Home ΓΝΩΜΗ/ΣΧΟΛΙΑ The Ukrainian People Will Triumph

The Ukrainian People Will Triumph

New York – by Dorie Klissas

In a dramatic instance of bravery, the women and children of Souli, Epirus, in northwestern Greece, jumped to their deaths from the mountain of Zalongo in 1803, rather than succumb to the rule of the Ottoman Turks. The story is that they danced hand in hand and sang, “Give me Freedom or Give me Death,” as they fell to their deaths.  The event was immortalized by a folk song called “Dance of Zalongo” and is a pivotal scene in the 2019 movie, Cliffs of Freedom which was directed by Van Ling. 

This mass suicide was one of the inspirations for Greece in the 1821 Greek War of Independence over the Ottoman Empire.  The brave women of Souli demonstrated the strong will of their countrymen who refused to accept domination by outsiders. 

Today, the women and men of Ukraine are demonstrating enormous bravery in fighting off invaders. A Ukrainian woman confronted a heavily armed Russian soldier and offered him sunflower seeds. “Take these seeds and put them in your pockets so at least sunflowers will grow when you all lie down here,” she defiantly told him. 

It should be no surprise that Ukrainians are putting up a valiant fight because people who are deeply connected to their land will not go easily.  One man stood in front of a Russian tank pushing against it to stop it from advancing.  When Russia attacked Snake Island in Ukraine’s territorial waters, a Russian officer warned, “This is a Russian military warship. I suggest you lay down your weapons and surrender to avoid bloodshed and needless casualties. Otherwise, you will be bombed.” A Ukrainian soldier communicated back with a four-letter expletive directed at the Russian ship. During the siege of Mariupol, Ukrainians defended their city block by block before it finally fell 70 days later to Russian forces. The Ukrainians will fight to the end, and if they do not succeed their ancestors will take up the fight. 


These stories have become rallying points for the country, as citizens and soldiers stand up to Russia.  “People are paying the ultimate sacrifice to defend their nation in the ultimate form of nationalism,” says Robert Person, Associate Professor of International Relations at the United States Military Academy in West Point, speaking in his own capacity. “They are also inspiring others to resist the Russians as well.” 

Power-hungry despots like Putin try to expand their dominance and build, or rebuild empires.  Citing the classic book Leviathan, which Thomas Hobbes wrote during the English Civil War of the 17th century, Dr. Person says that the three causes of war are fear, glory, and competition. “In Russia’s case, the world view that guided its strategy has been fear and insecurity.  As Ukraine became more rebellious against Russia, Putin was determined to take control of his post-Soviet sphere of influence through expansion.”

But as long as the human soul yearns for control over one’s homeland, invaders, like the Russians, will face resistance. Putin miscalculated when he thought the Ukrainian people would welcome the invaders with open arms. His imperial arrogance blinded him to the fact that Ukrainians feel distinct and different from Russia.  The invasion has unified the country and solidified the nationalistic spirit of the Ukrainian people. 

The Ottoman Empire controlled Greece for nearly four centuries, from 1453, with the fall of Constantinople, until the 1821 Greek War of Independence, but the Greek desire for independence never died.  Just as the Greeks eventually defeated the Turks, Russia will never be entirely triumphant over Ukraine.  

* Dorie Klissas, GN USA – Contributing Editor