Staunton, Jan. 15 – Moscow media has been having a field day about the appearance of the so-called “yurts of invincibility” which have appeared in Ukrainian cities as part of Kazakh assistance to Ukraine, but in fact these buildings highlight that both Ukrainians and Kazakhs are free peoples of the steppe opposed to the Muscovite empire, Dmitry Galko says.
Putin’s expanded invasion of Ukraine beginning in February 2022 “eclipsed” the events of a month earlier when he sent troops into Kazakhstan, the opposition Belarusian commentator says; but they are instructive. In the first, the Kremlin leader retreated with nothing and in the second he is facing an even more serious loss (graniru.org/opinion/m.287089.html).
“That Kazakhstan is in the list of imperial aspirations of Russia naturally is forcing many Kazakhs to feel their closeness to Ukrainians,” Galko continues. “Their state also has been declared ‘artificial’ and something that ‘never before existed,’ their language ‘artificial,’ and efforts to develop and expand its use ‘Nazism.’”
And this appreciation by the Kazakhs has also had an impact on Ukrainians who have begun to talk more about their origins as a free people of the steppe than about their history being linked exclusively to Kievan Rus, an aspect of their history that Moscow has seized upon as being part of the Russian tradition.
This has created a “paradoxical” situation, he argues. “The more Ukraine tries to hold on to a ‘European’ note, the more it turns out to be caught in an ‘Asiatic’ trap. And conversely, viewing itself in the earlier Turkic steppe elements, it becomes more integral and … more European.”
Because its statehood like that of the Kazakhs stands opposed in history and at the present to “the bloody, barbaric, and archaic despotism” of Muscovy. Kazakhs and Ukrainians, unlike Russians, are the products not of some state or other but of “’free peoples’” of the steppe, as the ethnonym of the Kazakhs shows and as Ukrainians now appreciate.
“One would like to believe,” Galko says, “that contacts between Kazakhs and Ukrainians,” now symbolized by the yurts of invincibility, will bring each ever more benefits, while the empire which is trying to drive them back into some phantasmagorical past will fall apart.”