After a bloody week of Russian attacks on Ukraine, which has been multiplied in Donbass, another front has emerged in the shadows of the first. This Friday, July 1, the Unesco recognized that the Russian invasion was jeopardizing Ukraine's culture of Borscht, a soup enjoyed by both sides of the border.
Following the UN announcement, Oleksandr Tkatchenko, Ukrainian Culture Minister, rejoiced that "victory in the Borscht War is ours." On his Telegram account, he said that Ukraine would win "both the borscht war and the current conflict against Moscow." Minister Tkatchenko made more measured remarks before the UNESCO Heritage Commission.
He said that despite the war, many Ukrainian families would eat Ukrainian borscht today. "Ukrainian borscht is a symbol of national identity in the countries that have lost their cities and other countries that have welcomed Ukrainians," he said.
Borscht, a soup made with cabbage and beets, is very popular in Central Europe, particularly in Russia. This dish is often believed to be Ukrainian.
On February 24, troops from Moscow invaded Ukraine and killed thousands of civilians. The destruction was multiplied by the Ukrainian resistance, which in turn multiplied diplomatic attacks against the Russians.
Borscht is one of them. Ukraine asked for the inclusion of borscht on the list of cultural heritage in peril in mid-April. It believed that Russia's conflict was threatening the tradition of the soup.
A UNESCO committee for intangible cultural heritage met in extraordinary session two months later and agreed to meet with kyiv. "The existence of the soup [...] does not pose a threat to itself. But it is the living and human heritage associated with borscht that is in immediate danger due to the armed conflict [and] the forced displacements of communities," explained Pier Luigi Petrillo on Friday, the rapporteur of the file's evaluation committee.
He observed that "people are no longer able or even able to grow the local vegetables necessary to prepare" borscht. Also, they are unable to come together to make this dish. Pier Luigi Petrillo added that armed conflict also damages "the environment," the fauna, and the flora. "All these factors make it imperative to urgently safeguard this element."
Ievgen Klopotenko, the Ukrainian leader, stated on Facebook that "it's definitely victory on the cultural front." We had hundreds of pages that proved that the borscht culture was Ukrainian, but all of the Russian propaganda was against our cause.
However, UNESCO has not in any way attributed paternity to borscht Ukraine. Annoyed, Russia's Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova denounced and denigrated Ukrainian "nationalism".
"If I had to explain to the world contemporary Kievan nationalism, this is what it is: Hummus and rice pilaf have been recognized as national dishes in many countries. She laughed, "But, as I understand it Ukrainianization applies to all."
"What will it look like next?" The Ukrainian government will recognize pigs as a national product. The spokeswoman said that kyiv had been previously accused of "xenophobia", Nazism and "extremism for politicizing borscht."