Mo Rocca, Correspondent, asked: "When I was growing-up, we called it The Ukraine.' What changed?
Anne Applebaum is a Pulitzer Prize-winning historian who has written extensively on Russia and Ukraine. She said that the use of the the was a reflection that people didn't know what Ukraine was. The Ukrainians have made a huge push in recent years to get English speakers off their backs, as they find it patronizing.
"It's Ukraine. It is a country. It now has its own state. It is not "The Ukraine" any more than you would call "The Russia", or "The Germany", or "The France".
Russian President Vladimir Putin doesn't believe so. He all but denies Ukraine is its country. Putin claimed this week that Ukraine has not been given stable statehood, in an attempt to justify his invasion. It is an integral part of our history, culture, and spiritual space."
Russia and the country it calls its "little brother", can claim common parentage...way, way back.
Applebaum stated that in the late Middle Ages there was a civilization called Kievan Rus. It was based in Kiev. Both Russia and Ukraine can trace their roots back to this state.
Vikings are believed to have founded this civilization in the ninth century. Applebaum stated that the civilization was founded many centuries ago and that much has changed since then. "In that sense, you also know that the Vikings played a part in the creation England and the coasts France. It's quite a long time ago.
"Right, so that the Vikings claimed ownership of France if they were to claim it today, it would be kinda dubious." Rocca asked.
Fast forward to 1793 when the majority of what is now Ukraine was part of the Russian empire led by Catherine the Great. Applebaum said that Ukraine was "a little like Ireland used to feel within the United Kingdom." It was subordinate to a larger whole, of an even greater empire.
Ukraine fought for its independence during the revolution that brought about the Soviet Union. It lost and was eventually subsumed within the communist state in 1922. Applebaum stated that it was an independent entity since the beginning. It had always used its own language. It had always been recognized as a distinct entity within the USSR.
Fearful of an independent Ukraine, Soviet leader Joseph Stalin brought down the hammer within a decade. "He had decided that the land would be taken from the peasants and given to the state. It was met with strong opposition in Ukraine.
Stalin would not tolerate opposition. The atrocity began in 1932 and would become known as the Holodomor, which is Ukrainian for "extermination of hunger." Applebaum stated that the Holodomor was an artificial hunger. It meant that the famine was not caused by crop failure or insects, but rather by drought. The Soviet state created it. Local activists raided houses in rural Ukraine to seize food. They wanted to seize every scrap of food and knew that people would die.
Four million Ukrainians died of starvation between 1932 and 1983.
The 1984 documentary "Harvest of Despair" was narrated by Vasyl Sokil, journalist. This was a serious crime. This was a government order to execute anyone.
Applebaum stated, "People survived eating toads and frogs." They ate the bark from trees."
Rocca asked: "Is it true some people resort to cannibalism?"
"Yes. The authorities actually had it recorded at that time. This means that Moscow knew there was cannibalism occurring in Ukraine.
The second wave of Stalinist terror saw the murder and arrest of Ukrainian intellectuals, artists, and writers of dictionaries.
"Is it correct that they removed a letter of the Ukrainian alphabet?" Rocca asked.
"You know, you have mentioned so many horrible details; that detail is so humiliating, to take the language and remove a mail?"
Applebaum stated that the Russians have been trying to eradicate Ukrainian-ness, and the feeling of it, and create a sense of nationhood and a separate identity, since the 19th Century. It was a Czarist strategy. Later, it was Stalin's strategy. Now it is Putin's.
Putin believes that a free, sovereign, and democratic Ukraine is a threat both to himself personally, and to his personal power. Putin is most afraid of grassroots democratic movements. The only way he can counter them is to get rid of the Ukrainian state.
"Are there a lot of Ukrainians thinking, 'Not again?'?" Rocca asked.
"Calamity Again is a famous poem written by Shevchenko. It starts with this idea: Just as we were getting along, calamity strikes once again. It was establishing its democracy. Its sense of nationality was strengthening. Now, they are in terrible peril. Many feel that they will be forced back into the horrible Stalin-era or Czarist nightmares.