A little something about Ukraine

A little something about Ukraine
Mar 18, 2022

It's not about a land grab. It's about regaining a lost empire.

By Andrew Joseph, Farms.com; Image via https://pixabay.com

Nobody likes a bully, with people instead preferring to root for the underdog.

That’s where we find ourselves today in the 21st century—rooting for Ukraine after the invasion by Russian troops beginning on February 24, 2022—though truth be told, Russia first annexed the Ukrainian territory of Crimea—just three days after Russia hosted the Winter Olympics in Sochi, back on February 20, 2014.

So far in the 2022 war, there are a confirmed 691 Ukrainians killed—though the true number is likely much higher.

Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin has stated that the justification of the Russian invasion is that the Western-leaning Ukraine is a constant threat and that it (Russia) could not feel “safe, develop and exist.”

Putin said that he wanted to protect the Russian people from eight years of bullying and genocide by the government of Ukraine—note that that timeline takes us back to Russian annexation of a portion of Ukrainian territory in 2014.

Captured Russian pilots spoke to CNN reporters in Russian, claiming they were told that their mission was that there was a rise of fascism or neo-Nazism in Ukraine. While we can’t state for fact that there are no fascists or neo-Nazis in Ukraine or in any other country in the world, the message that the Russian forces are being used under false pretenses is key.

Historical Context
There is certainly no Putin on the ritz here. Those who follow Putin’s ideologies believe Kievan Rus’ is the origin of the Russian civilization. Kievan Rus’ is what Russians consider to be their first empire, and it was situated in Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine.

The Kievan Rus’ empire was founded by another Vladimir aka St. Vlaimir, or Vladimir I or Volodymyr I. Call him what you will, he was the Prince of Novgorod, the Grand Prince of Kiev, and the ruler of Kievan Rus' from 980 to 1015AD.

When Vladimir converted to Christianity in 988 (and later became a Saint for his troubles), he thought that Kievan Rus’ would become the “next” or “third” Rome after the falling of the Roman and Byzantine empires when Constantinople surrendered to the Ottomans.  

Modern day, Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine all lay claim to Kievan Rus' as their own cultural ancestors. However, the Rus’ term is believed to have been derived from an old Swedish or Norse term meaning “the men who row”—so, Vikings.

Even though he liked things back when Russia was the communist regime aka the USSR, the current Vladimir, Putin, sees himself as the modern-day heir to the Kievan Rus’ empire, which is why this Ukraine war is actually 1,000 years in the making.

As an aside, a “Reich” is the German word for “empire” and was used by Nazi Germany with far too much aplomb—just bringing us back to the anti-Nazi rhetoric mentioned earlier by the captured Russian pilots.

Should you want more proof of why Russia invaded Ukraine, we only need to go back to a speech delivered by Putin three days earlier on February 21, 2022 and in a 6,800-word essay entitled “On the Historical Unity of Russians and Ukrainians” from July of 2021.

In his essay, Putin wrote that “Russians and Ukrainians were one people—a single whole” and said that Ukrainians, Belarusians, and Russians must get along because they “are all descendants of Ancient Rus’, which was the largest state in Europe.”

He added: “The spiritual choice made by St. Vladimir … still largely determines our affinity today.”

In other words: don’t hate every Russian person or those of Russian-descent—blame the Russian government and those that seek to profit from it.

It’s a disappointing scenario—and makes one wonder why the United Nation’s so-called peacekeeping forces have yet to intervene. Perhaps because there is, as of yet, no peace to keep.

While Putin’s study of Russian history is interesting, it’s also important to learn from history lest we be doomed to repeat it.

Greener Pastures
Here in Canada, we have approximately 1.4 million people who identify as being of Ukrainian heritage. Outside of Ukraine and Russia, that makes Canada the largest reserve of people of Ukrainian background in the world.

Agriculturally-speaking in Ukraine, the country has over a quarter of the world’s chernozem—a black soil that has a high percentage of humus (four to 16 percent), and high percentages of phosphoric acids, phosphorus, and ammonia—great for growing cereals or for raising livestock.

Ukraine is over 60-million hectares in area, with about 42 million hectares under agriculture, it is the country’s largest export industry. In 2020, Ukraine’s agriculture sector generated approximately 9.3% of GDP.

There are two main types of ag in Ukraine, household farming and agri-business.

There are some 4-million households in Ukraine that grow foods for themselves and for sale on an average of 1.23-hectare plots each. This type of farming produces almost 45 percent of Ukraine’s gross ag output.

There are 45,000 agri-businesses that produce the remaining 55 percent of the gross agricultural output.

Needless to say, agriculture and Ukraine go hand-in-hand, as it’s a major source of export revenue.

About 73 percent of the country’s ag output is derived from crop farming, specifically corn, wheat, and barley, with an estimated grain potential of 140 million tons.

Between 2013-2017, it harvested more than 60-million tons of grain and legumes each year. In 2018, it produced 70-million tons, and 74 million tons in 2019.

And then, 2020 saw Covid impact the Ukrainian ag industry, along with weather, as it only produced a harvest of 65.4 million tons—still more than 3x enough to take care of its own market needs.

Oilseed—mostly via sunflower, soy and rapeseed—is the second-largest crop farming output. In fact, Ukraine is the global leader in sunflower oil production and exportation.

Of course, right now everything is up in the air. Will Ukraine farmers be able to plant this Spring? Will they retain their independence? We hope so.

Farms.com will continue to provide some coverage of the Ukraine fight against the invading forces.

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