Wed | Sep 27, 2023

‘This is Putin’s revenge on the West’

Ukrainians living in Jamaica shell-shocked by the invasion

Published:Sunday | February 27, 2022 | 12:12 AMJanet Silvera - Senior Gleaner Writer
“I was shaking, and it was very difficult to stop,” said Irina Bruce, Ukrainian journalist who has been living in Jamaica for the past eight years, of news that Russia had launched an attack on her homeland.
“I was shaking, and it was very difficult to stop,” said Irina Bruce, Ukrainian journalist who has been living in Jamaica for the past eight years, of news that Russia had launched an attack on her homeland.


Just like the blast that shook the buildings in Kyiv, Ukraine, last Thursday, this was the same impact news of the invasion had on two Ukrainians living in Jamaica.

“I was shaking, and it was very difficult to stop,” journalist Irina Bruce recalled hours after Russian President Vladimir Putin made good on his years-long threat to take over the Slavic nation.

On Friday when The Sunday Gleaner reached out to Bruce, she said she was numb with shock. Bruce, who has been living in Jamaica for eight years, admitted that she had doubted western media reports and thought the idea of an invasion was hysteria.

“We could have expected for him (Putin) to come into the eastern part of Ukraine and overtake the territories that were already separated from Ukraine in 2014, but a mass attack, a full-blown war on Ukraine, especially using the same techniques as were used by Nazi Germany in 1941, we were not expecting that from even Putin,” Bruce admitted.

She noted that it was like he was using the same playbook of the Germans when they attacked the Soviet Union in 1941.

Bruce shared that most Ukrainians and Russians are friends, and last Thursday when she received a message on her phone from her family in her country stating “invasion”, her response was “you got to be kidding me. What invasion? What’s happening?” although she was aware that on February 22, the Russians had already entered other territories of Ukraine. But those were the regions under control of separatist groups.

She is now overwhelmed by the whole affair, fearful for her family, her husband’s parents and family, and their friends trapped back home in the middle of the conflict. Bruce has joined Telegram and Facebook groups with the hope of getting credible information on events in her homeland.

In spite of her personal turmoil, Bruce has been trying to assist Jamaican students who were stranded in Ukraine up to Friday night.


Distancing her reasons for the attack on her country from the widely believed oil and money grab motive, Bruce said in this case it is very different, believing that the reasons are close to those Hitler used to invade other countries.

Among the main reasons is revenge she stated, not on Ukraine, but on the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

“It is revenge on the western world and if you listen to the speech in Russian that he gave on Thursday you will see. He was giving history lessons on the Soviet Union,” she stressed.

“And basically, just like Hitler was having his revenge on Germany’s loss in the First World War, Putin is having his revenge on Soviet Union, the loss of the Cold War with the western world resulting in the collapse of the Soviet Union.”

Bruce continued, “So if you want to put it in short, the first reason is revenge due to historical reasons. He believes he is right because he’s trying to get justice for what happened and in his opinion, he’s doing a good thing.”

His second reason, she stated, is because all of his requests to NATO were ignored.

Putin, Bruce said, believes Russia came out of Ukraine, although he puts it differently. Historically, she said, Kyiv is 700 years older than Moscow and it was Kyiv’s King who built Moscow.

Bruce is also certain that most Russians are not in support of the attack.

“A lot of Russians are as shocked and absolutely mind blown. They understand that it’s not a tragedy just for Ukraine. It’s a tragedy for all of our people,” she said.


Another Ukrainian living in Jamaica, who asked not to be identified, spoke of how difficult this war will be on peoples from both countries.

“I have my sister and stepmother living in Russia. So it’s kind of like heartbreaking, because no one wants the war, everyone wants peace,” she said.

Extremely nervous and worried about how things will play out, the Ukrainian, who has lived in Jamaica for over 10 years, said she is having sleepless nights.

She describes Putin’s attack as a president who has gone completely crazy trying to regain power. She equates the behaviour to dictatorship, having been in office for too long.