Copyright © 2021

The work of Euromaidan Press is supported by the International Renaissance Foundation

When referencing our materials, please include an active hyperlink to the Euromaidan Press material and a maximum 500-character extract of the story. To reprint anything longer, written permission must be acquired from [email protected].

Privacy and Cookie Policies.

Putin views Russians as ‘divided people,’ thus threatening all Russia’s neighbors, German historian says

Russian state crest in front of full moon (Image:
Edited by: A. N.

A core element of Vladimir Putin’s worldview is that the Russians are “a divided people,” German historian Wilfried Jilge says, a perspective that underlies his continuing aggression against Ukraine and that lays the groundwork for additional seizure of territories along Russia’s border.

The specialist on Eastern Europe argues that Putin’s profound and longstanding belief that Russians are a divided people not only explains his past actions but more importantly opens the way for similar ones in the future (; in Russian at

[quote]“In projecting a certain ‘Russian Orthodox world’ onto territories on the other side of the Russian border, [Putin] neutralizes the independence of neighboring countries and of Ukraine in particular.” He does so because the stabilization of that country would be “dangerous for himself,” Jilge says.[/quote]

“Today’s Russia is not a democratic country. Elections there serve to legitimize the autocratic regime which has arisen under Putin.” And both the selection of the date of the elections – the fourth anniversary of the Crimean Anschluss – and Putin’s rhetoric during the campaign show that he relies on the divided people argument.

Right up to the present, Putin “justifies the annexation of Crimea by his conception of a certain ‘Russian world,’ according to which ‘the fraternal Ukrainian people’ is part of Russia’s sphere of influence,” the historian says. He bases that notion on both tsarist and Soviet approaches.

On the one hand, Jilge says, Putin accepts the tsarist approach of dividing the subjects of the country not be ethnicity but by religion and posits that since most Ukrainians are Orthodox, they cannot be separate. And on the other, he views the Soviet Union as another name for Russia and thus a place where Russia must be dominant or even in complete control.

[quote]“Putin’s thesis about a single people is an authoritarian-imperialist assertion of identity which does not have anything in common with the real attitudes one can observe today in Ukrainian society. That Putin continues to assert this thesis may be evidence that the Kremlin intends to involve itself with the destabilization of Ukraine,” the German historian says.[/quote]

Clearly, Jilge concludes, “a stable, flourishing and democratic Ukraine could be in the eyes of some Russians an attractive alternative to the Putin autocratic regime and thus threaten the property of the corrupt oligarchs who support the Kremlin.”

Read More:

Edited by: A. N.
You could close this page. Or you could join our community and help us produce more materials like this.  We keep our reporting open and accessible to everyone because we believe in the power of free information. This is why our small, cost-effective team depends on the support of readers like you to bring deliver timely news, quality analysis, and on-the-ground reports about Russia's war against Ukraine and Ukraine's struggle to build a democratic society. A little bit goes a long way: for as little as the cost of one cup of coffee a month, you can help build bridges between Ukraine and the rest of the world, plus become a co-creator and vote for topics we should cover next. Become a patron or see other ways to support. Become a Patron!
Related Posts