The Kremlin will only leave Ukraine alone after the empire gets a new object for hatred. For example, Tatarstan and Chechnya.
Will the relations with Russia really not normalise? Will Moscow not see how our economies are so co-dependent, how our people are so close? Will they not see that the Ukrainian’s will to go their own way does not mean a negative attitude towards the Russian Federation at all? Maybe not now, but later, after Vladimir Putin, this insanity will pass?
About the same thoughts are present across the border, only vice-versa. Does Ukraine not understand that without Russia this country cannot survive? Don’t they comprehend their deep historical, political and economical dependence on Moscow, don’t they see they are the most important part of the Russian world? Will Kyiv and Odesa, Kharkiv and Donetsk forever be under NATO’s boot, will they forever remain Banderites?
Can a compromise be reached in this situation? No. The sooner we forget about Russia and our illusions regarding good neighbourly relations with it, the better for us, as Russia will not forget about us.
Russia is not a country in our understanding of the word. It is an empire. Yes, a shard of a fromer empire, but the mentality of the population has not changed one bit because of it. Putin is not the reason. The reason is that the Russian empire necessitates the unification of very different territories which are not very interested in each other. Big distances, a degrading infrastructure, various peoples and religious, the fact that historical Russians in Central Russia live together with Russian migrants from Siberia and the Far East, general hatred towards Moscow, mutual hatred between Russians and the peoples of the Caucasus, the hidden animosity between Russians and Povolzhye peoples – and it has been this way forever.
What unites this cauldron of conflict? The faith in their own grandeur, read grandeur as the fear of the external world and aggression against it. If you take these components away, there will be no Russia at all. We did not feel this aggression against us just because we have always been part of the internal world. The Ukrainian independence in the beginning of the previous century was eliminated too fast, for the Ukrainians and Russians to feel as if they were living on separate planets. The same happened back then to Georgia, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus. But in regard to those that managed to get out of the empire, the hatred was practically the same as the rejection of Ukraine today.
First and foremost towards Poland. The bolsheviks did everything possible to conquer this country after the October coup – and if not for the “Visla miracle,” Poland could have become another republic in the immovable union. But it did not, it managed to fight its way out. Two decades of hatred followed, after which the Soviet imperialism united with German fascism in order to destroy the “ugly child of the Treaty of Versailles.” The reconstructed Polish sovereignty after World War II was the sovereignty of a dominion, a colony – and only the failure of the USSR allowed the Polish to retrieve their lost freedom.
Immediately after the occupation of Poland by the Reich and the Kremlin, Stalin destroyed the rest of the states that fought their way out of the Russian embrace – Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. Those were also forced to await the re-establishment of their independence and the retreat of the occupational army for five difficult decades. But the Finns managed to withstand it. However, they paid the price of losing their own territories and special relations with Moscow, which, once more, they managed to be rid of only after the USSR fell apart.
In 1990 I wrote that as soon as Ukraine declared its independence, the empire would immediately acknowledge the sovereignty of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia – it would simply have no time for the Baltic states. And it happened. We were supposed to end up on the front line of hatred. We were supposed to – but we didn’t, simply because Russia saw us, just like other CIS countries, as a satellite, a future member of the Eurasian Union, a part of the re-established empire. This confidence was not even shaken in 2004, which was viewed in Moscow as a temporary retreat quite reasonably.
The new Maidan broke everything. It was not only us who believed in our freedom – Russia believed in it too. This is why they started perceiving us as part of the external world, as “pindosy,” “Gay-Europe,” “lyakhs,” “zhids.” This is why they don’t pity us anymore. But we are not a piece that has been broken off. We are a piece that has been taken away. By “pindosy.” We are to face years of hatred. They will start viewing us with impartiality – like Poles or Finns – only after the empire finds a new object for aggression in the world, which not seems internal to it, for example, Tatarstan or Chechnya. These republics will have to save us, just like we saved the Baltic states with our Act of Independence. But this is all yet to come.
Translated by Mariya Shcherbinina