Thursday, January 26, 2006

Ukraine: The Geopolitical Context

In a fascinating essay in Maidan, Mykola Malukha examines the concepts relating to Ukraine in Russia's geopolitical realm. He studies the history of Russia's attitudes towards Ukraine, from the 18th century onward, and shows how the threat of the establishment of an independent Ukrainian state has tended to eat at Russia's geostrategic self-confidence, especially within the context of Russian imperial ambitions. Bismarck said that "Russia could be undermined only if Ukraine was taken away from it."

As an example of present-day Russian nationalist thinking on the subject, Malukha cites a recent (1996) paper by Mikhail Smolin, a Russian political analyst who espouses the "classical" world view principles currently endorsed by the Kremlin. The paper contains the following paragraphs:
"The greatest domestic national problem for Russians as of today should be considered the 'Ukrainian' question. The lack of resolution of this issue could lead to a real tragedy the scale of which would be difficult to imagine. Any variants are possible, including even a war along the lines of that in Yugoslavia. If Russian society and the State do not act in response to the emergence on Little Russian territory of a Ukrainian State, and do not try to expose the Russo-phobic myths which are being assiduously inculcated in Ukrainian society and in the minds of Little Russians living on Russian territory, then in a very short space of time our Motherland will possibly come up against unstoppable problems presented by a Ukrainian State which has joined NATO and is ready for war with Russian as a part of any coalitions.

"'Ukrainism' which is in confrontation with the Orthodox Church, with Russian statehood and with the unity of the Russian people must be extracted from the Russian body as one extracts a harmful virus, freeing us from that ideological fog which prevents many Russians from seeing the greatest harm from the 'Ukrainian movement'. Nationally-minded Russian people, must, for the sake of the future Russian people, under no circumstances recognize the right to exist of a state of 'Ukraine', of a 'Ukrainian people' and a 'Ukrainian language'. History knows neither the first, nor the second nor the third of these – they do not exist. They are fetishes created by the ideology of our enemies."
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