Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Beyond Left and Right, Beyond Red and White: Framing the Liberation War in Donbass | Nina Kouprianova

by Nina Kouprianova

“There are no separate Russia or Ukraine, but one Holy Rus” – Elder Iona of Odessa

The year 2014 saw an unprecedented surge of patriotism in contemporary Russia, which resulted in popularizing the notion of the Russian World. One reason for increased patriotic sentiment was Crimea’s return to the home port after the overwhelmingly positive vote by its majority-Russian residents in a referendum one year ago. The onset of the liberation war in Donbass from the West-backed Kiev regime was the other. This war truly delineated the stakes for the existence of the Russian World. The latter is not an ethnic, but a civilizational concept that encompasses shared culture, history, and language in the Eurasian space within a traditionalist framework. To a certain extent and despite the obvious ideological differences, the Russian Empire and the USSR embodied the same geopolitical entity. A particularly noteworthy aspect of the ongoing crisis in Donbass is the symbolism—religious and historic—that surpasses the commonly used, but outdated Left-Right political spectrum. In the Russian context, this also means overcoming the Red-White divide of the Communist Revolution. That this war pushed Russians to examine their country’s raison d’être is somewhat remarkable: for two decades its citizens did not have an official ideology, prohibited by the Constitution that is based on Western models. The emergence of a new way of thinking in Russia will become clearer once we refer to the meaning of religious insignia, wars—Russian Civil and Great Patriotic, as well as the question of ideology in the Postmodern world.

Background to the Ukrainian Conflict

Prior to examining these factors, let us recap the recent historic events that led up to them. Since 1991, NATO has been moving closer to Russia’s borders despite its promises otherwise at the time of the Soviet collapse. Western officialdom used project Ukraine—not without its oligarchic elites’ own volition—as project anti-Russia, based upon the negative identity of the Western Ukrainian minority. Large sums of money were invested into establishing aggressively anti-Russian cadres in the media and opinion-making in places like Kiev, where none existed before. Internally, post-Soviet Ukraine was a historically problematic entity from the onset. Indeed, it attempted to house two conflicting identities without much effort at reasonable cohesion: Russians left behind across the newly instituted border as well as eastern and central Ukrainians sharing roots with today’s Russia (historically, eastern Orthodox Novorossia and Malorossia) on the one hand, and Western Ukrainians, such as Galicians (Greek Catholics in the Austro-Hungarian Empire) seeking greater ties with Europe, on the other.

In February of 2014, these two identities came to a clash, when the country saw a West-backed coup d’état under the banner of European integration. A siren song, the latter was essentially meant to transform Ukraine into a large market for dumping European goods, economically, NATO bases, militarily, with a slew of other negative possibilities that surface whenever IMF credits are involved. The coup channeled a certain level of popular discontent with the Yanukovich government, expressed at the Maidan, to bring about the logical conclusion to project Ukraine. This was an ideologically anti-Russian state—based on the ethnic fundamentalist views of its Western minority—that ignored the wishes of eastern Ukrainian residents. Its violent inception led to another logical conclusion. When the Kiev government denied that region its basic rights of language and popular representation through federalization, and attempted to crush them by force, a liberation war in Donbass—historic Novorossia since the time of Catherine the Great—began as a response. Those that Maidan attendees called “slaves” sought to be free after all.

A year and 50,000 deaths later—if the German secret service is to be believed—this conflict remains on the lips of political analysts. Donbass infrastructure is destroyed, 2.5 million refugees fled into Russia (including previous guest workers), Ukraine’s economy is collapsing, and half of its best farm lands had already been purchased by the oligarchs and foreign companies. There is even growing disagreement within Europe—over the questions of Ukraine and the consequent Russian sanctions—the atomization of which would benefit Washington’s ability to exert even greater influence in the region over increasingly un-sovereign states.

Complete story at - Beyond Left and Right, Beyond Red and White: Framing the Liberation War in Donbass | Nina Kouprianova

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