Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest city and a major target of Russian aggression forces, has a special place in historical version of the Kremlinwhich depicts it as the place where Ukraine’s madness is trying to live apart from Russia.
Russian troops landed across the border just 20 miles from the city early Thursday, and residents reported large explosions, likely caused by artillery or rockets landing on the outskirts of the town.
Closer to Russia than any other major Ukrainian city, Kharkiv has long made it clear in President Vladimir V. Putin’s view that Ukraine is no more than an appendage of Russia that has been plundered in vain. pretexted by the intrigues of foreigners and Ukrainian misguided nationalists.
When the protesters in Kyiv overthrow Ukraine’s pro-Russian presidentt, Viktor F. Yanukovych, in 2014, Kharkiv became the focus of an effort organized by Russia to rally against the new government in Kyiv and restore Mr. Yanukovych to power. The ousted president fled to Kharkiv, where the then mayor, Hennadiy Kernes, hosted a congress of pro-Russian politicians and officials from the Russian-speaking regions of eastern and southeastern Ukraine.
That effort, aided by Russian spies and agitators from across the nearby border, quickly failed but spawned many of the propaganda ploys currently deployed by the Kremlin: the claim that Ukraine had taken over by the New Nazis; that Ukraine’s Russian speakers are in mortal danger; that Ukraine exists only as a country due to foreign interference.
Kharkiv, long inhabited by various ethnic groups, including a large Jewish population, played a particularly important role in shaping Ukraine during and after World War I. It was the the first capital of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, largely controlled by Moscow. entity established in opposition to the People’s Republic of Ukraine in Kyiv, sought to secede from Moscow and proclaimed an independent Ukrainian state.
Soviet forces stationed at Kharkiv quickly foiled this initial attempt at the Ukrainian state, capturing Kyiv in February 1918.
In a lengthy historical essay on Ukraine published last July, Putin cited this puzzling episode as an example of reckless, reckless attempts to establish a Ukrainian state by ” various forms of semi-nationality appeared throughout the former Russian empire”.
This history carries a clear message for the current leaders of Ukraine, Putin added: “For those who today have given up complete control of Ukraine to outside powers, it will be a memorable lesson that, back in 1918, a decision proved deadly for the ruling regime in Kiev. ”
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/24/world/europe/kharkiv-russia.html Why Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest city, is Russia’s main target