling by Russian troops. As a result, it remains uncertain whether the residents are still pro-Russian.

From the perspective of the Ukrainian government, Donbass is a rust belt area with towns heavily dependent on subsidies. Economically speaking, it is not a significant asset. However, preventing further Russian aggression and maintaining control over the region is crucial for Ukraine. They have learned that giving Putin an inch could result in him taking a mile.

The situation in Donbass has caused significant bloodshed and turmoil. Ukraine is determined to hold onto the region as they rightly fear Russian expansionism. The ongoing conflict demonstrates the importance of Donbass, not only politically but also in terms of its historical and cultural significance.

Anna Reid, the historian and author of “Borderland: A Journey through the History of Ukraine,” has shed light on the complexities of the Donbass region and its present-day struggles. It is essential to understand this region’s history and its significance within the Ukrainian-Russian context.

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