Moscow’s anti-Ukrainian hysteria threatens to get out of control

Participants of "The Russian March" in Moscow

Participants of "The Russian March" in Moscow 

Analysis & Opinion, Russia

Many are taking comfort in the notion that just as Russians appear to have reduced their hatred of immigrants when encouraged by the Kremlin to hate Ukrainians instead so too their hatred against the latter could be ended relatively easily if Moscow changed course — and in any case won’t expand to include others.

But in fact, as a panel discussion organized by Radio Liberty points out, there are two problems with the optimistic vision. On the one hand, it ignores that there was a reservoir of hatred among many Russians ready to be whipped up by the government for its own purposes. Moscow did not create it; it exploited it.

And on the other, such a view also downplays the danger that while Moscow may be able to exploit such hatreds, it could quickly lose control over them and not be able either to restrain them once they are unleashed or to prevent them from being extended to other groups that the regime either wants to protect or does not want to offend.

Indeed, to deal with this situation, the panel suggested, the regime will either have to offer new objects of hatred in the hopes of diverting Russians from one enemy to another or employ massive amounts of repression in order to limit the expression of that hatred. In either case, the problems involved with such feelings and their use are not limited or short term.

Thus, for example, any lessening of official anti-Ukrainian hysteria in the absence of any new target group almost immediately threatens to provoke new outburst of hostility toward migrants or toward other groups, including Chinese workers and industrialists in the Russian Far East whom Moscow has every reason to protect lest it offend Beijing.

(Indeed, that issue is so sensitive that the authorities have taken down an entire website after it featured an article showing that xenophobic attitudes and actions against the Chinese are in the rise there. The article was at, but now even the site has been shut off.).

Consequently, thanks to Putin’s actions in unleashing and exacerbating Russian hatreds in the current crisis, Russia and the world are entering a Martin Niemöller moment, one in which just because they hate someone else now, there are no guarantees that they will not hate others, including ourselves, later.

Edited by: A. N.

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  • Dirk Smith

    As it has the last 100 years. Subhuman sheep.

    • Vlad Pufagtinenko

      You’re being kind Sir….360 years of killing Ukrainians is more de rigueur

      • PoeTentiate

        It’s endless and seems to re-ignite itself every generation. Ukraine’s ultimate folly was to allow its Armed Forces to degenerate so far and allow the military leadership to be so corrupt and even more unforgivably, so incompetent.

        • Vlad Pufagtinenko

          You can write to Yanukovich…c/o Putin’s office and make your point….I have a feeling the letter will have no problem getting to him….Looking back at it, I’m starting to believe that if Ukraine started investing in its military when Yushchenko was in office, Putin would have used that as an excuse to move in saying Ukraine was being needlessly aggressive.

        • LorCanada

          It was corrupt Yanukovych, Putin’s puppet in Ukraine, who misled his people and robbed the treasury of his country. Also, check out ‘InfoUkes euro maidan’ on a google search when you have time.

    • PoeTentiate

      This was the intention and work of Communism. It was all intentional, and now we are left with a (mostly) easily steerable “flock”.

  • puttypants

    Build that wall between Russia and Ukraine immediately. Those people are insane and the surrounding countries around Russia need to do the same. Their water must be full of crazy medicine. OIY!!!

  • LorCanada

    Putin wants to play with fire then he can expect to get burned. Every action has a reaction.