Pocket COuntry
Interviews

United as never before: Ukrainian artists share insider perspective from the war-torn country

Although Putin’s Russia invaded Ukraine only a little over a month ago, it has already produced all kinds of artistic responses that show steely determination and sheer resistance in the face of a dirty and brutal war. Following the Russian invasion, some artists have left the country, but a lot of them have stayed, finding ways to help their compatriots. In our special series we connect with some of our friendly bands from Ukraine, to get their perspective and make their voice from the war-torn country be heard.

Our today’s guests are indie punk rock band POCKET COUNTRY, from Lviv, featuring members of IDIOTEQ featured band The Sunset Survival.

Where are you at the moment and where were you at the very beginning of the invasion? How it looked and felt like from your perspective?

We are and have been, since the invasion started, in our hometown of Lviv. 24th of Feb I woke up at 7:30 am from the sound of air raid sirens. I took my phone and saw a ton of missed calls and messages, in parallel my girlfriend started reading the news. At that moment we realized what happened.

First hours were total panic, for some reason we started to pack, but where should we go?! It’s our home here, so we definitely don’t want to leave.

What’s your take on this tough subject and how would you assess the current difficult political and situation between Russia and Ukraine? What’s your general stance on this subject?

Russia is bombing our cities, russian army crossed our borders and is killing Ukrainians. I think it’s pretty obvious who is an aggressor and who is defending. Russian rhetoric is wretched. Every day their propaganda machine is trying to justify everything. But I think every person who can think critically understands the real face of this war and its pointlessness.

The Russian government and the majority of the Russian population are detached from reality due to the long-term power of autocracy.

The complex relationship between your countries is something widely misunderstood, especially in the Western countries. Is there a way to explain the background of this conflict to someone not educated in this matter?

I don’t want to go deep into history, because this is a huge topic to discuss. Let’s just recap the events that I caught personally. Ukraine is an independent sovereign country and there is no doubt about that.

In 1994 Ukraine gave up its third-largest nuclear weapons and signed the Budapest Memorandum on Security Assistance. Spoiler: now the agreements are ignored by the parties, so I can say with confidence that it was high treason.

In 2004 Orange Revolution happened to resist massive corruption, voter intimidation, and electoral fraud during the presidential election. That was actually a big democratic breakthrough.

In response, the Putin regime initiated a shift to authoritarianism with paratotalitarian features, accompanied by an intensified anti-Western official discourse.

In 2010 pro-Kremlin Victor Yanukovych became president. He extended Russia’s lease of the port at Sevastopol, stated that the Great Famine of 1932-33 should not be considered an act of genocide, and also expanded his powers through the Constitutional court. The last straw was his refusal to sign an association agreement with the European Union.

Then the Revolution of Dignity happened. That was a really hard time because of the deadly clashes between the protesters and the security forces, but still, it was a decisive step to the de-sovietization of Ukraine and redirecting to a democratic future. Taking the opportunity, the Putin regime annexes Crimea and begins a proxy war in the Donbas region. And now under the guise of false excuses that change every day Russia started a full-scale war against Ukraine.

Also widely known that at least part of Ukrainian residents were pro-Russian. How to estimate this ratio of the division between your people? Also, regarding your closest neighborhood, have you felt any palpable appreciation and support towards Russian politics and their agenda?

In my opinion, it’s in the past. Before 2014 pro-Russian agenda was relevant in some eastern and southern regions, where the russian-speaking population prevailed, but right now is not the case at all. Right now Ukraine is united as never before. It’s pretty obvious from the approval rating of Volodymyr Zelenskyi.

How do you think where it’s heading? What future do you see for your country?

First, everybody in Ukraine heard, saw, or suffered from explosions. From the East to the West we have one story that will keep us united. For a country that will defeat the world’s evil (and we definitely will), this achievement will be more important than local misunderstandings.

Secondly, we have tremendous support. Blue and yellow flags are hanging all over the world, the names of Ukrainian cities are known to everyone, celebrities recording videos supporting the Ukrainians. Nobody doubts who is the injured party here. With such support, we will rebuild everything.

Russia will pay for its war crimes, for every killed Ukrainian, for every bridge, house, factory that has been destroyed.

Thirdly, reforms that have been postponed for years are happening right now or will happen in one fell swoop.

Lastly, Ukraine will emerge from this war with one of the most efficient armies in the world. Our army is the best asset NATO could ever dream of.

You bet! Lastly, how can we help?

Join the rallies to support Ukraine in your city/country. In that case, you can show your local government that you care and they need to react.

Donate directly to the Ukrainian army or different humanitarian organizations. Actually, there is a platform where you can find all the information about how you can help as a foreigner HERE.

Read more interviews with Ukrainian artists HERE.

United as never before: Ukrainian artists share insider perspective from the war-torn country
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