Conflict in Ukraine: A History

In the aftermath of the COVID-19 health crisis, the world was once again alerted to a global threat and crisis. The world turned its attention to the region of Eastern Europe, specifically Ukraine. In February of 2022, Russia began a full-scale invasion of Ukraine as the world watched in disbelief. While many were likely surprised to see this invasion take place, others expected it as conflict between the two countries has existed for years. This incident is a climactic event within a period of passive aggression and proxy war carried out by Russia toward Ukraine at the expense of Ukrainian and Crimean people. The conflict is not the first conflict to occur between various governments in the region of Crimea and the broader region of Eastern Europe. In order to better understand the conflict between Russia and Ukraine as well as other nations, we must first understand how the conflict originated, escalated, and evolved over time. Through not only the examination of historical events but also literary events, we can better understand the realities within this conflict specifically. As this course is centered on British literature, our examination and understandings began by turning to and examining British literary works that emphasize the horrible realities of a conflict within the region that took place over one-hundred years ago: the Crimean War. From our understandings of this beginning conflict within the area through Tennyson's "The Charge of the Light Brigade" and Seacole's "The Wonderful Adventures of Mary Seacole", we can better understand the aggressive, power-driven, and controlling actions of Russia that are still prevalent today. Moving forward with an examination of other historical and literary works, it became prevalent that the struggle and conflict between Ukraine and Russia not only comes from Russia's desire to control and hold power but also Ukraine's desire for independence. This opposing struggle is an underlying thread through each entry within the timeline. This timeline will serve as an examination of both the origin and progression of conflict within the region.


Chronological table

Displaying 1 - 12 of 12
Date Event Created by Associated Places

Russian Empire First Acquires Ukraine

Ukraine’s first connection to Russian imperialism and colonialism dates all the way back to the rule of Catherine the Great and the height of the Russian Empire’s power. During the 18th century, Russia was slowly but surely working its way west, starting wars and taking over as much territory as it could. Although Catherine the Great put on the persona of an enlightened leader whose utmost goal was to bring Russia to glory, her actions towards the peoples of Eastern Europe – those who she so desperately wanted as a part of that empirical glory – were not so honorable. It was she who took charge of expanding Russian territory, stretching her country’s borders even further to encompass what is now modern-day Ukraine. The inhabitants of that land, however, which was considered a part of Poland at this point, did not appreciate or welcome their forced subjugation by the Russians, so they began to rebel, rioting and fighting back against their oncoming forces. Unswayed by these acts of defiance, Catherine proved her fierce determination for Russian expansion by quelling the rebellion, stretching out her mighty hand and crushing anyone who would dare to defy her rule and upset her plan for her empire. Whether the motivation behind this conflict was to further Catherine’s colonial ambitions or to secure Russia’s borders, the events that transpired set the stage for a continued hostility between the territories (Smilyanskaya). 

In the official Declaration of the end of the war, the Polish territory was clearly divided between the Austrian monarchy and Queen Catherine, saying: “All the lands, possessions, cities, towns and villages contained in the above line, will be attached forever to the Russian Empire and a calm and undeniable possession will be hers and will be guaranteed to her in a reliable and solemn manner” (Cobenzel). In their minds, this was the new, permanent reality; Ukrainian lands would become Russia’s and there would be no more protests, no more uprisings. According to these official war documents, it appears that Catherine genuinely believed she was doing the Ukrainian people a favor, taking them under her powerful wing and bringing them into her protection. What she failed to consider though, was that perhaps her empire was the very thing the Ukrainian people desired protection from the most, but the damage had already been done. “From then to now, Russia is following a copybook pattern of confrontation with the West” (Maitra); this Russian aggression was merely the first example of a long line of antagonistic behavior that continues to this day. 

Just like Catherine, Russia’s current leader Vladimir Putin has seemed to believe that his actions towards Ukraine have been in its best interest, spreading the mindset that Ukraine would be better off under Russian control; that there is little hope they would be able to survive and thrive on their own. Seeing how Ukraine has been treated down through the years – by Catherine over 250 years ago and now Putin today – it is no wonder that the Ukrainian people are tired of Russia meddling in their affairs, of dictating how they should run their own country.

Works Cited 

Cobenzel, Count Ludwig. “Declaration of Russia and Austria on the Third Partition of Poland.” 1794, 

Maitra, Dr. Sumantra. “Catherine the Great to Vladimir the Cunning: The Ever Present Realism in Russian Foreign Policy.” 1 Sep 2014. SSRN,

“Prince Vladimir of Kiev, Catherine the Great, and Vladimir Putin.” 2022. Russian Life,

Smilyanskaya, Elena. “Russian Warriors in the Land of Militates and Themistocles: The Colonial Ambitions of Catherine the Great in the Mediterranean.” 13 May 2014. HSE Working Papers,

Simone Meadows
5 Oct 1853 to 30 Mar 1856

The Crimean War

    Prior to the twentieth century, the term “world war” was not a common phrase in the daily socio-political vocabulary. However, the Crimean War of the nineteenth century was most certainly a transcontinental conflict. The Crimean War began a timeline of numerous conflicts in the region of Crimea within the modern post-Napoleonic period. There are many reasons for the Crimean War. However, the most concise reason for the Crimean War is simply Russian expansionism and imperialism. 

    In 1853, the two major empires of Eurasia were the Russian Empire and the Ottoman Empire. The Ottoman Empire and the numerous empires in Christendom had structured a decree in the eighteenth century that decreed that a Christian nation would act as the protectorate of Christian peoples within the Ottoman Empire in areas such as “the Holy Land” or modern-day Israel/Palestine. The political protection of Christians within the Ottoman Empire was a medium through which the protectorate nation was able to exercise influence beyond the religion. The Russian Empire and the Eastern Orthodox Church competed with the French Empire and the Roman Catholic Church for the authority for protection of Ottoman Christians. The British Empire had mediated a negotiation process between the Russian, French, and Ottoman Empires. The three leaders of the respective empires negotiate an agreement. Napoleon III of France utilized both a show of force and its imperial wealth to induce Sultan Abdulmecid I of Ottoman Turkey to regotionate the compromise in favor of the French Empire and Napoleon III of France. Tsar Nicholas I of Russia responded to this renegotiation by militarily advancing into the Danubian Principalities in modern-day Romania. The Russian military aggression induced the declaration of war upon the Russian Empire by the Ottoman Empire, with the military support of the French and British Empires as well and thus began the Crimean War.

    Though the British Empire began the Russo-Ottoman conflict as mediators, the British Empire and its military mobilized into a major aggressor in the Crimean War. The November 21, 1854 issue of London, England’s The Times newspaper contains a letter to the editor of The Times from an Englishman known as “W.S.”. The letter is titled “Why Spare Odessa?”. The writer states that “we have, in short, in the interest of humanity, to civilize the Russian Empire; and it is a mistaken and narrow idea of mercy which would prompt to spare now, since we may be assured that our forbearance will only lead to future barbararities” (W.S.). The statement by “W.S.” advocates for the British Empire and its involvement in the Caucasus in “the interest of humanity (W.S.). The British perception of the war was somewhat divided. Wealthy Englishmen were largely supportive of the war whilst impoverished Englishmen were likely divided. “There were some influential Britons who sought long range results from the war with Russia” (Luxenburg, Norman).

    The empires of the Crimean War acted upon their own respective interests. No empire was altruistic in their military and political ambitions in the Crimea, the Caucasus and the larger region of Eastern Europe. However, the war was certainly the result of Russian imperialism in the region near the Black Sea. The aggression of Russia (the Russian Empire, USSR, and the Russian Federation) is a recurring concept within history, media, and life for the people in Eastern Europe. 

 Works Cited

    W. S. "Why Spare Odessa?" Times, 21 Nov. 1854, p. 6. The Times Digital Archive, Accessed 30 Apr. 2022.

    Luxenburg, Norman. “England and the Caucasus during the Crimean War.” Jahrbücher Für Geschichte Osteuropas, vol. 16, no. 4, 1968, pp. 499–504, Accessed 30 April 2022.

    Lalumia, Matthew. “Realism and Anti-Aristocratic Sentiment in Victorian Depictions of the Crimean War.” Victorian Studies, vol. 27, no. 1, 1983, pp. 25–51, Accessed 1 May 2022.

Nicholas Gross
2 Dec 1854 to 9 Dec 1854

The Charge of the Light Brigade

    In 1854, Alfred Lord Tennyson wrote and published a poem titled The Charge of the Light Brigade. The poem is named after a light cavalry charge during the Battle of Balaclava in the Crimean War. The Battle of Balaclava occured on October 25, 1854 in Balaclava, Crimea near the Black Sea. Although, the charge of the light brigade is the most notable cavalry charge of the Battle of Balaclava and perhaps the most notable cavalry charge of the Crimean War. However, the charge by British light cavalry was not the only cavalry charge of the battle. It was not even the only British cavalry charge of the battle. However, it is the disastrous charge of Field Marshal FitzRoy James Henry Somerset (Lord Raglan)’s light brigade of cavalry that affected the emotions of Alfred Lord Tennyson and motivated the poet to write The Charge of the Light Brigade.

    The Battle of Balaclava was a battle within the larger Siege of Sevastopol in which an alliance of British, French, and Ottoman military units attacked the port city of Sevastopol, Crimea that was being defended by Russian military units. The British military units were positioned on the right flank of the allied front. The British military of the right flank was numerically low in men in comparison to the respective French and Ottoman flanks. General Pavel Leprandi of the Russian Imperial Army recognized the weak British flank and sought to expose it. General James Yorke Scarlett successfully repelled the Russian charge with his own charge of heavy cavalry. However, the charge was largely successful and thus there is no “Charge of the Heavy Brigade” poem. Lord Raglan then commanded Major General James Brudenenell (Lord Cardigan) to defend abandoned Turkish guns from Russian seizure. There was a miscommunication however, and the British light brigade of cavalry instead charged a Russian artillery battery and suffered immense casualties.

    The second stanza depicts the discipline of the light brigade and their service to their country and their chain of command despite the incompetence of that chain of command.


'Forward, the Light Brigade!'

No man was there dismay'd,

Not tho' the soldier knew

Some one had blunder'd

Theirs not to make reply,

Theirs not to reason why,

Theirs but to do and die,

Into the valley of Death

Rode the six hundred.


    The third stanza depicts the brutality of the charge. It also depicts the inevitability of death for the British troopers.

Cannon to right of them,

Cannon to left of them,

Cannon in front of them

Volley'd and thunder'd;

Storm'd at with shot and shell,

Boldly they rode and well,

Into the jaws of Death,

Into the mouth of Hell

Rode the six hundred.


    The seventh and final stanza of the poem honors the British troopers and laments the loss of life. 


When can their glory fade?

O the wild charge they made!

All the world wonder'd.

Honour the charge they made!

Honour the Light Brigade,

Noble six hundred!


    The poem is a tribute to the troopers who died in the charge on the fields of Balaclava. It is literary martyrdom. Tennyson would surely want the world to “honour the charge they made” allow peace to prevail in the Crimean peninsula of Ukraine. However, acts of Russian aggression have trampled on the “noble six hundred” as the people of the United Kingdom and of the world fear for further military escalation in Crimea.


Works Cited


Tennyson, Lord Alfred. The Charge of the Light Brigade. 1854. COVE Studio.

Nicholas Gross
Jul 1857

The Wonderful Adventures of Mrs. Seacole in Many Lands

soldiers gathering by Mary Seacole

While The Wonderful Adventures of Mrs. Seacole in Many Lands contains a wide variety of information and stories from the author’s life, she spends most of the book focusing on her time as a frontline nurse during the Crimean War. Lasting from 1853 to 1856, the Crimean War was an attempt by Great Britain and its allies to prevent the Russian Empire from expanding even further into lands previously belonging to the Ottoman Empire. The Russian Empire still considered itself to be at the height of its power, despite conflicts waging inside its own borders, and was desperate for even more land, even more control over the surrounding area; a common trend in the country’s long and bloody history. As a Jamaican-British citizen, Mrs. Seacole sided against the Russian forces, and sought to bring a sense of the English spirit to the battlefield, wanting to heal not only the soldier’s physical bodies, but also their souls by reminding them of home. She became a sort of mother figure to these men, simlutaneously "seeking self-conciously to identify herself with the 'mother' country" (Poon 501); in a sense, she was England for them. 

Published in England in 1857, The Adventures of Mrs. Seacole provided a glimpse into the realities of the war for the British that they had not seen up until this point, as it was a time with limited media coverage. Seacole’s work was a good balance of humor and comfort, as well as displaying the true tragedy that befell so many young Englishmen during the horrors of battle. “I returned from [my Crimean campaign] shaken in health. I came home wounded, as many others did” (Seacole); she was open and honest about her experiences, and that was an endearing quality for her readers, who were very eager to purchase her work. She did not hold back in her descriptions of the ferocity with which the Russians were pressing against the British forces, determined to stop at nothing to retain the land they were so anxious to control. 

One aspect of Mrs. Seacole’s work that particularly stands out is her attitude towards the fighting: “This was my first experience of actual battle, and I felt that strange excitement which I do not remember on future occasions, coupled with an earnest longing to see more of warfare, and to share in its hazards” (Seacole). Some scholars agree that parts of Seacole's work does somewhat fuel the fire of colonialism and conflict (Paquet 661). War brings with it a certain fascination for some people, and while Mary Seacole’s interest was in no way malicious but instead out of care and concern, the way she describes that “strange excitement” here seems to be a feeling that has resurfaced time and again, even to this day. To the outside world, the current Ukrainian invasion does not seem to be prompted by anything more than a strong desire for conflict; even some of the Russian people themselves would agree that Putin’s efforts have little substance other than his desire to return to Russia’s glory days. With Ukraine in his grasp, he will be one step closer to reuniting an empire. Over and over again, just like many Russian leaders who have come before him, Putin has proved himself to be one who possesses an “earnest longing to see more of warfare.”

Works Cited 

Paquet, Sandra Pouchet. “The Enigma of Arrival: The Wonderful Adventures of Mrs. Seacole in Many Lands.” African American Review, vol. 26, no. 4, 1992, pp. 651–63, 
Poon, Angelia. “Comic Acts of (Be)Longing: Performing Englishness in ‘Wonderful Adventures of Mrs. Seacole in Many Lands.’” Victorian Literature and Culture, vol. 35, no. 2, 2007, pp. 501–16, 

Seacole, Mary. The Wonderful Adventures of Mrs. Seacole in Many Lands. 1857. COVE Studio,

Related Links:

Simone Meadows
1917 to 1922

The Russian Civil War

 From the wake of World War I, Russia was divided. Lenin and the Bolsheviks seized power in the October Revolution. It is important to add that Lenin believed the only way to bring change was through violent uprising and not peaceful change. Once in power, Lenin had pulled Russia out of the war so the nation could focus on rebuilding, specifically by using Marxism to help build the communist state. This revolution and Lenin’s rise to power threw Russia into conflict quickly. Many different people rose up to push back against these Bolshevik ideals. 

There were two main groups that were opposing Lenin: the non-Bolshevik left, who had been finally alienated from Lenin by his dissolution of the Constituent Assembly and the rightist Whites, whose main asset was the Volunteer Army in the Kuban steppes. This “White Army” as they called themselves was the biggest opposition to Lenin. It was composed of many different groups but all to go against the Bolshevik Red Army. Multiple battles erupted all throughout Russia. While many of the smaller armies/movements struggled, The White Army held strong and was holding their own against the Bolsheviks. In late 1918, the Bolsheviks only really held power in the western industrial cities because of Allied Germany, treaties, and the White Army’s advances. 

Then in November 1918, World War I officially came to an end and the line of Eastern Europe were redrawn. Other countries pulled their troops out and the Bolsheviks saw their chance to push. The Bolsheviks sought dominance over the East and West. Their push east was not too successful, but into the east they spread quickly. With this push the Bolsheviks took dominance fast. This is largely due to the fact that the Bolsheviks had a singular, united goal and a strong leader behind it, while the White Army was more disjointed with many goals throughout the leaders. 

In 1919, the White Army was making progress towards Moscow but the Bolsheviks then made an alliance with the Black Army in Ukraine and stopped their advancement and pushed them back. By 1920, the White Army was all but destroyed in the East. The Whites could no longer effectively fight the Black and Red Army. Late 1920 saw Poland and Ukraine form an alliance and launch an offensive against the Bolsheviks in hopes to reunite the Ukrainian State. While they captured Kyiv they were met by a numerically superior Red Army. The Red Army then kept advancing farther into Poland but were halted and the Bolsheviks made a treaty with Poland. This guaranteed Polish independence but left Ukraine under Bolshevik control. With this, the remnants of the White Army fled. Even in this, Lenin saw more opportunity for power and control. With the White Army fleeing, this allowed Lenin to break his alliance with the Black Army and turn on them. They would eventually surrender in 1921. The Bolsheviks would then take over Georgia and Romania to finish off the White Army. The Bolsheviks annexation of the Far Eastern Republic in 1922 effectively ended the war and created the Soviet Union. 

The revolution and war displayed the ruthless power-grabbing mindset under Lenin and the Bolsheviks that has led to so much of what modern Russia has become. Lenin’s ideals and effect on history still have weight and repercussions in the present. Russia and Ukraine are still dealing with the trickle-down effect of this complex history. The grasping for power at the expense of others is still something that weighs on these countries as we can see in Ukraine today. 


Works Cited

Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopaedia. "Russian Civil War". Encyclopedia Britannica, 19 Nov. 2020, Accessed 26 April 2022.
Raleigh, Donald. “The Russian Civil War, 1917–1922.” The Cambridge History of Russia, edited by Ronald Grigor Suny, vol. 3, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2006, pp. 140–167. The Cambridge History of Russia.

 Reiman, Michael. “About the Russian Revolution of 1917.” About Russia, Its Revolutions, Its Development and Its Present, Peter Lang AG, 2016, pp. 13–24, Accessed 26 Apr. 2022

Truitt Anweiler
1932 to 1933

Holodomor: Man-made Famine

An image of a mother and her starving children by Alexander Wienerberger
Mother with Her Starving Children

Conflict between Ukraine and Russia has, as we see in this timeline, extended over hundreds of years, and while many events within this conflict are known throughout the world, some events, such as the Holodomor, are not commonly known by those who did not experience it. “The Psychological Consequences of the Holodomor in Ukraine” by Viktoriia Gorbunova and Vitalii Klymchuk” (2020)  mentions,“The Holodomor has been recognized in more than 20 countries around the world as an attempt to eliminate the Ukrainian people” (4), so why is it not known throughout the world? In the 1930s, Russia was known as the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), and Ukraine was under its control. The leader of the USSR at this time was Joseph Stalin, and he feared that Ukraine was strengthening itself in a manner that would eventually lead to its independence from the USSR. To prevent Ukraine becoming an independent country or nation, Stalin was determined to put down any revolution before it could start, and his plan was put into place through enacting collectivization.

            The collectivization of Ukraine meant that Ukrainian farmers had to surrender control of their land, produce, animals, and labor to the Soviet government. With the control over Ukrainian farming and produce, the USSR with Stalin as its leader created a man-made famine in Ukraine by taking harvests the harvests of the Ukrainian people, leaving them with little food. In the early 1930s in Ukraine, many farmers and rural villagers relied on crops to help feed their families. Subsistence farming was a common way of life within the country. So, when complete access to these crops was taken away by Stalin and the USSR, the farmers and villagers were not able to obtain enough food to keep themselves from starvation. According to “Holodomor” from the University of Minnesota, “The primary victims of the Holodomor were rural farmers and villagers, who made up roughly 80 percent of Ukraine’s population in the 1930s” (1). With such a large percent of the population being those directly affected by the man-made famine, one can only begin to understand how many individuals were likely killed and the suffering many endured. While there are not many well-known accounts of the lived experiences of the Holodomor, one man, Wasyl Kushnir, emphasizes the reality of this event in by sharing his experience in Epic Journey: The Life and Times of Wasyl Kushnir through the following description: “People sat and lay at the foot of buildings and in the streets, under bridges, swollen from hunger, mostly small children and older men of all ages, dying from hunger, so swollen that they could not walk” (19). This eye-opening description helps one understand the suffering of many in Ukraine at the hands of Stalin and the USSR; however, while this suffering was created by a man-made famine on behalf of the USSR, the USSR attempted to blame the famine on individuals within Ukraine.

            In an article from London’s The Times in 1933, the following statement is made after hearing a speech from a USSR representative known as M. Postyscheff: “He accuses the Separatists of having organized starvation in the Ukrainian order to breed discontent and make the Soviet System unpopular” (2). This article emphasizes something still prevalent today: the false counternarrative created by Russia—the USSR in this case—against the narrative of those they try to control. In 1933, Ukraine was suffering and starving because of USSR decisions and practices; however, the USSR blamed the famine and starvation on separatists—those wishing for Ukrainian independence. This counternarrative attempted to portray those seeking independence as the enemy to keep individuals loyal to the USSR; however, suffering Ukrainians knew the truth. Today, Russia is still attempting to use propaganda and false narratives to keep its people loyal and submissive. Especially regarding its current attack on Ukraine, Russia has pushed out false stories and realities to justify its acts to the Russian people and eliminate potential resistance for their plans and agenda. In comparing the Holodomor and Russia’s current attack on Ukraine, it becomes easier to see recognize that Russia’s desire to control Ukraine has never subsided, and history repeats itself in various ways.

Works Cited:

“Holodomor.” University of Minnesota: College of Liberal Arts,

Kushnir, Andrei. “The Holodomor.” Epic Journey: The Life and Times of Wasyl Kushnir, Academic Studies Press, 2020, pp. 16–19, Accessed 27 Apr. 2022.

Gorbunova, Viktoriia, and Vitalii Klymchuk. “The Psychological Consequences of the Holodomor in Ukraine.” East/West: Journal of Ukrainian Studies, 26 Oct. 2020, 

OWN, OUR. "Ukrainian Separatism." Times, 12 Dec. 1933, p. 13. The Times Digital Archive, Accessed 27 Apr. 2022.

Wienerberger, Alexander. “Mother with Her Starving Children.”, Kharkiv, 8 May 2021, Accessed 30 Apr. 2022.

Related Links

Alaina's timeline entry on the Black Panthers emphasizes the use of false narrative on behalf of the government to portray the Black Panthers in a negative light. This creation of a false narrative relates to the false narratives Russia has created about Ukraine for years, including in 1933 during the Holodomor and 2022 within the current conflict.

Truitt's entry on the most recent Russian invasion of Ukraine is a climactic event resulting from events and ideaologies such as the ones mentioned in this entry.

Faith Barnes
4 Feb 1964 to 1992

Joseph Brodsky: Trial, Exile, and Ukrainian Independence Opponent

An image of Joseph Brodsky from the Wall Street Journal
Joseph Brodsky

Joseph Brodsky was born Iosif Brodskiy in Leningrad, now present-day St. Petersbug, Russia in 1940. Brodsky was born and raised while Joseph Stalin led the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), and life under Stalin’s harsh Soviet likely influenced Brodsky’s thinking and writing. In the 1950s, Brodsky began writing poetry for the first time, and it did not take long for his writing to be recognized. “Joeseph Brodsky: A Virgilian Hero, Doomed Never to Return Home” by Bengt Jangfeldt explains why Brodsky was recognized when the following is mentioned: “Brodsky Revolutionised Russian poetry by introducing themes that were taboo in the Soviet Union…in the Soviet Union, such things did not go unpunished” (6). Joseph Brodsky wrote in a way and on topics that did not conform to the common practice of Soviet poets in his time. He went against what was expected of him within his writing, and many took this as his way of going against the Soviet Union. Often, Brodsky is still known as an anti-Soviet Soviet poet, but he is also largely known for being put on trial in the USSR in 1964.

            In 1964, Brodsky was put on trial by the Soviet Union after being deemed a parasite. The USSR deemed Brodsky a parasite and a rebel because his poems did not portray the USSR as it desired to be portrayed, and because of his lack of conformity to USSR standards, he was not considered a poet by the government. While there were attempts to keep Brodsky’s trial private within the USSR, manuscripts of the trial were released. “The Trial of Joseph Brodsky” by Frida Vigdorova and Michael R. Katz shares some of the original manuscripts from the trial, including the following verdict from the judge: “Brodsky has systematically failed to fulfill the obligations of a Soviet citizen with regard to producing material value and personal well-being…Brodsky is not a poet…Brodsky will be sent to remote locations for a period of five years forced labor” (207). While Brodsky was sentenced to five years of forced labor, he was released in 1965 after only one year of service. Brodsky’s release was largely due to support he received from both Soviet and Western individuals who knew his work and protested on his behalf. After being released from his forced labor sentence, Brodsky returned to his hometown of Leningrad until 1972 when he was sent into permanent foreign exile without any trial. London’s The Times emphasizes how well-known Brodsky’s trial and treatment were within “Voices of Leningrad” by Suzanne Massie which explained that Brodsky’s “harsh treatment by the authorities and subsequent expulsion are too well known to ignore” (6). After being exiled, Joseph Brodsky moved to the United States where he officially changed his name, Iosif Brodskiy to Joseph Brodsky, and eventually became a U.S. citizen.

            Although many view Brodsky as an anti-Soviet Soviet poet, “The Crimes of Joseph Brodsky” by Roberta Reeder, Efim Etkind, and Yakov Gubanov emphasizes that Brodsky was not exiled “because he was fighting against the Soviet regime, but because the Soviet regime was fighting against him” (105). Even after being exiled, Brodsky shared many beliefs that his former home did. One of the greatest pieces Brodsky’s ways of thinking is seen in is his poem “On Ukrainian Independence.” “On Ukrainian Independence” by Joseph Brodsky was never officially published or circulated, at least not within his lifetime; however, Brodsky did read it one time in the early 1990s at a public event. This poem by Brodsky emphasizes the similar thinking he and the USSR had, even Russia has now, in regard to Ukrainians. Within the poem, Brodsky writes, “Good riddance, Khokhly, it’s over for better or worse, / I’ll go spit in the Dnieper, perhaps it’ll flow in reverse” (24-35). The word Khokhly was a common racial slur used to refer to Ukrainians, and it was often used to refer to Ukrainians in a condescending manner. The Dnieper River is one that flows through Ukraine and into the Black Sea. Mentioning spitting in the river is likely similar to spitting on Ukraine itself which shows so much disrespect. Brodsky’s lines “But mark: when it’s your turn to be dragged to graveyards, / you’ll whisper and wheeze, your deathbed a mattress a-pushing, / not Schevchenko’s bullshit but poetry lines from Pushking (38-40) also show Brodsky’s belief that Ukraine is inferior to the USSR, or Russia. Schevchenko mentioned in the final line was a Ukrainian nationalist poet while the Pushking mentioned is a classic Russian poet. By mentioning that Ukrainians will desire words of a Russian poet over words of a Ukrainian poet as they are dying, Brodsky is again portraying Ukraine as inferior and less satisfying. The view of Ukraine as inferior is still seen today. In fact, in the current attack on Ukraine from Russia, Russia is attempting to force Ukraine into submission and a controlled state. Although Brodsky’s poem was written thirty years ago, it allows us to better understand current events by allowing us to understand the thinking of a Russian-born, Soviet poet.

Works Cited

Beaty, Keith. “Nobel Prize-Winning Russian Poet Joseph Brodsky in 1994.” Wall Street Journal, 28 Apr. 2022, Accessed 30 Apr. 2022. 

Jangfeldt, Bengt. “The Nobel Prize in Literature 1987.”, 

Massie, Suzanne, and Michael Glenny. "Voices of Leningrad." Times, 17 Aug. 1972, p. 6. The Times Digital Archive, Accessed 30 Apr. 2022.

Reeder, Roberta, et al. “The Crimes of Joseph Brodsky.” New England Review (1990-), vol. 20, no. 3, 1999, pp. 95–135, Accessed 30 Apr. 2022.

 Vigdorova, Frida and Michael R. Katz. "The Trial of Joseph Brodsky." New England Review, vol. 34 no. 3, 2014, p. 183-207. Project MUSEdoi:10.1353/ner.2014.0022.

Related Links

The Toxic Patriotism timeline relates to Brodsky's belief that Ukraine and Ukrainians are inferior to Russia and Russians. These beliefs that are held by many within Russia have caused conflict, just as the Toxic Patriotism timeline emphasizes a connection to war and conflict.

Truitt's entry on the most recent Russian invasion of Ukraine is a climactic event resulting from events and ideaologies such as the ones mentioned in this entry.



Faith Barnes
26 Dec 1991

Fall of the USSR and Ukrainian Independence

The Ukraine we know today has only been in existence for about thirty years; the fall of the USSR and the end of the Soviet Union led to the independence of many of its previously-held territories – Latvia, Lithuania, Belarus, and Ukraine, to name a few. Throughout Russia’s long and troubled history, there have been multiple factors that built up over time, eventually leading to the collapse of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). Some could argue that the problematic issues stem from all the way back to the rule of Empress Catherine the Great, as mentioned in a previous timeline entry, but no matter what, it can be agreed upon that the USSR was troubled right from the start, back in 1922 after the Russian Revolution. In an attempt to abolish all traces of the previous monarchy and capitalism, the new government that took charge established itself on socialist principles, hoping that would be the solution. “Instead, because of the circumstances of backwardness, the revolution resulted in a dictatorial political regime and an extremely over centralized planned economy” (Sherman 6). This left territories such as Ukraine completely dependent on the motherland, and they never received the support they so desperately needed, leaving everyone even more miserable than before. It is incredible that this flawed system managed to survive for so long – nearly seventy years – but the cracks were only getting wider and wider. Russia was finally caving in on itself, and people were finally coming to the revelation that their elitist and dictatorial form of government simply could not be sustained any longer. The economy was being to fail, and it seemed like the country was facing one disaster after another, including the Cold War with the United States, which was probably the largest factor in the USSR’s eventual fall. 

All of this political upheaval was taking place under the leadership of Mikhail Gorbachev. "It was perhaps a paradox that the ruler who presided over the collapse of the Soviet Union was the only one of its ill-starred leaders to leave office with a measure of dignity intact” (“End of the Soviet Union”). When the end was made official, after his removal from office, Gorbachev was replaced by Boris Yeltsin, pictured in the image above, which actually did not go over well with the rest of world: “Ironically, given the course of the Cold War, the Americans wanted to keep the Soviet Union intact…because of the sentiment that Gorbachev was a friend and deserved their support” (Marples 463). It was in this enormous political vacuum he left behind that Ukraine and other territories were able to seize the opportunity to establish their own nationhood, gaining independence for the first time. 

It is unfortunate for Russia and Ukraine today that Gorbachev’s level headedness and respectability was not carried on in future Russian leaders, as evidenced by Vladimir Putin. Stuck in the past, Putin continues to hold on to that imperialist mindset that gripped his nation for so long, refusing to let things stay the way they are and instead returning to the dictatorial days of the USSR. His recent attacks on Ukraine only prove that he is unwilling to let go of the failures of the past. 

Works Cited 

“Boris Yeltzin; collapse of the Soviet Union.” 1991. Encyclopedia Britannica,

“End of the Soviet Union: The Soviet State, Born of a Dream, Dies.” 26 Dec 1991. The New York Times,

Marples, David R. “Revisiting the Collapse of the USSR.” Canadian Slavonic Papers / Revue Canadienne Des Slavistes, vol. 53, no. 2/4, 2011, pp. 461–73, 

Sherman, Howard J. “Rise and Fall of the Soviet Union.” International Journal of Political Economy, vol. 24, no. 1, 1994, pp. 5–18, 

Related Links:

Simone Meadows
Autumn 2013 to Feb 2014

Euromaiden: The Overthrow of Viktor Yanukovych

An image from Alexey Furman showing protests in the Ukrainian capital.
Ukrainian protesters clash with riot police near the cabinet building in Kyiv

When Viktor Yanukovych was elected as President of the Ukraine in 2010, he likely did not expect that just three years later, in 2013, demonstrations and protests by the Ukrainian people would call for his removal. In 2013, many Ukrainians were excited and ready for a transition away from Russia and the East. This transition, as they understood, would come in November of 2013 when President Yanukovych signed the Ukraine’s Association Agreement with the European Union. Nadia Diuk’s “Euromaidan: Ukraine’s Self-Organizing Revolution” emphasizes this idea when the following is explained: “For Ukraine, signing the Association Agreement would have marked a decisive step away from centuries-long orientation toward Russia and the east” (10). While many awaited the signing, it never came. President Yanukovych took a more authoritarian approach to leading and governing and decided not to sign the Association Agreement. This change in decision, as almost all Ukrainian citizens understood and saw it, was influenced by Yanukovych’s relationship and connections to Vladimir Putin and Russia. The New York Times emphasizes this truth by stating, “The Kremilin, which has supported Mr. Yanukovych as a geographical ally for years…used aggressive pressure to persuade him not to sign the accords” (6). This apparent influence from Russian relations sparked outrage amongst Ukrainian citizens, especially individuals of younger generations who desired to move toward European ideals to better their futures. This outrage quickly turned into action, and Euromaidan began.

            November and December of 2013 in Ukraine saw protests and demonstrations calling for President Yanukovych’s removal. The people were speaking, and they did not want to be placed back under Russian control or influence in any way. Most large protests took place in Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital city. More specifically, these took place in Independence Square which is often referred to as Maiden Nezalezhnosti. This place of protest and the desire for a closer relationship to Europe brought about the name Euromaidan. While these protests were peaceful on behalf of the Ukrainian citizens, the government was not as peaceful. There were several instances where protests and demonstrations turned violent. One incident took place on November 30 when there was a “brutal…beating of students in an attempt to clear the Maiden” (Diuk, 86). While the Yanukovych hoped and believed this act would discourage protestors, his violence only encouraged the call for his removal. After months of tension and conflict, the Ukrainian voices were heard, and in February of 2014, Yanukovych was removed from office. Euromaidan is an exceptional example of Ukraine’s desire for independence from Russia and the east. In fact, this event, according to Nadia Diuk’s “Euromaidan: Ukraine’s Self-Organizing Revolution,” “…marked a new stage in the evolution of Ukraine as an independent and sovereign state” (10). Today especially, we still see Ukraine struggle to remove itself from Russia’s grasp. One thing sustaining Ukraine is their solidarity and pride for their country. This pride stems from years of abuse and control at the hands of Russia, and, specifically today, Vladimir Putin. The Maiden and Beyond: Finding Ukraine” by Nadia Diuk emphasizes that during Euromaidan, “…Vladimir Putin, in trying to destabilize Ukraine, has increased Ukrainians’ sense of national solidarity” (88). Today, the same statement can be made as Russia is, once again, trying to control Ukraine and its people.


Works Cited

David. “Thousands Demand Resignation of Ukraine Leader.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 1 Dec. 2013,

Diuk, Nadia. “EUROMAIDAN: Ukraine’s Self-Organizing Revolution.” World Affairs, vol. 176, no. 6, 2014, pp. 9–16, Accessed 27 Apr. 2022.

Diuk, Nadia. "The Maidan and Beyond: Finding Ukraine." Journal of Democracy, vol. 25 no. 3, 2014, p. 83-89. Project MUSEdoi:10.1353/jod.2014.0041. Accessed 27 Apr. 2022

Furman, Alexey. “Ukrainian Protesters Clash with Riot Police near the Cabinet Building in Kiev.”, Kyiv2, 24 Nov. 2013, Accessed 30 Apr. 2022.

Related Link

Matthew's entry on the Crimean War directly relates to conflict within the region of conflict now between Ukraine and Russia.

Truitt's entry on the most recent Russian invasion of Ukraine is a climactic event resulting from events and ideaologies such as the ones mentioned in this entry.

Faith Barnes
Apr 2014 to Oct 2015

2014 Russian Invasion of Crimea and Ukraine

    History often repeats itself. The 2022 Russian Invasion has dominated the various outlets of media and multimedia in the digital world as well as in conversations in homes, cities, and nations. The topic of the Ruso-Ukrainian conflict is certainly known as is perhaps the most discussed topic of conversation since the onset of the COVID-19 health crisis. The 2014 Russian Invasion of Ukraine, however, is less known. The current invasion itself is actually a major event in the Russian-Ukrainian War that was initiated by the 2014 invasion. There are many commonalities between the two invasions. However, one commonality is difficult to ignore: Russian Nationalism. All forms of the Russian government are unified by the social concept of Russian nationalism amongst the Russian people, and Russian nationalism as a tool for empire and aggression. 

    As with the 2022 invasion, the 2014 Russian invasion of Ukraine began in the spring. An April 27, 2014 issue of The New York Times reported on the invasion of Ukraine. Neil MacFarquhar of the New York newspaper reported that the reasons that Vladimir Putin “has” to militarily and politically invade Ukraine are to “put a new, legitimate government in place; reclaiming an area that was historically part of Russia; gaining direct access to natural resources and factories that have been crucial to Moscow’s military-industrial complex since Soviet times. And his land grab of Crimea in March made him wildly popular at home” (MacFarquhar, Neil). The journalist then states the reasons that Vladimir Putin does not “have” for the invasion of Ukraine. He lists reasons such as the welfare of millions of people, the likelihood of significant Russian casualties, and pariah status internationally (MacFarquhar). He also states that “the negatives would seem to outweigh the positives” (MacFarquhar). However, the invasion still occurred in the spring of 2014 when militants and separatists advanced across the Ukrainian border into the Donetsk region of then-Ukrainian Crimea. 

    Nationalism is a major social concept within the Russian identity. “It is primarily instrumental” (Laruelle, Marlene). Nationalism is a tool that Russian governments have used to impose a sentiment of ethics and morality for Russian expansionism in Eastern Europe and often specifically in Ukraine and in Crimea. “Putin stirred historical memory and aspirations to great power status by claiming Crimea” (Laruelle, Marlene). Although the history of Russian nationalism and its inheritance to and from the Russian identity can be traced back to the ethnic Rus people of early medieval Eastern Europe, it can more readily be traced back to the Crimean War, the formation of the Soviet “Eastern Bloc”, and the various invasions in Soviet Russian history. 

    The military conflict ended after the conclusion of the Minsk II agreements in Belarus in 2015. However, the diplomatic tension between Russia and Ukraine as well as the political unease in Crimea remained in Eastern European politics until the Russian military invaded Ukrainian Crimea in the spring of 2022, eight years after the first Putin-era Russian invasion of Ukraine and specifically Crimea.

 Works Cited


    MacFraquhar, Neil. (page 17 N). (2014, Apr 27). New York Times (2008-) Retrieved from

    Laruelle, Marlene. “Russian Nationalism and Ukraine.” Current History, vol. 113, no. 765, 2014, pp. 272–77, Accessed 1 May 2022.

    Kramer, David J. “THE UKRAINE INVASION: One Year Later.” World Affairs, vol. 177, no. 6, 2015, pp. 9–16, Accessed 1 May 2022.

Nicholas Gross
2 Feb 2022

The Crimean War and its Afterlife: Making Modern Britain by Lara Kriegel

Lara Kriegel published The Crimean War and its Afterlife: Making Modern Britain on February 2, 2022. She begins by explaining how the Crimean War has always been viewed and dismissed as a colossal embarrassment and something that is better to be forgotten. In writing this book, Lara Kriegel sets out to change the perspective that follows the Crimean War and bring it into a better light. Specifically, Kriegel wants to show how the war shaped modern Britain in its afterlife. She explains the idea of afterlife like this, “Afterlife is a notion that apprehends the reverberations of the conflict over the ages – its unfinished business and its unanticipated effects, its literary inheritances and its material residues, its structures of feeling and its unanswered questions. It captures the robust persistence of the Crimea’s legacies and the reinterpretation of its meanings across both time and space.” (4) This idea adds importance to the Crimean War already and drastically puts it into a new light. Where for so long, majority of people wrote off the Crimean War as something that had no effect anymore other than being avoidable, Kriegel sets out to explain how it has impacted the idea of Britain's national “self” greatly.  “The Crimean War’s afterlife thus charts, tracks, and engages the major narratives of the modern British past. It recurs with the ebbs and flows of empire and with the waging of wars and the coming of peace. It accompanies the rise and fall of the welfare state and the making of the liberal self.” (5) She goes on to explain how this war had figures, beliefs, and ideals that massively impacted Britain. She talks about the key figures of Florence Nightingale and Mary Seacole, the Christian themes that arose from this, and so much more. So much of the independent and liberal self is the focus here. “Yet, in its afterlife, the Crimean War has not only served as a link to history; it has also provided ground for reinvention.” (11) This changed the way people looked at events, figures, etc. This doesn’t only impact the Victorian Era but today as well, and that is Kriegel’s point. 

Kriegel traces the effect of the Crimean War into modern day. She shows how so much of Britain's identity can be traced back to an event like this. The closing lines of her introduction perfectly sets the stage for her points  and the thesis of her book. “With its generative capacities and its shifting resonances, the Crimean War engaged publics of ordinary Britons again and again, shaping their understandings of self and of nationhood. These pages tell the story of that engagement, from Victorian times to Woodham-Smith’s time to our time.” (17)

This whole concept of afterlife implicates the direct causes and effects that can reverberate through time. Much in the same way, Ukraine and Russia have been dealing with the afterlife and reverberations of years of conflict, oppression, war, and history that have shaped both Russia and Ukraine identities in very different ways. 

Works Cited

Kriegel, Lara. The Crimean War and Its Afterlife: Making Modern Britain. Cambridge University Press, 2022. 

The National Archives. “Exhibitions & Learning Online - British Battles.” The National Archives, The National Archives, 10 Sept. 2004, 

Wrench, Ed. M. “The Lessons Of The Crimean War.” The British Medical Journal, vol. 2, no. 2012, 1899, pp. 205–08, Accessed 26 Apr. 2022.

Truitt Anweiler
24 Feb 2022

The Russian Invasion of Ukraine

For some time leading up, Russian troops had been getting strategically placed around the border of Ukraine. The threat of invasion grew more and more imminent and, unfortunately, it was. “Russia launched an unprecedented invasion of its neighbor Ukraine on Thursday, with military assaults on several key Ukrainian cities including its capital, Kyiv.” CNBC had reported on February 24th 2022.

Russian President Vladimir Putin announced his “special military operation” early Thursday morning. Putin’s grab for power was masqueraded as a demilitarization of Ukraine. He claimed it was to protect people from the “Kyiv regime” that has been oppressing the people and even went as far to say Russia wouldn’t occupy Ukrainian territories and "We are not going to impose anything on anyone by force." It was a blatant lie. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky responded with a minute long speech of his own saying “The West is with us,” and mobilized his country, announcing martial law.

Hours before dawn, areas close to Kyiv had been rained on by artillery and missile attacks. As morning closed in, attacks spread deeper and deeper across Ukraine. “The attack on Ukraine is taking place both on the ground and by air, with reports that Russian forces have breached the Kyiv region. Explosions have also been heard in the cities of Odessa, Kharkiv and Mariupol, and there are reports of fighting and fatalities in other parts of the country.” CNBC had reported later.  

As Thursday carried on sounds of sirens, burning rubble, and vehicles roaring filled the air that hung heavy over the capitol and remaining Ukraine. Multiple points of attack had been led against the country. Yet as the day continued, more and more answered the call that Zelensky rang out. Ukraine’s defense minister, Oleksii Reznikov, even posted a message on Facebook  saying, “Anyone who is ready and able to hold weapons” can now join the Territorial Defense Forces, he said, adding that to get weapons, Ukrainians needed to contact “brigades and battalions directly in your region. You only need to have a passport,” Ukrainian citizens began to fight tooth and nail as they would not give up their independence quietly. Multiple areas report heavy battles, destroyed weaponry and vehicles, and casualties on both sides.

Ukraine originally gained independence from Russia with a treaty signed in 1991. Russia never fully accepted this and has been actively trying to find ways to limit Ukrainian independence since. Russia has been seeking to seize Ukraine and grow more in power and dominance. With this, Ukraine would not want to move backwards and be subjected to that again, therefore they strive, struggle, and battle for their independence.

Reports and rumors were reported all throughout that Thursday. When Friday morning hit, it was quiet and everything was closed. Citizens had fled. Shock hung over the country and the rest of the world. Multiple countries, including the US, condemned the Russian attacks and voiced support for Ukraine, some even supplying weapons to the country. Ukraine continues to fight and push back against Putin and Russia’s deplorable grasp for power.

Even after years of history riddled conflict and oppression, this conflict is a pivotal historical moment for both these countries and the world is watching to see what will be written. Russia is once again making an attempt to rule over and take power from Ukraine. This lure of power and control has led to years of turmoil and thrown both countries into a state of shock, only time will tell how this conflict will end. 

Works Cited

Ellyatt, Holly. “Russian Forces Invade Ukraine.” CNBC, NBCUniversal, 24 Feb. 2022,

Macaya, Melissa, et al. “Here's How Russia's Invasion of Ukraine Unfolded.” CNN, Cable News Network, 25 Feb. 2022,

Psaropoulos, John. “Timeline: A Month of Russia's War in Ukraine.” Russia-Ukraine War News | Al Jazeera, Al Jazeera Media Network, 23 Mar. 2022,

Truitt Anweiler