Belarusian border troops on Ukraine’s northern frontier are appealing to Ukrainian taste buds, Slavic brotherhood and a hearty East European soup in what may be a probably futile attempt to get some of Kyiv’s troops to desert, video and news reports on Wednesday showed.

A recording lasting more than a minute published on a video released by Ukrainian high profile reporter Anatoliy Tsaplenko, on Wednesday, shows a message broadcast over loudspeakers at a Belarusian border checkpoint. It tells the listener that Ukrainians and Belarusians are brothers united by their love of the soup, borsch, a symbol of their common values, and possible reason for a Ukrainian soldier to quit his unit. Ukraine’s border troops command also published the video with much amusement.

A popular dish across the former Soviet space, and frequently garnished with a dollop of ‘smetana’ sour cream, borsch as prepared in Ukraine and Belarus often resembles a stew and is normally considered a meal in itself.

A woman speaking classical Ukrainian with phrasing typical of someone reading a folk tale or a children’s bedtime story on Soviet-era television, called on Ukrainian troops stationed on their country’s northern border to reflect on borsch and consider desertion.

The appeal went:

“Comrade Ukraine border troops! Do not forget that Belarusian and Ukrainian borsch are very similar to each other. Without question, there are minor differences. Into Ukrainian borsch, as a rule, one puts in beans.

British Defence Intelligence Update Ukraine 15 July 2024
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British Defence Intelligence Update Ukraine 15 July 2024

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“But into Belarusian borsch, one adds more potatoes. But nevertheless, one or the other, they are practically one in the same borsch. Ukrainian and Belarusian borsch, they are the borsch(es) of neighbors, and the borsch(es) of relatives. European cuisine does not have a single dish, that resembles or even would remind one of borsch.

“Therefore borsch, which is so tasty and life-giving, is one of the cultural foundations of eastern Slavic identity. Borsch is something that unites us. Remember this, comrades!

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“And if there is ever a time, when you have no one to give you your borsch, come to our side, and taste our, Belarusian borsch. You won’t regret it!”

Most Ukrainians consider borsch – most commonly based on beetroot, fatty pork, cabbage, potatoes and beans - their country’s national dish, just as Americans view hamburgers or Germans, Wurst. There are as many recipes for borsch as there are cooks. In most Ukrainian households a housewife will have her own personal recipe, often based on the borsch her mother made.

Relations between Ukraine and Belarus collapsed in Feb. 2022 after Belarusian leader Aleksandr Lukashenko allowed Russian’s military to launch part of its massive ground invasion into Ukraine from Belarusian territory, and to fly air strikes against Ukrainian homes and businesses from Belarusian airfields.

After fierce Ukrainian defense stalled and turned back the Russian attacks, Lukashenko has tried to portray himself as the leader of a neutral nation that just wants peace between Russia and Ukraine.

Most Ukrainians consider the Lukashenko regime criminally complicit in Russia’s invasion.

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Ukraine’s border troops have, in recent months, displayed open hostility and ridicule towards their Belarusian counterparts. In a widely-forwarded video recorded on Monday, a border troops drone shot a video across the international frontier of three hapless Belarusian border troops soldiers attempting, unsuccessfully, to push start a Soviet-era UAZ jeep.

In January Belarus’ government filed a complaint to Kyiv that a Ukrainian border troops soldier had, instead of politely speaking with his Belarusian counterparts, donned a skull mask and made throat-cutting gestures towards a Belarusian surveillance camera.

 

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