top of page

The language of war

I am the cause of this war. Yes-yes, war became possible because of me. I’m always thinking about that. Now I’ll try to explain it.

Once again, I emphasize that it’s my personal page, where I post my personal opinions that you may not agree with.

I’m a russian-speaking Ukrainian. I’m a citizen of a 95% russian-speaking city. For 30 of 33 years of my life, I have lived in an independent state of Ukraine with only one official language. Till 8th grade I studied in russian, also most of the subjects in the lyceum and university were taught in russian. I watched russian movies, read russian classics, and listened to russian music. At the same time, I’ve never thought of russians as the “brotherly” people — I’ve never lived with them in one country (at least at the age, when I was able to understand something). Even more, I have never visited russia. Until 2014 I thought that all people are brotherly to me because it is necessary to be friends, associate, and learn intelligent things with the people in the whole world and all countries. For me, russians were never different from Americans, Kenyans, or, let’s say, Ecuadorians. I used to think that everyone is equal around the world. We communicated in russian in my family, and the same were with friends, at work, and in public places. At the same time, I’ve never had any troubles with Ukrainian — I even won school linguistic competitions, and it was even more convenient for me to conduct solemn events in Ukrainian (especially the official ones). But everyone around me spoke in russian — so did I. It’s more comfortable. It’s just easier.

When I just received a passport back in 2004 I thought — why in the country, where the only official language is Ukrainian, the citizen’s passport (note — it’s the most important document), is filled in two languages? Even more, I was astonished, when in 2016 I received a new passport (in Ukraine we still have passports in both formats: ID-card and the classical little “book” — ed.), where my name, surname and patronymic on the second page were in russian. Strange thing, I thought. How someone may talk about “ushchemleniye” (russian for “oppression” — ed.), when such crap is still going on.

In 2012 my daughter was born, and I read books and fairy tales to her. In different languages: russian, Ukrainian, and even English. But at home, in everyday life, I spoke russian. She called me “papa”, not “tato” (russian and Ukrainian forms for “father” in accordance — ed.). However, I must admit that when she started reading on her own, I bought her only books in Ukrainian.

In 2014 the war started. russian state has become my personal enemy. Just something general, mostly a government. At that time war bypassed the Kherson region and I started to live as before — work, family, the possibility to relax, and so on. War (right now I have a very unpleasant analogy because Ukraine officially called everything from 2014 until the February 2022 anti-terrorist operation and then the operation of united forces and not war) was somewhere far from me and I, I honestly admit it, haven’t thought about it a lot for last 7 years. I read the news, I laughed at the russian propaganda (not suspecting it as a horrific threat), I’ve never doubted that Donbas and Crimea are Ukrainian territories — but the war was somewhere aside. And it was the same for many of my friends. In my theater the performances were in russian (including the ones with me acting in them), and also I organized concerts of celebrities in Kherson (including russian celebrities).

In the fall of 2020, I decided to manage all my social networks in Ukrainian. Don’t know exactly why, but I did that. In my everyday life, I still communicated in russian. Watched russian liberal bloggers, and listened to russian music, but stopped watching russian movies. My daughter often asked me to speak in Ukrainian at home, and I often agreed but was able to remember my decision for just half an hour at max.

So it was until February 24, 2022.

After the beginning of the full-scale war, I totally converted to Ukrainian. I have deleted all russian music from my phone, and unsubscribed to all russian YouTube channels. Until the day of my departure from Kherson (it happened on April 16) I spoke entirely in Ukrainian. At all public places, shops, in transport or in queues. Usually, when I started to speak Ukrainian with my friends, they spoke Ukrainian in return (that is to say I’ve asked no one for it).

I left on April 16. On the evening of April 17, I reached the Stryi district of the Lviv region. I had an opportunity to stay there but having the second option to consider, I’ve decided to check it too. On the evening of April 17, when I was a thousand kilometers from my home with just a backpack? in the house of complete strangers, I was asked by the household owner (a girl of my age, maybe even younger) after she fed us and showed a room, where we could stay for a night: “What do you think about a language?” And her father-in-law after asking about the situation in Kherson said: “They (russians) will never come here. They are afraid of us most of all. They know that we will shoot them here from every window.”

On the next day, April 18, we moved to the small town near Ivano-Frankivsk. And now I stay here for almost one and a half months. Recently I realized that this is the longest trip outside my home city so far. It’s a beautiful town, people are great and hospitable, no drunkards and quarrels on the streets, and the people's houses are better than in the best parts of Kherson. And everyone communicates with each other perfectly, greets each other, and is interested in each other's lives. There is no language question at all. And you know why? Because everyone speaks Ukrainian.

Once in the military commissariat queue, I overheard a conversation between two local men: “I’ve got work and family. I’m 50 years old. Why do I have to go somewhere? Let the people of Donetsk and Kherson go to war. That was them, who called for russians.” I stood 5 metres from him and understood that he was absolutely right. Yes, it was I, who called for russians. And when the war started in 2014, I didn't even visit the local regiment. And I’ve got it — I am the cause of the war. I read russian books, watched russian movies, listened to russian music, and walked Suvorov’s street bypassing the monument of Potemkin. I may scream that Kherson is Ukraine as much as I want, but when I lived there, I did nothing to emphasize that. And it’s nothing strange that russianspeaking regions and cities are bombed — I gave a reason for someone there “za porebrikom” (abroad — ed.) to think that we are the same folk.

Nowadays, we talk a lot about the collective responsibility of russians for their silence or even active support of the war. But right now I want to confess my personal responsibility.

Today, I deleted russian language from my phone's keyboard. And if I hear someone saying “kakaya raznica” (russian for “what is the difference” — ed.) or “ya znayu ukraїnsku, no budu govorit na tom yazyke, na kakom khochu” (“I know Ukrainian, but will speak in the language I want to” — ed.) — I will kick them in the face or at least refuse to interact with them. Because after the “yazyk” (russian for “language”, also means here just “russian language” — ed.) a war appears. Now I know for sure, and nothing is more indubitable — that “yazyk” must follow the russian warship. Everywhere. All around Ukraine. And then me and all of us, ex-russian-speaking Ukrainians — will become a cause why we win this war. Because when we will cast out from our vocabulary a word “rosiiskomovnyi” (Ukrainian for “russian-speaking” — ed.) then the last provocation in nonsensical bullshit about “brotherhood” of folks will disappear. Only the Ukrainians will remain, whom they are frightened of more than anything, and who are ready to shoot at the invaders from every window.

Glory to Ukraine!

Ukrainian Text by Oleksandr Mudryi. Translated into English by Ukrainianvancouver team – July 01, 2022

Recent Posts

See All


Post: Blog2_Post
bottom of page