I visited Ukraine in 2009. Without any doubt, it was one of the most beautiful countries I have ever seen in my life. Together with a group of entomologists, we were travelling around Crimea observing and learning about the nature, forests and culture of democratic Ukraine – full of history and traditions. Now…I cannot simply look at the Russian invasion, destroying nature and beautiful Ukrainian cities and their great heritage being devastated. I cannot look at the suffering of civilians, crying children and people hiding from bombs and escaping from terror. It is the next disgrace in the history of humanity. In this post, I like to share my collection of photos from Ukraine taken in 2009, before the illegal annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation (2004). I want to highlight what the whole of humanity is losing now due to current Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.
Crimea (or the Tauric Peninsula, as it was called from antiquity until the early modern period) is a peninsula along the northern coast of the Black Sea in Eastern Europe. It is located between the temperate and subtropical climate belts and is characterized by warm and sunny weather. This description from Wikipedia is exactly what I experienced early in 2004 – beautiful summer weather, but also very dry conditions, low precipitation.
I observed that nature in Crimea is characterized by unbroken swaths of primary forests (mostly covered with pine) that were free of significant anthropogenic damage.
At that time cities were small or mid-sized (e.g., Yalta, Alushta), quite compact and I saw their quick development but without significant intervention into nature and surrounding forests.
I have also seen beautiful valleys, surrounded by mountains creating a unique natural landscape.
But Crimea is not only mountains and forests. Actually, few people know that about two-thirds of the Crimea peninsula is occupied by the steppe. During my stay (summer), the steppe resembled a lifeless desert with grass burnt out from the hot sun. However, I can imagine that in spring, the region comes alive with a colourful carpet of flowering plants.
Crimean steppe. Credit: Rafal Chudy
Nevertheless, despite the lack of colourful flowers, this lifeless desert is not so lifeless, and one day a mantis landed on my shirt.
Ukrainian cities – Kyiv
I want to finish this post by showing you how beautiful were Ukrainian cities, now many destroyed by barbarian Putin’s invasion. During my trip to Crimea, I visited Kyiv and I must say that I was shocked by how beautiful this city was.
In Kyiv, there were nearly 3 million inhabitants. Most of them had to, unfortunately, leave their hometown due to Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.
In 2019, Kyiv joined EBRD Green Cities with the aim of identifying, prioritising and developing interventions to address its environmental and sustainability challenges. The city was truly green, and here you have some photos taken in 2009. Also, I saw a lot of beautiful buildings, churches and parks. Aren’t they beautiful? See below…
We all know that Russia is not defending Donbas from Ukrainian aggression. Russia is the AGGRESSOR attacking a democratic and peaceful country. Russia INVADES Ukraine and Ukraine has a right to defend itself.
Russia does NOT seek demilitarization and denazification of Ukraine, as communism and Nazi propaganda is banned in Ukraine and over 8 million Ukrainians died in a fight against Nazism in WW2.
All the lies around that Ukraine is conducting genocide against its population in Donbas, that is using chemical and other prohibited weapons or that it is a hostile anti-Russian state are just LIES. Ukraine is a peaceful democracy, which has suffered from Russia’s armed aggression since 2014. And I have no doubt about it. Hope that my Russian friends from the forestry sectors know this as well.
In this post, you could see my photos taken early in 2009. How the nature and Ukrainian cities look now, you can see yourselves on your TV sets (maybe not if you live in Russia or Belarussia). It will take many years to rebuilt everything, but I am sure that Ukrainians will manage to do it as their motivation, resistance and strength of purpose is unlimited.
And I really hope that the invoice will be sent to Mr Putin and his oligarchs for what they have done…
ПУТІН ІДИ HA ХУЙ!
Main photo: Kyiv panorama. Credit: Rafal Chudy