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Thursday, July 09, 2009

Putin to Obama: At Least 17 Million Russians Live in Ukraine

That’s what Putin told Obama as the two enjoyed Russian cuisine at a lunch in Moscow. Putin had quoted that number before, when demanding that NATO stay away from Ukraine.

The only problem is, it’s 17% percent of Ukraine’s population — not 17 million people — who are ethnic Russians.

Of course,
the percentage of Ukrainian citizens who speak Russian only or surzhyk is higher, due to the Soviet policy of Russification and its lingering legacy. But these people are not ethnic Russians. Likewise, just because I speak idiomatic English, it doesn’t mean I'm British, Canadian, Australian or American.

I wonder if Obama swallowed Putin’s quote. Getting a sense of Putin’s soul can be fraught with fraud.



Michelle said...

Okay, this is just my feelings after reading this, I KNOW there's a history with Ukraine being part of Russia....BUT that notwithstanding, sometimes it's just so weird to me that a country as big as Russia STILL wants to control Ukraine. I mean, some of the stuff I have been reading lately makes me think it's more like an obsession to control people more than anything else.

Anonymous said...

Surzhyk - a new word to me. Thanks. It answers a few questions.

Taras said...

Control is the word, Michelle!

Control has played a key role in the complex web of relations between Ukraine and Russia.

At its best, this web involves human relations, such as intermarriage and the ability of most Ukrainians to speak Russian. At its worst, it involves an overlap between human relations and political relations. Chief among them is the legacy of the decades-long Soviet migration and assimilation policies that forced the identity of the dominant Soviet ethnicity upon the rest. As a result of these policies, many, if not most, Russians who live in Ukraine speak Russian only and detest Ukrainian.

And here’s how it happened: In the USSR, millions of Ukrainians went to Russia and became Russians; by contrast, not only did millions of Russians go to Ukraine and remain Russians, but they also converted millions of Ukrainians into Russians.

Thanks to the Soviet melting pot of Russification, which employed Russian-language schools, universities, organizations, theaters, movies, books, etc, the homo Sovieticus was born.

Russification served as a rite of passage in Ukraine’s urbanization and modernization. Speaking Russian opened the doors to one’s geographic and social mobility. After absorbing the Russian identity, Ukrainians would pass it on to their children as a badge of cultural and economic superiority — Russian superiority.

Meanwhile, speaking Ukrainian opened the doors to underpaid kolokhoz jobs, close surveillance by the KGB and, possibly, imprisonment. If an educated person persistently spoke Ukrainian at urban institutions, it made him or her a “nationalist,” guilty of “anti-Soviet activity,” an offense that carried a prison term. Thus, over decades, Russification confined the Ukrainian identity to the countryside, in what became a cultural and economic ghetto of inferiority — Ukrainian inferiority.

Today, after failing to Russify Ukraine completely, the Kremlin can't get enough of exploiting the legacy of Russification. That’s what President Obama should know.

You are welcome, Anonymous!

elmer said...

Interesting, however.

Here's an article that was linked to on Foreign Notes, about how Russian media stars are fleeing from Russia - to Ukraine.

Why? For freedom.

The article points out that it is the Kremlin which creates animosity and artificial "enemies" in order to - keep control.

Authoritarian control. By Putler and his gang of KGB thugs. Straight out of the sovok handbook of intimidation, threats, insults and lies.


Later, when the mobile phone of one of the channel’s exiled Russian executives rang, I got a sense of how strong the team’s animosity towards Russia’s current rulers is. I noticed an image flash on to the phone’s screen, set to appear every time it rings – a photo of the Russian prime minister with the words “Fuck Putin!” superimposed on top.,dwp_uuid=a712eb94-dc2b-11da-890d-0000779e2340.html

Ira F said...

Taras, you speak very good English. love to read your blog :)

Unknown said...

Well, Obama seems to be a politically soft to me, therefore I am not surprised that people wants to use it up on their advantage. As far as I remember Hungary also had some political success recently with America and Hungary is not the country the US should be afraid of.

Taras said...


They’re fleeing for freedom and for money.

Freedom alone wouldn’t be enough. Russian media stars Savik Shuster and Yevgeniy Kiselyov came to Ukraine not just to enjoy our relative freedom, but to make money — big money. Currently, the two are hogging the spotlight on Akhmetov’s Ukrayina channel.

>>Central to this view of diversity as a fuel for democracy is the exiles’ confidence that all of Ukraine’s elites – including the Russian-speaking eastern ones – are committed to Ukrainian statehood.<<

The reality is more complex. Ukraine's kleptocratic elites are committed to Ukrainian statehood inasmuch as they benefit from it financially. And the ways in which they benefit from it actually rob Ukraine of much of its statehood.


Thank you! Stay tuned for more:)!


Well, there’s no reason for the U.S. to be afraid of Hungary and vice versa. You’re both NATO members, right?

By virtue of history and geography, relations between Ukraine and Russia differ significantly from those between Hungary and the U.S.

The Kremlin wants Ukraine back and may construe any quid-pro-quo moves on the part of the Obama administration as a green light for action.

elmer said...

Taras, good point.

At one time, there was talk by the people in silly Donbass, fueled by the Kremlin thugs, of Donbass breaking off from Ukraine and "re-uniting" with roosha.

Akhmetov and fellow billionaires and centi-millionaires are centered in silly Donbass.

It was not hard to figure out that, after seeing what happened under Putler to Khodorkovsky and Berezovsky and all of the other rooshan thiever under Putler, that Akhmetov and wealthy friends did not want to report to Maskva.

Much safer to be in Ukraine.

So - the "political elite" don't want to run the risk of being robbed by Putler - and sent to Siberia, on top of that, like Khodorkovsky.

On the other hand, they are killing the goose that lays their golden eggs.

If they keep doing it, the will indeed run Ukraine into the ground, and there will be nothing and noone left.

As Yushchenko said quite correctly - "corruption is killing the country."

Soooo - rooshan media stars come to Ukraine for freedom - and money, as you pointed out.

But if things keep going the way they are, the rooshan media stars will have to go to Hungary or the Czech Republic, etc.

And here's an article about how Ukraine came up a winner in the recent talks between Obama and Putvedev:

Unknown said...

In Hungary Jobbik (right wing political party) is getting stronger and if they can set up their government next year then our EU membership is in danger because this party is against the EU principles. They want closer relations with Russia and former USSR states. At least I read that.

Taras said...


“Experts say Obama stood up for Ukraine's sovereignty.”

Yes, he did! But then he sort of isolated America from Ukraine’s sovereignty and misled the public by failing to mention Ukraine’s contribution to U.S. security. (Unlike America and Russia, Ukraine had given up — not reduced — its nuclear deterrent, under pressure from Washington.)

At the end of the paragraph, loud and clear, Obama stood up for NATO’s “collaboration with Russia, not confrontation.”

“Начал за здравие, а кончил за упокой,” as the Russian saying goes. “First he hailed you, and then he nailed you.”


This political platform reminds me of France’s Gaullism and Germany’s Ostpolitik.