Monday, August 26, 2019

Many Russian-Speakers in Ukraine More Anti-Russia than Ukrainian Ones, Moscow Writer Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, August 25 – Many still think Ukraine is divided between the Russian-speaking east and the Ukrainian-speaking west, Olga Derkul says; but “the conflict is complicated,” with “an enormous number of Russian-speaking Russophobes who, in their hatred to Russia and pro-Russian fellow citizens, are ready to go much further than the Galician Banderites.”

            On the Rhythm of Eurasia portal, the Moscow commentator argues that the Russophobia “feeds the civil war in Ukraine and forms a self-reproducing system which doesn’t allow the country to break out of the Maidan paradigm (

            If one ignores the pro-Kremlin writer’s insistence that what is going on in Ukraine is a civil war and not resistance to an invasion by Moscow, Derkul’s words represent one of the clearest rejections by a Russian writer of the Kremlin’s chances in Ukraine and of Putin’s faith in the existence of a Russian world that will ultimately bring Ukraine back into Russia’s orbit.

            Her argument is likely to appeal to many Russians precisely because it arises from a Soviet conception of national identity. “According to the classic political science definition,” Derkul says, “a nation is an historically evolved stable community of people living on a common territory, and having a common culture, language and self-consciousness.” 

            “Present-day Ukraine as a state first appeared on the world map in 1991 and cannot be considered a national one.” It does not rest on “a historic community of people” and its territory is “a patchwork quilt.” And it is not united by “a common culture, faith, language, history, or a common understanding of the interests of society.”

            Moreover, Derkul says, Ukraine did not undergo the struggle for independence that might have forged a nation. Instead, “independence fell on Ukrainians after the disintegration of the USSR along with its borders. As a result, people not unified by anything except these borders found themselves in a single state.”

            “But if the state exists and the people doesn’t,” she continues, “there always will be found technologists who will want to create it.” And their definition of their task was provided by Leoonid Kuchma in his book, Ukraine is Not Russia.” That is, the country was defined by negation and on the basis of ideas imported from the diaspora.

            Russian speakers and Ukrainian speakers have both been influenced by that ideology, Derkul says. A majority of those who took part in the Maidan were Russian speakers, and “60 percent of those who have died in fighting for a free and independent Ukraine were Russian speakers” (

            Independent polls show that Russophobia is deeply rooted among Russian speakers in Ukraine, Derkul says ( and that 22 percent of Russian speakers in Ukraine are prepared to see Ukrainian studied more hours a week than Russian.

            At the same time, Derkul suggests, “one should not be under any illusion that those who do not support the Kyiv regime are not Russophobes.” They are upset with Russia from the other side, upset that it has not done more to support them and their position in Ukraine. In short, Moscow can’t count on the Russian speakers of Ukraine to support it. 

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