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Putin invasion brought ‘year of unity and hope’ to Ukraine

Nina London’s Ukrainian friend Nadia with her daughter-in-law Ksenia (Photograph supplied)

“Dear Nina, I only now fully understand your passionate messages to us during your live online broadcasts. You keep telling us over and over to appreciate every moment of our lives and cherish our loved ones; how life is precious and everything could drastically change in just one second. Well, now I understand how happy we were back then.”

I got this message from a Ukrainian woman, Nadia, who has followed my posts online for several years. I immediately called her. It was surreal because I was sitting in peace and serenity, looking at the turquoise sea and listening to the waves near my home in Bermuda.

She was sitting in rubble on the floor of the hallway in her apartment building ready to run outside to a bomb shelter at any moment. Around her were the blown-out ruins of graceful, centuries-old buildings, flattened randomly and irrevocably by Russian bombardments - a school, a church, a park, a nearby museum; all gone for ever, and why?

I could hear the air raid howls. This is one of the scariest and most terrifying of sounds; it penetrates every cell of my body and makes my heart beat loud and fast. It is very familiar to me because I heard it many times in the Second World War movies we watched endlessly during my childhood in Siberia. I never thought in my life that I would hear it again on my cell phone from a country that was Russia’s closest ally.

A year has passed since Putin invaded Ukraine with the greedy brutality of a barbarian. This horrifying year of the war was has been very difficult and stressful for me. It was full of pain and tears.

I lost almost all of my Russian friends because they sided with Putin. Some of them I have known for 40 years or more. We grew up and studied together, we played and exchanged books, laughed, and supported each other. We share many sweet memories; talking for hours as we listened to Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd music on vinyl we bought on the black market.

Back then, we dreamt to see the other world beyond the Iron Curtain. We had similar outlooks and common moral principles. We were all against war. ”NO WAR EVER AGAIN!” It was sociologically imprinted in us by years of Soviet reminders of the horror the USSR endured during the last world war.

My former friends are intelligent, educated, and well-travelled people. How could they become brainwashed and support a war of naked aggression enforced by Putin’s criminal politics? How don’t they see it?

It feels like it happened overnight. They sent me messages and called me a traitor to the homeland when I published my first scathing response to the invasion of a country filled with our friends. Few of them tried to explain to me in detail why Russia needs this war.

By now, some of them have lost their sons in the war. I don’t know how they justify that after their children have been used as cannon fodder in simple-minded attacks as uncaring and primitive as Stalin’s were in Second World War?

Facebook blocked both my pages – personal and public – because of my posts against this awful war. All my work, hundreds of live broadcasts, countless posts, and pictures, were gone in one day without recovery. Apparently Zuckerberg, and all his teams of algorithm-writing experts, refuse to differentiate between calls for peace and calls for violence.

But most painful was to learn what Russian soldiers did to Ukraine and Ukrainians. The brutality and cruelty of it, the gratuitous violence kept shocking me and the rest of the world every single day. I couldn’t understand why; how Russian people became so vicious and could easily kill and torture civilians, people who were their neighbours and friends.

Bill and I are now in Thailand, a Buddhist country. We can feel how peaceful and calm the people are here. Buddhism is a religion and philosophy that promotes peace, compassion, love, and non-violence. Buddhist people are always opposed to war and violence.

In Buddhist teachings, violence is seen as a violation of the principle of ahimsa, which is the concept of non-harm or non-violence towards all living beings. Buddhists believe that all life is interconnected and that harm to one being ultimately harms us all. This principle is closely related to the Buddhist concept of karma, which teaches that every action we take has consequences, both for ourselves and for the world around us.

I have been learning and practising the importance of cultivating inner peace and compassion to be able to help and support others and not be drowned in the horror of the war news. Yet my heart is always with Ukrainians who are enduring unspeakable hardships and refuse to give up hope.

I close with the last words I heard from Nadia: “It was a year of unity and hope. The army, me, and all Ukrainians are bringing victory closer. We are all one family”.

One family in their darkest hour. Pray for them. Pray for peace.

Nina London is the founder of Mermaid Wellness Centre for Women, a certified Chi Gong and Laughter Yoga teacher. Her mission is to support and inspire mature women to make positive changes in their bodies and mind. Contact her at www.mermaidwellness.com and on Instagram: mermaid_wellness

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Published March 02, 2023 at 7:53 am (Updated March 02, 2023 at 10:24 am)

Putin invasion brought ‘year of unity and hope’ to Ukraine

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