Ukraine has officially won the “war over borscht”, now that UNESCO has recognized the red beet soup as a Ukrainian dish, placing it on the list of intangible cultural heritage in need of urgent safeguarding. Ukrainian minister of culture Oleksandr Tkachenko announced the decision on his Facebook page.
“The victory in the war over borscht is ours! (...) The battle of borscht started well before the war. No matter how many times [Russian MFA spokesperson] Maria Zakharova insists that ‘cookbooks were banned, the recipe was kept in secret, and cooking it was prohibited’ and that Ukrainian borscht is a ‘manifestation of extremism and Nazism’, the dish is officially Ukrainian and has been placed under the official protection of UNESCO. I want you to remember one thing: rest assured that we will win this war just like we have won the war over borscht.”
In 2021, the Ukrainian foreign ministry submitted a file for consideration by UNESCO on including the “Culture of Ukrainian borscht cooking” in the global list of intangible cultural heritage. The nomination was up for consideration in 2023 but the hostilities in Ukraine have put borscht at risk, determining the urgent need for its protection.
In April, Maria Zakharova slammed Ukraine’s unwillingness to share borscht as an act of “xenophobia, Nazism, and extremism”.
“Why? Because you can’t share borscht, [they say]. It is simply not done; it can belong to only one nation. To a single people, to a single ethnicity. Making it a common heritage and saying that every household in every city or region could have their version of it is impossible. They are opposed to any compromise. So this is exactly what we call xenophobia, Nazism, and extremism in all their forms.”