Character(s) or Pairing(s): Ukraine, Russia, USA, Belarus, Canada
Warnings: modern politics, things not running linear, a crazy-ass poem
Summary: A comic about the history of Ukraine and an unrelated sketch
Notes: I wrote a major research paper, and thus felt compelled to draw comics about it. I am not Ukrainian, so I apologize in advance if I mess anything up.
Life sucked for Ukraine before WWII, to the point where they actually welcomed the Nazis as freeing them from the Russians. However, unfortunately, the Nazis turned out worse, and everyone felt better once the Russians came back. The Russians, while reconquering Ukraine, also conquered the western territories of Galicia, Transcarpathia, Volhynia and Bukovina, which hadn't belonged to Ukraine before (they had been parts of the Polish Empire or Austro-Hungarian Empire.) Though the territories hadn't been part of Ukraine proper, they did have a mostly Ukrainian population.
Soviet Ukraine had essentially had the nationalism starved out of them by Stalin. The new territories, however, didn't have that problem. Basically all Ukrainian nationalism since WWII has come from this area.
After the Soviet Union broke apart in 1991, Ukraine had a difficult time deciding what to do with all the nuclear weapons that the USSR had stationed on its soil. No one in Ukraine liked nuclear weapons very much, since they had a pretty bad history with nuclear fallout. The USA wanted them to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and get rid of them. Ukraine was quite willing to do this--except that Russia was right next to them, and many people considered that extremely threatening. For a long time, Ukraine dithered over whether to sign the treaty or hold onto the weapons (both as a deterrent against Russia and as a way to keep people from forgetting about them on the global stage), and the USA was growing quite sick of it. Ukraine finally signed the treaty in 1996 and gave the nukes back to Russia.
In 1954, in commemoration of the Pereyaslav Agreement of 1654 that essentially sold out Ukraine to the Russians, Nikita Khrushchev gave the Crimean peninsula to Ukraine as a present. Since everybody still reported to Moscow anyway in the USSR, it really didn't make a difference who the peninsula belonged to. This is where the Black Sea Fleet is stationed.
After 1991, though, when the Soviet Union fell down, it started getting difficult again. Crimea, being 70% ethnically Russian and mostly Russian-speaking, still identifies with Russian and would very much like to belong to Russia again. Ukraine, however, sees this as a threat, especially since the Fleet is stationed there. If Russia has it, it can be used against Ukraine if Russia should want to reconquer it. So even though Crimea kind of hates Ukraine, Ukraine is desperate to hold onto it. They've been haggling over that Fleet since 1991 and still haven't made a permanent decision. (The dog is a South Russian Ovcharka because they're Crimean. If anyone lives in Crimea, I apologize for making your home a dog.)
Ukraine now that it is independent, after a very long history of getting screwed over by Russia, is extremely unwilling to believe anything Russia says. This lends itself to much of any problem, from the gas wars to the Black Fleet to basically anything. 'If Russia says it's going to do something nice, it's lying, and it's trying to take over Ukraine again,' seems to be the nationalist mindset. This makes negotiations difficult.
Belarus will be Belarus.
Ukraine itself, of course, is part of the problem. It's kind of manic-depressive. The western regions, especially around the city of Lviv, are extremely nationalistic, Europe-friendly, speak Ukrainian, and want to join NATO. The eastern and southern regions, especially Crimea, are extremely pro-Russian, speak Russian, and want to return to Russia or some other USSR-like state. All people with very strong political opinions are in the minority, and the rest of the country will vote for whoever is promising them the best offer. This means that a distinctive Ukrainian national identity is hard to find, and that Ukraine tends to waffle on major international decisions depending on who is in office at the time. For example, it just recently decided that it won't join NATO after all, but up until this year it was trying very hard to get in. This can get very frustrating. (Canada has the largest population of Ukrainians outside of Ukraine and Russia, and they still get along very well. Most of the Ukrainians in Canada, though, came from the western regions, and so are much more nationalistic and pro-Western Powers than the rest of Ukraine.)
And now for something completely different.
This sketch is based on this poem, Bouquet, by Oleg Grigoryev, that we read in my Russian class. To translate--
A seller of poppies
Was selling lobsters
A poppy lover
And he said indignantly,
Seeing the lobsters,
"You, it seems,
were selling poppies,
But now you
clearly have lobsters."
Answered the seller.
When you cook a lobster,
it turns red, like a poppy,
As I see it,
"Yes, that's true,"
said the poppy lover.
"I don't really like lobsters,
But if you haven't any poppies today,
Then give me a bouquet of lobsters."
In Russian, "lobster" and "poppy" rhyme. So here's Russia selling lobsters, because he has no poppies today.
All of these can be found at DeviantArt, if anybody cares.
All criticism welcome! ^-^