Week One: Recent History of the Fight for Liberation from Russian Occupation

As we remember the Dominican Month for Peace in Ukraine in Advent…

Let us remember:

Ukraine gained its independence in 1991, following the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Following its independence, Ukraine declared itself a neutral state; it formed a limited military partnership with Russia and other Commonwealth of Independent States while also establishing a partnership with NATO in 1994.

In 2013, after the government of President Viktor Yanukovych had decided to suspend the Ukraine-European Union Association Agreement and seek closer economic ties with Russia, a several-months-long wave of demonstrations and protests known as the Euromaidan began, which later escalated into the 2014 Ukrainian revolution that led to the overthrow of Yanukovych and the establishment of a new government.

Since April 2014, when following Ukraine’s Revolution of Dignity, Russia annexed Crimea and launched aggression in the East of Ukraine, the fighting in parts of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions (collectively called the “Donbas”) between the Ukrainian Army and Russian-backed militia and regular troops has been ongoing. According to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, between March 2014 and October 31, 2019, approximately 13,000 – 13,200 people (including at least 3,345 civilians) were killed in this fighting. The number of wounded is estimated at 29,000 – 31,000, including approximately 7,000 – 9,000 civilians. In the Ukranian lands occupied by Russian-led troops, there has been killing and repression on ethnic and religious grounds, and thousands of homes and even entire settlements have been destroyed, causing a massive wave of internal displacement. More than one and a half million civilians inDonetsk and Luhansk regions have been forced to migrate to other regions.

By 2020, hostilities in eastern Ukraine entered their sixth year and continue to put civilians’ lives and well-being at risk, even as absolute numbers of civilian casualties dropped. Former comedian Volodymyr Zelensky won the presidential election on April 21, 2019. Parliamentary elections in July delivered his party, Servant of the People, a single-party parliamentary majority, for the first time since Ukraine’s independence. After taking office, Zelensky demonstrated commitment to carrying out anti-corruption reform and ending the armed conflict with Russia.

UN Observers Report on Ukraine

Let us pray:

Today we hear the words of Jesus in the gospel of Mark, “be watchful, be alert” (Mk 13: 33)

Let us awake during this Dominican Month of Peace for the plight of the people of Ukraine, that our voices across the world may unite us in solidarity for the dignity and sovereignty of the people of Ukraine.