Ukraine, Crimea, Revolution of Dignity
Disinformation: Ukraine is and always was a part of Russia. The Ukrainian state is a recent “invention” and has no actual history.
“The beginning of wisdom is to call things by their right names” (Confucius). The lands around today’s Moscow were on the north-eastern periphery of the Rus’ Empire, an early Ukrainian realm with its capital in Kyiv from the 9th to the 13th centuries. The invading Mongol Horde took this northern periphery in 1237 before devastating the heartland of Rus’, including Kyiv in 1240. The northern periphery with its capital in Moscow became an Ulus (province) of the Golden Horde. Kyiv and the core of the original Rus’ realm became incorporated into the Lithuanian Commonwealth, which adopted the Rus’ (Ruthenian) language and its codex of laws. The Duchy (later Tsardom) of Muscovy was greatly influenced both genetically and culturally by the Horde, and over time occupied all the lands of the Golden Horde. Muscovy was renamed by Tsar Peter I as Rossia (Latin for Rus’), as late as 1721. It was only in the 18thcentury that Muscovy-Rossia fully incorporated Kyiv and the core lands of Rus’ by ultimately destroying the Ukrainian Cossack State (16th-18th centuries). The Ruthenians (Rusyny) of the core Rus’ lands (Ukraine) near the Dnipro River began calling themselves Ukrainians as early as in the 12th century. However, as in the case of other modern European countries (Germany, Italy, Spain, and others), the adoption of “Ukraine” as a common name for the Ukrainian people and its land as a whole was a centuries-long incremental process, which came to a close for all of these nations – including Ukraine – as late as in the 19th century.
The word Ukraine (Ukrayina) is Ukrainian for country. Ukrainians re-established their independence from the Muscovite-Russian Empire in 1918. They lost this independence in 1921, but, after several unsuccessful attempts, fully regained it again in 1991 and were recognized as independent by all member-states of the United Nations. Indeed, Ukraine (as the Ukrainian SSR in 1945) joined the United Nations as one of its founding member-countries.
Disinformation: Ukraine isn’t a country.
During the NATO Summit in Bucharest, Romania, Russian President Vladimir Putin said to then U.S. President George W. Bush: “You have to understand, George, that Ukraine is not even a country.” While this opinion fits nicely with the Kremlin’s view of the world, the facts shows it to be another myth. Ukraine within its present borders, including the Russian-annexed territory of Crimea, is an internationally recognized state, and a member of the United Nations. Indeed, Ukraine joined the United Nations as one of its founding member-countries in 1945, while Russia did not – it was represented as part of the Soviet Union.
Disinformation: Kyiv is the mother of Russian cities.
Kyiv was the capital of the ancient Kyivan Rus Realm centered in Ukraine, which broke up in the 13th century, long before any state known as “Russia” came to exist. The modern Russian state directly precedes from Tsarist Russia, which itself proceeded from the Grand Duchy of Moscow, or Muscovy, with its capital in Moscow. Thus the “mother city” of modern Russia is, in fact, Moscow.
Disinformation: The Ukrainian language is a dialect of the “Great Russian” language.
Within the Slavic language group, Russian is in fact the odd one out. If you could have heard an ancient East Slavic tribesman, his speech would have sounded much more like Ukrainian than Russian. Indeed, Ukrainian shares many more linguistic features with Belarusian, Czech, Slovak, Polish and Serbo-Croat than it does with Russian. Ukrainian and Russian are not mutually intelligible – the standard linguistic test for determining whether a language is a full-fledged language in its own right, and not a dialect of another. While many people in Ukraine have Russian as their first language, most people are bilingual in Ukrainian and Russian, and will switch languages depending on who they are speaking to. Politics aside, the language issue has never been problematic in Ukraine.
Disinformation: Ukraine is “deeply divided along ethnic and linguistic lines.”
Since regaining its independence in 1991, Ukraine, as a modern European political nation, has mostly been a peaceful, ethnically and linguistically varied state, home to speakers of not only Ukrainian, but Russian, Eastern Yiddish, Rusyn, Romanian, Belarusian, Crimean Tatar, Bulgarian, Hungarian, Polish, Armenian, German and Greek. While Ukrainian is the language most commonly spoken, Russian is also widely used, and many Ukrainians are equally proficient in both. Moreover, Ukrainians will switch between the two as the situation requires, sometimes using different languages to address the members of a single conversational group. Politics had muddied the issue, but ethnic Ukrainians can be heard speaking Russian as well as Ukrainian. It is a mistake to identify a Russian-speaking Ukrainian as a “Russian,” just as it would be a mistake to say an American, Canadian, Australian, Irish person or Scot was “English” because they speak English.
Disinformation: Crimea is a Russian land.
While Russia absorbed Crimea into its empire in the 18th century after one of its many wars with the Ottoman Empire (based in Turkey), Crimea has a long history that had little to do with Russia. Geographically, the Crimean Peninsula is an integral part of Ukraine’s mainland. The people with the greatest claim to call Crimea home, are, of course, the Crimean Tatars, an ethnos that actually developed in Crimea over at least 8 centuries, but that population was repressed and deported during the time that the Russian Empire and later Soviet Union were in control of the peninsula. Things changed for the better after Ukraine gained independence, and Crimea gained autonomy within the unitary state of Ukraine, with Crimean Tatars returning to their homeland from their places of deportation in Central Asia. Ethnic Ukrainians and Russians also inhabit Crimea but describing it as “Russian land” is to ignore a vast portion of its history, both recent and ancient. Today, Crimean Tatars want Crimea to be returned to Ukraine. Some have been killed while others are being imprisoned, along with Ukrainians, by the Russians since their 2014 military invasion and illegal occupation of the peninsula.
Disinformation: Crimea was part of Russia and was “gifted” to the Ukrainian SSR by Nikita Khrushchev in 1954.
Crimea was annexed by the Russian Empire in 1783. Until then it had never been part of the empire. But conquest does not beget the right of possession. Even when it was part of the Russian Empire (nineteenth–early twentieth centuries) Crimea was economically bound more to Ukraine, especially through transport links and Ukrainian workers. The real motive behind the purely propagandistic “transfer to Ukraine” in 1954 was the terrible consequences of Russian “management,” Stalin’s deportation of the peninsula’s indigenous peoples, the ruinous state of the economy, and the need to supply fresh water from the Dnipro River, which operation began in 1957 with the construction of the North Crimean Canal.
The veracity of these historical explanations is confirmed by today’s water crisis in the peninsula: As soon as Russia annexed Crimea, water instantly disappeared. The conclusion here is that without Ukraine and without water Crimea cannot exist, and sooner or later it will be returned to Ukraine.
Disinformation: The conflict in eastern Ukraine is a spontaneous uprising mounted by the local Russian-speaking population against the Ukrainian state.
There is nothing “spontaneous” in history. The Russo-Ukrainian confrontation has deep historical roots. The absorption of Ukraine and its material and human resources is one of the key prerequisites for the deployment of the Russian imperial project. The origins of the current Russo-Ukrainian war dates to the period marked by the formation of the Russian Empire and its conflict with the Ukrainian state—the Hetmanate. The subsequent process of the formation and expansion of imperial Russia was always accompanied by wars against Ukraine. Russia sought to destroy our subjectness. The history of the Ukrainian–Russian relations is a chronicle of wars, liberation uprisings mounted by the Ukrainians, and the consistent policies of the Russification and assimilation of Ukrainians.
The current armed conflict is known as a “hybrid” war, representing a new way of implementing aggressive policies. But practically all its instruments (the attempt to consolidate Russia’s influence in the Ukrainian lands by providing support to loyal Ukrainian political milieus, creating an internal-political rift in Ukrainian society with the aid of propaganda, and, finally, open military intervention and the attempt to portray aggression as an internal, civil conflict) were tested by Russian leaders back in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The most striking scenario was used by the Bolsheviks against the Ukrainian National Republic during the Ukrainian Revolution of 1917–1921.
The Russian Federation is conducting a large-scale “hybrid” war by deploying to Ukrainian territory units of the RF’s regular armed forces as well as irregular forces, armed gangs, and groups of mercenaries that were created, commanded, and financed by Russia. These actions on the part of Russia correspond to Points, A, B, C, D, E, and G of Article 3, Resolution 3314 (XXIX) of the United Nations General Assembly’s “Definition of Aggression” adopted 14 December 1974, which makes them crimes of armed aggression against Ukraine.
Disinformation: The Revolution of Dignity on the Maidan in 2013–2014 was a “fascist putsch that toppled the lawfully elected President of Ukraine.”
Recourse to rebellion against tyranny and oppression is one of the basic human rights, and it is enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the United Nations on 10 December 1948. According to the Constitution of Ukraine, Ukrainians have the right to rebel. This follows from several provisions of the Constitution. Article 22 states: “Human and civil rights and freedoms are enshrined in this Constitution and are not exhaustive. Constitutional rights and freedoms are guaranteed and cannot be abolished.” In other words, the Constitution loses its meaning if its highest value—human rights—is being supplanted in Ukraine and if the system of Ukrainian statehood is not oriented in favor of its citizens and the implementation of their rights and freedoms. All bodies of state power are obliged to recognize, uphold, and protect the rights of all Ukrainian citizens.
The events that took place in Ukraine a few years before February 2014 may be easily defined as the “usurpation of power and the violation of citizens’ rights to freedom and dignity.” This period saw the toppling of the constitutional order. The power structures began to exert pressure on citizens and lay criminal charges against them. The number of crimes that the regime perpetrated against citizens increased, and their rights and freedoms were violated. The non-implementation and absence of any actions on the part of the state gave the people the legitimate right to rebel.
The grounds determining the lawfulness of the uprising against the regime were the following circumstances:
In these circumstances, the rebelling people were saving Ukraine from annihilation. After Yanukovych’s escape, his associates published the following statement: “We, the Party of Regions faction in the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine and our fellow party members, decisively condemn the criminal orders that led to the loss of life, an empty treasury, immense debts, and shame before the Ukrainian people and the whole world, as a result of which our country has ended up on the edge of a precipice, the threat of disunion, and the loss of our national sovereignty.”
The Revolution of Dignity on the Maidan was not a “fascist putsch” but a nationwide uprising in which millions of Ukrainian citizens ACROSS Ukraine took part.
Disinformation: The Revolution of Dignity on the Maidan in 2013–2014 was a CIA plot.
If you Google the words “Maidan” and “CIA,” you will see only postings by Russian propaganda channels. Not a single serious piece of fact-based research exists in this connection. Thus, the theory of the “hand of the CIA” is, from beginning to end, an invention of Russian propagandists.
The historical significance of the Ukrainian Revolution of Dignity lies above all in the fact that it succeeded in halting the threat of destruction of Ukraine’s independence and safeguarding its European aspirations and Ukrainians’ freedom and dignity. The French philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy declared that Ukrainians “practically with their bare hands forced the Berkut to retreat, and with the determined action worthy of great nations inflicted a historic defeat on tyranny, and therefore they are not simply Europeans but the best of Europeans, not only in terms of history but also blood that has been shed.”