Ukrainian activists have published a video address to US tech giant Apple demanding an apology for a recent advertisement that many in Ukraine see as a subtle attempt to undermine the status of the country's most celebrated military heroes.
The advert in question features people from across the globe recounting how Apple products have improved their lives. Ukraine's objections relate to the inclusion of a Russian who refers to himself as a "Russian Cyborg", which many Ukrainians interpret as an effort to undermine the mythology surrounding Ukraine's own "Cyborg Soldiers".
In the annals of Ukraine's ongoing hybrid war with Russia, the "Cyborg" defenders of Donetsk International Airport occupy a position of unrivalled prestige. The handful of Ukrainian troops who held the airport complex against overwhelming odds for 242 days were first dubbed "Ukrainian Cyborgs" by their exasperated opponents. The name soon stuck, giving rise to an entire genre of memes and vivid accounts celebrating the exploits of these frontline troops.
Ukraine's cyborgs have become a source of considerable national pride and a symbol of the country's will to resist Russian aggression despite being massively outgunned by their superpower opponent. They enjoy elevated status among Ukraine's many conflict veterans and are seen as a rare example of genuine military prowess at a time when Ukrainians have had to suffer the pain and humiliation of numerous defeats.
Here's the text of the appeal to Apple in full:
I am a Ukrainian Cyborg.
I know you will watch this.
But I am not sure you know why your commercial insults me and my country.
I hope that after you hear my story, you will understand the error of your ways.
In 2014 Russian Armed Forces and their proxies attacked Ukraine. I went to defend it.
They called me a Cyborg, because I survived so long, they couldn’t believe it.
I fought every day and night, because there was a whole country behind my back.
I couldn’t use an Apple watch to send an SOS, because I was the one doing the saving.
I didn’t count circles, because the world itself seemed to circle around.
I wasn’t tracking sleeping hours, as I don’t even remember if I actually slept there.
242 days we defended the Donetsk Airport, until its walls fell.
Since the invasion, over 10,000 of MY people have been killed as a result of Russian aggression.
Today, I am alive. I’m training. I will be defending our freedom for the rest of my life.
While my country has its land illegally occupied and annexed by the Russian Federation, its people killed, tortured and kidnapped, your company has wittingly or unwittingly colluded with the Russian Federation in its propaganda war against us.
It has done so by presenting a “Russian” Cyborg”.
By the way, that railroad station in your video is still working, because I defended it.
We call for an immediate correction of the commercial.
We also call for a written apology to the Cyborgs, both living and dead, who fought on the frontlines for our common democracy.
Awaiting for your response.