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Ukraine: The Year of Resistance

Oleksandr Voznyak. President, Ukrainian Association of Neurosurgeons.

It is early spring in Kyiv this year. On the terrace near my hospital, visitors and patients drink coffee. Among them is a group of soldiers being treated in the hospital after being wounded: some in wheelchairs, some with crutches, and some with bandages on their heads. Today, this is a fairly typical picture for a civilian hospital in Ukraine, which has been waging a war of liberation against the northern aggressor for more than a year. Both military and civilian medical institutions are involved in the treatment of the wounded and victims of Russian aggression. The war launched by Russia against Ukraine, which was supposed to be over in three days according to the aggressor's plan, has been going on for more than a year. Ukraine was not ready for this war, as the Budapest Memorandum signed in 1994 formally guaranteed its inviolability. But "for Russia, the document signed by it is not worth even the paper it is written on" (Otto von Bismarck, 1920). The aggressor knew about the material unpreparedness of the Ukrainian army for a massive attack but did not take into account the will of the people of Ukraine for freedom and independence. I remember the first days of the war when on the approach to Kyiv the aggressor's convoys were stopped by ordinary civilians, armed with hunting weapons and Molotov cocktails. As early as February 25, there were queues of people wishing to join the ranks of the Ukrainian army near the military commissariats. Within a few days, the entire country regrouped and began to work for victory. The volunteer movement has reached an unprecedented scale: ordinary citizens bought and are buying ammunition and products for the military at their own expense, collecting funds for the purchase of the necessary weapons. The Ukrainian Association of Neurosurgeons (UAN) also made and continues to make a significant contribution to the victory: in the first days of the war, we transferred all funds from our account to support the Armed Forces of Ukraine. Over the past year, UAN has held two conferences, within the framework of the last one held in Bukovel, there were on-line sections organized by ACNS (Professor Yoko Kato) and EANS (Professor Andreas Demetriades), and we had in person distinguished guest Professor Russell J Andrews from USA. I would like to take this opportunity to express my sincere gratitude to all foreign lecturers who contributed to this conference. Ukraine lost its independence a long time ago and was part of other states for centuries, it was divided and redistributed many times, but Ukrainians have always preserved their national identity despite the open genocide on the part of Russia. Today, Ukraine is one of the youngest democracies in the world: only 30 years have passed since the declaration of the country's independence. As a result, over many generations, a specific mentality of my people was formed: due to the lack of their statehood, and as a result, the impossibility of protecting citizens from the state, Ukrainians used to rely only on their strength. And I believe that this very feature became the key to the formation of unprecedented resistance to Russian aggression. Spontaneous associations of citizens became sometimes more effective and mobile compared to existing state institutions. The second unconditional component of Ukrainian resistance is large-scale support of Ukraine by the whole world. Ukraine created a precedent in world history when the entire democratic world came to the defense of a relatively small democratic state. I want to emphasize that it is precisely "democratic" because the governments of countries that were elected through the free will of their citizens act by the wishes of their voters. The past year has united the Ukrainian people extremely and raised the level of our self-esteem. We firmly believe in victory, confidently look to the future and build post-war plans. Glory to Ukraine!

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