December 14, 2016

On the Firmness of Principles of Russia's Foreign Policy towards Ukraine

 

Serhiy Rudyuk,

historian

The Russian Federation's armed aggression against Ukraine, occupation and annexation of the Crimean Autonomy and invasion of Russian troops in the Ukrainian Donbas were a complete surprise to both, Ukrainian politicians and their foreign partners. But not to experts in the history of international relations. They are well aware that Russia's foreign policy towards Ukraine is based on several principles, constant under all forms of Russia's social system — imperial, communist, liberal-democratic or whatever other kind.

The first and the most important principle: non-recognition of Ukrainians a separate ethnos (nation/people). “Ukrainian” is originally not an ethnic, but a political concept”.

It is known that ethnicity can be defined as stable inter-generation group of people historically settled in a particular area, which has not only similarities, but also relatively stable features of culture (especially the language) and the psyche, as well as awareness of its unity and difference from all the other similar entities (self-conscience), recorded in the self-appellation (ethnonym). The Ukrainian people meets all the requirements of this definition.

Ukrainians have their own ethnic territory. Thus, the Ukrainian and known to the international scientific community geographer and cartographer Volodymyr Kubiyovych (1900–1985) pointed out that as of the 1st of January, 1939, the Ukrainian ethnic territory was 932 100 square kilometers with the population of 54.2 million people. In turn, the famous scientist, academician of the Academy of Sciences of Ukraine Stepan Rudnytskyi (1877–1937) argued that, together with the adjacent, mainly populated by Ukrainians territories, mainly in the South-East, Ukraine occupies the area of 1 200 000 square kilometers with the population of 57.6 million people. This is much more than the modern Ukrainian state with its area of 603.7 thousand square kilometers and population of 42 million people. Because the administrative boundaries of the “Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic”, from which in 1991 emerged an independent Ukraine, had been determined in Moscow during the Soviet era (1924–1991) without taking into consideration the Ukrainians' aspirations and interests. Therefore, in the Russian Federation there are now 114,3 thousand square kilometers of the continuous ethnic Ukrainian territory with the population of many millions.

The Ukrainian ethnic territory by V. Kubiyovych

The Ukrainian ethnic territory by V. Kubiyovych

Ukrainians have their ancient and unique culture, as well as sui generis mentality. Numerous travellers, diplomats and scientists have always pointed out this Ukrainians' distinction from Russians. In particular, Austrian diplomat S. Herberstein (1486–1566) well distinguished between Ukrainians (Rusyns) and Muscovites. The English Ambassador at the Moscow court in 1588 Giles Fletcher, who called the Ukrainians “Cherkasians” or “Circassians” (from the city of Cherkasy, now the regional center of Ukraine), wrote that they “...are very good-looking and noble in behavior”. But the secretary of the embassy of Emperor Leopold I in Moscow (1698–1699), Johann Georg Korb characterized the people of Moscow as follows: “The people are ignorant, with sluggish and stupid mind”, “a Muscovite values friendship for the benefit”. As for the Ukrainian Cossacks, Korb wrote that “...this nation is strong and is Muscovites superior by and military skill and courage”. The Prussian explorer of Russia Baron August von Haxthausen (1792–1866) in his “Studies”, comparing Russians with Ukrainians, wrote: “Ukrainians are the opposite of the Muscovites. A Ukrainian is thoughtful, energetic, happily recalls the past of his people and loves to make mention of the heroic deeds of his ancestors. Ukrainians are poetic, imaginative people, and so it is easy to understand what a great number of folk songs, tales and legends has been preserved by them. Immeasurably greater than that of the Muscovites, Ukrainians also have a well-developed aesthetic sense”. The outstanding French geographer Jean-Jacques Jacques Élisée Reclus (1830–1905), the author of the monumental twenty-volume work (1876–1894) — the regional geography of the world (”La Nouvelle Géographie universelle, la terre et les hommes”) in Volume 5 presented Ukraine as an independent geographical unit. He writes: “The Ukrainians are clearly distinct from the Poles in the West and from the Russians in the East; Ukrainians and Russians seldom intermarry”.

Plaque dedicated to Ems Decree in Bad Ems, Germany

Plaque dedicated to Ems Decree in Bad Ems, Germany

The Ukrainians' reluctance to consider Russians “inside men” and mingle with them, Moscow's occupying government saw as a threat to its ruling Ukraine. Therefore, it constantly resorted to state measures aimed at assimilation of the Ukrainian people so that there were no Ukrainians as a separate, distinctive ethnic group.

For example, in the document which Ivan Mazepa, receiving the Hetman's Mace, signed in July 1687 and pledged to implement (Kolomak articles), we read: “Hetman promises with every effort to unite into a strong and indissoluble union the two Russian peoples in all possible ways, especially through family bonds”. This point, imposed on Hetman Ivan Mazepa by Russians, was more dangerous than the Moscow Tsar's notorious Valuev Circular of 1863 and Ems Decree of 1876 banning the Ukrainian language. It can be attributed to the Russian autocracy's worst actions to eliminate Ukrainians as a nation, because, according to scientists, it was “aimed at the biological destruction of the Ukrainian nation through cross marriages”.

The Russian language played an extremely important role in denationalization of Ukrainians. For a long time little-known, it begins to penetrate into Ukraine after the Pereyaslav Agreements of 1654, when, allegedly to help the Ukrainians in their war against Poland, several thousand Moscow Streltsy (riflemen) with their families arrived in Kyiv. Soon, however, the Russian language in Ukraine from the ally turns into the occupying one.

Thanks to the actions of the Russian administration, it began to displace the Ukrainian language from the official, ecclesiastical, scientific, educational spheres, reducing it to the “not prestigious” dialect of “common people” and “profanum vulgus”. In fact it was destruction of the Ukrainian culture, the foundation of which is the language, and with it of the sense of national identity. The well-known Ukrainian public figure and scientist N. Shapoval said, “...All the oppressors are fighting against the Ukrainian school, literature, art and religion, against the main forms of spiritual organization of the people, or in other words: against the organization of self-consciousness of the Ukrainian people. The oppressors are most afraid of self-consciousness, because it is impossible to rule the self-conscious”.

One of the creators of this insidious policy against the Ukrainian people was Artamon Matveyev (1625–1682) — a spy and diplomat. He stressed that it was especially important to capture Ukraine, because it meant not just economic benefits, but also “attaching — in his opinion — a branch to a decent root”, i.e. genealogic tree. Having illegally appropriated the state ancestry of the Ukrainian Kyiv princely state, the Muscovites had stolen also the ancient name of our land — Rus, and renamed their own state “Russia”. The Moscow Tsar's associate A. Menshikov in  1713 wrote in his letter to the Ambassador of Muscovy in Copenhagen V. Dolgoruky: “All the chimes (newspapers — author) call our state Muscovy, not Russia, so please, make sure they print Russia, and this has been written to other royal courts“.

The dictionary of the Ukrainian language by Borys Grinchenko, 1907–1909

The dictionary of the Ukrainian language by Borys Grinchenko, 1907–1909

Accordingly, the people of Muscovy land through manipulations, with the aim of successful assimilation policy towards Ukrainians, unexpectedly received a foreign to them ethnographic name “Russians” which was untrue and totally contrary to science. No honest anthropologist would identify these two people. But most importantly — the Ukrainians themselves never identified themselves with their neighbors. In the dictionary of the Ukrainian language by Borys Grinchenko we read, “Moskal — a Great Russian. Moskal belts himself with bast, has bast shoewear and leads everybody in basts. Number 849. To send a Moskal — to lie, to fool, to deceive. Moskovshchyna (Muscovy)  — Moskovschina and France nailed it (the Ukrainian word) to the ground. K. XII, 16”.

Map of the end of the 17th century. Baworowscyis' Library in Lviv

Map of the end of the 17th century. Baworowscyis' Library in Lviv

Since times immemorial Ukrainians has called their native land Ukraine (the first known chronicle mention of the name “Ukraine” dates back to the year 1189), and themselves — Ukrainians. Therefore, in the European map of the end of the 17th century from Baworowscyis' Library in Lviv, the territory of Ukraine is marked as follows: Ukranie of T Land der Cosacken (Ukraine Cossacks' land). Official, in particular Latin, sources, used also the bookish name “Rus” (Ruthenia), the inhabitants of which were called, respectively, “Rusyns” (ruthenians). Until Moscow Tsar Peter I's fraud, the name “Rus” had been used in regard to our lands and not to Muscovy.

The Russian Empire's self-liquidating as a result of the February Revolution of 1917 and its disintegration into national states put an end to using the name “Russia” referring to Moscow lands. The Bolsheviks of that time knew this, because having restored (by the force of arm) the empire, they did not use its former name and proposed in 1924 “The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics” (USSR), part of which was the administrative entity under the name of “The Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic”.

From the point of view of the international law, the modern use of the name “Russia” (“The Russian Federation”), cannot be considered legitimate. Because it shows the Kremlin leaders' imperial ambitions and their aggressive intentions towards neighboring national states, and is an affront to their sovereignty and territorial integrity.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the leadership of the Russian Federation has not changed its attitude to the independent Ukraine. Thus, Russian President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly said that “Russians and Ukrainians — are one people”. If we omit all kinds of “scientific” justifications of this thesis by the Russian historical propaganda, we will understand its nature: in today's world, the right to self-determination and formation of independent states is recognized only for the peoples-nations. The attempts of some administrative units of sovereign states or ethnic groups to become independent falls within the definition of separatism. Separatism, under international law, is a crime. Hence the official Moscow's constant attempts to persuade the world that there is no such people as the Ukrainian, there is only a Russian tribe of “Malorossy” (“Little Russians”), whose separatism (“Ukrainism”) is inspired by Russia's ill-wishers from abroad.

Also the long-time ruling in the Ukrainian lands and gradual assimilation of the local population have developed the Russians' persistent attitude to Ukrainians as a second-class tribe. Accordingly, the independence of Ukraine is perceived by the Russian society at best as a historical amusing incident, and at worst — as a deadly offence of the Polish (German, American, etc.), political intrigue, due to which (and, according to the Russians, only thanks to it) such independence became possible. After all, the non-recognition of the Ukrainians by one ethnos means non-recognition of the Ukrainians' exclusive right to the land and mineral resources of Ukraine. That is, behind all the high-profile historical disputes there is the usual mercantile interest of the Kremlin elite to monopoly ownership and unrestricted exploitation of human and natural resources of Ukraine.

Hence follows the second principle: Russia has never considered Ukraine an equal partner in international relations, and therefore has never fulfilled its obligations to the Ukrainian side. The signed Ukrainian-Russian agreements have always been violated by Moscow at the earliest opportunity, without worry about the consequences for the official Kiev.

Thus, according to the Brest Peace Treaty with the countries of the Quadruple Alliance (March 1918), Russia recognized Ukraine's independence, and the Russian troops were withdrawn from the Ukrainian People's Republic. In order to disengage the armed forces of both the parties to the conflict, the so-called “neutral zone” was formed. Although delayed by the fault of the Russian side, the Russian-Ukrainian peace talks did begin. From the outside it seemed that things were coming to diplomatic resolving of the conflict between Ukraine and Russia. However, Russia stubbornly adhered to the long-standing principles of its policy towards Ukraine. The peace talks were only “a distraction”. The members of Russia's numerous “peace” delegation in Kyiv, under the guise of immunity immediately started organizing in Ukraine the Russian armed underground, supplying it with professionals from Russia, financing, weapons and equipment.

Russia turned the “neutral zone” into a place of basing its subversive and reconnaissance units, which terrorized residents of the nearby Ukrainian lands. At the same time, in the border areas with Ukraine along the lines of Tula, Kaluga, Oryol, Bryansk, Kurgan, Pochep, Zernova and other settlements, they began to form the invasion army. Its basis was the 2nd Orel Division and the 43rd Worker Regiment of the Russian Red Army. November 11, 1918, at the joint meeting of the Revolutionary Military Council of the RSFSR and the leadership of the CP(b)U, representative of the latter Ya. Yakovlev stated that “...although there are a lot of workers and peasants on our side, but without an intervention of great forces of the Red Army, there is no hope for a rise of the revolutionary movement in Ukraine, let alone for its success”.

To hide the decisive role of the Red Army of the RSFSR in the conquest of Ukraine from the international community, in the last days of November in Kursk, was restored the communist puppet “government of Ukraine” (canceled by the II Congress of the Communist Party of Ukraine (Bolshevik) at the direction of the Central Committee of the RCP a month earlier). This new, created by the Moscow Central Committee of the Russian Communist Party, so-called “Provisional Workers and Peasants' Government of Ukraine”, led first by non-Ukrainian by origin Yu. Pyatakov, and later — by the recent head of the Russian delegation at the Peace Talks in Kyiv Bulgarian H. Rakovskyi, had to be a political cover for the Red Army's military operations in Ukraine. At the same time, Moscow neutralized Germany — the then guarantor of the Ukrainian-Russian peace process — having supported the revolution in Germany in the autumn of 1918. Once the government of Kaiser Wilhelm had fallen, the Russian Soviet government by its decree of November 13, 1918, breaking the international treaty law, officially declared itself free from the taken in March 1918 in Brest and confirmed in the Peace Talks in Kyiv, obligation to recognize and respect the independence and sovereignty of Ukraine.

Telegram of V. Lenin to the commander-in-chief of the Red Army J. Vatsetis. Collected Works of V. I. Lenin, Vol. 37. — М., 1974, з. 234

Telegram of V. Lenin to the commander-in-chief of the Red Army J. Vatsetis

In December 1918, the Bolshevik Army, led by J. Stalin, V. Antonov and V. Zatonskyi, treacherously, without declaring war, crossed the demarcation line established before and went on the offensive in the Ukrainian People's Republic. The unofficial slogan of the aggressor was, “Ukraine is not for Ukrainians!”

The third principle: bringing contention into the Ukrainian society and defeating some Ukrainians with the hands of others is Moscow's favorite method of destruction of Ukraine's independence. This technique was used to the full in the times of B. Khmelnitsky's successor Hetman Ivan Vyhovskyi (1657–1659).

In his foreign policy I. Vyhovskyi wanted to maintain friendly relations with all neighboring countries, without giving preference to anyone in Ukraine. He believed that the system of balance of international priorities would ensure the independence of Ukraine.

First Vyhovskyy did not want to break with Moscow, but was trying to make it treat Ukraine as an equal state. “Let the Great Russia be Great Russia, let Ukraine be Ukraine, because we are the invincible army” — he said to Moscow Ambassador in respond to the statement that allegedly Ukraine — was “a branch broken off from the natural root of Great Russia”. Vyhovskyy wanted the tsarist government not to interfere with internal affairs of Ukraine, which wanted to manage its army, finance, public relations itself. He also lashed out against the deployment in regional administrative centers of Ukraine of Russian military garrison headed by uncontrolled by hetman tsarist governors. Moscow did not like Vyhovskyi's position and rapidly removed him from power.

Monument to Hetman of Ukraine Ivan Vyhovskyi

Monument to Hetman of Ukraine Ivan Vyhovskyi

First the Moscow Tsar questioned the legitimacy of the election I. Vyhovsky Hetman of Ukraine explaining it by the amendment to the agreement of 1654 unilaterally adopted by Moscow after B. Khmelnytskyi's death. According to the amendment, the election of a new Hetman of Ukraine had to be held in the presence of a representative of the Tsar. Therefore, a nobleman Bohdan Khitrovo was sent from Moscow, who tried to prevent the re-electing I. Vyhovskyi Hetman of Ukraine. However, he did not succeed, and the Cossack Council elected Vyhovskyi to the position of Hetman of Ukraine for the second time.

Then the tsarist government set up Vyhovskyi's rivals for the Hetman's mace to rebel against the legally elected Hetman. The representative of the Moscow tsar Khitrovo met Poltava Colonel Martyn Pushkar, gave him sables, assured of the royal mercy. And Pushkar, inspired by so much attention, with the support of Zaporizhzhya Sich Cossack Chieftain Yakiv Barabash, raised an armed rebellion, the suppression of which cost the Ukrainian people numerous casualties.

That was the beginning of Moscow's tradition of splitting the Ukrainian society into warring groups with their gradual destruction. The essence of this insidious policy is set out in Duke Golitsyn's letter to Chancellor Golovkin: “For the sake of our own safety in Ukraine, — wrote Golitsyn, — it is necessary first of all to sow dissent between Colonels and Hetman... As I used to write to you, so now I say: it is necessary in all regiments to have Colonels who disagree with Hetman; if there is discord between Hetman and Colonels, all their matters will be open to us”. At the same time, officials in Moscow declared their intention to protect the Cossacks and peasants from the alleged “oppression” by the Cossack starshyna (senior officers).

Later the real motives of this “concern” about the fate of Ukrainian peasants and ordinary Cossacks were described by Kochubey in his letter to Myakotin on the occasion on the latter's report on the Ukrainian issue in the Russian Empire, made on the 29th of January, 1927 in Paris: “The basis of the Moscow government's “sympathy“ to Ukrainian masses is one and the same object: the Cossack senior officers and their destruction”. But why?

”The Cossack senior officers were the sole material and political state power in Ukraine, which could defend the Nation's rights to territorial independence and at the same time, by their patriotism to constrain social aspirations of the masses, directing them to such things as speedy liberation of Ukrainian territories from Lviv to uninhabited eastern steppes under Khmelnytskyi's leadership. They were the force that made the states: Moscow, Poland, Sweden, Brandenburg, Wallachia and others consider the Ukrainian issue as a state matter, not as an episode of the local “peasant rebellion”.

That is why the Moscow government had been making great efforts to destroy the Ukrainian ruling elite. The victim of this insidious policy were not only all colleagues of Hetman B. Khmelnytskyi, but a whole generation of the Ukrainian Cossack starshyna — participants and witnesses of the national liberation struggle of the Ukrainian people against Poland in 1648–1657.

Having neutralized the Ukrainian Cossack senior officers, Russia effortlessly “reformed”, that is, destroyed the Cossack army. In 1797 the Russian government held the first forced conscription in Ukraine. And Ukrainian blood started being shed in wars for Russia's interests in the fields of the then “hot spots”. As Shevchenko aptly described it: “not for Ukraine, but for its executioner” had to shed their blood Ukrainian “siloviki” far from home.

Stripped of its ruling elite and armed forces, the Ukrainian people became easy prey for Russian colonizers. In 1783, Ukrainian farmers were turned into powerless slaves-serfs by Russian landlords-comers. Ukrainian traders and entrepreneurs were deliberately destroyed by the government's arbitrary decisions. Eventually Moscow turned Ukraine into a colony, all the resources of which worked for the Russian metropolis. That led to attempts of the educated at European universities ruling elite of the Ukrainian Cossack state to conduct peaceful diplomacy.

The fourth principle of Moscow's policy towards Ukraine: without doubts to use weapons to solve in their favor disputes with the Ukrainians. Thus, having failed to remove Hetman I. Vyhovskyi from power with the hands of its agents, Moscow resorted to an open military intervention. In the spring of 1659 Moscow army (more than a hundred thousand men) under the command of Dukes Trubetskoy, Romodanovsky and Pozharsky stormed Chernihiv region, directing the blow to Kyiv. However, June 28–29, near Konotop, Cossack troops led by Hetman Ivan Vyhovskyi defeated the aggressor. Unfortunately, Hetman I. Vyhovskyi did not repeat after this P. Sahaydachnyi's campaign against Moscow (1617). Perhaps, if he had, the history of Ukraine would have gone by a better path...

The monument to the Battle of Konotop

The monument to the Battle of Konotop

Moscow was guided by the above-mentioned principles in the 20th century in its relations with the Ukrainian People's Republic, which arose at the ruins of the Russian Empire in the spring of 1917.

Peace-loving leaders of the Ukrainian Central Rada of 1917–1918 had not drawn the correct conclusions from the historical lessons of the past. They did not make the proper efforts to neutralize Russia's agents, to resist Moscow's subversive propaganda, and to create an efficient Ukrainian army in Ukraine. A physical weakness of the potential victim is known to provoke a predator's aggression. Such predator against Ukraine in the autumn of 1917 was Lenin's Bolshevik government, which replaced the “liberal democratic” Kerensky's Cabinet.

December 4 (19), 1917, the Russian government approached the Ukrainian Central Rada with a defiant ultimatum in the spirit of today's Kremlin's official statements, in which, by threatening with war, it demanded to change the state system of the Ukrainian People's Republic and to recognize the authority of the CPC of Russia over Ukraine.

Having failed to intimidate the Ukrainians, Russia resorted to direct military aggression. Russian troops captured Kharkiv. Under their protection the leaders of the Russian Communist Party's organizations in Ukraine, on the instructions of their leaders in Moscow, created their own illegitimate puppet “government of Ukraine”. By doing so the Russian leaders tried to convince the world community that a civil war supposedly started in Ukraine, and the invasion of Russian troops on the territory of the Ukrainian People's Republic was a “peacekeeping operation”.

Soon Russian “peacekeepers” occupied Lozova, Katerynoslav (January 9, 1918), Oleksandrivsk (January 15, 1918), Poltava (January 20, 1918), Glukhiv (January 19, 1918) and Konotop (January 16, 1918). Their advance was accompanied by massacres of the civilian Ukrainian population, looting and violence.

The experience shows that any peace talks, scientific discussions or TV debates about independent coexistence of Ukraine and Russia, and equal partnership of the two neighboring states, as well as building relationships between Ukrainians and Russians on the basis of truth and justice are a waste of time and effort. Hungry for these useless actions should well remember the words of Jul Just, Danish Ambassador to Muscovy in 1709–1712 years: “In general, when dealing with Russians, it is necessary to speak sharply and roughly with them, then they are going to make concessions; if you treat them politely, you cannot achieve anything”. (“Foreigners about Ukraine”). This is confirmed by the practice of 25 years of bilateral relations of Ukraine and Russia in the late 20th — early 21st century. Therefore, Ukraine needs to continue to strengthen its Armed Forces and to consolidate its society for armed resistance to the Kremlin aggressor.