Friday, May 13, 2022

Kremlin Policies Show that ‘War is Connected with Language More than We Think,’ Aysin Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, May 1 – Formally in 2014, Moscow justified its invasion of Ukraine by declaring that Kyiv was destroying the Russian language, Ruslan Aysin says. And while everyone recognized that this was only a pretext, the fact that the Kremlin did so shows that “war is connected with language more than we think.”

            In the eight years since, the Kremlin has attacked non-Russian languages within the current borders of the Russian Federation and attacked Ukraine and other neighbors for their support of other languages at the expense of Russian, the political scientist at IdelReal continues (

            But even as Moscow has used the defense of Russian as justification for its aggressive approach, it has attacked the Russian language itself as can be seen by the degradation of htat tongue in the speech of Russian soldiers. They now speak not with the Russian people knew in the past but in “the language of enmity and hatred,” Aysin says.

            In Putin’s view, the analyst continues, language invariably carries with it a worldview and thus if one can ensure that people speak only the language preferred by the ruler, he can control his subjects far more easily. Indeed, he appears to believe that language is the only thing that can and does tie people together.

            He thus ignores the fact that in many cases, nations who share a common language may be very different on a whole range of other things and may often come into conflict because of that. Putin therefore did not and does not understand that his attack on languages other than his own leads to resistance on the basis of other things as well.

            And that failure of understanding explains both why he does not, even cannot see that forced promotion of Russian both inside and outside the country is having exactly the opposite result that he says he wants, elevating the importance of non-Russian languages even among those who had been using it before his campaigns.

            Aysin suggests that speakers of these languages should recognize both their importance and Putin’s failure and use their languages as part of “a political toolkit and ideological factor” that can help them better resist what the Kremlin leader is trying to do under his false flag of defending the Russian language.

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