What is Happening?
The Ukraine is about the size of France and has about 44 million inhabitants cf. 67 million for France.
The Ukraine has very fertile soil and perhaps could feed an estimated 600 million. China is interested in Ukrainian resources and China for the moment is backing Russia.
Are Ukraine's vast natural resources a real reason behind Russia's invasion?
Ukraine's geostrategic position has rendered it susceptible to the ongoing strains between Russia and the West.
# Russia is opposed to NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation) in its backyard, a position which is non-negotiable. However, Ukraine's current government wants to not only join NATO but also be a part of the European Union (EU).
Although much of the struggle is military as well as strategic, that is not where the story ends. Ukraine's economy, resources and the clash to lay claim to the country's bountiful rare earth elements are also the motives to influence its political leanings - Russia or Europe?
Ukraine has the second-biggest known gas reserves in Europe, apart from Russia's gas reserves in Asia, although largely unexploited.
In terms of natural gas, the country has around 1.09 trillion cubic meters... second only to Norway's known resources of 1.53 trillion cubic meters.
[Ukraine earns money by allowing Russian Gas to be piped through its territory to Germany. This is besides the fact that Ukraine has vast undeveloped gas reserves of its own.]
Apart from natural gas, Ukraine is the leading nation when it comes to reserves of titanium, iron and non-metallic raw materials.
Ukraine has large natural resources, with precisely five per cent of the earth's natural and mineral resources.
Ukraine's breakaway territories in the Donbass region [claimed by Russia] have abundant natural resources and, thus, make the area economically very feasible for the future.
Some estimates indicate that up to 20 per cent of the proven world reserves of titanium ores are situated in Ukraine.
Interestingly, China was the largest importer of Ukrainian titanium iron ores in 2021, with Russia on the second spot (15.3 per cent), and Turkey ranked third (14.5 per cent). The one industry that could be majorly impacted should the Ukraine-Russia clash intensify, is the aircraft industry, mainly because titanium is an important component used in the manufacture of aeroplanes.
Grain exports are the mainstay of Ukraine's economy.
Much of the country's corn and wheat are destined for Africa and West Asia, which are heavily reliant on imports for food items. Over 50 per cent of Ukraine's annual corn and wheat shipments head to Africa or the Middle East.
All the strategic positions notwithstanding, to Russia and the West, Ukraine of the future is an untouched, untapped, natural resource hotspot.
A foothold in the country would mean an economic driver, energy security, and a strong and secure strategic position. #
Despites its great potential the Ukraine is underdeveloped and comparable to undeveloped nations in Africa.
2. Geographical Position.
To the west are Poland, Slovakia, Romania, Moldova, and Bulgaria. To the east is Russia, and to the north is Russian ally Belarus.
Molodova is considered by many to be merely an extension of the Ukraine.
3. Ethnic and National Considerations.
The Ukrainian gene-pool includes the following Y-haplogroups, in order from the most prevalent:
I (23% I2a)
In terms of haplogroup distribution, the genetic pattern of Ukrainians most closely resembles that of Belarusians.
The Russians (as explained by Craig White, "In Search of ...The Origin of Nations," 2003) are based on an admixture of Mesheck and Tubal sons of Japhet. They belong to the future forces of Gog and Magog and included offshoots of Esau and Seir.
The Ukrainians are similar to the Russians but in different proportions. Ukrainians include many from Riphah son of Gomer son of Japhet. The Carpathian Mountains (a mountain range in central Europe that extends from Slovakia and southern Poland southeastward through western Ukraine to northeastern Romania) in Classical literature are referred to as the Riphaean Mountains.
The Cossacks were a collections of peoples who separated themselves from urban and settled areas in order to live freely away from nobles and gentry though they later created some of their own. The Cossacks were to be found in Russia, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, and Belarus. Most Ukrainians are not descended from them but historically consider the Cossacks their cultural and ethnic forebears. Anyone could become a Cossack but the overwhelming cultural aspects in Ukrainian areas were Ukrainian in speech and Greek Orthodox in religion. This effectively meant Ukrainians or others who adopted the said characteristics.
[In the past many Ukrainians in the west identified with the Germans even though the Nazis intended to exterminate a good portion of them.]
The Cossacks first emerged in the 1400s CE. They were originally mainly comprised of Tartar [Turkic] groups then in the 1500s they were joined and numerically overwhelmed by Slavs fleeing oppressive overlords and oppression in general. Major centers were along the Dnieper, Don, Volga and Ural Rivers; the Greben Cossacks in Caucasia; and the Zaporozhian Cossacks, mainly west of the Dnieper, in the Ukraine.
Wikipedia tells us:
# Cossack forces played an important role in Russia's wars of the 18th-20th centuries, including the Great Northern War, the Seven Years' War, the Crimean War, the Napoleonic Wars, the Caucasus War, many Russo-Persian Wars, many Russo-Turkish Wars, and the First World War. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the Tsarist regime used Cossacks extensively to perform police service. Cossacks also served as border guards on national and internal ethnic borders, as had been the case in the Caucasus War.
# Some Turkologists, however, argue that Cossacks are descendants of the native Cumans [Primitive Turks] of Ukraine, who had lived there long before the Mongol invasion...
The Zaporozhian Cossacks were very important in the history of the Ukraine though most of their descendants later moved to the Kuban Region of southeast Russia.
In Jewish writings the Cossacks were often referred to as "Yavanim" meaning Greeks probably because they were distinguished by their adherence to the Greek Orthodox Church.
# The nomadic hypothesis was that the Cossacks came from one or more nomadic peoples who at different times lived in the territory of the Northern Black Sea. According to this hypothesis the Cossacks' ancestors were the Scythians, Sarmatians, Khazars, Polovtsy (Cumans), Circassians (Adygs), Tatars, and others. ... the Cossack chroniclers of the 18th century advocated the Khazar origin of the Cossacks. #
Today no-one seems to accept this notion.
In Ancient Times numerous peoples moved through the Ukraine area including Scythians, Sarmatians, Goths, and later Antes (identified with Giants) and others.
Wikipedia tells us
# The Antes were the ancestors of Ukrainians: White Croats, Severians, Eastern Polans, Drevlyans, Dulebes, Ulichians, and Tiverians. Migrations from the territories of present-day Ukraine throughout the Balkans established many South Slavic nations. #
The term "Ukrainian" is relatively modern. For most of their history the Ukrainians were known as Rus or Ruthenians. This name connoted "RED" and may indicate an Edomite (whose name also means "Red") input.
The city of Kiev in the Ukraine was founded by the Khazars or a people related to them. Later a Varangian group from Scandinavian perhaps also known as Rus took over in 882.
The Varangian Rus also established a settlement in Novgorod in northeast Russia.
The settlements in Novgorod and Kiev were in fact the beginning of the country of Russia as we now know it! Russia and the Ukraine developed side by side. The Varangians in Kiev assimilated into the local population. The Rus adopted Byzantine (Greek) Christianity. In the 1100s Kievian Rus disintegrated into several principalities.
In 1240 the Mongolians destroyed Kiev.
In the 1250s to the late 1400s the Italian Republic of Genoa founded numerous colonies in the Black Sea region of Ukraine. From ca 1500 to 1700 Tatars from the Crimea took about two million slaves from Russia and Ukraine. From ca 1500 to 1700 Tatars from the Crimea took about two million slaves from Russia and Ukraine.
Ukrainian nationalists and national heroes had a habit of attacking Jews.
The Cossack leader Bohdan Zynoviy Mykhailovych Khmelnytsky (c. 1595 - 1657) was responsible for the "Khmelnytsky Uprising" that led to the deaths of an estimated 18,000 -100,000 Jews. Many of the victims were buried alive, cut to pieces or forced to kill one another.
an estimated 31,071 Jews were killed between 1918 and 1920. During the establishment of the Ukrainian People's Republic (1917-21), pogroms were perpetrated on Ukrainian territory. In Ukraine, the number of civilian Jews killed during the period was estimated at between 35,000 and 50,000.
Meanwhile the very important area of Galicia straddled the modern-day border between southeast Poland and western Ukraine. The State of Galicia-Volhynia emerged in the Ukraine in the 1200s. In 1392 it was partitioned between Poland and Lithuania. later Poland took over altogether. Galicia later intermittently changed hands between Poland and Hungary. Volhynia in the northeast went to Russia. The rest of Galicia became part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1526.
The population of Galicia in 1910 was estimated to be 45.4% Polish, 42.9% Ruthenian (i.e. Ukrainians) , 10.9% Jewish, and 0.8% German.... The Poles lived mainly in the west, with the Ruthenians (Ukrainians) predominant in the eastern region ("Ruthenia"). Eastern Galicia had Ruthenians 64.5%, Poles 22.0%, Jews 12%. At present Ukraine is divided between a Western and an Eastern section. The Western Section is orientated towards the west whereas the eastern tends more to Russia. The Western section is considered to be heavily influenced by the heritage of Galicia which was once a part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Its German and Hungarian rulers at the time deliberatedly kept it as an agricultural zone and the most backward portion of the Austro-Hungrain domain, See map below:
Map from: https://kehilalinks.jewishgen.org/drohobycz/history-of-galicia/where-was-galicia.html
The eastern portion of Galicia contained the historically important provinces of Volhynia and Bukovina. After the end of the Second World War, eastern Galicia became part of Western Ukraine and western Galicia became part of Poland.
Cossacks: Ukrainian Separation from Poland in the 1600s.
After Poland took control of the Ukraine in the 1600s, many of the Ukrainian gentry converted to Roman Catholicism. This further distanced them from the Ukrainian masses who mostly adhered to the Russian version of Greek Orthodoxy. The Ukrainian peasants and townspeople turned for protection to the emerging Zaporozhian Cossacks, who were fiercely Greek Orthodox.
The Cossacks in the Ukraine also fought wars against Russia but eventually Cossack areas in Russia came under Russian control.
Numerous Ukrainians, Russians, Germans, Bulgarians, Serbs and Greeks moved into the northern [Ukrainian] Black Sea steppe.
Many Ukrainians moved to different parts of the Russian Empire.
After World War-1 the dissolution of Austria-Hungary and the Russian Revolution, several separate states attempted to assert themselves in different parts of the Ukraine. In 1919 they briefly united but Civil War broke out almost immediately.
In December 1922 the USSR came into being and the Ukraine was a member state. Under Soviet rule millions of Ukrainians died in a famine known as the Holodomor or the "Great Famine".
The Germans invaded Poland in 1939. They conquered all of the Ukraine and made it into one country. At first many Ukrainians greeted the Germans as Liberators. The Germans however preserved the hated collective-farm system that the Russians had imposed. They also carried out genocidal policies against Jews. The Germans deported millions of Gentile Ukrainians to work in Germany. They began a depopulation program of Ukrainians to prepare for German colonization.
At this same time Ukrainian forces allied with the Germans carried out massacres of ethnic Poles in the Volhynia and Eastern Galicia regions, killing around 100,000 Polish civilians,
Eventually most Ukrainians found themselves on the side of the Russians. After the War Stalin deported many Ukrainians along with Russians to Siberia.
5. The Ukraine in Recent Times
In 1953, Nikita Khrushchev succeeded Stalin. He had been born in the Ukraine and is often mistakenly identified as Ukrainian. Khrushchev attempted to placate the Ukrainians. He transferred the Crimea from Soviet Russia to Soviet Ukraine.
# Soviet Ukraine soon became a European leader in industrial production, and an important centre of the Soviet arms industry and high-tech research. Such an important role resulted in a major influence of the local elite. Many members of the Soviet leadership came from Ukraine, most notably Leonid Brezhnev (ruled 1964-1982).
# On 26 April 1986, a reactor in the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant exploded, resulting in the Chernobyl disaster, the worst nuclear reactor accident in history.
In 1991 the Ukraine became independent of Russia.
Ukraine pursued full nuclear disarmament. The Ukraine dismantled the third largest nuclear weapons stockpile in the world -left over by the Russians.
In return the Ukraine received various assurances from the USA and Russia. The Ukraine may however still have some remaining stockpiles of its own.
Pro-Russian politicians struggled with popular west-aligned leaders for control of the country. The western half of the country wanted a more pro-Western policy and if possible to join the EU and even become a member of Nato. The eastern half looked to Russia.
The Russian ruler, Vladimir Putin annexed Crimea on 23 February 2014. This move was largely welcomed by people of Crimea.
The eastern economically important Donetsk and Luhansk region were populated mostly by Russians or Russian-speaking Ukrainians. They declared their independence and were supported by Russia.
Parallel to this the EU took steps towards integrating the Ukraine into its framework without giving it official full-fledged membership.
Both Russia and the Ukraine more or less claim that they are basically the one people. For Russia this means that they should all be part of Russia.- For the Ukraine it signifies the opposite, i.e. that even Russians and Russian-speakers in Ukrainian areas should be consdiered Ukrainians.
The present ruler Volodymyr Oleksandrovych Zelensky (born 1978) became the sixth and current president of Ukraine. Zelensky is Jewish but married to a Gentile Ukrainian woman. He is leading the Ukraine in its present struggle with Russia.
6. The Russian Case.
Russia has been condemned by most of the world for its aggression towards the Ukraine.
In 1990 West Germany and East Germany re-united and became one country. Prior to this East Germany had to a great degree been controlled by Russia.
Russia agreed to the unification on the understanding that Nato would spread its influence to the east.
# In 1990 assurances were given by several western leaders to Mikhail Gorbachev that NATO would not expand further East. #
Since then NATO has accepted as members Bosnia and Herzegovina, North Macedonia ... Georgia [south of Russia] was also named as an aspiring member, and was promised "future membership" during the 2008 summit in Bucharest. Long-range missiles capable of striking Russian cities or missile defence systems have been set up in Romania and Poland. Both Poland and Sweden are seeking Nato membership.
Russia feels threatened. There is large Russian-speaking minority in the Ukraine and in the past pro-Russian political parities had an electoral majority.
The Ukraine is in the midst of Europe. it has vast valuable natural resources that are sorely needed and which the Ukraine on its own does not seem capable of developing. From the Russian point of view it is either Russia or someone else from outside who will eventually do this.
7. Ukraine and the Jews.
Today there are about 200,000 Jews still in the Ukrain compared to ca.600,000 in Russia. In the past in both places there were many more.
# Archaeological evidence places Jews among Greek traders inhabiting the Black Sea coastline in the last centuries before the Common Era. The eastern portions of Ukraine, extending all the way to Kiev, were later absorbed into the Khazar kingdom, with its center just north of the Caspian Sea.
Jews came to the Ukraine from the east, i.e. from the centers in Babylon, Persia, Byzantium, and Khazaria. Many also came from the west from France, Germany, and even Spain and Italy.
The Ukraine came under the rulership of Poland. Polish nobles used Jews as middlemen to collect taxes, tolls, and other exactions from the Ukrainian peasantry. Jews also locally often held the exclusive privilege of distilling and selling alcohol. They also engaged in innkeeping and small moneylending. This made them hated by the locals who were relatively less developed. As well as that many Jews worked as small tradesmen, artisans, and skilled laborers. The native Ukrainians generally kept to small-scale agriculture.
In 1648 the Zaporozhian Cossack leader Bohdan Khmelnitsky led a Ukrainian revolt against Poland. He massacred numerous Poles and Jews. Consequently 100s of thousands were Jews killed meaning half the Jews in the Ukraine at that time.
Later similar events followed.
A modern apologist for the Ukraine is Rabbi Henry Abramson who gives regular YouTube talks on Jewish history that are quite popular. He is evidently of Jewish Ukrainian ancestry, speaks both Russian and Ukrainian, and has visited the area several times. He emphasizes that despite the hostilities there was also a positive side to Ukrainian-Jewish relationships. It was not all bad. Close relationships existed especially between Jewish women and their Ukrainian female neighbors. The Jewish language, Yiddish, was influenced by Ukrainian. The word for father in Yiddish is "Tati" probably derived from "tata" in Ukrainian meaning the same. Jewish food recipes are sometimes from the Ukraine.
The Hasidic Movement started by the Baal Shem Tov (1698-1760) first started in the Ukraine. Hasidic music, chanting, and dance may have had Ukrainian origins, and so on.
Nevertheless, even if it was not all bad it was seldomg that good. Several blood libel cases were held in the Ukraine 1911-1913. Following the Russian Revolution in 1917, during the Russian Civil War (1918-1920) many pogroms and upheavals in the Ukraine (which was still part of Russia) resulted in the deaths of 50,000 t0 100,000 Jews and the rape and injury of many more. During World War-2 Ukrainian and Lithuanian collaborators helped the Germans man the concentration camps and carry out massacres of Jews and their attempted extermination. Between 1.2 million and 1.6 million Jews were killed in Ukraine during the Holocaust.
On the other hand,
A 2017 Pew Research study found that only 5 percent of Ukrainians in the survey said they would not accept Jews as fellow citizens. In neighboring Russia it, was 14 percent, in Poland 18 percent and in Romania 22 percent.
Shaked: 90% of Ukrainian Arrivals Not Recognized by Law of Return, We Can't Continue Like This
3 Adar II 5782 - March 6, 2022
Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked (Yamina) on Sunday morning declared that she intends to formulate a policy to introduce some balance to the mass arrival of Ukrainian refugees in Israel since she says 90% of them are not entitled to citizenship under the Law of Return.
The minister insisted that Israel has already absorbed more refugees than any other Western country that does not border Ukraine....
Minister Shaked noted that in Israel today there are 26,000 Ukrainians who are not citizens of Israel, of whom 13,000 are without a visa, 2,500 with a tourist visa, 4,000 are asylum seekers, and the rest have a work visa. She stressed that the Israeli authorities are now preparing to absorb about one hundred thousand Jews and their extended family members from Ukraine and Russia who are entitled to shelter in the Jewish State under the Law of Return.
There are about 1, 200,000 relatively recent (since the 1990s) arrivals from Russia and the Ukraine in Israel today. About 900,000 are considered halachically Jewish while ca. 300, 000 are not.