Russia’s geopolitical ‘successes’ rely on ethnic cleansing, Kyiv commentator says

"Highlanders Leaving Their Village" by Petr Gruzinsky shows the deportation of Circassians, the indigenous peoples of the region from their homeland at the end of the Russo-Circassian War by victorious Russia. The expulsion was launched before the end of the war in 1864 and it was mostly completed by 1867. The peoples involved were mainly the Circassians (Adyghe), Ubykhs, Abkhaz, and Abaza. (Image: Wikimedia)

"Highlanders Leaving Their Village" by Petr Gruzinsky shows the deportation of Circassians, the indigenous peoples of the region from their homeland at the end of the Russo-Circassian War by victorious Russia. The expulsion was launched before the end of the war in 1864 and it was mostly completed by 1867. The peoples involved were mainly the Circassians (Adyghe), Ubykhs, Abkhaz, and Abaza. (Image: Wikimedia) 

2015/06/09 • Analysis & Opinion, Crimea, Russia, War in the Donbas

Russia has succeeded in holding its conquests only by conducting significant ethnic cleansing, according to Ukrainian commentator Petro Oleshchuk, who points to the difference between Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, on the one hand, and Kaliningrad, on the other, as indicative of what Moscow is doing in Crimea and the Donbas.

Many believe that the three Baltic countries regained their independence because of American non-recognition policy, but in fact, Oleshchuk says, they did so because each retained “a quite powerful nation” which “struggled for itself and won.” In Kaliningrad, Moscow eliminated all the local people by killing and deportation, and the region remains part of Russia.

The Conquest of Siberia by Yermak by Vasilily Surikov, 1895 (Image: Wikimedia)

The Conquest of Siberia by Yermak by Vasilily Surikov, 1895 (Image: Wikimedia)

The lesson of those different outcomes explains Moscow’s actions in Ukraine now where it is conducting “the largest ethnic cleansing of the 21st century, comparable with the cleansing of earlier years” and involving “the destruction of everything Ukrainian and in the case of Crimea also the Tatar.”

If Moscow has the time to carry out its program of ethnic cleansing in the Donbas and Crimea, there will be no one left to demand the return of these territories to their lawful sovereign Ukraine. The Russian government knows that, and it is acting accordingly, Oleshchuk argues.

Such a strategy, of course, is nothing new.

“Have you never wondered who populated Siberia or the Volga region before the Russians?” he asks rhetorically. These weren’t empty deserts; there were various nations there. But with the coming of Russian arms, some were “assimilated” and some were “destroyed.”

As a result, Oleshchuk says, these non-Russian regions historically became “Russian from time immemorial.”

In the case of the Donbas and Crimea, of course, the current rulers in the Kremlin do not have to start from scratch. All they must do, the Ukrainian commentator points out, is continue the work that was “done in Stalin’s times… destroy everything of other ethnic groups, resettle and build an advance post.”

If Moscow succeeds, the fate of these regions will be like Kaliningrad; if it doesn’t, their fate will be like that of the Baltic countries.

  • A protester in Europe wearing a Crimean Tatar flag with a sign protesting the shuttering of Crimean Tatar media outlets by Russian occupiers in April 2015 (Photo: Olexei Ivanov, day.kiev.ua)
    A protester in Europe wearing a Crimean Tatar flag with a sign protesting the shuttering of Crimean Tatar media outlets by Russian occupiers in April 2015 (Photo: Olexei Ivanov, day.kiev.ua)
  • Crimean Tatar Mejlis raided and searched by Russian police in balaclavas
    Crimean Tatar Mejlis raided and searched by Russian police in balaclavas
  • Dancing in Crimean Tatar Khanate by Carlo Bossoli, 1843
    Dancing in Crimean Tatar Khanate by Carlo Bossoli, 1843
  • Crimean Tartars (photo: oleg-leusenko.livejournal.com)
    Crimean Tartars (photo: oleg-leusenko.livejournal.com)
  • ATR poll in the bottom of the screen shows 82% of ATR viewers against the Crimea Anschluss by Russia in March 2014
    ATR poll in the bottom of the screen shows 82% of ATR viewers against the Crimea Anschluss by Russia in March 2014
  • Deportation of Crimean Tartars, May 1944 (Image: cidct.org.ua)
    Deportation of Crimean Tartars, May 1944 (Image: cidct.org.ua)
  • Deportation of Crimean Tartars, May 1944 (Image: cidct.org.ua)
    Deportation of Crimean Tartars, May 1944 (Image: cidct.org.ua)
  • Deportation of Crimean Tartars (Image: cidct.org.ua)
    Deportation of Crimean Tartars (Image: cidct.org.ua)
  • Deportation of Crimean Tartars, May 1944 (Image: cidct.org.ua)
    Deportation of Crimean Tartars, May 1944 (Image: cidct.org.ua)
  • Deportation of Crimean Tartars, May 1944 (Image: cidct.org.ua)
    Deportation of Crimean Tartars, May 1944 (Image: cidct.org.ua)
  • Protest against the shutdown of ATR Crimean Tartar TV channel in Crimea by the Russian occupation authorities (Image: krymr.org)
    Protest against the shutdown of ATR Crimean Tartar TV channel in Crimea by the Russian occupation authorities (Image: krymr.org)
  • The pin on the chest of the protester says: "Don't Kill ATR!" at the protest against the shuttering of Crimean media outlets by the Kremlin, March 2015
    The pin on the chest of the protester says: "Don't Kill ATR!" at the protest against the shuttering of Crimean media outlets by the Kremlin, March 2015
  • Chief editor of the Crimean Tartar-language "Avdet" Shevkey Kaybullayev, whose newspaper was denied a license to continue to operate in Crimea by Russia’s media watchdog Roskomnadzor, as reported by an also-shuttering Crimean News Agency (Photo: QHA)
    Chief editor of the Crimean Tartar-language "Avdet" Shevkey Kaybullayev, whose newspaper was denied a license to continue to operate in Crimea by Russia’s media watchdog Roskomnadzor, as reported by an also-shuttering Crimean News Agency (Photo: QHA)
  • A Crimean Tatar woman holds a sign "Crimea Is Ukraine" in protest to the "referendum" imposed by force by Moscow in March 2014.
    "Crimea Is Ukraine"
  • "No to war! Crimea is Ukraine!"
    "No to war! Crimea is Ukraine!"
  • "Crimean Tatars want peace"
    "Crimean Tatars want peace"
  • In a hybrid war operation, Russian "little green men", heavily armed soldiers without insignia, annexed Crimea from Ukraine
    In a hybrid war operation, Russian "little green men", heavily armed soldiers without insignia, annexed Crimea from Ukraine
  • Armed guards block the entrance to a naval border guard base in Sevastopol, in the Crimea region of Ukraine March 2014. New York Times
    Armed guards block the entranc
  • A Ukrainian man stands in protest in front of unmarked Russian soldiers in the Crimea
    Russian "little green men"

Edited by: A. N.

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  • Justas First

    To be honest US did the same with native americans in the past.

    • Anton Grimes

      I am sure Putin sleeps soundly on his bed of false equivalence