Imperial State Civilisation vs. the Nation State

Viktor Medvedchuk, Ukraine’s most famous pro-Moscow billionaire/politician with close connections to Putin, was handed over to Russia in September 2022 as part of a prisoner exchange. Since settling in Moscow, Medvedchuk—unsurprisingly—has refused to criticise the Kremlin for invading Ukraine and instead has blamed “the collective West” for escalating the conflict. More surprising, perhaps, is a remark Medvedchuk made in an interview with the Independent newspaper back in 2018. He disclosed Putin’s thinking on the entitlements of the so-called state-civilisation: “Putin thinks we are one nation, but I think it’s not one nation, but two Slavic nations, with intertwined histories, religion. I tell him this all the time. I don’t think it’s one nation. You simply can’t say this.” If Putin had succeeded in vanquishing Ukraine in a matter of weeks, as apparently was the plan, he would have achieved a naked geopolitical conquest of great significance, no less than if Beijing could subjugate Taiwan in a matter of weeks. The imperialist assumptions inherent in the state-civilisation concept require our urgent attention.

This essay appears in May’s Quadrant.
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In 2009, a year after the death of Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Putin visited the cemetery of Donskoy Monastery in Moscow. He placed flowers at the graves of three important advocates of Ukraine’s incorporation into Greater Russia: White Army commander Anton Denekin; the arch-conservative philosopher Ivan Ilyin and the famous Soviet dissident Solzhenitsyn. It did not matter to Putin that all three were fervent anti-communists; their belief in the indivisibility of Greater Russia and “a strong Russian state” was what made them worth commemorating: “Their main trait was deep devotion to their homeland, Russia, they were true patriots.” Vladimir Lenin, on the other hand, earns Putin’s ire in his essay On the Historical Unity of Russians and Ukrainians because the founder of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics insisted—over Stalin’s objections—on recognising the right of its constituent republics “to freely secede” from the Union, a tacit acknowledgment of their distinctiveness. This, according to Putin, was a “time bomb” waiting to explode when the “safety mechanisms” of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) were gone. Putin, at the start of his third term as president of the Russian Federation, began using the expression “state-civilisation” to explain Ukraine’s inseparableness from Russia and justify his neo-imperialist ambitions.

Owen Matthews, in Overreach (2022), might be right to say that the vision Putin employed to justify his invasion of Ukraine “was based not on imperialism but ethno-nationalism”. But it was a plagiarised vision, borrowed from Denekin, Ilyin, Solzhenitsyn and their latter-day counterparts. The cause of ethno-nationalism, for Putin, has been an ideological cloak to disguise his KGB—though not Marxist-Leninist—revanchism. The real tragedy of the dissolution of the Soviet Union, from this perspective, was the geopolitical one. The thirty million or so Russian speakers left living outside the borders of the Russian Federation were less a tragedy for Putin and his allies than an opportunity to reconstitute, in some form or another, Stalin’s empire. It is for this reason that Putin has become more ambiguous (or generous) on the role of Stalin in Russian history. In 2017, for instance, Putin placed a wreath at the Wall of Sorrows, a memorial to the victims of Stalin’s tyranny, and made these remarks: “The idea of a monument to the victims of political repression was born in the distant years of the ‘thaw’, but such memorials were created only in the past decades.” This would have pleased Solzhenitsyn were he still alive. Nonetheless, that same year Putin characterised Stalin as a “complex” figure in an Oliver Stone film: “It seems to me that the excessive demonisation of Stalin is one way to attack the Soviet Union and Russia—to show that Russia still bears the birthmarks of Stalinism. We all have some birthmarks, so what?”

Anti-communists such as Denekin, Ilyin and Solzhenitsyn would never have used the words “safety mechanism” to describe the CPSU as Putin does in On the Historical Unity. The Russian president turns out to be not so much an ethno-nationalist as a neo-imperialist. Putin, after Solzhenitsyn died, was emboldened to differentiate Stalin-the-tyrant from Stalin-the-Nazi-slayer. From Solzhenitsyn’s point of view, the Soviet Union produced a seventy-four-year eclipse of Russian civilisation. Nothing short of the dissolution of the USSR and the demise of communist totalitarianism would allow for Russia’s revival. For Putin, however, the Russian world was never extinguished. Though the Russian people suffered “political repression”, Stalin’s Red Army not only defeated Nazi Germany but extended the Soviet empire all the way to the heart of Europe with so-called “spheres of interest” in Hungary, Poland, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Romania, East Germany and later China, Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Africa, Cuba, the Middle East et al. The Cold War was about Moscow directly opposing and competing with the only other post-war superpower.

Vladimir Putin, the young KGB agent stationed in Dresden, had been programmed to abhor the West and view it as an existential threat to Soviet-style socialism. That threat, going by the events of 1989 to 1991, turned out to be real. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Putin pragmatically abandoned Marxism-Leninism, leaving him in want of a rationale for his fear and loathing of the West and a pathway for Russia becoming great again. The works and exploits of Denekin, Ilyin and Solzhenitsyn inspired Putin, but the political philosophy of Alexander Dugin gave Putin’s neo-imperialist ambitions (and the justifications of Putin’s defenders in Russia and elsewhere) a contemporary dimension. The hegemonistic strategy of the West, according to Dugin, has been to advance the idea of a universal human civilisation (based on Western precepts) to the detriment of all those who identify with a non-Western civilisation. The remedy for people opposed to cultural extinction is to join forces with other anti-Westerners. As Dugin writes in the article “Huntington, Fukuyama and Eurasianism”:

We must organise the common front of civilisations against one civilisation which pretends to be the civilisation in singular. The priority common enemy is globalism and the United States, which is now its principal vector. The more the peoples of the Earth will be convinced of that, the more the confrontations between non-Western civilisations can be reduced. If there must be a “clash” of civilisations, it has to be a clash between the West and the “rest of the world”. And Eurasianism is the political formula which suits the “rest”.

Dugin’s importance to Putin has been questioned given that, reputedly, the two are rarely seen together and Dugin is not a member of Putin’s regular inner circle. But Rebekah Koffler, former senior analyst for Russian Doctrine and Strategy at the Defense Intelligence Agency, argues in Putin’s Playbook: Russia’s Secret Plan to Defeat America (2021) that Dugin’s 1997 book Foundations of Geopolitics made him popular among Russia’s military and political elites, especially those looking for a way to restore Russia’s great power (derzhava) status. Dugin might not be “Putin’s brain”, as some have claimed, but Foundations of Geopolitics identified key positions that Putin would come to adopt. For instance, if Russia were to retake its rightful place in the global scheme of things, America had to be challenged, undermined and thwarted at every turn. One passage Koffler quotes from Foundations of Geopolitics could have been lifted from Colonel Putin’s old KGB rulebook: “It is especially important to introduce geopolitical disorder into America’s reality; to encourage separatism and ethnic, social, and racial conflicts; actively support dissident movements [and] extremist, racist groups and sects; and destabilise internal processes.” Koffler adds that Dugin’s worldview did not only influence Russia’s president but also “the General Staff, which is in charge of developing Russia’s warfighting doctrine and strategy”. Moreover, Dugin’s ideas were heavily promoted, from 2012, by pro-Moscow political entities in Ukraine such as the For Life party.   

One of the ironies of Dugin’s self-styled Eurasianism is that it takes Samuel P. Huntington’s “The Clash of Civilisations” thesis, which warned of future challenges facing the United States after the Cold War, and inverts its conclusion. For Huntington, the peace of the world requires America to be the protector of the international order. To do so, Washington has to be alert to the peril of playing global guardian in a world of civilisational divergency. For Dugin, conversely, it is the world’s civilisational divergency that needs protecting from America:

Westernism is not solely an intellectual position, but simultaneously a contagious disease and a betrayal of the fatherland. It is for that reason that we must restlessly fight the West … In fighting against the West, the Russians affirm themselves as Russians, belonging to Russian culture, to Russian history, to Russian values.

Thus, a multipolar world—as in the Cold War—was preferable to the unipolar vision devised by and most expedient for the United States. Not surprisingly, member states of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, which includes Russia, China and soon Iran, claimed in their 2022 Samarkand Declaration that the touchstone in “shared destiny for humanity” must be “civilisational diversity”.

Civilisational diversity sounds innocuous enough, but when it comes to Russia, China and Iran, we are talking about the prioritisation of empire over the modern concept of the nation-state. If Taiwan, for instance, possess its own liberal constitution, independent judiciary, democratic parliament and self-activating armed forces, then ipso facto it is a sovereign state on the same footing as any another sovereign state. Beijing’s claims on Taiwan, given that the island-nation has never been a part of the People’s Republic of China, only makes sense in terms of China and Taiwan (and Tibet, Manchuria, Mongolia and Xinjiang) all belonging to the same state-civilisation. This, of course, is why the Chinese Communist Party declares itself to be the vanguard of a superior and continuous civilisation that has as its unlikely genesis the mythical Red Emperor back in 2698 BC. Putin made a similar historical allusion in On the Historical Unity: “Russians, Ukrainians and Belarusians are all descendants of Ancient Rus …”

There are three major problems with Putin’s state-civilisation creed as it applies to Ukraine and beyond, and all three are connected. First, the idea that the citizens of the Russian Federation and the citizens of Ukraine should be conjoined in one political entity is based on an improbable chronicle of history. According to Timothy Snyder, specialist in Central and Eastern European history, Putin claims that the people of Russia, Belarus and Ukraine are forever bound together because a Viking named Valdemar captured the city of Kyiv in the tenth century and converted to Christianity around 987. Snyder, in “The War in Ukraine is a Colonial War”, argues that the lengthy and murky events following Valdemar’s demise in 1015 “do not reveal a timeless empire” but a splintering tribal scenario with “no succession principle”. Putin, in this sense at least, is a throwback: “An ageing tyrant, obsessed by his legacy, seizes upon a lofty illusion that seems to confer immortality: the ‘unity’ of Russia and Ukraine.”

Although Kyiv fell to the Mongols in 1240, and Lithuanian dukes and Polish nobles later ruled over a people who spoke the Ukrainian tongue, the idea of Ukrainian self-determination was never entirely extinguished: even if, from 1569 onwards, “Kyiv was no longer a source of law but an object of it” and Polish colonisation of Ukraine “resembled and in some measure enabled the European colonisation of the wider world”. In the following century, pro-Polish Cossack clans associated with Hetman Ivan Vyhovsky fought internecine wars with Hetman Yuri Khmelnitsky and his (often) pro-Russian clans. This development, maintains the Ukrainian writer Andrey Kurkov, “only strengthened the political influence of Moscow in the territory of today’s Ukraine”. In Ukrainian school history textbooks, that catastrophic era is referred to as “The Ruins”.

The Poles and the Russians, down through the centuries, discouraged or even prohibited the Ukrainian language, and so it often survived the effects of colonial marginalisation in rural settings. This, in turn, allowed Russians to disparage Ukrainian as nothing more than the primitive utterances of uneducated country-dwellers, as per Tsar Nicholas II’s alleged opinion on the subject: “There is no Ukrainian language, just illiterate peasants speaking Little Russian.” Today we have the work of philologists such as Andriy Danylenko, a professor of Slavic languages, to verify the cultural and historical specificity of the Ukrainian language and people, notwithstanding the Russification of Ukraine (especially but not only in the east and south). Over time the Ukrainian language not only endured but experienced revivals, as in nineteenth-century Galicia, the Ukrainian-speaking territory of the Austro-Hungarian empire. Putin, in On the Historical Unity, accounts for Imperial Vienna’s endorsement of the Ukrainian language as an attempt at “a counterbalance to the Polish national movement and the pro-Muscovite sentiments in Galicia”. 

This brings us to Putin’s second conceptual mistake: to persuade himself that Ukrainian nationalism is not genuine but part of an anti-Russian conspiracy. Ukrainian historian Georgiy Kasianov, in “The War Over Ukrainian Identity”, argues that Putin’s Great Russia narrative has blinded him to the reality of a long-emerging form of Ukrainian separatism, one that uses history for its political purpose as does Putin’s own narrative. Kasianov cites the life and work of Mykhailo Hrushevsky, seminal writer and president of Ukraine’s first independent parliament from 1917 to 1918, as the prism through which today’s citizens of Ukraine—rural Ukrainian-only speakers, Russian-only speakers, bilingual speakers, Jews, Tatars, ethnic Poles, ethnic Hungarians and Bulgarians and so on—view the world in general and Russia in particular. It is the narrative now taught in all Ukrainian schools (apart from those in the occupied territories) and appears to be no less persuasive than the Great Russia narrative imparted in the Russian Federation and the occupied territories of Ukraine. The ultimate destination of Ukrainian nationalism, as delineated by Hrushevsky, was always an independent nation-state à la Poland. Its final goal? National sovereignty and full integration into the West.

Putin’s denial of a separate historical Ukrainian identity has led him to blame Lenin for creating the division between Ukraine and Russia. The truth, insists Snyder, “is close to the opposite”. The reality of the Ukrainian National Republic, founded with German and Austrian support in 1917 and crushed by the Red Army in 1920, forced Lenin and the victorious Bolsheviks to configure their new communist empire as a federation, if in name only. The inhabitants of Soviet Ukraine underwent a range of experiences as a member state of the Soviet Union. On the negative side, there was the crackdown against local artists in the late 1920s and 1930s, and then the horror of the Holodomor terror-famine in 1933-34, in which Ukrainian peasants were brutally exploited to subsidise Stalin’s first Five-Year Plan. On the positive side, it was anticipated at the foundation of the USSR that Ukrainian would be the dominant language in Soviet Ukraine. That said, it was the Russian tongue rather than Ukrainian that grew in influence over time, not least because Russian was the prestige language of the USSR. Putin can point to the benefits enjoyed by Ukraine during the Soviet era, including the extensive industrialisation of the Donbas region and the provision of ready markets in Moscow and St Petersburg. Economic development in the east provided work and material progress for Ukrainians but also brought ethnic Russians to the region and contributed to its Russification, a situation Putin’s regime has exploited in later years for its own purposes. The nature of the Soviet Ukraine era might be summarised by the fact that in 1945 the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic was an original member of the United Nations and yet its independence on the world stage over the ensuing forty-six years was always an illusion.

It is not unreasonable, then, to assume that many Ukrainians saw the dissolution of the USSR as less of a catastrophe than an unforeseen historical opportunity. Kyiv, admittedly, signed the Alma-Ata Protocol in 1991 and thereby joined the Russian inter-governmental organisation known as the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). But membership of the CIS did not compromise Ukraine’s newly attained autonomy—and, in any case, Ukraine stopped participating in the CIS long before it formally left the ill-defined body in 2018. Legally speaking, at least, the entity known as the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic was superseded by the sovereign state of Ukraine, ratified by the Ukrainian people on December 1, 1991. That day some 92.3 per cent of the population voted “Yes” in the Declaration of Independence of Ukraine referendum.

Today, of course, a powerful form of patriotism has united the Ukrainian people as never before. This is Putin’s third conceptual mistake—to believe his long-standing intervention in Ukraine could only be a positive from his perspective. We might begin with his support of Viktor Yanukovych to win the 2004 presidential election against Viktor Yushchenko. Four times Putin descended upon Ukraine to make his position absolutely clear. His meddling backfired when Yanukovych won the election only to be confronted by a storm of protests claiming that pro-Russia elements in the government and bureaucracy had rigged the vote in favour of the pro-Russia candidate. The Supreme Court of Ukraine, caught in the midst of the Orange Revolution, called for fresh elections. On this occasion, with better international oversight in place, Yushchenko defeated Yanukovych—but the latter was not yet done as Putin’s man. Improbably enough, Yanukovych won the 2010 presidential election despite a poor showing in western and central Ukraine. In the east and south of the country, however, the pro-Russia candidate over-performed. This time the Supreme Court of Ukraine decided against annulling the poll. Yanukovych—as Putin’s marionette—was in an untenable position given the overall mood of the Ukrainian people. Yanukovych’s unsustainable role as both president of an independent republic and Putin’s proxy came to a head in November 2013. The Kremlin insisted he veto a looming political association and free-trade agreement with the European Union and instead choose closer ties with Russia and its Eurasian Economic Union. Yanukovych’s capitulation to Moscow was his undoing. His hold on power did not survive the Maidan Uprising—he eventually fled to Russia in what has been called the Revolution of Dignity. Putin retaliated in 2014 by initiating the war in the Donbas and unilaterally annexing Crimea. And then the invasion on February 24, 2022.

Whereas more than 80 per cent of locals had a “good attitude” to Russia in May 2013, according to the Kyiv Institute of Sociology, by May 2022 that figure had plummeted to 2 per cent. We can presume that Russia’s unyielding attacks on Ukraine’s civilian infrastructure, leaving millions without homes, electricity, water and heat, will have only strengthened the belief amongst Ukrainians that Putin’s Russian Federation is enemy number one, a conviction likely to endure for years, decades and maybe beyond. Putin’s brutality has changed everything. For the people of Ukraine, their history intertwined with Russia for bad but also for good, not unlike the tangled story of Ireland and Britain, their outsized eastern neighbour is now an anathema.

We see the same story being played out between China and Taiwan. Xi Jinping, not unlike Putin, believes that any territory previously occupied by one of China’s past dynastic realms must be ruled by Beijing—be it Tibet, Manchuria, Xinjiang, Mongolia or Taiwan. They all belong to China because China is the custodian of a state-civilisation. Although Taiwan might share some of the same cultural heritage as mainland China, the burgeoning of democracy on the island-nation after the lifting of martial law in 1987 has changed everything. For instance, David C. Schak, in Civility and Its Development: The Experiences of China and Taiwan (2018), makes a solid sociological case that civility, in the form of politeness, courtesy and kindness in speech and behaviour, has transformed Taiwanese society from an authoritarian and compliant one under Chiang Kai-shek into something utterly distinct from the social mores in China.

Along the same lines, modern-day sensibilities or norms in Ukraine are entirely different from those in Russia, maintains Andrey Kurkov in Diary of an Invasion (2022), and Putin’s obliviousness to that reality “has fortified the Ukrainian national spirit”. As a result, previously consequential pro-Moscow Ukrainians, such as Viktor Medvedchuk, “simply belong to a past era, a very distant one”. Kurkov contrasts the individualism and liberalism of Ukrainians and their scepticism of government authority with the political passivity and state-worship so prevalent in Russia: “If [the Ukrainians] do not like the actions of the authorities, they go out and create ‘Maidans’. Any government in Ukraine is afraid of the ‘street’, afraid of its people.” As a consequence, the idea that the Orange Revolution and the Revolution of Dignity, not to mention Ukraine’s current resistance against the Russian Army, are not home-grown but the product of a Western anti-Moscow conspiracy, sounds absurd. Kurkov encapsulates the spirit of Ukrainian patriotism in this powerful passage:     

Ukraine has given me thirty years of life without censorship, without dictatorship, without control over what I wrote and what I said. For this, I am infinitely grateful to my country. I now understand very well that if Russia succeeds in seizing Ukraine, all the freedoms that the citizens are so used to will be lost, together with the independence of our state. While soldiers are fighting with weapons in their hands in the east and the south of Ukraine, writers are fighting on the information front against fake news and false narratives by which Russia is trying to justify its aggression to the residents of other countries and continents.

Post-Cold War Ukraine, notwithstanding early economic dependence on Russia, persistently high levels of corruption and a less-than-independent judiciary, is a prime example of political factors being more important than (authentic and imagined) shared civilisational ties. The case of Volodymyr Zelenskyy, a native Russian-speaker born in the old Soviet-style industrial city of Kryvyi Rih, is as good example as any of the un-Russian sensibilities of modern-day Ukraine. His Servant of the People party and his own national fame have their origins in a satirical television show, and he won the second round of the 2019 presidential elections—on an anti-establishment and anti-corruption ticket—with 73.3 per cent of the vote in a legitimate democratic process. The defeated candidate, Petro Poroshenko, now backs Zelenskyy’s wartime leadership.

In striking contrast, the Russian Federation has not solved the problem of political succession or embraced the rule of law and democratic norms. None of this is to say that Zelenskyy is beyond criticism, especially some errors of judgment before the Russian attack. For instance, Zelenskyy now speaks boldly about the need for free and independent nations to unite to prevent an invasion of Taiwan. In 2021, however, he removed Ukraine from a list of countries condemning Beijing’s subjugation of Hong Kong. Maybe Zelenskyy had to learn the hard way that the proponents of state-civilisation are the mortal enemies of freedom, autonomy and the nation-state. When the likes of Putin and Xi speak about upholding territorial integrity and sovereignty, they are referring to the territorial integrity and sovereignty of their respective state-civilisations, not the sovereignty of the nation-states they wish to absorb into their modern-day empires.

Daryl McCann contributed “Russia, China and Iran: An Uneasy Alliance of Rogues” in the December issue, “Putin’s Inglorious War of Terror” in January-February, and “Putin, Russia and the Purpose of Power” in March. He has a blog at https://darylmccann.blogspot.com

10 thoughts on “Imperial State Civilisation vs. the Nation State

  • 1madeleine0jones says:

    There are certainly linguistic and historical connections that are special to Russia, Ukraine and Belarus. The relevant languages (Russian, Ukrainian and Belarussian) are classified as East Slavic languages and share high degrees of similarity that other Slavic languages (such as Czech and Macedonian do not). Where this article lost me was the mention of the ‘Rus and St. Vladimir of Kiev. I do not deny the ‘Rus were a fractured, often infighting group (such is the nature of dynasties and empires) yet there is no denying the lands of the Rus were distributed around Russia, Ukraine and Belarus (with crucial areas being Smolensk, Novgorod, Vladimir-Suzdal and Kiev). Today, all three ‘Rus countries cite St. Vladimir as responsible for their founding and Christianisation. Whereas Putin cites a shared history, Ukrainian officals claim St. Vladimir as solely as their own. This is ahistorical nonsense and to see historians give this an airing is absolutely shameful. One can support Ukraine against Russian invasion without endorsing radical Ukrainian historiography born out of nationalist sentiment. Timothy Snyder’s claims against the Rus is quite inane – every historian of antiquity and the middle ages deals with gaps, especially in regards to Eurasia. We struggle to accurately date the Exeter Book for Anglo-Saxon poetry. Does that mean English nationalism and the ideas of England’s founding are also ludicrous?

    Simply, Snyder’s conclusion is haste and frankly, shows an ignorance for contemporary historiography about ancient and medieval cultures.

    I cannot name a single early medieval source which indicates that the ‘Rus infighting was based on a nationalist sentiment regarding land. Also, the Principality of Kiev was under the supremacy of the Grand Principality of Vladimir, part of the wider kingdom of the Rus. A son of St. Vladimir, Yaroslav the Wise is also the direct ancestor to the Rurik Dynasty (which links us to Tsar Ivan IV, whose death launched the Time of Troubles… then we soon are in Romanov territory). Interestingly, Yaroslav before becoming the Grand Prince of Kiev was previously the Prince of Rostov and Novgorod (both in contemporary Russia).

    To conclude, this may seem like a small nitpick in what is an excellent and timely article. I have many sharp comments myself regarding Putin and Dugin. But I’d like to think we can support Ukraine, even Ukrainian patriotism, without indulging in historical falsehoods.

    • rosross says:

      Well said, unfortunately facts and reason seem to go out the window with those who have a visceral hatred of Putin and often, Russia. I wish Daryl McCann, who clearly has a lot of experience, could put aside his subjective approach and take a balanced view of Putin, Russia and this war. The problem with zealotry is that it clouds the mind and makes reason impossible. A good historian does not emotionally invest to the point of zealotry in a subject or topic.

      Any study of the history leading up to this conflict, and most of it coming from American political analysts makes it very clear that Russia invaded Ukraine because it was pushed into it by US/Nato. It also invaded to protect the ethnic Russians in eastern Ukraine who had spent nearly a decade being bombed by the Ukrainian Government and slowly having their rights removed, including their right to speak Russian.

      As a matter of principle we can say Ukraine has a right to fight back. However, as a matter of principle we can say the Russians had a right to invade given the threats to their security from Ukrainian actions in league with the Americans and their Nato lackeys.

      If Canada or Mexico did what Ukraine did, in terms of getting into the military bed of an enemy, the Americans would do exactly what the Russians have done. There is also a long history of American statements that the goal is not just to weaken Russia but to destroy it and break it into smaller pieces which can be more easily managed by American oligarchs. One reason why Putin has such high support amongst Russians is because he took a stand against the foreign and home-grown oligarchs.

      This is a US/Nato proxy war against Russia using the foolish Ukrainians as cannon fodder. Even the American political analyst, John Mearsheimer, now decried for his facts and truth over more than a decade said, the US would fight to the last Ukrainian. That point has nearly been reached according to American military analysts.

      To make it worse the Americans have told Ukraine to reject every peace overtures, and there have been a few, from the Russians. What does it matter if another 100,000 Ukrainian men die for nothing? Zelensky traipses around the world playing hero while his country runs with blood in a war which never needed to happen. The facts make that very clear.

      • Botswana O'Hooligan says:

        Yairs rosross, agree with you for I lived and worked there, have been married to one for donkeys years, have rellies in both countries, was au fait with most of the goings on regarding corruption that Putin has stopped in the main but not so Poroshenko et al including Zelenskyy, and formed an opinion long ago that the bottom line of it all is that we Westerners have been beautifully and artfully brainwashed to a far greater extent than were the citizens of the Soviet Bloc for in the main they knew that they were being brainwashed and made jokes about it. The USA is using The Ukraine as a pawn in their great game of domination against Russia who of course are not slouches when it comes to bastardry. The great pity of it all is the loss of life and destruction.

        • rosross says:

          I feel sorry for all who are losing their sons but particularly for the Ukrainians because it did not have to be this way. But, as you say, pawns in the game. Ever thus.

      • pgang says:

        rosross I only came to this article to see if you’d commented and you haven’t disappointed. Keep up the good work.

      • pmprociv says:

        rosross, you haven’t been listening, to Putin himself. He said he had to invade Ukraine (not a war, mind you, just a military operation — what was the point of that bizarre claim?), to get rid of the Nazis, then to protect Russian speakers, and then to eliminate Satan, and all the paedophiles and gay and trans activists, including Zelensky. That’s the BS (amongst so much other garbage) he’s been feeding to the Russian people, who largely don’t fall for it, but have been conditioned over many generations not to question their autocrats’ decisions or claims (this becomes almost a genetic trait, selected for self-preservation). And of course they’ll tick the right boxes in any polls — you’d have to be reckless, or better still, suicidal, not to. That bit about languages is a furphy; most Ukrainians speak Russian as their lingua franca, while Zelensky himself comes from a Russian-majority district. Of course, Ukrainian will be pushed harder now, to distance themselves from their neighbouring cousins’ murderous treachery.

        NATO is a pussycat, which has never ever threatened Rusia in any way. It’s great to see it being fired up, at long last, by Putin’s aggressions. To start such a war, given Russia’s recent history, and the present state of the world, is beyond irresponsibility — it’s insane. Most educated Russians who’ve been in the West must be horrified — certainly the ones who’ve escaped say as much. I have relatives there who just happened to be outside of Russia when this war started, and they intend never to return.

        Putin clearly must have reasons for what he’s done. He’s the world’s richest man, head of the world’s biggest kleptocracy/Mafia state, he knows that the Russian people are growing more aware of his grand theft of their natural resources, he’s terrified of dying, and he’s a hard-core Chekist — it’s a pretty toxic and dangerous mix in one individual. Because the Russians and Ukrainians have been so close for so long, with constant intermingling (exemplified by my own parents: one of each), with Ukraine being so much more exposed to Western influences (geographically and historically) and in a far better position to demand liberal and economic reforms, Putin is terrified of political contagion spreading into his domain, inevitably flaring up into civil strife and violence (he doesn’t want to go the way of Saddam Hussein or Muammar Gaddafi — very possible in Russia). He’d deluded himself into believing his military could crush Ukraine with little resistance, largely reflecting the reluctance of his sycophantic lackeys to tell him the truth, just repeating what he liked to hear. Mearsheimer has been a Putin apologist for a long time.

        Sadly, Putin has now painted himself into an impossible corner — from which there is no way to escape (unless he does a Stalin, and dies in bed from a stroke). Why didn’t he just ask Zelensky, upfront, to sit down and have a serious chat, in Russian even, instead of beating up Ukraine so violently? I suppose his approach fits more with traditional Russian culture, consolidated over centuries. And, in keeping with traditional Russian culture, it’s just a matter of time before others decide how to finish him off, when the opportunity presents — and it won’t be pretty, either for Putin, or the Russian people, or their nation. Pity that he’s caused so much destruction in the process. And the shockwaves will spread to the rest of the world.

        • rosross says:

          I have been listening to Putin. I have also been listening to political analysts, mostly American but also English, British, Canadian, European and I have been listening to military analysts, mostly American but from around the world.

          I have also carefully followed the history which led to this conflict. It is very clear this war did not need to happen. If Ukraine had remained neutral as Russia rightly and sensibly requested, this war would not have happened. It did not remain neutral because of US/Nato manipulation and the lack of integrity and grit in the Ukrainian Government. From the moment of the CIA coup in 2014 which threw out the democratically elected Ukrainian President, who was sensibly pro-Russian, to be replaced by US stooges, often handpicked by Victoria Nuland, the die was cast.

          The setting up by the US of 46 bio(weapons) labs in Ukraine was perhaps the proverbial straw, along with the fact that US/Nato long aqo began training and arming the Ukrainian army and supported it in its attacks against ethnic Russians in Eastern Ukraine.


          If the Russians or Chinese had worked to ring the US with military bases and turned friendly neighbouring nations into enemy allies, as US/Nato has done with Russia, the Americans would do what the Russians have done.

          So let us leave off with the hypocrisy. If the US can have a Monroe Doctrine, which has expanded to include the entire globe, then the Russians can have the same sort of doctrine for their borders and their region. The fact the Russians have put up with such US aggression for decades is a testament to their patience.

        • rosross says:


          You said: He said he had to invade Ukraine (not a war, mind you, just a military operation — what was the point of that bizarre claim?),

          Given the fact the Russians put forward a very reasonable and sensible set of conditions for not invading, which the US rejected, one presumes that the term ‘military operation’ applied to just such a possibility. Clearly they hoped the Americans would not be so reckless and foolish.

          And, since the Russians did not do shock and awe as the Americans did in Iraq, knocking out power and water within days, when they finally did invade, we can presume that they were hoping it could remain a military operation.
          You said: to get rid of the Nazis, then to protect Russian speakers,
          Yes, and the problem of neo-Nazis in Ukraine has been a long-time in the making, oddly with US/Nato support. And since the Ukrainians had been bombing ethnic Russians for nearly a decade, the Russians had, under UN regulations, the right to go into protect them. Like those in Crimea, these people were essentially Russians in a process of becoming Ukrainians but now returning to being Russians.

          You said: and then to eliminate Satan,

          Putin is a very conservative Christian and such references to evil are not surprising. Americans also talk about Satan and the need for ‘good’ to triumph over evil.

          You said: and all the paedophiles and gay and trans activists, including Zelensky.

          I missed that one, and you provide no link but it would not surprise me. Zelensky has led Ukrainians to the bloodbath of this war and sacrificed his nation and his people. Russians and Ukrainians are in essence the same ‘family’ and plenty of Ukrainians and all Russians hate Zelensky for what he has done.

          As to Paedophiles, well, we have plenty of people in Australia who take the same view. And as to trans activists, Putin is a conservative Christian as are most Russians and they consider the Western indulgence of the trans delusion to be insane. As in fact do many Westerners.
          You said: That’s the BS (amongst so much other garbage) he’s been feeding to the Russian people, who largely don’t fall for it,

          With 80% support from the Russian people we can conclude most agree, particularly the young ones.

          You said: but have been conditioned over many generations not to question their autocrats’ decisions or claims (this becomes almost a genetic trait, selected for self-preservation).

          Not my experience when I spent months at a time living in Russia, Moscow and Ekaterinburg and outlying small towns, about 15 years ago. I think the Bolshevik horrors got most Russians over the serf response.

          You said: NATO is a pussycat, which has never ever threatened Rusia in any way.

          Nato is an American lackey, military tool and everything it has done threatens Russia. Every country along Russia’s border coerced, bribed, manipulated into Nato was a threat to Russia. The Russians went along with it but said NYET to Ukraine. The Americans ignored that.

          You said: It’s great to see it being fired up, at long last, by Putin’s aggressions. To start such a war, given Russia’s recent history, and the present state of the world, is beyond irresponsibility — it’s insane.

          Since the Russian response is the result of US/Nato aggression, blame the Americans and their Nato lackeys. And yes, it is insane. But the Americans have not been sane for quite some time as they have rampaged around our unipolar world.

          You said: Putin clearly must have reasons for what he’s done. He’s the world’s richest man, head of the world’s biggest kleptocracy/Mafia state, he knows that the Russian people are growing more aware of his grand theft of their natural resources, he’s terrified of dying, and he’s a hard-core Chekist — it’s a pretty toxic and dangerous mix in one individual.

          All of that is your opinion and you provide no proof. I suppose if you live in an echo chamber in terms of family and don’t bother to do the research you are not going to have perspective.

          What Putin wants and what Russia wants is the same thing everyone wants – trade. And Russia has plenty to sell. Why do you think the Americans bombed Nordstream? Because they wanted to shut down Russo/German trade.

          Why do you think the Americans have long had a plan to break up Russia into smaller bits? So they can do their economic invasion, as they have done and are doing in Ukraine, so THEY CAN REAP THE RICHES OF RUSSIAN RESOURCES.

          You said: Putin is terrified of political contagion spreading into his domain, inevitably flaring up into civil strife and violence

          Everything I have read and heard from Putin makes your charge unlikely. And you clearly do not understand Russians.

          You said: (he doesn’t want to go the way of Saddam Hussein or Muammar Gaddafi — very possible in Russia).

          Now that made me laugh. The Americans killed Hussein and Gaddafi, formerly US stooges, and the CIA was active in making sure they died. You could be right though, if the CIA gets a toehold in Russia they could try to do the same. Then again, the Russians are not Iraqi or Libyan and Russia is not Iraq or Libya. The Americans, like you, seem to think it is. Oh, hang on, the US was forced to withdraw from Iraq. Lost that one too.
          You said: He’d deluded himself into believing his military could crush Ukraine with little resistance,

          You should take the time to read military strategists, American, Russian, European, Indian, plenty of them out there and then you would understand why your statement has no legs.

          You said:. Why didn’t he just ask Zelensky, upfront, to sit down and have a serious chat,

          He did. The US told Zelensky to say NO and the neo-Nazis told Zelensky they would kill him if he talked to Putin. The Russians have made a number of peace overtures and Zelensky minders, US, have told him to say no.

          Ukraine cannot win., It is just a matter of how many more die in this useless war created by the US. In fact Ukraine has already lost. The military equipment sent by the US/Nato has either been destroyed or sold on. Ukraine remains as corrupt as it has always been. Ukraine has had ten times the casualty rate of Russia which has not even begun to fight a war. There are now 300,000 troops waiting, behind the mercenaries and Russia has total control over Ukrainian airspace and can knock out the rail and roads as well as water and power completely when they choose. I suspect they have waited so long and not done shock and awe because, as brothers they preferred not to destroy Ukraine and kill so many.

        • rosross says:

          “Maria Zakharova, Russia’s foreign ministry spokesperson, has dismissed US statements that it does not want to see the situation in Ukraine escalate, after this week’s drone attack on Moscow. On her Telegram channel, Zakharova said:

          That’s funny. They broke the house themselves, doused it with gasoline, set fire to it themselves, planted fireworks and firewood themselves, and now they are declaring an ‘unwillingness to escalate’. The ‘war of the west’ in a hybrid format has been going on for a long time.”

          She’s so droll.

  • Brian Boru says:

    Well, one plus from this article, I learnt a new word; “revanchism”. Applicable to the original owners debate also.
    I liked the comment from pmprociv. I also wonder just how it will all end. Being a simple person though I think this war started when those Eastern Russo-Ukranians first resorted to arms. Then Putin backed them and eventually invaded.
    The question solely is, when is war just? In my simple reasoning it cannot be if it is only to preserve a language. I know that we must study history if we are not to repeat mistakes but sometimes peace requires forgiveness and acceptance.

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