Vitaly Portnikov: For Putin, Ukraine does not and will never exist
Article by: Vitaly Portnikov
Translated by: Christine Chraibi
On July 12, the Kremlin website published a lengthy article – On the Historical Unity of Russians and Ukrainians – by Russian President Vladimir Putin, claiming that Russians and Ukrainians are one people and have always shared a single history.
Political analyst Vitaly Portnikov responds to this article, arguing that Putin’s thesis is nothing new and refers back to Lenin’s philosophy.
One of Vladimir Putin’s final statements in his long article is that the “true sovereignty of Ukraine is possible only in partnership with Russia”. Looking more closely, we can state that this statement is nothing but a remake of another, older quote.
“A free Ukraine is possible under joint action of the Great Russian and Ukrainian proletarians. Without such unity, it is impossible,” proclaimed Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin. These words are inscribed on the pedestal of the monument to Lenin in Kyiv, which was knocked down and destroyed by Maidan activists in December 2013. The statue of Lenin has disappeared, but the words remain. And Putin repeats these words.Full quote: “I am confident that true sovereignty of Ukraine is possible only in partnership with Russia. Our spiritual, human and civilizational ties formed for centuries and have their origins in the same sources, they have been hardened by common trials, achievements and victories. Our kinship has been transmitted from generation to generation. It is in the hearts and the memory of people living in modern Russia and Ukraine, in the blood ties that unite millions of our families. Together we have always been and will be many times stronger and more successful. For we are one people.”
This is the typical Russian chauvinist credo: Ukrainians can only exist on their knees, and only as a subjugated nation can some form of national, even personal self-expression, be allowed. But, if there is no “unity, there can be no talk of Ukraine”, says Lenin. “Together we have always been and will be many times stronger and more successful,” reiterates Putin.
So, what has changed over the centuries? Only the portrait on the wall and a lasting Bolshevik legacy. Indeed, Lenin managed to launch an effective political program, which turned his successors into a herd of barbarians.
Putin’s statements need to be memorized and remembered by anyone who hopes to reach an agreement with Putin (see Minsk talks). There were people who also tried to reach an agreement with Lenin; Bolshevik delegations came to Kyiv to negotiate with Ukrainians.
However, an agreement is impossible. The war will continue. People will die and suffer. This is our reality. Either we fight back and Putin’s successors recognize the right of Ukrainians and Ukraine to exist, or all of Ukraine will be occupied and will become part of Russia again.
There is simply no other choice. There will never be another choice. Because in Putin’s head, Ukrainians do not exist, and there has never been and will never be a country called Ukraine.Full quote: “…modern Ukraine is entirely the product of the Soviet era. We know and remember well that it was shaped – for a significant part – on the lands of historical Russia. To make sure of that, it is enough to look at the boundaries of the lands reunited with the Russian state in the 17th century and the territory of the Ukrainian SSR when it left the Soviet Union.”