The Bloody Path Back to The European Family

From the hope of Euromaidan to the reality of Russia’s aggression: the Ukrainian fight to regain its place in Europe.

Ukrainian civil society activist Daria Kaleniuk.
Ukrainian civil society activist Daria Kaleniuk.Tania Synia

On May 6, 2009, Eurobus started its trip from a Europe Parade in Warsaw heading for the small towns and villages of Eastern Ukraine. This was an international project organised by youth leaders from Ukraine, Poland, and Germany. Young people from across the EU joined a 5000-kilometre-long Eurobus trip aimed at bringing the EU to the most distant rural communities of Ukraine.

I was a 22-year-old student from Kharkiv law school, back then coordinating the project. We had on board about 15 youth leaders from Italy, Poland, Germany, Lithuania, and other EU member states who volunteered to travel to the towns of Zhytomyr, Symy, Luhansk, Donetsk, Kharkiv, Zaporizhya, and to the Dnipro regions to organise Europe Days and training for the local high school students. Our crew stayed overnight with local host families, which was the closest to European integration that we could imagine.

„Ukraine has an internal and invisible enemy ... corruption.“

Daria Kaleniuk

Every school we visited back then had hundreds of young people dreaming of joint educational and cultural exchange projects with high school kids from the EU. These were Russian-speaking students from Eastern and Southern Ukraine who wanted Ukraine to become a EU member state. One high school student was asked whether Russia would allow Ukraine to enter the EU. “Ukraine is an independent nation,” he declared. “We have our right to decide where to go and with whom to build partnerships.”

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