"Nations, like individuals, are born, live and die. In fact, as Shlomo Sands so brilliantly demonstrated in his book The Invention of the Jewish People, nations are really invented, created. In fact, the 20th century has shown us many nations invented ex-nihilo, out of nothing (in order to avoid offending somebody or getting sidetracked, I shall not give examples, but God knows there are many). A "nation" does not need to have deep historical and cultural roots, it does not need to have a legitimate historiography, in fact, all it takes to "create a nation" is a certain amount of people identifying themselves as a community – all the rest can be created/invented later. Thus the argument of some Russians that there is no such thing as a Ukrainian nation is fundamentally mistaken: if there are enough people identifying themselves as "Ukrainian" then a distinct "Ukrainian nation" exists. It does not matter at all that there is no trace of that nation in history or that its founding myths are ridiculous as long as a distinct common is shared by its members. And from that point of view, the existence of a Ukrainian nation fundamentally different from the Russian one is an undeniable reality. And that is the immense achievement of the Latin Church – it undeniably succeeded in its desire to cut-off the western Russians from their historical roots and to create a new nation: the Ukrainians. As an aside, but an important one I think, I would note that the Mongols played a similarly crucial role in the creation of the modern Russian nation. After all, what are the "founding blocks" of the Russian culture. The culture of the Slavs before the Christianization of Russia in the 10th century? Yes, but minimally. The continuation of the Roman civilization after the Fall of the 2nd Rome? Yes, to some degree, but not crucially. The adoption of the Christian faith after the 10 century? Yes, definitely. But the Russian *state* which grew out of the rather small Grand Duchy of Moscow was definitely shaped by the Mongol culture and statecraft, not Byzantium or ancient Rus. It would not be incorrect to say that ancient Kievan Rus eventually gave birth to two distinct nations: a Ukrainian one fathered by the Papist occupation and a Russian one, fathered by the Mongol occupation. In that sense the russophobic statement of the Marquis de Custine "Grattez le Russe, et vous verrez un Tartare" (scratch the Russian and you will find a Mongol beneath) is correct. Equally, however, I would argue that one could say that "scratch the Ukrainian, and you will find the Papist beneath"." The Saker
The Saker man is evidently a "legal alien" living in Austria. This article is a potent explication of the present mess. I think he under-rates the possibility that Russia may decide to cut the Gordian knot in this situation, but, we will see. We will see, pl
Respectfully disagree with SAKER! I would argue the Norse starting in the late 8th Century [and perhaps earlier given the burials of red haired whites in the Altai region much older] seem to have settled Kiev and Moscow early as they followed the Dnieper and Volga Rivers to their outflows. At least initially Viking weapons [steel?] was superior to those they fought!
Col Lang, David Habakkuk
Thanks for posting this. The complexities
of history overwhelm those who would try
to make sense of the present and the future
of any event. Would that our “policy makers”
try to comprehend a fraction of this.
Concur..Swedish Vikings sailing down the Dneipr are considered to have been the founders of the Kievan Rus. During the events of the past couple weeks, you may have seen the monument to the founders of Kiev/Kyiv prominent riverside monument to the founders of Kyiv – Kyi, Shchek, Khoriv and their sister Lybid at the foot of Pechersky plateau on the bank of the Dniper.
The sculpture is a boat with the three brothers standing at the stern with two holding spears and Kyi holding a large bow.
Max Blumenthal reports:
I think the Saker is wrong about Ukrainian Catholic history. The Ukrainian regions in the west which are Catholic are so because they were part of Great Poland and subsequently the AustroHungarian Empire. Lviv for example. Kiev is an orthodox city.
This is a most interesting series of posts on the Ukraine. In my 70 years I never heard of the Northern Crusade of the Catholics against the Greek Orthodox Church in Central Europe; although, I had read that the Crusaders sacked Constantinople. If this is part of their cultural history, the divide between the Greek Orthodox East and Catholic West will never be healed.
Vladimir Putin has to play the long game to keep the gas flowing west and covertly assist Russian supporters in the east.
I have been called silly for pointing out the Obama Administration’s continuation of the policies of the Bush II Administration. It is even worse than I suspected. I’ve always thought that Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovenia, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Romania, Albania and Croatia joining NATO were a provocation to Moscow. Victoria Nuland (Mrs. Robert Kagan of the neo-con Kagan clan) said that $5 billion has been invested in the development of Ukrainian democratic institutions. A repeat Beer Hall Putsch supported by NGOs, USA and the EU succeeded in Kiev. Apparently today’s Plutocrats need new land and people to exploit to expand their wealth and power. They are taking risks that could result in World War III. But, to watch the media, you would never know any of this. Instead last night we saw only candles and prayers to the dead in Kiev’s Freedom Square.
I consider the Marquis’ comment to have been ironic, perhaps, but not Russophobic. The Tatar conquest of the various “Russian lands” and the suppression by an outside power of the destructive century-long infighting among the descendants of Vladimir Monomakh after his death as Kievan prince in 1125 established, for the first time in Russian history, a single instance from which all power emanated: the Khan acted as judge, jury and executioner over all of the Russian princes. Note that this was already the personal authority of the Russian autocrat in embryo. That the principal lieutenant of the Khan in his Russian “ulus” for the collection of tributes – backed by sizable Tatar detachments – ended up as the holder of the crown in the city of Vladimir, already pretty much the fief of the princes of Moscow, gave these latter decisive financial and military advantages over the other princes. What ensued was, for Moscow, as much a “gathering of power” as a “gathering of Russian lands”. But the stamp of 200 years of Tatar overlordship – exercised through a profoundly personal rather than institutional (or constitutional) conduct of rule (even with the State’s “civilizing mission” borrowed from European absolutism and grafted onto it in Peter I’s time) – has cast a very long historical shadow over Russian views and practices of governance.
To be sure, the Christianization of Russia, the emergence of a single liturgical and literary language under the aegis of the Orthodox Church – itself a sort of organized governmental hierarchy – is already a precursor for Russian “national” feeling, though the view that “Kievan Rus’” was a “state” is for me disputable. The era of the Tatar “yoke” (roughly the 1230s to the 1430s), however, greatly magnified this general sense of a single “etnos,” especially among populations directly affected by the depredations of the “godless pagans,” and made, in practice, de facto subject of the Muscovite princes. This was no small thing. Prior to the conquest, sectional identification seems to have been strong: the archaeology in the Russian Northwest (which was spared the vicissitudes of the conquest) shows that – despite the undeniable spread of a single Russian literary language in ecclesiastical circles – ordinary correspondents in Novgorod and its hinterlands wrote and probably spoke in a dialect related to the era of settlement and entirely distinct from that of the Northeast. The forcible absorption of Novgorodian domains as the patrimony of the Grand Princes of Moscow, the obliteration of its state institutions and the resettlement of its elite families in the 1470s sort of put an end to that.
In short, V.V. Putin’s “authoritarianism” has very deep historical roots – and so do the sectional tensions from which it historically emerged, at least in part, to combat.
Just an open question. Having read the post above and the article linked, are the Saudis likely to be funneling money into this mess.
vv said: “never heard of the Northern Crusade of the Catholics against the Greek Orthodox Church in Central Europe…
think Teutonic Knights. Ever see “Alexander Nevsky”(Eisenstein, 1938)?
I would just like to point out that the Catholicism in at least a sizable portion of Western Ukraine is Byzantine Catholicism (my wife is this). They follow the Pope in Rome, recite many prayers in old Slovak, and use what is basically Orthodox rites.
If you talk to enough Russians, or even just browse their postings on the internet, something curious about them becomes apparent: they all spin some sort of xenophobic, paranoiac, anti-American, the-West-is-out-to-get-Russia narrative. Get to know them better, and you’ll find that the same paranoiac psychology persists in all phases of their lives, from the wacko stories they make up about the ‘hidden meanings’ of Tchaikovsky symphonies to the toxic effects of drinking pure water. Welded to this is every Russian’s staunch, instinctive, often militant view that there’s no such thing as Ukraine, much less a Ukrainian language, separate from and independent of Russia. “Vineyard Saker” here is a prime example of the exact type of Russian mentality I’m talking about.
Most of his “history” is wrong, or made-up, starting with [and especially] the notion that there was no historic Ukraine, but only Russia. Of course, that’s what Ukraine-hating, Ukraine-denying Russians have said for hundreds and hundreds of years. Nothing new there. From that fraudulent beginning, he proceeds to make up a Latin church covert cold-war war waged against Orthodox Russia, and then [amazingly] credits it with “creating” Ukraine. He then careens into the WWII era, repeating all of the false Russian disinformation about Stephan Bandera and his struggle in an attempt to discredit the entire independent Ukraine movement.
Without going here into a lengthy historical account, let me just set the foundational history straight. Kievan Rus is NOT the history of Russia. Russia didn’t even exist at the time. It’s the history of Ukraine. The beginning of the Ukrainian nation begins with Rus – Kievan Rus. Russian origins may be found in the distant, primitive, Ural-Finno-Ugarik Asian settlements of Vladimir-Suzdal, which eventually spread to include Moscow.
I know – it stings like hell to have the cornerstone upon which Russians have built their fraudulent history suddenly ripped out from under you, but facts are facts. Oh, and as has been repeated ad infinitum, the name ‘Rus’ should never be confused with the unfortunate name created centuries later in Moscow’s desperate bid for legitimacy, “Russia”. What Saker and his fellow travelers should realize is that, despite centuries of relentless effort by the Russians [among many others] to exterminate any trace of Ukrainian identity and nationhood, both still exist and continue to grow. The truth, as is often said, always has a way of rising to the top.
Comments on SST are moderated by me. They do not appear unless they are approved by me or guest authors. It is not necessary or desired that you should try over and over again to post the same ones. pl
deja vu? You mean the US spent $5 billion and a decade destabilizing Yugoslavia? I don’t think that is correct.