Kateryna Kruk was born in Rivne, Western Ukraine in 1991. After studying for a Master’s Degree in Poland, she returned to Kiev last autumn, as the Euromaidan protests began. Determined to shift Ukraine towards Western Europe, Kruk became heavily involved in the protest movement. Tweeting extensively in English, she emerged as the “unofficial voice” of Euromaidan, providing a running commentary both on the protesters’ strategic positioning and dramatic events on the streets, as she tells LIAM HALLIGAN
LH: Is Ukraine part of Europe?
Ukraine isn’t only part of Europe but is also its Eastern border. This border isn’t really defined in geographical or physical terms. Cultural differences define the true border of Europe. As such, this border is rather wide and vague but obviously lies somewhere in Eastern Ukraine. Being part of Europe, belonging to it, is also a process. By observing cultural changes in Ukraine, you can see how the country is becoming more and more European.
Vera Graziadei (nee Filatova) is a familiar face to British audiences, given her role in the cult Channel 4 series Peep Show, numerous TV dramas and widely-praised theatre and film work. Born in Donetsk, to a Ukrainian mother and Russian father, she came to the UK as a teenager and was educated at the London School of Economics. But Graziadei’s passions go beyond acting. Recent events in Ukraine have left her shocked and disturbed, as she tells LIAM HALLIGAN in London.
LH: ARE YOU UKRAINIAN OR RUSSIAN?
Actually, first and foremost I’m a Brit. I swore my allegiance, took citizenship and spent my formative years here, having arrived at the age of 13. Back then, I’d tell people I was Russian but born in Ukraine. That was a kid talking. As an adult, I say I’m Ukrainian. But if I meet two people from Vladivostok and Western Ukraine, I feel culturally closer to the person from Vladivostok, even though its thousands of miles away. I’m not saying I don’t like people from Western Ukraine. I’m talking about how close I feel culturally, not personally nor in terms of friendship. So – a rather complicated answer to a simple question.
William Hague was on rather shaky ground when he argued this week that Moscow has chosen “the route to isolation” by recognizing Crimea’s referendum. On the contrary, it is the European Union and the United States who look as if they have seriously overplayed their respective hands in Ukraine. Across Asia, Africa and Latin America, the cry of “Western hypocrisy” has been heard much louder than complaints about Vladimir Putin.
Even in the UK, mainstream opinion is steadily becoming more critical of Western interventionism and our “New Cold War” posturing – despite some pretty one-sided media coverage and much establishment “tut-tutting”. Independent thought is still viewed with suspicion, and even disgust, by some – and I should know, having consistently argued we should negotiate with Moscow, not threaten tough sanctions we’ll never impose.
This Crimean crisis is, perhaps, reaching its apogee. As a referendum is held on the Black Sea peninsula, a territory 25pc bigger than Wales and home to 2m people, the stand-off between Russia and the West continues, dominating the global news-cycle.
Talk of a new Cold War is deeply alarmist. Politicians on both sides are posturing in front of each other and their respective electorates. Be in no doubt, though, relations between Russia and the US are now at their lowest ebb since the Soviet Union collapsed over 22 years ago.