Ukraine: We Still Have Feelings April 17, 2022 2:28 PM   Subscribe

Russia invaded Ukraine 52 days ago. We have megathreads on the blue and several related posts; but they are not enough. We have also needed a thread to share our perspectives, thoughts, musings, and feelings about the war; and as the first one is now closed here is another.

You are welcome to vent, console, encourage, mourn, worry, or otherwise express your feelings (within the community norms; no violent fantasies, please) about this tragic, ongoing crime against humanity.

Please bear in mind that we are all human and make mistakes. Given that, please keep things civil. We are not at war with our fellow MeFites.

(This post text has been adapted from the first, with thanks to Bella Donna.)
posted by snuffleupagus to MetaFilter-Related at 2:28 PM (40 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

Mod note: mods do not read these threads, so you will need to use the contact form or flag if there's a serious problem that requires attention.
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 2:29 PM on April 17, 2022

I don’t normally watch TV news, but I was in a hotel this morning and had CNN on while I was doing something else. They were running an interview with Zelenskyy that I was half listening to and then before I knew what was happening they showed a woman’s anguished weeping at discovering her son had been thrown down a well and it just broke me. I’ve been crying all day.

It’s lately gotten so that I am avoiding reading anything that might have descriptions of the atrocities because I’m so deeply affected and then I feel that I’m exactly what’s wrong with the world, a person who retreats from the horror into the numbing comfort of deliberate ignorance. It’s a form of moral injury, I suppose. I don’t know what I should be doing. And I think I’m having perhaps outsized reactions to unfeeling behavior in my own life as a result. Like, venting my anger about your gratuitously unkind comment is at least something I can do? I just feel so utterly defeated by the shittiness of men.
posted by HotToddy at 3:20 PM on April 17, 2022 [19 favorites]

I hope this isn't too frivolous for this thread. A friend told me recently that Servant of the People, Volodymyr Zelenskyy's sitcom, is on Netflix. It makes for very interesting viewing right now. You look at this fresh-faced clown cosplaying his own improbable future and think: this guy is currently staring down the army of Russia.
posted by eirias at 4:16 PM on April 17, 2022 [20 favorites]

There is a photo of the damaged Moskva that people seem to think is credible, and the internet has wasted no time.
posted by snuffleupagus at 4:37 PM on April 17, 2022 [7 favorites]

A bit of historical framing in the guise of a 2013 skit from troupe Kvartal 95 demonstrating the skills required to be removed-in-2014 President Yanukovych's bodyguard

Added a few days ago by a channel dedicated to creating English subtitles for Zelensky's comedy work. (They, uh, put the wrong president in the title, tho.)

Stumbled upon via a discussion of the humor-eliding failings of Netflix's translation of Servant of the People, upon which I'm not qualified to comment.
posted by to wound the autumnal city at 8:11 PM on April 17, 2022 [2 favorites]

It’s lately gotten so that I am avoiding reading anything that might have descriptions of the atrocities ...

Yes. That's a smart thing to do. It's self-preservation. Helplessness is poisonous and you needn't feel helpless, you can donate even small sums of money to any of the myriad aid orgs (there was a list in an earlier thread) if you aren't in Europe and able to do something perhaps 'more' physically direct - know that every cent donated helps. Without much effort there are countless news stories to feel despair about but try to remember you, individual, can only do so much - so do what you can, proselytise for the change you wish to see and push forward.
posted by From Bklyn at 8:35 AM on April 18, 2022 [4 favorites]

Mentioned in the last thread that one of my joys has been watching failed stand-up Lee Camp flail around and decide just how pro-Russia he wants to be to keep the door open in case RT America comes back. In the last week his tweets have been getting more explicitly anti-Ukraine, rather than just anodyne "I think all wars matter" stuff. Guessing the FSB is working on getting the little toerag back on the payroll.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 11:35 AM on April 18, 2022 [2 favorites]

It’s a form of moral injury, I suppose. I don’t know what I should be doing

I have found that personally, what relieves my feelings of helplessness is contributing something - whether that's money, or a voice to legislators, or even sharing things on social media. We know that Russia is trying to wage an information war, to silence the news of these horrors. We know from the past it is important to get the word out so that it cannot be ignored or forgotten. So even though "share on social media" often normally feels useless, in this case it is deeply useful.

I volunteer, and I don't look at all the media when I know it will be terrible, because I know what is happening and I know what is needed. I think it is important to share that stuff so that people who aren't aware of the horror become aware of the horror, but those of us who are already angry and ready to fight back against it do not, I feel, need to live and dwell in those horrors.
posted by corb at 12:00 PM on April 18, 2022 [13 favorites]

Today I found some Ukrainian music that I liked very much and have to share. It's from a video. There's a video making the rounds of Twitter and Reddit showcasing the defenders of Mariupol, mostly the Azov Battalion. I won't link the video here because of occasional gruesomeness, but it's easy to find if you want to.

At any rate, I was really struck by the video's music. Not the usual metal or electronic beats that go with the typical Ukrainian military videos. Instead, it was some synthpop that's both gloomy and upbeat. Something that brings back some memories of the Cure. At least in the overall sound if not the voice. A guy who performs under the name SadSvit. The song in the video is "Cassette" or "Касета" if you prefer the Cyrillic title. Just some incredibly catchy vaguely gothy pop songs.

I was going to write about my dark feelings and how this war is affecting me, but I think it's better instead (for me; not telling anyone else what to do) to share a bit of joy I found in all of this.

And one other music link because of a joke I liked. PROBASS ∆ HARDI - Asha is a song commonly used as the background in the military videos put out by the Ukrainian MoD. It's so common that one Ukrainian I follow called it the new national anthem of Ukraine. I kinda liked that.
posted by Teegeeack AV Club Secretary at 8:00 PM on April 18, 2022 [4 favorites]

There's a video making the rounds of Twitter and Reddit showcasing the defenders of Mariupol, mostly the Azov Battalion. I won't link the video here because of occasional gruesomeness, but it's easy to find if you want to.

'Occasional gruesomeness' aside are you otherwise unbothered by a video "showcasing" the Azov Battalion?
posted by dusty potato at 9:15 PM on April 18, 2022 [2 favorites]

Whatever the Azov Battalion was until 2014 they are different now. They are fighting those committing genocide in Ukraine. I think we can give them a break until that’s over.
posted by interogative mood at 9:37 PM on April 18, 2022 [6 favorites]

Their glorification makes me a little uneasy given their past, and the fig-leaf changes to the unit crest, but I think we can at least suspend judgment for now. The size of the unit has definitely grown since the military officially absorbed it, so it's not just the same people. I don't know anything about the continuity of leadership over time.

The civilian political leadership of Ukraine definitely needs to keep an eye on it postwar, in terms of threats to the rule of law. And you know what? I bet Zelenskyy, given his background, is well aware of that. Given that we're talking about it here.
posted by snuffleupagus at 9:43 PM on April 18, 2022 [5 favorites]

posted by dusty potato at 9:43 PM on April 18, 2022 [2 favorites]

wow, what? I have family that died in Ukrainian pogroms. Do you? Or are you just Posting?

This shit isn't simple.
posted by snuffleupagus at 9:45 PM on April 18, 2022 [15 favorites]

'Occasional gruesomeness' aside are you otherwise unbothered by a video "showcasing" the Azov Battalion?

I have complicated feelings about Azov. I know they were originally all fascist. Perhaps they still are, though I've seen evidence that they're not nearly as much as they used to be. The net practical effect of their fighting has not worked towards establishing a genocidal fascist state, but rather protecting a multi-ethnic democracy headed by a Jewish president.

Perhaps this wasn't their exact intention. Perhaps they hate that democracy. But their actions helped, and maybe saved, this democratic country. What they've accomplished in Mariupol will probably be considered one of the decisive actions of the war.

And however bad or not bad Azov is, they can't be considered in isolation. Just look at who they're fighting against. They're fighting to the last man against something monstrously evil. Fighting against a nation whose genocidal intents are clear and who hasn't yet found an atrocity they didn't love.

So yeah, at least for the moment, I'm ok with watching a video of Azov's fighting in Mariupol. It's a side of the war we don't get to see very often. And they're fighting bravely against an army who would gladly murder, torture, rape, and rob every last person in that city.

If you want to think I'm a terrible person for having this stance, you're welcome to do so.
posted by Teegeeack AV Club Secretary at 5:25 AM on April 19, 2022 [15 favorites]

This photo essay of Ukrainian refugees at the Passover seder at the JCC Krakow...just, oof.

The JCC Krakow is a really interesting institution--they do a lot of work on the ground and internationally highlighting present day Jewish life in Krakow, which is (understandably) often overshadowed by the Holocaust. To see a Jewish institution able to welcome in Jewish refugees, at Passover, and having all of them together reading about needing to flee so quickly that the bread couldn't rise...

Someone at my seder made a quip about the "brought us through dry-shod" line in Dayenu--"dayenu" means "it would have been enough for us", and it's a song about a series of things that happened, any one of which would have been enough; the sequence here is "parted the Red Sea", and then "brought us through dry-shod". So the quip was, of course we needed to be brought through dry-shod, otherwise what was the point of parting the Red Sea? My response was, well, ankle-deep water wouldn't have been pleasant, but would've worked. It's about coming through with comfort.

So here, not only were these refugees able to escape--dayenu!--but they were able to end up somewhere with the resources to put on a seder and invite them in--dayenu!
posted by damayanti at 7:46 AM on April 19, 2022 [15 favorites]

Re Zelenskyy and Azov
For Azov’s selfless epic struggle against superior numbers of the Russian enemy forces in Mariupol, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy recently awarded the country’s highest award, “Hero of Ukraine,” to Azov Commander Denys Prokopenko. Well deserved.
Source Anton Shekhovtsov in Euromaidanpress, on 2 April 2022..
I know Anton since more than 10 years and, as he describes in the article, he changed his mind on Azov, which is no small thing because his area of expertise is the far right. I know his research is meticulous, otherwise i would not post this or even consider his conclusions.
posted by 15L06 at 2:10 PM on April 19, 2022 [16 favorites]

Apparently Russia's new slogan is "I'm not ashamed."
posted by snuffleupagus at 3:20 PM on April 19, 2022 [3 favorites]

Julia Tveritina is creating some beautiful, terrifying, sad, and occasionally hopeful art about what she's gone through. What her friends and family have endured. It's just stunning work.

A twitter thread with a few pieces.

More of her work on her Facebook page.
posted by Teegeeack AV Club Secretary at 5:04 PM on April 19, 2022 [2 favorites]

Thanks for your reply to an admittedly terse question, Teegeeack. I don't agree with you at all and as a Jewish person find the direction of that logic pretty frightening, but I don't "think you're a terrible person" (to answer your question).

wow, what? I have family that died in Ukrainian pogroms. Do you? Or are you just Posting?

Yes, I literally do, actually. Sorry if that's not the answer you were expecting. My family experience has heavily informed the way I feel about right-wing militias in Eastern Europe and elsewhere.
posted by dusty potato at 6:36 PM on April 19, 2022 [5 favorites]

I'll admit that my initial reaction was obviously not exactly in the spirit of friendly banter, though not in bad faith either; I found it genuinely shocking and upsetting to see a Nazi military formation being plugged on Metafilter without any challenge. I haven't read the Ukraine threads on the Blue since the earliest, so I guess I didn't realize how normalized that was here. I will bow out of the thread because I'm not trying to instigate a back-and-forth, really just wanted to register that dissent and distress.
posted by dusty potato at 6:55 PM on April 19, 2022 [5 favorites]

I wasn't "plugging" them. I was establishing the context of where I discovered a song I wanted to share. A song that has absolutely no connection with Azov as far as I know. The song's creator was rather surprised it was used as the soundtrack.

And as you may or may not have noticed, I didn't even link the video.

I understand your distress. But please don't accuse me or anyone else here of directly supporting nazis. No one is doing so.
posted by Teegeeack AV Club Secretary at 7:05 PM on April 19, 2022 [8 favorites]

Sorry to hear it. That would have definitely received a different response (and probably would have led to a more meaningful discussion about it) than just "wow" which is (as noted) the sort of thing you'd expect from someone delivering hot takes based on ideology and not much else. My own Jewish (Hungarian, Romanian, Ukrainian) family's experience leads me to be more concerned first with an openly fascist and totalitarian Russia currently engaged in a campaign of atrocity being defeated. You don't have to reach the same conclusion.

For what it's worth "normalized here" "without any challenge" does sound off to me as it has been discussed in the threads. Plus, you just challenged it, and there's no rule against that; but others will express their own views.

Those views may differ from yours, not because right-wing white supremacist fascism is suddenly OK but because the group has plainly evolved, with the details unclear. It's grown significantly in size through military recruitment, as a special forces unit. Drawing on the national pool. And plenty of us are concerned with what its role in society will be postwar. (Maybe part of the reason the government absorbed it instead of attempting to disband it was to be able to control it, and prevent it from becoming a right wing insurgency...along with exigency given the state of the Army at the time.)

I don't think there's anything wrong with you expressing dissent, or distress so long as you understand others may feel differently. Either way I don't think you should feel the need to leave the thread (unless you feel uncomfortable staying without insisting on the issue).
posted by snuffleupagus at 7:17 PM on April 19, 2022 [7 favorites]

God, I am so, so fucking angry by my comrades on the left just trotting out their old annoyances in order to comment on this war "Boooo, weapons manufacturers! Boooo, NATO!" while not saying a fucking word about Russia.

If you are vocally criticizing and/or trying to stop the side that's trying to prevent genocide while letting the side committing it get a free pass, I see absolutely zero difference between you and the fucking America First Committee.
posted by corb at 10:17 AM on April 20, 2022 [18 favorites]

I would like to say that I am having fun learning about Ukrainian cooking, with the blessings of my Ukrainian coworkers, and now I know how to make a delicious beef borscht.
posted by spinifex23 at 5:10 PM on April 20, 2022 [4 favorites]

Ukraine is just in a defensive position, they are not attacking Russia. All of this war, is happening in Ukraine, so life is going on as normal in Russia. Soon enough the economic sanctions will make some things harder, but all those people being interviewed, are without a scratch. Russia, did go get people from their outlands to fight, and has not accounted for their losses. The Russian state is at absolute fault for this. They have misinformed their people, some info is coming through, but I imagine it is hard to hear, over the saber-rattling.

The job Russian misinformation has done to Ukraine, is indicitive of what Russia has done, and is doing in the US.
posted by Oyéah at 7:02 PM on April 20, 2022 [3 favorites]

I feel uncomfortable about wishing Putin to come to harm, but I still wish for it. He seems to deserve it. And I'm not saying that lightly.

*shakes fist*
That guy.
posted by Too-Ticky at 2:00 PM on April 21, 2022 [3 favorites]

A helpful map for hastily promoted Russian officers
posted by snuffleupagus at 4:17 PM on April 21, 2022 [1 favorite]

Posting this here because it would be a distraction in the other thread. Ran across this series of tweets + videos from Zelenskyy & Trump's meeting back in 2019. For those of us outside of Ukraine who only got to know Zelenskyy well in the past two months, I thought it was an interesting contrast of then vs. now.

And I do feel strong empathy for Zelenskyy being stuck in this situation. Dealing with a stupider version of Yanukovych, and he can't even joke about it. Probably thinking that this scene would have been perfect for "Servant of the People", except it could never have been written. Too outlandish and unrealistic for fiction.
posted by Teegeeack AV Club Secretary at 12:45 AM on April 22, 2022 [3 favorites]

So, my mother-in-law, a lovely woman that will be sorely missed, passed three weeks ago and the week before last I had to gather up the kids to go to her funeral. My wife had already rushed over there when she got the call. MIL lived in Latvia, we live in Norway, both neighbours to Russia, but with very different stories. Anyway, the family graveyard is out in the countryside, well within the border zone with Russia, marked by huge signs along the roads, being somewhat disconcerting in these troubled times. In stark contrast to the menacing signs was the tranquility of the Latvian countryside. On our way to sort things out with the grave diggers the day before we spotted deer, boar, cranes and storks. It's early spring and the woods were teeming with wildlife.

The funeral went as well as such things can be expected to go. However, a couple of days later my brother-in-law approached us and confided that he had begun to make an evacuation plan, in case things should go sideways. So now every time I see Ukranian refugees I have this image of my brother-in-law, his wife, young kids and dog in the same horrible circumstances. *sigh* Fuck this whole horrible mess and all that helped create it.
posted by Harald74 at 11:04 PM on April 22, 2022 [11 favorites]

Mod note: One deleted. Friends, when you are getting to the point of interrogating and attacking your fellow members in a thread like this with accusations about being pro-fascist, pro-Putin, Pro-Nazi, etc., please realize that you are not actually helping anything at all. Definitely not this thread. Definitely not this site. Definitely not this war. I'll again remind you that moderators cannot monitor this thread, so please be the adults in the room.
posted by taz (staff) at 2:05 AM on April 24, 2022

Taz If this is the standard then this comment should go as well. It accused the entire community of normalizing Nazis.
posted by interogative mood at 4:12 AM on April 24, 2022 [9 favorites]

Guess what happens when you order your junior FSB agent to make sure there are three SIMs in your planted neonazi evidence?
posted by snuffleupagus at 9:35 AM on April 25, 2022 [5 favorites]

If you read a little bit further in the Twitter thread you can also see "Signature unclear" spelled out very clearly on the book dedication...
posted by Harald74 at 5:32 AM on April 26, 2022 [2 favorites]

Odesa, City of Cats
posted by snuffleupagus at 12:19 PM on April 28, 2022 [3 favorites]

One for the not-all-feelings-are-bad-feelings file: The children and youth theater my kids are involved in are inviting all the Ukranian refugee kids currently in town to watch their play, popcorn and cake included. They did the same when we had an influx of Syrian refugees a few years ago, and the kids enjoyed it despite the language barrier. There's enough slapstick on stage to get the main parts of the play across. It's just a tiny tiny thing, but it feels surprisingly good to at least do something tangible.
posted by Harald74 at 2:05 AM on April 29, 2022 [7 favorites]

It Could Happen Here is a podcast that is run by a Leftist/Anti-Fascist reporter and writer, Robert Evans.

For the past couple of months, he has partially focused on Ukraine, including discussions on combat discourse, genocide, and interviewed an Anarchist, who has taken up arms in defense of Ukraine. They are heavy yet fascinating episodes; I encourage you all to listen to them.

Discussion is from a Leftist, Pro-Ukrainian viewpoint.
posted by spinifex23 at 12:07 PM on April 29, 2022 [3 favorites]

This war is expending a surprising amount of both Russia and the Western world's built up stocks of armaments and heavy equipment. Whatever this brings, there will be a whole lot less of all the familiar stuff likes tanks and artillery pieces and 4th gen fighter planes (the last produced in large numbers) just sitting around on the other side of this war. And it won't be replaced with more of the same in the same kind of numbers as was the way in the 20th century. Not to be optimistic about future wars, but that is a notable feature of what's going on.
posted by snuffleupagus at 12:01 PM on May 1, 2022 [3 favorites]

The Ukrainian kids seemed to enjoy the play this weekend, laughing at the more obvious physical comedy on stage while snacking on popcorn and cake. My wife, who speaks Russian fluently, served as a guide of sorts for the adults. They also won some stuff at the raffle. Later my wife told me that when speaking with the adults that they were a bit apprehensive on how Norwegian kids would react to their kids, would they ogle at them, would they include them in stuff etc? So she told them that she thought that it would probably be all right, as Norwegian children are used to children from different cultures (Norway is less monocultural than you might think, with more than 15% of the population immigrants) and as the adults were talking the Ukrainian kids were pulled over to the school playground by the local kids, and all were playing happily despite the language barrier.

So I think that went rather well. A tiny speck of light in a dark world.
posted by Harald74 at 12:15 AM on May 2, 2022 [8 favorites]

It's odd how little details in photos can be so affecting

This was part of a comment on the blue about an observation that one of the women in an Azovstal evacuation video had acrylic fingernails that were half grown out, that’s how long she’d been in hiding.

For me, it was a post I read elsewhere. I’m a member of several fountain pen forums and a while ago, last fall maybe, I noticed that one of the other members had a Kyiv Ukraine tag. He had some affiliation with an American brand of pen so I vaguely assumed he was an expat. He collected and repaired pens and nibs, as one does, and he’s an illustrator as well. When the invasion happened, he started posting a bit about that, although the forum discourages off-topic posting. Then there was a long silence. I followed him on Instagram and finally he posted again. He and his family had to evacuate Kyiv, I’m not sure where, but here’s the thing: he had to leave his fountain pens behind. I mean, in all the horror of the war which is too much to grasp, that he could only bring a drawing pencil and a notebook, this was heartbreaking. He is posting his drawings on Instagram again, they are war scenes.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 2:00 PM on May 4, 2022 [7 favorites]

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