Russia’s all-out attack became a wake-up call for the international community. The world was first shocked by the sheer brutality of the invasion, then by its own ignorance about the country invaded. It turned out Ukrainians were not ready to surrender to the seemingly superior military power: neither in 72 hours, as was predicted by many western intel agencies, nor seven months into the full-scale war. It turned out Ukrainians were defiant. It turned out their defiance had a history of which the world knew nothing. It turned out the outsiders’ perceptions of Ukraine were shaped by Russia’s imperialist narratives.
Today, the value of Ukrainian knowledge and experience can no longer be dismissed. The urgency to learn from Ukraine is now existential for the rest of the world.
Ukraine Lab is an online writing residency for emerging writers from Ukraine and the UK tasked with exploring global challenges through the prism of Ukraine. The thematic focus of the creative nonfiction pieces by Kris Michalowicz and Sofia Cheliak is war. ‘Luhansk, Stolen’ reminds us that Russia’s war of aggression did not start on 24 February 2022 but has been raging on for eight years. ‘Ukrainian Lottery’ takes a look at those surprising Ukrainians who reject the ready-made model of victimhood and resist the enemy with a sense of humour and a sense of purpose.
Ukraine Lab is run by the Ukrainian Institute London in partnership with PEN Ukraine and Ukrainian Institute. It is supported by the British Council as part of the UK/UA Season of Culture 2022. You can read ‘Luhansk, Stolen’ and ‘Ukrainian Lottery’ in Ukrainian here [link to the Ukrainian publication]. Ukraine Lab pieces focusing on the environment have been published in The Ecologist, while the pieces tackling disinformation will appear in openDemocracy.
Sasha Dovzhyk is a special projects’ curator at the Ukrainian Institute London and Associate Lecturer in Ukrainian at the School of Slavonic and East-European Studies, UCL. She has curated Ukraine Lab.