Binging on Russia-Ukraine War information

My personal perspective on Eastern Europe

For most of my life

I don’t want to overgeneralize so let’s be clear that I only represent myself – one individual descendent of Jews from Eastern Europe (i.e. Ashkenazim).

My parents grew up in the USSR, as did my grandparents, and all of my ancestors, according to genetics tests both of my parents took, were of Eastern European Jewish stock (i.e. from the Russian Empire).

Now, the Jews of Eastern Europe, who lived across Poland, Ukraine, Belarus, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Russia, Romania, Hungary and Moldova, were, broadly speaking, one large, extended community. My ancestors mostly lived in Ukraine, Lithuania, and Russia, but it was common for Jews of various Eastern European communities to marry one another; and, historically speaking, the extended Jewish community was quite separate and distinct from the non-Jewish community.

Even in the USSR, when Eastern European Jews moved to major, industrialized cities in large numbers, they always remained identifiably Jewish – their official identification documents listed their nationality.

So, as a child, I mentally filed all the above listed Eastern European countries into a single folder in my mind; and that’s how I related to them on an emotional level for decades: They, collectively, were the countries where millions of Jews, my ancestors, had lived and suffered for centuries.

In more recent years

Over the past twelves years, having visited Russia, Lithuania, Poland, Moldova, and Georgia, my perspective evolved dramatically; and I began to draw much finer distinctions between the various countries of Eastern Europe. Russia’s attack against Georgia in 2008 and its annexation of Crimea in 2014 further brought these nuances home for me.

Contributing to my evolution of thought, I also happened to marry a woman who had been born and raised in Russia, whose family still lives there, and who has good friends and colleagues in Ukraine.


Russia’s 2022 invasion of Ukraine

I’ve been completely awakened

Russia’s disastrous military attack against Ukraine in late February roused me out of the remaining wisps of my intellectual slumber. Since then, the distinctions between Russia and the other countries of Eastern Europe have become infinitely starker for me, including even Belarus, which is a close ally of Russia’s.

In part, this has been the natural result of Russia’s invasion itself. However, in larger part, it’s been my increasing obsession with consuming news and analyses related to Russian and Ukrainian politics; geographies; histories; cultures; and, of course, all matters pertaining to the war itself.

Emotionally overloaded?

The impetus for this blog post is my feeling overwhelmed.

I’m overwhelmed with how much information I’ve consumed over these past months; with the sheer insanity and surreality of Russian propaganda, some of which I’ve listened to in the original Russian; and with my despair at Putin’s having destroyed millions of people’s lives for generations to come (including the lives of my wife’s relatives in Russia) and his likely causing much more destruction before this disastrous war comes to an end…

And, really, even if Russia loses this war in dramatic fashion and is left in utter ruins (economically speaking), will it ever give up the idea that Ukraine is a “fake country”, which should be under its control? What’s to stop history from repeating itself in fifty years?

While I can imagine an end to this war, I cannot envision a true end to the insanity that underlies it… And I despair.

69 thoughts on “Binging on Russia-Ukraine War information”

  1. I don’t think anything like complete self-destruction, apocalypse type of thing is in the stars.. All things have a deeper purpose, and intuitively I think this is a case of few steps back before taking a step forward.. Russia has a deep seated inferiority complex leading to hurt national pride and such , this is stored in so-called national consciousness. For this to break, all kinds of dirt has to come to the surface, then the old structure breaks down and painfully new configuration starts to form. Overall, the world is trying to move toward humanity, compassion and such, and this is a huge event which i think/hope is going to put Russia on that path.. it seems that now things are coming to a peak, so soon something has to majorly shift.

    1. my conviction and concern is that whoever replaces Putin will be worse than he is… and nukes in the hands of [even more] insane, [even more] evil people is a really scary prospect… Also, it’s far from obvious that the economic implosion of Russia will change the populace’s resentment towards the West.

      1. well it is a legitimate concern.. i dont think this is where things are going, we shall see:) the populus has always been a problem.. but what drives events is not the general populus (i mean the vast layer of people who are zombified) itself. i am thinking that russia with the centralized government is becoming unsustainable and things can not go down the same path – this era is coming to an end including the form of governement..

  2. Not sure which news you are watching, but it is more useful to watch certain people if you want to get certain *worthwhile* perspectives – on channels outside of russia.. news is always meant to control the population one way or another, and it will without a doubt cause emotional overwhelm. Things will certainly come to an end, and something new will form.. that is for something new to be born, old has to die, sometimes in a violent way..

    1. โค Maria โค

      I almost exclusively watch independent media sources, mostly not from Russia – although some of them are Russians

      I agree somewhat with your point about something being born out of the ashes of something else that died, but the fact that Russia possesses approximately 45% of the world's nuclear weapons is really scary – if they know that they're about to self-destruct, particularly if Putin knows his regime is going to end, what would hold him back from using a nuke?

      ~David

  3. Thanks for sharing this David. You bring such perspective with all of your roots that only highlights the insanity of the human condition. Hugs and love! ๐Ÿ’—

  4. David, you reflect very well what goes on in my mind when I see a news feed and everything inside of me screams, โ€œPlease, no more! Just let me know when it is done!!โ€ I usually read anyway and feel the pain, but overload, most definitely, yes. ๐Ÿ˜ญ

  5. I totally understand your feeling of despair and being overwhelmed. I have had to stop reading the news and watching the tv. the situation in Ukraine, coupled with the disastrous political situation in England has promoted my stress levels to the highest they’ve been in a long time. Nightmares and panic attacks. I am at last happy my parents are dead, as they would have been horrified. Having been deported themselves by the soviets from Lwow to Siberia as enemies of the people they woul dhave been dismayed by the futility of their sufferings.

      1. Itโ€™s a long story and one that is little known, but when the soviets invaded eastern Poland (Now Ukraine) on the 17th September 1939, โ€“ much like now โ€“ they embarked on a system of ridding Poland of its elite. They systematically removed โ€“ by midnight arrests all men in the officer class of the military and reservists and sent them to Katyn and other camps to be murdered.(one grandfather) Then they took all intellectuals and educated people โ€“ professors, etc. (other grandfather)Then landowners etc. a few weeks later they bundled up their families and took them via cattle trucks to the outermost regions of the soviet union. (my parents and grandmothers.) They were all including children sentenced to 25 years of exile as enemies of the people. Most middle class people had maids etc at the time. when my parentsโ€™ families were bundled off the servants remained โ€“ as they were not the bourgeoisie. Several hundred thousand people were removed in this way. Many thousands died on the way from starvation and cold. those who survived were put to work. After about two years there was a so called amnesty engineered after the Yalta conference and they were released as a part of Genera Andersโ€™ army.

        There has been a lot written about this , but that is the reason that there are so many Poles in England today. Norman Davies the historian has written a very accessible book called Trail of Hope about these events. I will find a link to a short film made about my mother โ€˜s experiences.

          1. Very few people do until they come across someone who experienced this. It is a very shameful area of soviet Russiaโ€™s history and one they do not often acknowledge. Recently in fact they have been erasing signs of the crimes of Katyn

  6. Binging is never healthy. It’s not great feeling powerless in the face of world events, but a break from knowing every bit about it may be necessary, though I know it won’t help all that much.

  7. Thatโ€™s the real thing to be weary ofโ€ฆthe insanity. It often transforms itself into newer disasters. Till the roots of such sickness arenโ€™t destroyed, thereโ€™s unfortunately no beginning or end to this.

  8. Please do not despair! I am trying to remain hopeful that when Ukraine drives the Russian invaders from their soil, Putin will be replaced. And once the head is removed the rest will melt away. Possibly a media campaign that will admit the tragedy and the wrongness of invading a country that has so many connections! I’ve got my fingers crossed…

  9. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, David. Being on the other side of the world doesn’t lessen the feelings many of us share with you. I, too, have relatives in Europe and who tell me of the “angst” they experience because of the craziness of Putin’s actions, jeopardizing the lives and futures of the inhabitants in that region. It’s an incredibly sad and uneasy time for them. BTW, from doing the DNA on my side of the family, I found out that I have .6 % Ashkenazi in my blood, so here’s to being distantly related! ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. I am appreciative of your sharing your feelings. I think it is difficult to know what to do unless you have the whole story and it is honest. I am guessing that you do. I have just been praying that God will bring an end to this war. It seems as thought regardless of what happens now it will take years to rebuilt, years to find the missing and many good families that will never be the same again. I am so sorry David that you have family in both areas, you must feel a bit crazy. Maybe limit some of your time in front of news or reading as we can’t control what is happening, all we can do is pray. Blessings to you my very kind and gracious friend and to your family as well. Hugs and love to you all. Blessings, Joni

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