Often, the media misrepresents Ukraine in the news by focusing on the ongoing war in the country. This has been the case ever since Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 that produced the conflict. Over the years, coverage of the war between the Ukrainian government and Russian separatists has dwindled but remains the focus whenever a story appears, either that or the dire situations and struggles the war has caused. While covering the war and its causes does a great job of highlighting the humanitarian crisis it has created by displacing thousands of Ukrainians who continue to struggle, it does little to portray their beautiful culture and country.
Whenever the media misrepresents Ukraine, due to its proximity to Russia and perhaps the association between the two countries, it is often thought that the two countries share very similar cultures and landscapes. Beyond this, media portrayal makes the country seem as though it is always in conflict and struggle. Neither of these assumptions is the case. Ukraine is a unique Slavic country, with its own language, customs, and a rich cultural history.
Ukraine’s Geography and Climate
Physically, Ukraine is unique in that it has a wider, warmer range of climates than most would assume. Spanning from the north where it borders Poland, Belarus and Russia, the climate is temperate, down to the Black Sea, where the climate is warm enough to be considered Mediterranean and winters can be quite mild. This means the country also holds a variety of stunning landscapes from the Carpathian mountains to beaches found in the city of Odessa.
Cultural History of Ukraine
Among these serene landscapes sit a variety of cities such as the capital of Kiev. With most cities and even towns in Ukraine, cultural history is honored by many historical buildings with stunning architecture that stand among the modern ones. While Ukrainians honor their past through these buildings, museums and classical art galleries, they don’t hesitate from making this legacy endure through experimental forms of cultural expression as well as by continuing with the classics. In the urban hubs of Ukraine’s larger cities, a variety of artistic expression can be found in performance art, literature, modern galleries, and through the long-standing tradition of Ukrainian folk art.
When focusing on the upheaval and chaos caused by the ongoing conflicts, the media misrepresents Ukraine by neglecting to display the generosity and friendliness of the country’s people even as they face these struggles. It is a part of the Ukrainian culture to be as generous and hospitable as possible to others. While Ukrainians are warm and care for their friends and family, they also treat their guests with equal care so much so that not offering food and drinks to a guest, especially while having some for yourself, is considered rather rude. No matter the occasion, Ukrainians always make sure their guests feel comfortable and at home by providing them with food, beverages and kindness even if they have little to offer.
In stark contrast with the media portrayal of Ukraine, the country and its people are unique in every way. The Ukrainians, their traditions and culture have to be contrasted with the humanitarian crisis caused by the ongoing war, rather than focusing solely on the war. The media has to show just how much Ukraine has been affected and how dire the situation is for those caught in the war zone. Ukraine is not just a country in constant conflict but one with a rich culture and history which will survive this conflict or any others it may face.
– Keegan Struble