I was born into Vladimir Putin’s Russia, only a month-and-a-half after Yeltsin named him as his successor. All my childhood I was taught how war was bad, war was destruction, war was death. I would attend my school’s annual World War II Victory Day celebrations and lay flowers on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in the Red Square. In choir, I would learn songs about the devastation of war. At home, I had a former war reporter father, who still carries the scars on and within himself. Meanwhile, the first and the second Chechen wars, alongside the 2008 invasion of Georgia, unfolded and went unnoticed by my young self. I couldn’t see the blatant hypocrisy then. Well, I sure do now. Young Russians of my generation see right through Putin and his excuses for invading a sovereign state make no sense to us. His regime makes no sense to us.
You told us war was bad, and now you’re starting yet another one? We see it, and we have no compassion for you or your thirst for blood, President Putin.
For the past few days and all over social media Ukrainians have been pleading with Russians like myself to yell from the rooftops about our condemnation of Putin’s war. Thank you for showing us a way to support you, even though you owe us nothing. I’m writing this to stand in solidarity with Ukraine. I stand in solidarity with my friends and family in Odessa, Kyiv, Kharkiv, Poltava. I stand in solidarity with the Ukrainian children—they deserve to grow up and grow up happily. I stand in solidarity with Ukrainian sovereignty, culture, language—those unique attributes of your beautiful country Putin tried to dismiss and denounce. I stand with you and against this (or any) war.
I’ll conclude with a line from a song by Yuri Shevchuk, one of my favorite Russian musicians. “War bursts forth, victorious, until the first battle.” At his concert on February 18, 2022, Shevchuk spoke out against the war with Ukraine—yet another Russian opposed to this devastation. Yet another among thousands if not millions. We stand with you.