Essays On War

Rostyslav Semkiv. History Will Change

History Will Change


History, as a sequence of significant and insignificant events, is objective in nature. Initially, it is a collection of facts that result from actions influenced by various factors, and therefore, the ability of individuals or even organized groups to control it is limited. The issue arises when we view history retrospectively as a sequence of events that have already occurred and can be understood and classified. At this point, the objectivity of history can be lost as it will be interpreted from a particular perspective and classified by institutions created for this purpose. As a result, some events and facts will be emphasized while others will be ignored or deemed unimportant. Retrospective history will always be open to subjective interpretations.

A scientist who values objectivity will try to examine the full range of causes and consequences of certain events, always resisting one-sided interpretations, no matter how tempting they may seem in the current context. They will not alter facts to suit the needs of the present moment. On the other hand, a propagandist will create a historical narrative to suit the current government, highlighting its supposed grace and generosity. The result is a disconnection from the reality of the depicted events and a reliance on fabricated beliefs. This is what has happened with Russian historical ideas, which the Russians have used to construct their distorted geopolitical vision.

The imperial mindset arises from the belief in the exclusivity of an ethnic group that, at a particular stage, managed to seize power over its neighbors or distant colonized peoples. The historical coincidence of circumstances that made it happen is forgotten, and in its place comes the belief that the existing state is predetermined: we dominate because we are superior, more powerful, and more robust. Thus, history, which should demonstrate the actual course of events and logically debunk such claims, is changed to fit the needs of the justification of imperial hegemony. A construct is created that may not correspond to the logic of earlier events; this is precisely what the northern dictator demonstrated in his speech on the eve of the invasion. The problem is that history still exerts its influence and still shapes consciousness and preconditions for specific actions. No matter how much one imagines Ukrainians as friendly to the northern neighbors and fearful of their armies, they will not appear so in reality. Historical truths and wrongs have formed a nation conscious of its struggle, preferring to imagine itself as Cossacks, capable of defeating any occupier. You cannot distort history; it will respond and do so cruelly.


In most cases, people cannot feel history: they come into contact with it at school and the university. It appears through a series of events and facts. However, there are periods when entire generations find themselves „in the vortex“ of history, in the epicenter of significant events, which will later be called historical. Today we live in such a time. History is happening in front of us and around us. Its touch is painful; terrible events strike us, and we are touched by the tragedies of loved ones or people we do not know, but with whom we still feel a strong connection. We did not seek this, and many of us denied the possibility of such events until the last moment. It is already too late, though: the roller coaster, or, in our case, unfortunately, the tank of history, has started to move. Memoirs will inevitably be written about this time. Most likely, they are already being written. We only have to figure out what to do with this tank. It is evident that we chose resistance in the form of javelins, drones, fighting back, volunteering, donating, working, and writing. But inevitably, responding to the formidable challenge of history here and now, we simultaneously change it for the future. Surely, the empire will fall, never to rise again. After all, many former world metropolises now live modestly and nurture adequate healthy ambitions. The history unfolding now under HIMARS rocket launches will cause even more significant historical changes in the future. Not only will history change but so will geography. And considering the collapse of world economies‘ reliance on oil and gas, even geology may change.


However, the changes will affect future history and the past. Even now, the majority of our fellow citizens, given current events, have clearly answered a number of questions and doubts that seemed uncertain to them before. Now we know the truth: northern princes constantly attacked Rus‘ even before the arrival of Batu Khan’s hordes; Moscow continued to do this during the later union of Russia with Lithuania and Poland; Moscow broke agreements with Khmelnytsky; Mazepa wanted freedom for Ukraine; the northern empire purposefully destroyed Ukraine and its historical memory; the Russian Bolsheviks organized an artificial famine and killed a lot of Ukrainians for their national consciousness. No more illusions. No more fiction about brotherly nations. We now clearly see who our brothers and sisters are, ready to come shoulder-to-shoulder to our rescue and double the blow. The same empire inflicted wrongs on them: the siege of Izmail, the devastation of Crimea, the suppression of the Polish uprisings, the tragedy of the Prague Spring, and much more. We have long been in the European field of civilization, and only the insinuations of the northern barbarians prevented us from plunging into it for a long time. Looking around these days, we can see it very well. So, it’s time to change and, in fact, to return the truth to prove our European past. History will change, the one we knew and the one we will know.

Translated by Yulia Lyubka and Kate Tsurkan