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  • Writer's pictureThe Paladins

Fragments from a War Diary, Part #218

The weather is increasingly dank and dark and matters are getting critical furnishing adequate supplies to the front line because the number of international volunteers has dropped off. This is inevitable due the the accursed cold weather and the proximity of the Christmas holiday season. Each day is awash with icy bitterness and I struggle to get out of bed and then I struggle to take a hot shower because my apartment is getting cold. I wake up and put on my military fleece in the morning just to make coffee. But thank God I’m not that soldier standing outside my front door 24 hours a day for whatever reason. The Lord grants small mercies to us all.

I have only another ten days left in Ukraine before I head of myself to Poland and then back home for the Christmas break and there is really hardly anyone left. Lots of people are having goodbye parties before they head off home and I really hope they return because we need them. Ukraine needs them just as it needs western financing and western moral and political and military support. Ukraine needs western civilian volunteers so if you are reading this and you can give up a couple of weeks or more to support western civilisation and to support Ukraine against Russian neo-imperial tyranny then please, please, please come to help. If you can’t give money then please give your time. This is an existential struggle for humanity and decency and democratic values against oppression and totalitarianism and the forces of darkness that have periodically plagued European history. We’ve had these titanic struggles in the past and now we’re having one again and we all have a vested interest in the outcome.

It doesn’t matter if you’re reading this and you’re from the mid-west United States and you’re wondering “how does the war in Ukraine affect me?”. The answer is that it affects you because the civilisation that gives you political freedoms and material luxuries and low gasoline prices and low consumer goods prices all depend upon Russian being beaten and the value systems incorporated in her current political leadership not being allowed to spread. It matters because Europe is America’s natural ally in the values we share of modern democracy, liberty and rule of law and Russia can’t possibly be an ally of the United States because Russia has no interest in any of these things. At least, not under her current leadership. America can’t live as an autarchy and she never could. She wanted to stay out of World War One and World War Two but she couldn’t and she got pulled into them both inevitably because she was protecting the Free World and we needed her then and we need her now. So I call on all Americans to put their political differences aside and to come together in a show of national unity and to support the Free World because that is what we need right now in the ongoing struggle in Ukraine.

Today I was asked to collect messages of good wishes to the soldiers on the front line who must celebrate their Christmases in trenches and in ditches and with their waterlogged frozen boots and frozen hands and crunched behind frozen sandbags and in the most impossible and arduous conditions. These soldiers need to know that people respect, admire, love and adore them, and that they are true heroes of the Free World. We are fighting a Just War, and our soldiers are heroes whereas the wretched soldiers of the Russian Armed Forces are demoralised and have descended to barbaric tactics. Therefore I have been collecting messages from abroad for delivery to soldiers on the front line and here is one of them. I am translating it into Ukrainian and into Russian as well. So if you get the opportunity to pass this message onto a member of the Ukrainian Armed Forces serving on the front line this winter, no matter what their first language  (some regiments of the Ukrainian Armed Forces speak Russian; remember it is the first language of 30% of Ukraine’s population) and irrespective of whether they speak English, please take the opportunity and convey this message.

I want you to know that though strangers we are thinking if you in kindness, encouragement and anxiety for your welfare in all the chill and the horror.

You are a star protecting your country and its people.

May God protect you in your turn and keep you safe to return to your family .May he walk with you and be your friend and comfort. May he hold you in the palm of his hand.

- A lady from England 

Я хочу, щоб ви знали, що, незважаючи на те, що ми незнайомці, ми думаємо про вас у доброті, підбадьоренні та тривозі за ваш добробут у всьому холоді та жаху.

Ви зірка, яка захищає свою країну та її народ.

Нехай Бог захистить вас, у свою чергу, і нехай ви зможете повернутися до своєї родини. Нехай він іде з вами, буде вашим другом і розрадою. Нехай він тримає вас на долоні.

-  Леді з Англії

Я хочу, чтобы вы знали, что, хотя мы и чужие люди, мы думаем, если вы с добротой, поддержкой и тревогой за ваше благополучие, несмотря на весь этот холод и ужас.

Вы звезда, защищающая свою страну и ее народ.

Пусть Бог защитит вас в вашу очередь и сохранит вас в безопасности, чтобы вы могли вернуться к своей семье. Пусть он пойдет с вами, будет вашим другом и утешением. Пусть он держит тебя на ладони.

-  Дама из Англии

Tomorrow morning I will be collecting foodstuffs and simple presents for parcels to be delivered to the soldiers on the front line. It’s not complex or sophisticated work but in wartime, nothing really needs to be. Small tasks and shows of appreciation to the soldiers who are fighting and dying on the front line and to their families and to all the Ukrainians who are suffering protecting our internationally cherished western freedoms: these are important things for me to do. I find it invigorating and inspiring to be undertaking these tasks to help the Ukrainian people in their hour of need, even as the working conditions become ever more onerous amidst the cold Ukrainian winter and the approaching Christmas season.

I hear carols play sadly and with tinny rings over simple speaker systems in the bric-a-brac stores on Rynok Square in central Lviv. I see the long faces of young women and children separated from their boyfriends and husbands by the cruel necessities of war, stare down in long shadows on the densely cobbled frozen streets amidst the fleeting final glimpses of daylight and just before the cold dusk. Somewhere tonight, there will be drinking, alcohol, vodka, subdued merriment, in some bars and restaurants and this and that. But the overriding mood is one of grim determination to get through this hellish winter, and for Ukrainians to pull together as one and see this conflict through. All Ukrainian national aspirations, and their hopes for a free, democratic and prosperous future, depend upon the Ukrainian national spirit surviving these dark days. I will be there for the Ukrainian people with every last ounce of my soul, and I call upon all civilised foreigners to give their every last ounce of effort to support Ukraine this winter.

Please, whatever support you can give, in terms of financial, moral, political or other support, do your very best. I repeat that this is an existential crisis for Europe, and we are all, Ukrainians and other citizens of the Free World, duty bound to do everything we can. We cannot afford to fail. The price - the loss of our cherished political values - is too high.


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