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In a new Fox Nation production available now, subscribers are given an in-depth look at the tumultuous and often violent history of the nation now under siege by Russian forces. “Ukraine Origins” offers viewers a tragic tableau of gut-wrenching legacies intersecting with some of the most defining moments of European history.
“Ukrainian history is marked by some real challenges, some real horrible scenes, some real horrible episodes,” said Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine William Taylor during the opening moments of the special.
One of the worst episodes can be traced back to the 1930s, when the Soviet Union, now known as Russia, first sank its teeth into Ukraine.
Joseph Stalin, who was interested in the potential benefits of collectivism, wanted to replace Ukraine’s family-owned farms with state-run businesses. Simultaneously, he also wanted to punish and rid the land of Ukrainians who posed a threat to his totalitarian government. So he created a famine that killed nearly 4 million Ukrainians, the special explores.
This was not a famine created by the environment; rather, from a man clamping down on his neighbors by imposing crippling economic policies.
“Many Ukrainians today will remember this from what their parents and grandparents told them. This is still real for them,” added Taylor.
After the ravages of the famine and World War II, Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev gifted the Crimean Peninsula to Ukraine as a gesture of goodwill. It meant nothing.
“It was all part of the Soviet Union. So, it was symbolic,” said Taylor.
But, in 1986 the Soviet Union’s long stranglehold on Ukraine began to loosen as the credibility and strength of the socialist nation came under intense scrutiny by Europe and the rest of the world.
“The explosion of the nuclear reactor at Chernobyl was a devastating traumatic experience for Ukraine. It was a major embarrassment as well,” said Global Affairs analyst Jonathan Wachtel.
The RBMK reactor explosion, a result of flawed reactor design, inadequately trained personnel, and resilience to free-flowing information by the Soviets, created an environmental catastrophe. Nuclear radiation was carried through the sky and land across Ukraine and into chunks of Europe.
The impact of the explosion on the health of Europeans is still not fully known to this day.
“The Chernobyl disaster was one of the things that shook people’s confidence in the Soviet Union. And in the structure, the administrations, in the institutions. It was a failure. It was a failure of design, a failure of emergency management, it was a failure of trust.”
Three years later, the Soviet Union collapsed. However, the former nation’s nuclear arsenal remained.
“Ukraine had the largest number of these nuclear weapons on its soil,” said Taylor. “And the question was, what to do with these nuclear weapons?”
The United States subsequently sent an envoy to Kyiv to discuss the ruminations of nuclear conditions. But, what became of the nuclear stockpile? Were they handed over to the U.S.? Do they still remain in Ukraine? Or has Russia stockpiled them, along with other weapons, in their war against Ukraine?
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