Mark Your Calendars

Please mark your calendars for the online Ukrainian event where I’ll be speaking about the history of Ukraine. It will be on YouTube live, so nobody will see you.

It will take place on April 6 at 5 pm US Central Time. A link is forthcoming.


The first post-Soviet Russian attempt to breach the territorial integrity of sovereign Ukraine and annex Ukrainian territories happened in 2003 (not a typo), which was not even a decade after the signing of the Budapest Agreements. It also happened before the famous eastward expansion of the NATO.

In 2003, the Ukrainian president was on a state visit to Latin America, which is very far away. Russians used that moment to proceed with a far-reaching and long-existing plan to move towards annexing the Crimea. The first step in the plan was the Tuzla Island. It’s a tiny strip of land between mainland Russian and the Crimea. While the Ukrainian president was in a different hemisphere, Russians (who, once again, only a few years ago recognized and guaranteed Ukraine’s territorial integrity) decided that Tuzla was Russian land and started building a dirt road towards it. Which makes it extremely easy to then build a stretch of road to the Crimea.


The Ukrainian President immediately returned and pushed back. Russians had to wait until 2015 to build their dirt road and until 2018 to annex Tuzla.

There is no evidence to support the idea that Russia at any time was going to keep its promise to respect Ukraine’s sovereignty. Or Belarusian sovereignty. Russia did everything to compromise Belarusian nation-building in the 1990s (and, of course, since then). This was also before the NATO eastward expansion.

Palestinian Talk

Today, I not only speak at one of my many Ukrainian events but I attended a Zoom talk with a female politician and artist in Gaza. What was really unexpected is that the speaker addressed me in Spanish. This is a very educated person is what I’m saying. A very strong, highly educated woman.

The speaker lost me a little bit the moment she informed us that there’s “a white supremacy in the US” and went off on a tangent about the suffering black women in the US. The talk was filled with neoliberal vocabulary to the point where it was like listening to Ronald Reagan in a hijab. But then it switched into the BLMing and a discussion about patriarchy and privilege, and sounded confusing.

Obviously, this is not the fault of the speaker who is trying to talk to Americans in the language she believes they will understand. We all have to do what we have to do to make the world notice what’s happening to us.

Then people started asking questions and everything became a lot more genuine. The speaker told us she doesn’t want to live because the way life is in Gaza isn’t worth living. The way she spoke about it I know she meant it. I cried. Now I’ll look like I’m coming straight from Mariupol during my upcoming talk.


The 1990s were the best time in Russian history. Not in Ukrainian history because Ukraine has experienced better times since. But for Russia it was an undeniably wonderful, hopeful time. There was intellectual effervescence, there was a sense of hope and possibility that were finally inwardly oriented. By “inwardly oriented” I mean that people were starting to feel a sense of agency. What if our problems and consequently solutions to these problems are of our own making? they began to ask.

By 1997-8, it was all pretty much dead, though. Too much work, too much responsibility, who needs all that? Paralysis and self-pity set in. Soviet imagery came back and the Soviet past began to be idealized.

So yes, theoretically this could have all gone differently but the chance for that was lost almost as soon as it appeared.