Friday, March 14, 2014

A Russian's View of Ukraine

Guest post by Baloo:

I'm taking this one, because I'm a bit more familiar with things Russian than Ex-Army is. First, this comment appeared on the post, "Ethno-Linguistic Map of Ukraine". You should probably read that first to see what Valery Revyakin is reacting to.

Valery Revyakin

I can't really say that tartars are "fiercely anti-russian". I'd like to say that they were made to be "anti-russian" with the help of their social order, which nearly all really muslim nationalities have. I'd like to say more: it's a myth that all crimean tartars are antirussian. All they want is to be a rehabilitated nation in the borders of their motherland, that historically Crimea is. And what I should say more: all this ukrainian crisis and it's geography is just strictly tied up to what we call in russian culture "sacred things", that lies in a basis of our ethnical self-indification. These ''sacred things'' are our language, our history, our heroes (our ww2 veterans),our enemies,our culture. The truth is that Ukraine cannot be just ''one nation state'' in it's present borders. And ''cultural politics'' taken by the authorities of these countries during the last 23 years was to make it ''one nation state'', and that was a real ''mental injury'' for those people who identify themselves as russians. Here I should say that being russian isnot just an ethnicity matter, it's something more and I really can't explain it in english. People are just afraid of being culturally rebuilt, we call it here a ''cultural henocide'', cause new ukrainian authorities are driven by pure nationalist ideas. Those people are ideological ancestors of german fascism and were always identified as enemies in russian culture, that's the part of our so called ''sacred things''. People want to join Russia just to be culturally and ideologically safe, cause they know that it would be the end of their lives as russians. If you really want to know why those people were afraid of it, I recommend you to see some articles on it.Организация_украинских_националистов_(бандеровское_движение)

And what people are afraid of is that those nationalist are seriously sponsored by western countries and US with the help of organisations like USAid. I recommend you to browse the russian segment of the internet if you wanna see what this conflict is all about. There you can find much more information on this theme. And yes...criseses like this one is the general purpose why we hate americans here, that's a threat to our national safety. Sorry for my english, I can understand everything clearly, but I have problems expressing my ideas in it :)
Baloo here again: I can't claim any first-hand knowledge of any of this, but I spent some time in college, 40-odd years ago, studying the Russian language primarily, and Russian literature and history secondarily. I can say that there's a cultural divide between Western Europe and Russia, and always has been. No matter how much the people involve emphasize differences between the cultures of Germany, France, Italy, Poland, Britain, etc., to an outsider, Western culture looks like a unity, and when you look beyond Western Europe and its diaspora in the US and Australia, etc., it will look that way to you, also. Note that I'm not saying it has to be a hostile divide, but it is clearly a cultural divide.  In the 19th Century and before, there was a philosophical struggle between Westernizers and Slavophiles there. The Westernizers being typified by Peter the Great, who desired to make Russia into a full-fledged European county, and the Slavophiles resisting this, wanting Russia to develop along traditional Slavic lines. In a way, the Bolshevik revolution was a synthesis of these two views — Borrowing a Western philosophy while being hostile to the West in general, and handily combining the old Russian commune idea with Marxist theory. That's the broad background as I see it.

As for Tatars, there seems to be a quarter million of them just in the Crimea, so they have to be taken into account. What I know of them is that they're ethnically Turkic, primarily Sunni Muslim, and largely speakers of Crimean Tatar, a language pretty opaque to Indo-European speakers like us.

Spengler though of history in terms of Great Cultures — Classical, Islamic, Western, in the area we're talking about, and separate from all of them, Russian culture. Western culture has never been a political unit, but Russian culture has, in the form of the Russian Empire, roughly coterminous with the culture itself. It's hard for an American to understand, because we're a new country, basically a branch of the British subculture, with influences from the rest of Europe and a few other places, and our culture is a subdivision of the West. To Russia, the West is foreign. Now, I'd guess that Ukraine is right smack in the middle.  Poland, say, is Western. Thoroughly, despite its Slavic language. Byelorussia, north of Ukraine, I would guess is thoroughly Russian culturally. Ukraine seems to be Russian, culturally and linguistically, in the North and South and in Crimea.  The West, I gather, being Polish-influenced and largely belonging to the "Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church," seems to belong to the cultural West.

My conclusion, until somebody corrects me, is that Ukraine is intrinsically an unstable state, and that something like this was bound to happen sooner or later, especially with the historical accident that Crimea wound up as part of Ukraine politically, which doesn't make a lot of sense. Also, as Valery suggests, the events of WWII are still reverberating. Descendants of the Ukrainians who quite understandably turned on Stalin for Holodomor and other reasons form at least part of the Ukrainian nationalist movement. And the Russians and pro-Russians in Ukraine are quite understandably fearful of them. 

I'm not saying that the US shouldn't have anything to say about all of this (although if we do, we should find a spokesman who can pronounce "tabula rasa" correctly), but it is clear that the simplistic blather about democracy and self-determination and other buzz words aren't helpful.

I have great esteem for the Ukrainians and the Russians, and I hope that this ends up with both peoples satisfied with the result. We in the West could use allies against the tumultuous Third World, and this would be an idiotic time to renew the Cold War.

I call on any of my Russian or Ukrainian readers to comment and clarify all this for us.
Quibcag: People mostly think of Tolstoy as an old guy, but when he was young, he was a soldier in the Caucasus, chaotic then as it is now. So he knew something about war.  The war girl is from HERE.


  1. the Crimean Tatars are the remnant of the Golden Horde that once ruled Russia, There is little love (probably measurable in negative numbers) lost between them and the ethnic Russians, or the Ukrainians for that matter.

  2. This is my own opinion.

    We, ukrainians and russians and belorussians, are feeling that we are single nation, except nationalists on west Ukraine with anti russian and pro west ideas.
    I think that cause of rising nationalism in west Ukraine are actions of pro west forces in last years. Finance comes from west and this supports opposition nationalist forces. That is tears off western people from eastern people.
    Moreover, the goverment of Ukraine is very corrupted and weakened. This is cause of very serious moves of opposition.
    And revolutions in countries of Near East has support from one origin. So they has similar scenarios.
    Special topic - Crimea. It is strategical regoin for Russia. You can know about it in internet.
    Most of people are agree with our president. Partially because cental media. But those, who use internet to get information, can see that west is making a huge effort to drag Ukraine into the EU.

    West goes to the territory of our interests. We defend ourselves as best we can. Russia wants stability in region.
    I am programmer from Ural. Sorry for my english.