Putin’s War on Ukraine Is About Ethnicity and Empire

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President Joe Biden took office believing that the century’s war would be between autocracies and democracies.

In waging war against Ukraine, President Vladimir Putin of Russia has been influenced by a distinct notion called ethnonationalism. It’s an idea of nationhood and identity based on culture, language and bloodlines — a collectivist ideology deep in Russian historical and philosophical thought.

Putin has repeatedly declared that Ukraine has never been a genuine state and that Ukrainians are not real people, but Russian are part of the Slavic heartland, including Belarus.

“Putin is seeking to strengthen the frontier of civilization of Russia in the manner he describes it and is trying to do that by occupying an independent European state,” said Ivan Vejvoda. The latter is a senior fellow of the Institute of Human Sciences in Vienna.

In this regard, claims Ivan Krastev, the war is one of recolonization taking over lands that were ruled by the Russian empire and that of the Soviet Union.

“Even the case that Ukraine was autocratic, it wouldn’t be accepted by Putin,” he said. “He’s consolidating the imperial nationalists.”

If Putin started as a “Soviet man red colonel”, said Krastev, the Bulgarian who is the head of the Center for Liberal Strategies in Sofia, “He now attacks the Soviet Union as an oppressor of the Russian people. To Putin, this is an identity conflict.”

For the opponents of Putin in Ukraine and the West, countries are built on the principle of civic responsibility, the rule of law, and the rights of both individuals and minorities, such as freedom of speech and the right to vote.

“What Russia is doing is not just waging war on an innocent nation in this country,” said Timothy Snyder, who is a professor of Yale and a prolific writer on Russia and Ukraine and Ukraine, while also challenging beliefs about the peaceful Europe which respects borders, the sovereignty of nations as well as multilateral organizations.

“The Russian leadership is deliberately taking away the linguistic and moral structure we drew during the Second World War,” he claimed.

The war is the result of a conflict between different political structures, “a war against liberal democratic principles,” and Ukraine’s right to self-determination, according to Nathalie Tocci, head of Italy’s International Affairs Institute. However, this is only one aspect of a larger war, according to her, in the context of how Putin attempts to alter the definition of what it means to be sovereign.

“He’s returning to an irredentist, dangerous and ethnic nationalist vision of self-determination and sovereignty,” Tocci said.

Vejvoda, who is Serb, is aware that the concept of ethnic-nationalism is one that the former Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic also played with and claimed that the former Yugoslavia suppressed Serbian goals and identity. Although Milosevic humorously employed these arguments, Putin seems to have taken them in full.

The notion that Russia is a distinct civilization in comparison to the West in which it competes has been around for centuries, going back to the origins in Orthodox Christianity and the notion of Moscow as the “third Rome,” following Rome itself and Constantinople. Snyder has looked into the roots of what he calls an expression known as Russian Christian fascism, including Ivan Ilyin, a writer born in 1883 who believed in the salvation of an absolute state ruled by a saintly individual.

Ilyin’s ideas are being renewed and praised through Putin and his group of security personnel and allies such as Yuri Kovalchuk, who was identified recently as a hedonism by Mikhail Zygar, the former editor of the news channel-independent TV Rain, as “an ideologue who subscribes to a worldview that blends Orthodox Christian mysticism, anti-American conspiracy theories, and Hedonism.”

The views from Lev Gumilyov have also influenced Putin, a Soviet-era historian and ethnologist who advocated “Eurasianism” as a solution towards European influence, as well as Aleksandr Dugin, who has been promoting this notion to create an ultranationalist vision of the future of Russia as a nation of conservatives in constant conflict and with those of the modern Western world. Their history has been explained particularly in the work of Charles Clover in his book, “Black Wind, White Snow The Rising of the Russian New Nationalism.”

Dugin has long demanded the reabsorption of Ukraine and is often referred to as “Putin’s philosophical.” The year 2014 was when Dugin declared: “Only after we have restored the Greater Russia which is now known as the Eurasian Union, we can be a credible global player.” The Ukrainian rebellion against Russian influence in 2014 was what he described as “a coup d’etat arranged by the United States of America.” The United States,” a Western attempt to halt “the advancement towards Russian and Ukrainian integration.”

However, even if Putin at one time seemed to be using such ideas to fill the ideological gap that was left by the fall of communism, he appears to have taken them in and taken action on the ideas.

There is fertile soil for such notions in Russia that have been divided over the decades in the past between “Westernizers” and those that view”the West as a cancerexotic, debauched dangerous, and insidious.

Western Europeans coped differently with their empires that failed and merged their weak nations to form the European Union to restrain aggressive nationalism.

“The European Union was the change of empires that fell in their quest to create something new,” stated Pierre Vimont, a former French ambassador to the United States now at Carnegie Europe — something that is more secure and less susceptible to conflict.

Putin’s notion of being a nation is an autocratic and ethnic concept that is in stark contrast to the Western concept of a multi-cultural nation based on civic responsibility and rules of law, and individual rights. If you want to become an American, Many have said it’s required to swear allegiance to our flag, observe the law and pay taxes.

Striving to define what constitutes a “true American” has fed into a populist far-right. In the former president’s praise for Putin, there are elements of a sense of belonging to an uncompromising leader that defends “traditional” traditional “and limiting — notions of national identity.

As with the far left in European countries such as Germany, France and Italy having a relationship with Putin in the present, as he fights his offensive war in Ukraine is a shameful reminder of where these opinions can lead.

China is the second excellent autocracy part of Biden’s formulation, is another excellent autocracy. Biden’s version was based on the same ideas of ethnic nationalism. It is based on the idea that all Chinese share one nation and that minorities like the Uyghurs are dangerous or inferior. Taiwan’s separateness is an illusion, a blunder of history that needs to be rectified.

India, a great democratic country, is being forced into nationalism by Premier Narendra Modi, who has a Hindu rise to power. In Turkey, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan recreated the historical stories of the Ottoman Empire while expressing solidarity with Turkic-speaking populations in Azerbaijan, Nagorno-Karabakh, Azerbaijan and Central Asia.

Also, in Europe, Viktor Orban, the Hungarian premier, has pushed for Hungarian nationalist identity and nationalism despite criticism from Brussels. He has given out Hungarian passports for ethnic Hungarians in Romania and other countries who can vote in Hungary and give him at least advantage in the polls. However, Orban will be a candidate for the parliament in the coming month, and his long-standing, close relationships with Putin have been a source of political harm. At the same time, he swiftly embraced European Union sanctions on Russia and welcomed Ukrainian refugees.

The ethnic-nationalist war of Putin’s has not been remarkably smooth; to his dismay, it’s unfolding as a bloody battle rather than a triumphant victory. Making it a civilizational conflict creates a myriad of challenges for Russian invaders. After all, it is a civil war, and if Russians and Ukrainians are part of the same people as Putin claims, they are firing at their sisters and brothers.

“It’s not an easy task for these youngsters to murder Ukrainians who have the same language and look like their parents,” Krastev said. “It was much simpler with people like the Chechens,” the non-Slavic people from the Caucasus who Russia has been fighting for centuries. Catherine the Great.

Putin’s greatest disappointment, as stated by Krastev, is the fact that Russian people living in Ukraine were fighting his forces. Some of his most beloved Ukrainian oligarchs like Rinat Akhmetov and Dmytro Firtash “have suddenly discovered that they are Ukrainian.”

Putin has also been working to build a militaristic society. This is based on Russia’s pride in the victory over Nazi Germany in what is known as “The Great Patriotic War.” However, now Ukraine is also fighting and is a victim of the Nazis has adopted the same tactics against the invaders, Russians. In the case of Ukraine, Krastev said, “this is their Great Patriotic War.”

Putin has contributed more to the development of Ukrainian nationhood than anyone else in the West could have, Krastev said.

“Putin would have liked to have father’s title to a brand new Russian country,” he said, “but instead, he has the title of father to the new Ukrainian country instead.”

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