Monday, June 14, 2021

For Younger Russians, an Independent Ukraine is ‘a Natural Phenomenon,’ Makarkin Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, June 12 – For Russians over 60 like Vladimir Putin whose worldview was formed in Soviet times, an independent Ukraine may seem like an anomaly that must be reversed; but for younger Russians who’ve come of age over the last 30 years, Ukraine as an independent country is an entirely natural part of their mental landscape, Aleksey Makarkin says.

            The desire of some older Russians, like Vladislav Surkov, to recover Ukraine as they see it is “in no small way connected not with current challenges but with an existential problem,” the Moscow analyst says. They do not recognize how much has changed and how rapidly it continues to do so (

            2021 marks “the 30th year of contemporary independent Ukraine,” Makarkin continues. Moreovewr, “already seven years have passed since the Maidan which destroyed hopes for the inclusion of Ukraine into the Customs and then the Eurasian Ukraine, and also after the failure of the Novorossiya project.”

            Those who experienced the initial loss not surprisingly want to recover it just as the Bolsheviks never forgot about what they had to give up at Brest-Litovsk and used World War II nearly 30 years later to get it back, the analyst says. But that is only one of the generational shifts at work.

            For new generations of Russians, “Ukrainian independence is a natural phenomenon. They studied in school political maps of the world in which Ukraine was shown in a different color than Russia. They have many fewer emotional recollections and many connections have been broken or weakened.”

            “And if the attitudes of people of the older generation and in part the middle aged may rapidly be influenced by television, younger people view television much less often or not at all. This is still one additional confirmation that time is passing and emotions are intensifying,” Makarkin says, and not all in the direction the Putins and Surkovs want.

            According to the analyst, “politicians of the past try to justify themselves in order to remain in history who sought to save the Union.” That is very much on view in Russia today. But politicians of the present and future have different goals. They accept such things as the independence of Ukraine and focus on doing what they can for Russia.

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