By Vitalii Usenko
I did a little research to try to understand why Ukraine is so personal to Putin and the Russians, and why it creates such emotions from the psychological and existential point of view. Such explanations as Putin’s obsession with conspiracy theories, his preoccupation with something called Eurasia (Timothy Snyder, Ukraine: The Haze of Propaganda) the kleptocratic nature of the Putin regime (“Want Putin’s Attention On Ukraine? Follow His Money” by Paul Roderick Gregory for Forbes) or the all-consuming horror that Maidan can happen in Russia, are all true, but these are only some facets of the more complex issue.
I found some citations which currently are widely used by Russians. I have understood that Putin will not stop on Crimea. He does not want to stop until he takes over all Ukraine.
Russian propaganda intensely exploits the citation reportedly made by Adolf Hitler: “We can conquer Russia only when Ukrainians and Belorussians believe that they are not Russians. They refer to “Hitler’s Table Talk 1941-1944” by Hugh Trevor-Roper. I have not found such a citation in this book. It is fake and very useful for Russian propaganda. It suggests that the West will conquer Russia by taking Ukraine into the EU.
More citations show that Russia denies the existence of Ukraine not only as a state but as a nation. From their point of view, such nations as Ukraine do not exist.
Russians suppose that the enemies of Russia are suggesting to south and west Russians that they are Ukrainians. Following citations are self-explanatory:
Ethnical Ukrainian is no different from Russian. In order to become Russian, it is enough for Ukrainians to decide to be Russian and vice-versa.
The most dramatic thing for Russians is that without Ukraine all existence of the Russian World collapses.
Ukrainians sold and betrayed their true history, history of Old Kyiv Russia and repudiated from their kinship with Russians in return to Polish fairy tales that Russians are Mongols and Tatars.
Interesting but fact: each talented Ukrainian who starts to create high culture automatically becomes Russian.
Ukrainians are Russians who lost their minds.
There is no Ukrainian language. Ukrainian language is dialect of Russian. Illusions of the existence of a Ukrainian language occurred in Soviet times when on the basis of Poltava Russian dialect the so-called literary Ukrainian language was artificially created.
That is why Russian extremists and Putin as one of them hate Ukrainians. They consider them as “Russians” who betrayed them. It seems that Putin and Russians perceive that if Ukraine is in the EU they lose lose part of their “Russian soul” which in turn they perceive as desintegration within them. So be sure. Putin is not going to stop with Crimea. He is planning to take over all Ukraine. It is only the beginning as it touches existential and mystical strings in Putin and Russian mind.
According to research at the All-Russian center of public opinion published in Zerkalo Nedeli on September 10th 2013 more then half of Russians are ready to name Ukrainians and Belorussians who live in Russia as Russians, 29% of Russians consider Ukraine as part of Russia, 56% respondents in Russia said that Crimea is Russia.
It is no surprise that Putin’s decision to use military force has actually been popular among Russians. A new poll by VTsIOM, a state-run institution, shows that Putin’s approval is higher than it’s been since the middle of 2012 (“A New Poll Shows That Putin’s Approval Increased After Sending Troops To Crimea” by Mark Adomanis for Forbes). The same dramatic increase in public support of Hitler was seen in Nazi Germany after the annexation of the Sudetenland region and Austria in 1938.
Stubborn non-acceptance of Ukraine as a separate nation is the gravest mistake Russia ever made in its policy toward Ukraine. This mistake is even more dramatic than the higher and higher costs and consequences associated with Russia’s aggression in Ukraine explained in more details in the article “Ukraine: A Mistake Moscow Will Regret” by Steve Forbes:
the economy (possible sanctions)
possible exclusion from G8,
flight of capital,
possible freezing the illegal assets of Russian oligarchs and political leaders,
disturbances in the Russian bank system which would crimp Russia’s ability to do business with the rest of the world,
possible visa sanctions
development of the energy system in the EU to become more and more independent from Russian natural gas
I would add to this only the risk of possible disintegration of Russia following economic collapse in middle-term.
Non-acceptance of the existence of Ukraine and Ukrainians served Putin badly as a result. All his political technologists developed campaigns without taking into consideration Ukraine as a separate state and the Ukrainians as separate nation without considering the difference in psychological profiles between Russians and Ukrainians. In alternative history style I would try to assume what Putin could have seized Ukraine peacefully if he recognized existence of Ukraine as a separate state and the Ukrainians a separate from Russians nation.
Major psychological differences between Ukrainians and Russians will be explored later in the next material. This will be science fiction scenario as Putin is not able to change his attitude.
To be continued. Alternative history (science fiction): Peaceful incorporation of Ukraine in Russia. As “science fiction” material will also contain in exaggerated way (for better understanding) mistakes made by the Ukrainian politicians in euphoria after Madian and invented (not real) cold blooded cynic Russian political technologies to achieve this goal.
Edited Janet Taylor