Staunton, May 18 – Until Vladimir Putin launched his attack on Ukraine in 2014 and then expanded it in 2022, Russian nationalists could discuss whether it might be possible to form a triune Slavic state consisting of Russia, Ukraine and Belarus, Dimitry Savvin says. But that option no longer exists, and Russia must come up with its own plan for a nation state.
If that does not happen, the editor of the Riga-based conservative Russian nationalist Harbin portal says, then the future is bleak because in its absence, “another mutation of Sovietism will arise, either a single one or several at once” with all the tragic consequences that will entail (harbin.lv/strana-russkikh).
Putin’s actions in Ukraine have left Russians with “a single path of national development – the formation of their own national concept on the basis of Great Russian identity, not because this is good or because it is bad but rather because there are now no longer any alternatives” from which they can choose.
According to Savvin, “such a great Russian nationalism can be successful only as a modernizing project,” one based on the creation of a legal space and real competition in politics and economics. At the same time, however, it must reflect the pride Russians have in portions of their past rather than the wholesale rejection of that past.
“Great Russian nationalism,” he continues, “must close the imperial chapter of our history. But to close does not mean to trample.” Fortunately, there is in the past a basis for avoiding that tragedy: the restoration of the Old Believer traditions, less religious than communal, which promised a very different Russian future than the imperial one.
The revival of such an identity is needed not only “for a health national identity and a healthy sense of national dignity” but also to “disengage Russia from Ukraine and Belarus.” It alone will allow Russians to feel pride in themselves and to understand why “Ukraine is not Russia and vice versa.”
Having made this pivot, Savvin continues, “Great Russian nationalism must consciously adopt East European nation states as its model. It goes without saying that the nation must be civil but that a nation is also impossible without a natural ethnic core, one that in the case of Russia can be only the Great Russians.”
“Perhaps,” he concludes, “this new nation state will restore to itself the name it bore in the 17th century – Russia.” Russians must take pride in at least part of their past and they must form a Russian nation state. If they don’t, the future for them, their neighbors and many others will be bleak.
“Without a Russian nation state,” Savvin warns, “yet another mutation of Sovietism will arise on the ruins of the Russian Federation either one or several all at once.”