Friday, October 13, 2023

Moscow Increasingly View Russians and Ukrainians Not as One People But Two, with Russians as Superior and Ukrainians as 'a Lower Race,' Etkind Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Oct. 10 – Several years ago, Vladimir Putin wrote an essay in which he insisted that Russians and Ukrainians are a single people; but now, Aleksandr Etkind says, the war has caused many Russians including their rulers to view Russians as superior to Ukrainians who are now seen as “a lower race.”

            “Those who now sit in trenches or are involved in the management or administration of the occupied territories” have a very different view of the relationship between Russians and Ukrainians than the one Putin presented, the Russian professor at Vienna’s Central European University says (

            According to Etkind, these people start from the proposition that “Ukrainians are a lower race which is not capable of administering itself, must be ordered about, must be exploited and which one can kill” or even seek to destroy entirely.”

            “In short, these are two ideas: one is that ‘Russians and Ukrainians are one people” but the other is that ‘Russians are a higher race and all the rest are a lower one.’ These are deeply contradictory thoughts.” At present, they coexist within Russian imperialist thought, although ultimately a choice must be made – and developments suggest the second will win out.

            If that happens, it will be a tragedy for Russia in the first instance, Etkind says, and fully justifies his conclusion that “after Ivan the Terrible, no one has inflicted such harm on Russian culture, Russian identity and the relations of Russians with other peoples than the current Kremlin president.”

            As a result of Putin’s action, it is possible the Russian Federation will disintegrate, Etkind continues. In that event, there will be wars, border conflicts and other horrors. “Some places will be democratic, others will be autocracies or theocracies – or something else that humanity hasn’t yet invented. But these will reflect the free choices of free peoples.”

            He concludes that “the worst that could happen, short of a full-scale nuclear war, has already happened.” And those thinking about the possible demise of the Russian Federation must reflect upon that fact.

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