Bezpalko says he is “surprised” that Zhebrivsky “did not include in the Ukrainian land the Gray Wedge and the Green Wedge,” the first of which is what Ukrainians who live in the Middle Volga call their region and the second is what some call Ukrainian settlements in the Russian Far East.
The notion that such places could be combined with Ukraine proper is “absolutely unrealistic,” he continues, and any talk about such things is only intended to encourage Ukrainians in Ukraine at what is a difficult time for them.
Like most Moscow people now, Bezpalko says that “Ukrainians, Belarusians and Russians are one large people” and that today “Ukrainian identity has shifted from one based on blood or even culture” to one based on “ideology” alone. You are a Ukrainian if you support Ukraine regardless of your family background; you aren’t if you don’t.
“Today,” he says, “a struggle for the hearts and minds of people is going on so that they will choose this or that ideology.” And in that regard, Bezpalko says, Zhebrivsky’s words constitute “a small dollop of danger.” Ukraine isn’t going to conquer any Russian territory, but such ideas sow “the seeds of doubt” among some.
That “ideological danger” must be fought, “above all by reviving our common Russian ideology,” one that “in contrast to Ukrainian nationalism,” the Moscow writer says, we base on genuine values and real heroes.” Ukrainians don’t have any and that is something Russia should constantly point out.
Russians should also point out that Ukrainian culture “has rural roots” and that whatever urban culture there was on the territory of the former Ukrainian SSR had “Russian, German or Polish roots.” Ukrainians refuse to see this and thus “Ukrainianism is like Russophobia” rather than a genuine national identity.
If one substitutes the word Russian for where Bezpalko uses the word Ukrainian, one can see how quickly his argument and that of the Kremlin collapses – and also how talk about Ukrainians and Ukrainian lands inside the current borders of the Russian Federation really can become a “wedge” issue after all.