On Monday, drones from Russia launched an attack on a university and a museum associated with two influential figures in preserving Ukrainian identity in the 20th century. The incident has sparked determination among locals to restore the affected areas.
The National Agrarian University, located near Lviv in western Ukraine, was damaged by shattered windows and a damaged roof. This university is where Stepan Bandera, a revered figure in Ukraine but seen as a villain by the Kremlin, once attended.
It occurred on the day that would have been Bandera’s 115th birthday.
The second attack destroyed a nearby museum dedicated to Roman Shukhevych.
Both individuals were influential leaders in the movement against Soviet domination, and were affiliated with the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA), which actively fought against Soviet troops during World War II.
82-year-old Sofia Zdorovyk pointed out the building where Stepan Bandera once took classes. She also mentioned the presence of a memorial plaque and statue dedicated to him as people worked to clean up the debris around her.
“Has the ongoing situation in our country for many years resulted in any positive impact for Russia? With their abundant land and natural resources, what more could they possibly want?”
Andriy Sadovyi, the Mayor of Lviv, referred to the attack on the museum as a symbolic gesture.
He stated that it will be restored once we have achieved victory.
According to historical records, Bandera was a leading member of a UPA-affiliated group that grew to 100,000 members by 1944 and opposed Moscow’s control until the mid-1950s. Shukhevych held the position of supreme commander for the UPA.
Moscow still invokes Bandera’s name to underpin its assertions that it invaded Ukraine in February 2022 to “denazify” the country, pointing to the fact that some nationalists initially cooperated with German forces in their battle against the Russians — though they later also fought the Nazis.
The mention of Bandera instills fear, rage, and hatred in the Russians, according to Vasyl Lapushniak, the president of Lviv National Agrarian University. However, this did not intimidate us; instead, it brought us together and displayed our resilience.
During the post-Soviet era, both men were awarded the title “Hero of Ukraine.” Members of the UPA were recognized as “veterans” alongside soldiers from the Soviet Red Army.
The actions of the nationalist army have been accused of causing mass killings of ethnic Poles in the Volyn region of western Ukraine. This region was previously under Polish control during the time between the two world wars.
Poland and Ukraine have both implemented measures to commemorate and promote reconciliation between their two nations.