The “New Israel”: The Irreversible Peril of Ukraine’s Militarization.

Traffic halts at the sight of a Ukrainian soldier holding a wooden cross. Drivers and passengers step out of their cars to pay their respects. Following behind the soldier is a contingent of armed servicemen carrying a coffin. 

A pedestrian kneels on the sidewalk as the column of troops turns to enter a graveyard where four more soldiers stand guard at an open grave. More than 200 civilians follow behind. Among them, dressed all in black, is the mother of 19-year-old Mykola Kuryk, whose body lies in the coffin, killed in battle at the end of March near Kyiv. 

“He was ready to go places where no one else dared to go,” said the leader of Kuryk’s unit, the volunteer battalion of the Sonechko UPA Special Forces. “Even people with more experience. He did not know fear.” 

Kuryk died on a special mission near the frontlines. Noting this, the Orthodox priest giving the final blessing observed, “There is no bigger love than to give your soul to your friends.”

His commander hands two medals to Kuryk’s father, honors for his son’s service. The coffin is lowered into the dark grave as the four soldiers standing guard fire a final salute. The smoke from the rifles vanishes into the blue sky as the coffin disappears below the earth.

Kuryk’s grave is next to several other newly filled ones. Much older graves, belonging to locals killed during World War II — the Great Patriotic War for Soviet veterans — are nearby. But there is room for many more.  

Kuryk’s life and his service were both short; but since his death, he has become a flash cult hero in Ternopil. His picture hangs on billboards around the city, offering a promise that martyrs like him — who volunteered to defend his country after the Russian invasion in February — will never be forgotten. He may not be, but he will be part of a growing crowd. 

This experience — the cycle of volunteering, fighting, dying, and honoring — is a demonstration of Ukraine’s new heavily militarized culture and martial social norms, a development that experts say will be hard to reverse even after the fighting stops and one that threatens to subsume all aspects of Ukrainian life. 

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Author: HP McLovincraft

Seeker of rabbit holes. Pessimist. Libertine. Contrarian. Your huckleberry. Possibly true tales of sanity-blasting horror also known as abject reality. Prepare yourself. Veteran of a thousand psychic wars. I have seen the fnords. Deplatformed on Tumblr and Twitter.

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