Oleksiy Honcharenko with the Circassian delegation
2022/11/27 – 22:22 • OPINION
Article by: Paul Goble
Recognizing that the enemy of its enemy is their friend, Ukrainians have been reaching out to non-Russians and regional groups within the Russian Federation for several years and especially since Putin launched his expanded war against that country in February 2022.
Now, Kyiv is reaching out to the Circassians. Recently, Oleksiy Goncharenko, a Ukrainian deputy to the Council of Europe and head of the Democratic Caucasus Group, led a delegation of ten Verkhovna Rada deputies to meet in Turkey with the leadership of that country’s Federation of Circassian Associations.
“It is important to be here with you,” the Ukrainian representative said, “because we share a common destiny and a common enemy. The events in Ukraine weren’t out choice: they are a manifestation of Ukraine’s history. Today, Ukraine is the main target of Russian imperialism and we must do everything we can against it.”
“The Russian Empire is still alive, and even if we expel it from our land, that won’t mean the end of the empire. Instead, it will come back at first opportunity no matter how many years may go by. Therefore, for our security, the Empire must come to an end,” Goncharenko continued, “and we want to work together with you toward that end.”
Also attending from Ukraine was Mustafa Dzhemilyev, the leader of the Crimean Tatars who said he favored recognizing Russia’s acts of genocide against the Circassian people.
This meeting is especially important because Circassians are a divided nation which numbers more than 700,000 in the North Caucasus and more than seven million in the diaspora, with the largest group being in Turkey.
For a discussion of what ties between Ukraine and Circassians may mean, see Paul Goble’s presentation to the Warsaw Conference on the Ethno-Cultural Problems of the Circassian Nation entitled “Putin’s War in Ukraine has opened the Way for Circassians to Achieve Their Goals”