Ukraine’s drive to become a European country leads Russians to see their country isn’t one

Map of Russia in Europe and Asia

Russia in Europe and Asia 

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Ukraine’s drive to become a European country is forcing Russians to recognize that their country isn’t one, a reflection that helps to explain why many Russians are so angry at Ukraine and so willing to accept the Kremlin’s version of events there, according to Artemy Troitsky.

In a commentary in “Novaya gazeta” yesterday, the Russian journalist says that in his view, “one can consider a European a country which sincerely wants to be European, even if not everything in it yet corresponds to that status.  In this case, Ukraine is undoubtedly one,” but Russia is not.

Prior to the Crimean Anschluss almost a year ago, “no one cast doubt on the ‘Europeanist’ nature of the Russian Federation.” Or more precisely, the journalist says, no one discussed Russia’s situation in exactly those terms. Instead, while admitting that Russia was different, these conversations were of the kind that “everything was in order.”

“Yes, [Russia has] autocracy instead of democracy, problems with human rights… but on the level of culture, mentality, and general civilization,” Troitsky says, “of course, we Russians are ‘white people’!” And Russia’s failings like corruption are to be found “not just in Nigeria” but in European countries like Greece and Italy.

But the reactions of Russians to Ukraine’s announced goal of joining Europe changed that, he continues. At the very least, that effort by a neighboring country “cast doubt” on Russia’s relationship to Europe and suggested to many that the whole notion that Russia is part of Europe was problematic if not wrong.

Over the past year, he points out, “the words ‘Europe’ and ‘European’ have become with [Russians] terms of abuse,” a sharp change from the recent past when the term “’European’” was considered a compliment. Now it is a synonym for perverts, weaklings, and degenerates or even worse.

Europe According to Vladimir Putin (Photo: Yanko Tsvetkov's Atlas of Prejudice,

Europe According to Vladimir Putin (Photo: Yanko Tsvetkov’s Atlas of Prejudice,


Among Russians, Troitsky says, this “active anti-Europeanism was not so much declared ‘from above’ (there they still prefer more diplomatic expressions) than arose from below,” but the extent to which it has spread is reflected not just in Russian attitudes toward Ukraine but in Russian reactions to the recent terrorist attacks in Paris.

Widespread Russian anger at Ukrainians over the last year “shocked but can easily be explained by the total television propaganda” to which Russians were subject. But “in the drama of Charlie Hebdo, no Russian national, political, historical or geographic interests were involved.” Moreover, many Russians have little sympathy for Islam more generally.

However, the frequently expressed view among Russians that the French themselves were to blame for what happened because of their excessive tolerance “in a distilled form” highlighted just how far from Europe many Russians are. “’Freedom? What freedom?” was the Russian question.


“In fact,” Troitsky says, “Russian public opinion has played the role it would have played if [Russia] were a Muslim country – that is, the state is secular but the population in large measure is godless, although it loves to cover itself with the idea of Orthodoxy. Surprising? And how!”

To put things even more bluntly and clearly, he continues, it is possible to say that “the aversion of the majority of Russians to so-called European values is stronger than dislike to Islamists and hatred for terrorists,” even though Russians have suffered from the latter to a significant degree.

This is logical but only in terms of the logic of what he calls “the paradigm of 2014/2015.” Russia’s positioning of itself relative to Europe, Troitsky argues, is “not identical but similar” to the one between the Middle East and North Africa, on the one hand, and Europe, on the other.

In both cases, Europe is geographically close up, economic ties are close, and there is a diaspora from them in Europe.  But at the same time, there is “a complete alienation in terms of value orientations, moral priorities, and other firm issues of a humanitarian nature” which Europe embodies.

There is “nothing new in this situation,” the journalist says. “We are simply returning to pre-Petrine times when the relations of Russia with Europe were sometimes full of conflicts, sometimes pragmatic, but never close.” The opening of the “window on Europe” made Russia a European power, but it did not make more than a tiny fraction of the population Europeans.

At the end of the 19th century, only 21 percent of Russians were literate, and 87 percent lived in the villages. Many of the townspeople were “closer to the Black Hundreds than to Europe. Indeed, “then as now, only about 10 to 15 percent of Russians could legitimately be called “’Europeans.’”

“However strange it may sound, the deepest and most successful effort to Europeanize Russia was undertaken by the Bolsheviks: Marxism-Leninism unlike semi-Asiatic ‘Orthodox Autocracy’ was 100 percent a European ideology based on the ideas and pathos of the Enlightenment.” But at the same time, for the Soviets, “Europe was an opponent.”

The collapse of the USSR and communism led Russians to accept many of the aspects of capitalism, but beneath the “glamor” of wealth for some, there also reemerged something “enormous and dark” which has now assumed the dominant position – an antagonism to Europe and all things European.

One might call this “the triumph of ‘nationality’” in the Uvarov sense with its “ideology of ‘a new medievalism,’” something that might have been appropriate in the 14th century but looks like “a caricature” in the 21st.

“Present-day Russia does not have any allies unlike Europe or strength like China or an iron religion like the Arabs,” and thus it is increasingly defining itself not in terms of what it is but of what it is not – and it is not European, the Russian journalist suggests, however much some would like it to be otherwise.

Edited by: A. N.

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  1. Avatar Murf says:

    Russia has no allies because it has nothing to offer. Except resources and kleptocracy.

    1. Avatar Michel Cloarec says:

      That is why Europa did not claim the part of Russia which geographicaly belongs to Europa (inclusive Moscow and St P )

  2. Avatar Eddy Verhaeghe says:

    I hope for your students that you’ll give them some examples of press manipulation by the other side too.
    Otherwise you’ll be spoiling innocent souls and prove that you’re not really a teacher, but somebody with a hidden agenda.

    1. Avatar Keith Cassinger says:

      You are anything but a teacher. More like a slimy Russian troll expat. A dime a dozen these days…or ruble for a million now. Hahaha!

    2. Avatar Don Casavant says:

      Trolls are out in force…Russia must be loosing the war!

      1. Avatar Michel Cloarec says:

        RIGHT ! as I said vote for me ! I will find the final solution !

    3. Avatar Eddy Verhaeghe says:

      We still don’t know if you’ll give your students some examples of press manipulation by the Russian/DPR/LPR side…

  3. Avatar richaelmivero says:

    Please note that you don’t dispute or even address a single point that the author makes in the article. Be sure to show your “students” your comment as a textbook example of an ad hominem logical fallacy.

  4. Avatar disqus_aJpixObjG7 says:

    “However strange it may sound, the deepest and most successful effort to
    Europeanize Russia was undertaken by the Bolsheviks: Marxism-Leninism
    unlike semi-Asiatic ‘Orthodox Autocracy’ was 100 percent a European
    ideology based on the ideas and pathos of the Enlightenment.”


    Mr. Goble, marxism leninism had NOTHING WHATSOEVER TO DO with Europeanism or with any so/called enlightenment.


    The idea that marx or lenin or stalin had, for even one instant, the slightest motivation to create a so called better world is absolute idiocy.

    marx wrote that there would be no more families.Women would be held in common like cattle by party members so they could jump them at will.

    Paul Goble, read the communist manifesto for the first time in your life, it takes only 45 minutes.

    Lenin said he will murder 90 percent of humanity for his personal experiment in bending humanity to his personal depraved agenda. So NUFF SAID.



    1. Avatar Michel Cloarec says:

      Another communist MAO TSE TUNG has said “there are too many chineses”

    2. Avatar PJV says:

      And if you read the Bible, it’s all about women fornicating with men whose “members are the size of asses'” and who ejaculate like horses (Ezekiel 23:20). It all depends on what message you are looking for. Russian nihilism and anti-tsarist terrorism fed into the formula and means by which the Bolsheviks achieved and maintained power. However, the ideology, Marxism, did hold the promise–for the actual “proletariat” of the time–of a better life than slaving 16 hours a day for a pittance. Many ctivists–who were not Bolsheviks–and who went on to be patriots of their nationalities and countries believed in Marxist ideals as well. Here, a poem by the Latvian poet-activist Rainis–most closely associated with the modern Latvian identity, and who even appeared on the Soviet one-ruble coin (my translation):
      “Tomorrow I must wake early,
      Not a ray of sun for me in those rooms,
      There—only dust and the smoke of dim sooty lamps,
      There slowly my life wilts,
      There slowly, with each tick of the clock,
      My sixteen hours of eternity.”

      1. Avatar disqus_aJpixObjG7 says:

        PJV, you have NEVER YET READ THE BIBLE. That is certain.

        You have probably never even held a Bible in your own two hands.

        You have no knowledge of it WHATSOEVER.

        But you do indeed have another book, which defines your irreality.

        Your “bible” is NOT God’s/Christ’s word. YOUR “bible” is the teaching of men who repudiate Christ- mass murderers such as your literal “idols” pol pot, marx and lenin.

        You worship them rather than your loving Creator just as Rainis did.

        The words of the prophet Ezekiel describe as abominable, bestial, adultery those of his day- just as those of us today- who willingly stray from God/Christ to adopt THEIR OWN PERSONAL IDEAS IN THE PLACE OF THOSE OF GOD/CHRIST. (which is exactly what you are doing).

        Those words describe all those of us who think we know better than God/Christ!- We are taking a donkey as our love partner!!

        Taking a donkey, with pleasure, up our…

        Strong words BUT THEY ARE GOD’S/CHRIST’S WORDS!

        God/Christ is not a pussyfooter. He speaks clearly and with force

        The words you quote ARE OF GOD/CHRIST spoken through Ezekiel and describe PERFECTLY people (like you?) who spit on God/Christ as liars…

        …and instead IDOLIZE their own personal agendas and look for “truth” to demonic genocidal maniacs such as marx lenin and pol pot.

        They are indeed taking it up the backside from their donkeys marx, lenin and pol pot.

        What you are saying directly to God/Christ in effect is this:

        “stay out of my life! I am NOT interested in your plan for me or for this earth (you who created me); I don’t believe in you and consider you a liar. I turn instead to genocidal maniacs as my gods and to fellowship with them.

        PJV, your ideology, “marxism” held/holds a “promise” for sure! –

        the promise of humanism, which ALWAYS and IMMEDIATELY results in mass murder and genocide on an unimaginable scale.

        You have not ever even once read your own “bible”, which is the communist manifesto. See if you can find 45 minutes to read it for the first time- listen to it as audio online…


        “communism was a good idea… it was just misapplied by stalin. All we need to do is give it another try and this time to do it right…”

        This insane MYTH is still very, very…very widespread.

        It is insanity, because by its very inherent nature communism has nothing whatsoever to do with creating a better world or improving the lot of anyone at all.

        To get people to swallow poison DECEIVERS sugar coat it with lies.

        You sugarcoat communism with the blatant lies that it is about making a better world.

        Yet communism’s (marx’s, lenin’s, pol pot’s, mao’s…) ONE AND ONLY AGENDA WAS/IS/AND ALWAYS WILL BE GENOCIDE for the personal amusement of a few. Nothing else.

  5. Avatar MyNameIsVlad says:

    Russians do not have western values at all. The Russian worldview is stained with chauvinism, xenophobia, authoritarianism, exclusiveness, antagonism, alienation, etc. Russia’s actions speak way louder than their words.

  6. Avatar Michel Cloarec says:

    And why was Europe the opponent ?
    And why did urss/sovjet collapsed ?
    Even if one can find countries with communist parties , they are only small ashes of a vanished apocalypse ! The day russia will admit officially that communism was the mistake of the 20th century , then can the free world maybe will think how to help them to find the right pass to freedom ! I know that I will not be there to see the results because it will take another century ! But we must think for our children !

  7. Avatar Czech Friend says:

    I used to think that it was all Putin’s mafia fault not Russians as a whole. But now I am not so sure and want the whole nation to suffer, to reap what they sowed.

    Because they know they are being lied to but out of their hurt pride seem to harden even more. At least the majority. This will end badly for Russia and maybe even for us Europeans but they have to be taught a lesson that has been long time overdue.

    Putin really did a gigantic damage to them but maybe he did us all a favour as well by putting them into Eurasian territory-because it’s Asia not Europe where they belong.

  8. Avatar disqus_aJpixObjG7 says:

    Of course Luc the press is corrupt WORLDWIDE.

    Everyone by age 20 knows that. The freedom of the press is held exclusively by…


    And so Luc, knowing the obvious, whose side are you on, being a follower of your beloved FRANKFURT SCHOOL?

    Are you on the side of the people who bless you with prosperity and freedom or do you spit on them?

    Are you on the side of the CIA, and Voice of America or are you on the side of marx lenin pol pot and putin?

    You need to give up your beautiful capitalist salary, go and live in your russian paradise for a few weeks. ( go to donetsk, where your heroes are). Teach them how evil your protector the CIA is and how saintly the “russian” FSB is…
    That will wake you up out of your frankfurt school daydreams to reality.

    Then you can innoculate your students further with your cultural freudian marxism.
    By the way. how old are you- still a teenager?

  9. Avatar Murf says:

    Not all the Balts and Georgia cast it aside and are doing well.
    Ukraine is attempting to also, slowly, but steadily.
    There is reason for hope.

    1. Avatar Luc D. says:

      I hope with whole my heart that there will be some light at the end of the tunnel for the Ukraine people…
      Yes, you are right, the Balts are better off, but they have always been nearer to Western Europe but I am afraid Georgia has still its corruption problem.

  10. Avatar Keith Cassinger says:

    Hey genius, why do you think I used the term “expat?” A troll is a troll no matter where they’re from and you are a troll. I learned not to get in any discussions with you morons, this is a street fight…nothing more.

  11. Avatar Keith Cassinger says:

    And for some reason you are trying to convince these people trolls are only in Russia why? I used the term “expat” for a reason…look it up. And no, not everyone who disagrees is a troll, YOU are. You little boys always use the same RT nonsense.

    1. Avatar Luc D. says:

      I am not an expat my friend, not a Russian or whatever. I have a decent life with a happy family in Western Europe. It’s a pitty that (certain) people in Kiev like more to make war than to build up their country again. Nato, and EC will not help them, too costly. So the only thing they can do is selling their soul to the IMF and World Bank.
      May the good Lord save them because their future is dark, very dark.

  12. Avatar Oknemfrod says:

    Not formally but it’s irrelevant to what Michel said. What Russia has not done is gone through the process of cleansing similar to that of the Germans. The latter have declared Nazism a depraved ideology, admitted that the actions of Germany based on its tenets were anti-human, banned NSDAP forever, either prosecuted or ostracized former Nazi functionaries, paid restitution to millions of people on the territories formerly occupied by them, and done many other things to atone for the Nazi crimes. Nobody can fathom a mausoleum with Hitler remains next to the Reichstag, fifty per cent of the Germans approving of him, or the German government filled to the brim with former Gestapo or Stasi functionaries.

    Russia, on the other hand, not only has done absolutely nothing of a kind, but it keeps glorifying its sordid communist past along with its other “historic achievements”. Among the Russian historical figures, mass murderer Stalin is second in popularity only to Peter I. There is something deeply wrong with a country where fifty per cent of the people admire Stalin, keep Lenin (another mass murderer) entombed next to the Kremlin wall, has the Soviet hymn readopted as their national anthem, and is ruled mostly by former KGB apparatchiks and hell-bent on its version of Lebenstraum. It can be said that Russia has left the Soviet Union, but the Soviet Union has not left Russia. Unless and before it actually happens, there is little hope that a truly civlized society can sprout there.

  13. Avatar Oknemfrod says:

    You’re right that they have a lot in common. In fact, they are more similar than different. Stalin had certainly learned “Mein Kampf” and other things Hitler ahd written and said. It may be a sign of admiration but not necessarily so.

    However, unfortunately, not just “no one” but many people do deny it. To say that no one in Russia denies it is logically incompatible with the fact that many Russians see Stalin as a saint and Hitler – as a villain. Odd as it may sound, many people in the West also find reasons – albeit, different ones – to deny it. You can see scores of both on discussion boards, where a mere suggestion of a similarity between Hitler and Stalin evokes floods of indignation. Methinks those denials stem mostly from ignorance, ideological obtuseness, or both.