‘Gaslit Nation’ Co-Host Andrea Chalupa Tells Why It’s Called ‘Ukraine’ and Not ‘The Ukraine’ (Podcast)

Language matters

Andrea Chalupa, co-host of the new podcast “Gaslit Nation,” has spent the last two years warning people about President Trump’s ties to Russia. She’s especially conscious of Russian propaganda — and how even something like adding a “the” before “Ukraine” plays into Vladimir Putin’s push for power.

You can listen to her on our new “Shoot This Now” podcast, where we talk about stories that should be made into movies. You can listen on Apple or on Spotify or just listen right here. (The part about “Ukraine” vs. “The Ukraine” is at the six-minute mark.)

“Post-USSR, it’s been really important for Ukraine to really break out of Russia’s orbit,” she explains. “Putin really wants to keep Ukraine in Russia’s orbit. And dropping the ‘the’ really sort of breaks away and reminds the world that Ukraine is not a region of Russia — because normally you say ‘the’ before regions. Ukraine is a country. It’s not a region of any other country.”

Chalupa joined “Shoot This Now” to talk about why Ira Aldridge, a slavery-era Shakespearean actor who denounced slavery from the stage, deserves his own movie. Chalupa has Ukrainian roots, and one facet of Aldridge’s story is his unlikely friendship with Taras Shevchenko, who was born a serf but eventually bought his way to freedom and became Ukraine’s most celebrated poet and writer.

Though they couldn’t have been more different culturally, and barely spoke each other’s languages, a 15-year-old girl in Leo Tolstoy’s family served as their translator, helping them bond over their love of art, music, and a commitment to equality.

“Gaslit Nation,” which Chalupa hosts with Sarah Kendzior, aims to provide a sane place for listeners trying to make sense of a world that seems to have gone mad. They shine light on Russia’s use of Ukraine as a testing ground for the kinds of propaganda actions that Russia later inflicted on the U.S. in the 2016 presidential election.

One of their points is that words matter — even “the.”

Check out “Gaslit Nation” here.