The Russians Have Invaded Before: The Battle of Kruty


Vladimir Putin in his own words 

Monument to the courageous students at the battle of Kruty

“Everyone says I’m harsh, even brutal,” Putin acknowledged, without ever disputing such observations. “A dog senses when somebody is afraid of it, and bites,” he observes. “The same applies [to dealing with one’s enemies]. If you become jittery, they will think that they are stronger. Only one thing works in such circumstances—to go on the offensive. You must hit first and hit so hard that your opponent will not rise to his feet.” 

(From First Person, by Vladimir Putin available on

Will Russia invade Ukraine?  Today the US State Department warned Americans to leave within 48 hours.  They believe war is imminent and Americans who do not leave now will not be evacuated.  (Of course, after Afghanistan, we knew that already).

The president of Ukraine asked America today and other countries to remain calm, and to ratchet down the hysteria.  Putin took Crimea in 2014 under President Obama, with Biden as the vice-president, and it is now eight years since that invasion.  The simmering war with Russia and the separatist republics has continued these last eight years.  The Ukrainians live with this reality.  However, this would not be the first full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine. 

The 1918 Battle of Kruty

In December 1917, the Bolshevik Lenin-Trotsky government declared war on the Ukrainian People’s Republic. The vastly superior Bolshevik army swiftly headed to the newly independent Ukrainian People’s Republic.  In his letter to the Ukrainian people, Lenin made clear that Soviet Russia wouldn’t put up with independent Ukraine.

Students Rise Up Against the Soviet Army

Like the Maidan protests in 2014, university students led the resistance against enemy forces.  In the face of war with Soviet Russia, the students in Kyiv founded the all-volunteer unit Sich Riflemen Kurin.  The majority of students had never undergone military training.  They were under-armed and short of weapons and ammunition.

On January 29, 1918, a 400-man unit consisting of student volunteers, a unit from the Khmelnytsky Cadet School, and 100 local volunteers entered battle with the 4000 strong Soviet Bolshevik army. Despite the overwhelming odds, the battle raged on for 5 hours. Over one-half of the Ukrainians were killed. Approximately 30 students were taken prisoners and later shot. The brave volunteers, however, slowed down the Soviet army on their march to Kyiv.

Ukrainian soldiers destroyed all rail lines and bridges during their retreat. It took 4 more days for the Soviet army to organize its further push in Kyiv.

The tragic death of the Ukrainian students unit Sich Riflemen Kurin near Kruty became a symbol of patriotism and sacrifice. 

The Ukrainians continue their struggle for independence today.  A far superior Russian army stands on the border in Belarus ready to invade.  As history seems to repeat itself, again the road for invasion runs through Kruty.  

For more than 70 years the true story of the Kruty battle was hidden by the Soviet government, but Ukrainians continued remembering that heroic deed.  They celebrate and remember the courageous students every year on January 29.  We hope and pray another battle of Kruty does not take place.