Home Today Western Histories of ‘Russia’ and Ukraine

Western Histories of ‘Russia’ and Ukraine


That is an advance preview from Disaster in Russian Research? Nationalism (Imperialism), Racism and Struggle by Taras Kuzio (forthcoming quickly from E-Worldwide Relations).

Western historiography of ‘Russia’ has at all times been that of a historical past of the Russian empire and by no means that of the Russian state, such because the Russian Federation since 1991. This locations western historiography at odds with commonplace western histories of European nation-states. Western and Ukrainian histories of Ukraine are these of the nation-state, which got here into existence in 1991. This chapter focuses on Ukraine inside western historiography of ‘Russia’ for 2 causes. The primary is that Russian nationalists (imperialists) have at all times considered Ukrainians and Belarusians in a special method to different nationalities within the Tsarist Empire and Soviet Union and as unbiased states since 1991. Ukrainians and Belarusians had been considered as two of the three branches of the tryedynstva russkoho naroda by Tsarist Russia; within the USSR, this was modified to the japanese Slavs being shut however separate peoples.

Restricted house means this guide can give attention to solely Ukraine and never embrace an evaluation of western historiography of Belarus. Russian attitudes to Belarus are in some ways worse than these in the direction of Ukraine, and Russian leaders and media use ‘White Russia’ and ‘Belarus’ interchangeably.[1] President Vladimir Putin described Belarusians as ‘maybe, the closest nation to us. And ethnically the closest, each linguistically, culturally, spiritually, no matter.’[2] Putin described Belarusians and Russians as ‘one folks,’[3] in the identical method as he refers to Ukrainians and Russians.  The second is that you will need to research western histories of ‘Russia’ within the context of the Russian-Ukrainian Struggle as a result of the myths they promote of Ukraine and Ukrainians are much like the discourse propounded by Russian leaders.

This chapter is split into 5 sections. The primary defines imperialism and why it’s a higher description of Russian actions and insurance policies than nationalism. Russians – just like the English – have historically most well-liked to reside in union states and empires and haven’t produced separatist actions. There is no such thing as a English equal of the Scottish Nationwide Occasion (SNP) or Russian model of Ukrainian nationalist organisations. The second and third sections survey Tsarist, Soviet and western historiography of ‘Russia.’ The fourth part discusses how western historiography of ‘Russia’ ignores the origins of ‘Ukrainian squatters’ who got here to reside on what they describe from time immemorial as ‘Russian lands.’ The final part compares and contrasts western historiography of ‘Russia’ and Ukraine to display how the previous continues to be that of the historical past of empire and the latter civic historical past of a nation-state.

Defining Imperialism

Imperialism is a system of unequal political and ethnic relationships between topics and objects. Imperialists impose political management by the metropolis over colonial dependencies, which is maintained in the course of the colonial period by navy bases, political interference, media shops, the language utilized by the metropolis, financial energy and dependency, power, and commerce (Cohen 1996, 1-28). A few of this affect continues to stay in place within the post-colonial period, and de-colonisation is commonly a protracted, drawn-out course of.

The metropolis drives colonial enlargement into neighbouring territories, as within the case of Austria and Russia, and abroad within the case of Nice Britain, France and the US.  England’s first empire was nearer to dwelling on the British mainland and Eire. Imperialism is in the end the domination of 1 nation over one other. Margaret Moore (1997, 909) defines imperialism as relevant ‘to any try by one folks to dominate politically one other folks, particularly if the latter understand the rule to be hostile to their nationwide id.’ The motivations for imperialism are extermination and exploitation (or a mixture of the 2) of the peoples who’ve been conquered along with loot, commerce, and greed (Seton-Watson 1971, 7-10).

Empires have cores the place ruling elites are based mostly and peripheries the place there are outposts of the empire and peripheral elites. The absence of any independence constitutes the unequal relationship between cores and peripheries that are subordinated, coordinated, supervised and ‘protected’ (Motyl 1999a, 118-120). Interplay with the skin world is barely by way of the core (Motyl 1999b, 128). Previous to 1991, non-Russian republics may solely work together with the skin world by Moscow; for instance, there have been no direct flights into Kyiv or Tallinn, as all worldwide flights went by Moscow.  In 1991, the non-Russian nations of the USSR grew to become unbiased states and had been in a position to be a part of the worldwide neighborhood; nonetheless, Russia continues to view them as not possessing full sovereignty (Gretskiy 2020).

Violence typically accompanies the decline of empires (Motyl 1999, 133). The USSR largely disintegrated peacefully with exceptions in Chechnya, Moldova, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Tajikistan. Ukraine resolved its Crimean separatist risk within the Nineties in a peaceable method. Ukrainian-Russian tensions grew as Putin’s Russia imperialised its reminiscence politics and safety insurance policies and got here to view Ukraine as an ‘synthetic’ nation and misplaced ‘Russian’ land. The 2014 disaster was a product of Russia unable to simply accept the existence of a Ukrainian state and its perception that Ukrainians are certainly one of three branches of the triyedinyy russkij narod.

Colonisers are, by definition, smug and racially discriminatory, deeming those that have been colonised to be inferior.  ‘The belief of superiority grew to become an article of religion’ Jeremy Paxman (1999, 65) writes. Nationalists within the colonies search to regain their shallowness after independence is achieved by new reminiscence politics and different insurance policies (Emerson 1967, 381, 382).  Ukraine’s reminiscence politics and historiography diverted from Russia in an evolutionary vogue from the late Nineteen Eighties to 2013 and in a extra revolutionary method since when 4 de-communisation legal guidelines adopted in 2015 laid out an in depth vary of insurance policies for the nation’s de-Sovietisation.

David Rowley (2000) argues it’s ‘inaccurate and deceptive’ to make use of the phrases ‘nationalism’ and ‘nationalist’ vis-à-vis Russia, and it’s extra acceptable to make use of imperialism and imperialist. Rowley believes (2000, 23) that ‘Russians expressed their nationwide consciousness by the discourse of imperialism slightly than the discourse of nationalism has far-reaching implications for each Russian historical past and nationalism concept.’ I agree with Rowley (2000), and my guide makes use of the phrases imperialist and imperialism, not nationalist and nationalism, when discussing Russian insurance policies in the direction of Ukraine and its different neighbours.

Russian nationalists (imperialists) glorified of their multinational empire. Russians didn’t try and create a Russian nation-state in 1917 when the Tsarist Empire disintegrated, Russian dissidents and nationalists by no means sought independence from the USSR and the Russian SFSR didn’t declare independence in August 1991. After the collapse of the Tsarist Empire in 1917, no Russian equal of Turkish nationalist Kemal Ataturk, who created trendy Turkey from the ruins of the Ottoman Empire, tried to carve out a Russian nation-state. Certainly, the Russian Constitutional Democratic Occasion (Kadets), who politically dominated the anti-Bolshevik White motion, supported the preservation of the empire and opposed calls for for federal autonomy, not to mention independence for Ukraine (Rowley 2000, 28; see Procyk 1995).

The ideology that pervaded Russian discourse within the Tsarist Empire was universalist, spiritual and multinational, all tenets that ‘dominated out nationalism’ (Rowley 2000). The Tsarist and Soviet empires by no means promoted Russian nation-building and a Russian homeland separate to the empire or multi-national state. The Russian SFSR was the one Soviet republic not outlined as a homeland for its titular nation and due to this fact was not given republican establishments; Soviet and Russian had been one and the identical within the USSR (see Kuzio 2007). The Russian SFSR solely started creating republican establishments in 1990 after Yeltsin was elected Russian president.

Within the former USSR no Russian dissident teams known as for the secession of the Russian SFSR which is why Motyl argues it’s improper to explain Russians as ‘nationalists’ (Motyl 1990, 161-173).  Particular person Russian dissidents, resembling Andrei Amalrik and Vladimir Bukovsky, who did name for independence had been in a small minority. In demanding sovereignty for the Russian SFSR President Yeltsin was, Rowley (2000) believes, a ‘nationalist.’ However, the Russian SFSR didn’t declare independence in autumn 1991 from the USSR, and Russia’s ‘Independence Day’ is predicated on the June 1990 Declaration of Sovereignty. Yeltsin was due to this fact, if something, a reluctant ‘nationalist.’ In December 1991, President Boris Yeltsin prioritised reworking the USSR right into a confederal Commonwealth of Unbiased States (CIS) (D’Anieri, Kravchuk, Kuzio, 1999, 10-44). Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk prioritised Ukrainian independence.

Russian id was better than the Russian SFSR and has by no means been comfy throughout the confines of the Russian Federation. Within the post-Soviet period, ‘Russia’ has been imagined as Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s Russian Union (2000) and Putin’s Russian World uniting three japanese Slavs and, in some instances, northern Kazakhstan, the CIS, Belarusian-Russian union, and CIS Customs Union (since 2015 Eurasian Financial Union).

Russian and western histories of ‘Russia’ have submerged the existence of Ukraine and Ukrainians inside a ‘Russian’ nationalist (imperialist) framework. Russian, Soviet, and western historians of ‘Russia’ additionally derided Ukrainian historiography as ‘nationalist’ as a result of it described a historical past separate to that of Russia. Within the aftermath of the disintegration of the previous USSR such an method grew to become more and more untenable as a result of Ukrainians and the opposite non-Russians of the previous USSR had been constructing new states, forging new nations and writing new historiographies. It’s much more untenable after the 2014 disaster and in the course of the Russian-Ukrainian Struggle.

Tsarist and Soviet Historiographies

What historic and disturbing legacies have Ukrainians and Russians grappled with since 1991? Russian historian Yury Afanasev complained, ‘there may be not, nor has there ever been a folks and nation with a historical past as falsified as ours is …’ (Velychenko 1994a, 327).

After the Holodomor (Homicide Famine) in Ukraine happened in 1934, Soviet historiography returned to Tsarist Russian nationalist (imperialist) historical past and produced a historiography, ‘which may, for probably the most half, be learn with approval by the tsars themselves,’ Lowell Tillet wrote (1969, 4; see additionally Tillett 1964, 1967).Historiography served the targets of the Communist Occasion of the Soviet Union’s nationalities insurance policies within the elaboration and inculcation of latest myths. Ukrainians had been an in depth however separate folks to Russians; they had been born collectively, at all times strived to reside collectively and had been slated to at all times reside collectively.

Soviet historiography accepted Ukrainians as a separate folks with their very own republican homeland and membership within the United Nations. However this was a short lived phenomenon as a result of the ‘pure’ course of historical past would result in the merger of japanese Slavs right into a Russian talking Homo Sovieticus. As Rowley (2000) factors out, Tsarist nationalist (imperialist) universalism was recast as Soviet internationalism. Putin has re-constructed this because the Russian World. The tip product was the identical: a merger of three japanese Slavs right into a Russian ‘nation’ in Tsarist Russia or right into a Soviet man within the USSR.

Twelve key parts of this Soviet ‘elaborate historic fable’ had been (Tillett 1969, 4; see additionally Mazour 1975):

  1. Rehabilitation of the Tsarist previous;
  2. Superiority of ‘Nice Russians’ as pure leaders of the USSR (and since 2007, the Russian World);
  3. There has by no means been ethnic hostility between Russians and non-Russians (particularly between Russians and Ukrainians) now or prior to now;
  4. There have been no conquered territories, however slightly solely ‘unions’ and ‘re-unions.’ Communist theorists Friedrich Engels and Karl Marx, Soviet chief Vladimir Lenin and Bolshevik historians within the Twenties, resembling Mikhail Pokrovskyy, had been improper to sentence Tsarist Russian ‘expansionism;’
  5. These ‘unions’ and ‘re-unions’ introduced solely constructive advantages or, at a minimal, had been the ‘lesser of two evils.’ Tsarist Russian historical past was now not considered in a unfavorable method and the incorporation of territories had been both helpful acts or it had been higher for these peoples to be dominated by Russians slightly than Poles, Austrians, Ottomans, or others (Brandenberger 1998, 878);
  6. Higher centralisation was a constructive improvement;
  7. Nationalist agitation for independence was in opposition to the desires of the individuals who have at all times sought to stay near Russia;
  8. Non-Russians had been incapable of making their very own state;
  9. The Russian mission civilisatrice was helpful to non-Russians;
  10. The Historical past of the USSR was the identical as that of the ‘Historical past of Russia.’ The Russian SFSR didn’t have a separate historical past to that of the USSR which may have handled solely ‘Nice Russians’ or Muscovites (the title for Russians earlier than the creation of the Russian Empire in 1721);
  11. Non-Russian histories had been handled as regional histories of ‘Russia;’
  12. Russian management over Ukraine and Belarus was by no means perceived as ‘annexation;’ merely the restoration of the Tsar’s patrimony. In 1947 and 1954, new theses codified the japanese Slavs as traditionally belonging to 1 ‘Russian nation.’  Use of the phrases Russian, Rus’ian and japanese Slavic grew to become inter-changeable;

These nationalist (imperialist) and colonialist themes in Soviet historiography and nationalities insurance policies proceed to affect modern Russian politics, reminiscence politics, media and international coverage. Russian tv, which is managed by Putin’s authoritarian state, promotes the colonialist narrative of Russia having paid a heavy burden and toll to develop its neighbours (Laruelle 2014a, 328). This colonial narrative of empires being benign and a product of ‘imperial amnesia’ was promoted by all imperialist powers, however solely in Russia does it proceed within the twenty-first century to form attitudes in the direction of its neighbours, think about Ukrainian territory, and information its international and navy insurance policies.

In western Europe, the US, Australia and New Zealand (as mentioned in chapter 2) colonialist discourse and narratives have been below assault since World Struggle II by intellectuals and students. This de-colonisation of the thoughts has not taken place within the Russian Federation the place the continued prevalence of nationalist (imperialist) narratives guides Russian international and safety insurance policies in the direction of its neighbours and the broader world. Till World Struggle II, all western historiographies had been ‘nationalistic’ and ‘equalled the Pan-Germans of their extra by the flip of the century’ (Kennedy 1973, 82). Occasions have modified within the West, however not in Russia. 

The USSR integrated Russian nationalist (imperialist) historiography and colonialist attitudes in the direction of Russia’s neighbours, which have been preserved in barely completely different types in post-Soviet Russia and have become more and more frequent below Putin. In actuality, not one of the Tsarist, Soviet and modern Russian colonialist claims have something to do with actual historical past. Within the seventeenth century, on the eve of Ukraine and Muscovy (pre-imperial title for the Russian state), signing an alliance the previous was extra socially and politically superior. Muscovy had launched serfdom in 1597; Ukraine had free Cossack peasants till the Cossack autonomous state was destroyed by Russia in 1775, solely eight years earlier than the colonial conquest of Crimea. Ukrainians affiliate serfdom with Russian rule as a result of it was imposed by the Tsarist Empire in Ukraine which had been remodeled right into a Russian colony by 1917 (Shkandrij 2001, 82-83).

Soviet historiography restricted the collective reminiscence and id of every nation throughout the former USSR to that of an ethnie and geographical unit. Inside southeastern Ukraine, Tsarist, and Soviet historiography bolstered a robust ‘all-Russian’ nationwide part already a part of standard consciousness surviving till 2014 however declining since. This channelled collective historic reminiscence and nationwide consciousness generated by modernisation into an ethnographic regionalism ‘appropriate with Soviet loyalty’ (Velychenko 1994b, 28).Unbiased Ukraine inherited identities in elements of southeastern Ukraine (particularly the Donbas and Crimea), the place the loyalties of the native inhabitants had been a number of and dependable in the direction of the Ukrainian SSR as a geographic unit and Russian and japanese Slavic ‘brotherhood of peoples’ (Velychenko 1993, 140, 160, 167, 210).

Russian historiography tailor-made the previous to suit the current by justifying Russian rule over Ukrainian territories not when it comes to conquered territories however as rule over peoples with allegedly the identical historical past, language and cultures. There couldn’t be, due to this fact, any ‘oppression’ of Ukrainian lands as a result of there was allegedly cultural unity of Russians and Ukrainians. The oppressors of Ukrainians had been the Poles—not the Russians.

These myths and legends formulated inside Soviet historiography had gone full circle by the early Fifties. By the point of Stalin’s demise, additional revisions of Soviet historiography made the Soviet interpretation of Ukrainian-Russian relations into a duplicate of that discovered within the Tsarist Russian Empire. The 1954 ‘Thesis on Re-Union’ to mark the three hundredth anniversary of the Ukrainian-Muscovite Pereyaslav Treaty in 1654 replicated and up to date a lot of the schema initially formulated inside Tsar Nicholas I’s 1833 ‘Official Nationality’ coverage of ‘Orthodoxy, Autocracy, Nationality.’

By 1991, after six years of glasnost, just one Russian historian had summoned the braveness to reject the 1954 ‘Thesis.’ Mark von Hagen believes that there was ‘little or no try on the a part of Russian historians to reject the imperial scheme of Russian historical past’ within the Russian Federation even below Yeltsin.[4] For the reason that collapse of the previous USSR, publishing homes in Moscow and St. Petersburg re-published Tsarist surveys of ‘Russian’ historical past, which elevated nationalistic (imperialistic) appetites. New histories of ‘Russia’ don’t restrict themselves to solely surveying Muscovy, ‘Nice Russians,’ or the Russian Federation as a result of they’re ‘in truth palimpsests of the histories of the USSR full with the notions of “previous Russian nation” and the “reunion” of Ukraine and Russia in 1654.’[5]

The propagation and digestion of those myths and legends offered unfavorable legacies for the Russian Federation and Ukraine. They bolstered a Russian tendency to determine not with the Russian SFSR or Russian Federation—however with a union within the type of Tsarist Russia, the previous USSR, CIS and Eurasian Financial Union. This impeded the event of a Russian civic nationwide id and nationwide consciousness and bolstered the view that Ukrainian independence is ‘non permanent’ and out of step with the pre-ordained future of the union of japanese Slavs.

The collapse of the previous USSR left Russians rudderless when trying to come back to phrases with the collapse of the Soviet state. Specialists existed in Moscow on the smallest Caucasian ethnic teams and international international locations. But, few Russian historians, political scientists or worldwide relations specialists had studied Ukraine or Belarus (Velychenko 1993, 191).The works of Mykhaylo Hrushevskyy (1970), the doyen of Ukrainian historiography, stay unknown for a lot of Russians. Aleksander Tsipko, the well-known Russian thinker, believed the post-Soviet Russian management knew little about Ukrainian historians or tradition, as mirrored within the broadcasts of Russian tv.

Western historians of ‘Russia’ have by no means handled Ukrainian historical past writing, resembling Hrushevskyy’s 10-volume Istoriya Ukrayiny-Rusy (Historical past of Ukraine-Rus) revealed between 1898-1937, in a critical method. The well-known US-based historian Nicholas V. Riasanovsky (1977, 198) made just one reference to Hrushevskyy when briefly discussing the Zaporozhzhyan Cossacks.Normally, when Hrushevskyy was talked about by western historians it was to deride him as somebody offering a ‘nationalistic viewpoint’ (Billington 1970, 624). The dominant narrative within the West was that Russian nationalistic (imperialistic) historiography was ‘goal’ and Ukrainian historiography was ‘nationalistic’ in an instance of educational orientalism.

Western Historiography of ‘Russia’

Western historians working in situations of educational freedom had been free to pursue the research of ‘Russian historical past’ in as goal a fashion as is feasible. However, western histories of imperial Russia and the previous USSR historically portrayed it as a nation-state slightly than as a multinational empire (Brown, Kaiser and Smith 1994; Plokhy 1996, 343). As Hagen discovered, ‘Actually, no mainstream Russian historian ever outlined the empire as such; slightly, they selected to write down the historical past of Russia kind of because the historical past of a nation-state, or a minimum of one within the making.’[6] Solely Hugh Seton-Watson’s (1967) survey of Russian historical past devoted some consideration to the non-Russian nations of the Tsarist empire.

Western histories of ‘Russia’ adopted the idea specified by the nineteenth century that nationality coverage ought to be tailor-made to create a ‘nation-state’ from the Russian Empire. This might solely be undertaken by assuming Ukrainians and Belarusians had been by some means ‘Russians’ and not using a historical past separate to Russia. As Theodore R. Weeks argues, ‘And but the Russian Empire was not, and couldn’t be, a nation-state. Any effort to make the Russian Empire right into a nationwide state was doomed to failure’ (Weeks 1996, 4).

Within the nineteenth century, the Tsarist Russian Empire had tried to nationalise Ukrainians and Belarusians into an ‘All-Russian Individuals’ by repression, not like the British, French, and Germans who had nationalised their peripheries by gradual assimilationist and schooling insurance policies (Plokhy 2017, 135). Within the nineteenth century, twin loyalty to Ukraine and the Russian Empire, understood as a Little Russian compromise by author Mykola Hohol (Nikolai Gogol), grew to become untenable and the selection was left of both turning into an extremist Russian nationalist or embracing a Ukrainian id (Plokhy 2017, 153). On each events, Russian repression of Ukrainians within the nineteenth century and navy aggression in opposition to Ukraine since 2014 strengthened Ukrainian id and broken Russian-Ukrainian relations (Plokhy 2017, 107, 335).

Any try to rework the Tsarist Russian Empire right into a ‘nation-state’ modelled on Germany and based mostly on the core ‘Russian’ (three japanese Slavic) peoples assumed two elements (Weeks 1996, 11). First, Ukrainians and Belarusians had been ‘ethnographic uncooked materials’ (Weeks 1996, 46, 64);that’s, they had been merely ‘Little Russians’ and ‘White Russians’ and never separate nations (Weeks 1996, 93). Second, the non-Slavic peoples of the Tsarist empire would comply with assimilate right into a deliberate ‘Russian nation-state’ or enter into ‘voluntary union’ with it. This coverage, supported by Tsarist officers and almost all Russian political events, rejected any group rights (cantons, autonomy or federalisation) for the empire (Procyk 1995).

In view of the actual fact ‘Nice Russians’ constituted lower than 50% of the empire’s inhabitants on the flip of the 20 th century, viewing the Tsarist Empire as a possible ‘nation-state’ within the making the place non-Russians might be by some means efficiently assimilated was misguided. Why then did western historiography of ‘Russia’ not comply with their colleagues writing on Austria-Hungary, who had little hesitation in describing it as a multinational empire slightly than as a budding nation-state?

Equating the Tsarist Empire with an embryonic ‘nation-state’ and never recognising Ukrainians and Belarusians as separate nations meant that, so far as Russians had been involved, fees of ‘Russification’ had been misplaced. The adoption of the ‘increased’ Russian language and tradition by Ukrainians and Belarusians was, and continues to be, considered as constructive. Within the Soviet period, Russian was the language of modernisation and the long run Homo Sovieticus. Nation-building, as Walker Connor has acknowledged, is, in any case, additionally normally related to nation destroying (Connor 1972). Ukrainian historical past writing concerning the Tsarist and Soviet regimes’ Russification and de-nationalisation has at all times been met with a lack of expertise amongst Russians. The majority of western historiography of ‘Russia’ had little to say concerning the Russification of Ukraine and this continues to be the case. Pal Kolstø’s (2019) detailed and attention-grabbing dialogue of what he phrases ‘Russian imperialist nationalism’ surprisingly has nothing to say about Tsarist Russian nationality coverage defining the three japanese Slavs as triyedinyy russkij narod or Russification and the banning of the Ukrainian and Belarusian languages within the Tsarist Russian Empire.

Viewing the Russian Empire as a ‘nation-state’ was influenced by Michael Karpovich at Harvard College, who ‘formed the post-war technology of Russian historians in North America and Europe.’[7]These historians positioned their religion in modernisation concept by social scientists resembling Karl Deutsch, who argued that industrialisation and urbanisation would erode nationwide variations and homogenise populations. The appliance of modernisation theories to the USSR urged that ethnic variations can be eliminated, nationality issues had been in decline and the achievement of a Homo Sovieticus was a matter of time. By the early Nineteen Eighties, western historians of Russia, along with the majority of their colleagues in Sovietology, had due to this fact concluded that nationality issues had been resolved within the USSR. The nationwide query was due to this fact largely ignored inside Sovietology (Subtelny 1994). I bear in mind solely too vividly from my days as an MA pupil on the Faculty of Slavonic and East European Research (now College School London) how improper these students had been and the way they by no means absolutely understood the origins of non-Russian nationalisms within the USSR within the late Nineteen Eighties.

Two histories by Russian émigrés Michael Florinsky (1953) and Riasanovsky(1977) had been very influential in western historiography of ‘Russia.’ Till the latter a part of the 20 th century, these and different historians wrote about ‘Kievan Russia’ however had been compelled to vary this to Kyivan Rus below the affect of Ukrainian tutorial centres at Harvard, the College of Toronto, and elsewhere, and as a result of affect of the publication of latest histories of Ukraine by North American historians (Subtelny 1988, 1991, 1994a, 1994b, 2000, 2009; Magocsi 1996, 2007, 2010, 2012). Within the UK, Russophile affect continued in Russian historical past, and little has modified with historians persevering with to make use of ‘Kievan Russia.’

In Florinsky (1953, 18-19), Kyiv Rus is the primary ‘new Russian state’ which coated ‘the primary three centuries of Russian historical past.’ Ukraine is described because the ‘fertile areas of southern Russia.’ In 860, the ‘Russian military’ appeared on the gates of Constantinople, and in 1043, Prince Yaroslav organised the final ‘Russian expedition’ in opposition to this metropolis. After the ‘conquest of a international metropolis’ in 1169 by Andrey Bogolyubsky, ‘the Kiev chapter of Russia’s historical past was closed’ (Florinsky 1953, 31).

After the disintegration of ‘Kievan Russia’ (Kyiv Rus), ‘Russian historical past’ divided into two instructions ‘from a typical supply,’ which led to the ‘territorial distribution of the three chief divisions of the Russian folks’ (Florinsky 1953, 41). In different phrases, ‘Russians’ who had been united in Kyiv Rus had been artificially divided into the three branches of the japanese Slavs as a result of the unity of ‘Kievan Russia’ (Kiev Rus) was damaged by the Mongol invasion (Riasanovsky 1977; see additionally Hoskings 1997).

Riasanovsky (1977), in the identical method as Lionel Kochan (1974), surveys ‘Russian historical past’ from ‘Kievan Russia’ (Kyiv Rus) to ‘Soviet Russia’ as one steady narrative. ‘Kievan Russia’ (Kyiv Rus) is due to this fact described because the ‘first Russian state,’ and the area is geographically coined as ‘southern Russia,’ which spoke the ‘Previous Russian language.’ Subsequently, ‘Rus grew to become recognized with the Kievan state, and the very title got here to designate the southern Russian state as distinct from the north’ (Riasanovsky 1977, 27).

Though Riasanovsky (1977, 224, 229, 300, 307) admits the time period ‘Russian’ was coined a lot later, he nonetheless applies it to the medieval Kyivan Rus whereas solely briefly mentioning Ukraine in the course of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Riasanovsky’s (1977) terminological confusion is obvious when he discusses the division of the japanese Slavs into three nations after the disintegration of the Kyiv Rus state with Ukrainians and Belarusians seemingly accidents of historical past. It isn’t troublesome to infer from this that Ukraine is an ‘synthetic’ assemble. The japanese Slavs are actually three branches of the ‘All-Russian Individuals’ who may, if historical past and circumstances had permitted, be built-in into one nation. Ukrainians and Belarusians are due to this fact akin to Bavarians inside a pan-Germanic nation. On a go to to Germany in 1991, then-Parliamentary Speaker and later that 12 months President Kravchuk demanded the appropriate to a Ukrainian-language interpreter. Members of the Russian media corps ridiculed this demand, claiming it was as ludicrous as Bavarians travelling to Moscow and demanding an interpreter to translate the Bavarian dialect of German. Tuomas Forsberg and Sirke Makinen (2019, 228) write that Russian nationalists level to the reunification of Germany in 1991 as a precedent for the ‘reunification’ of ‘Russians,’ that are divided into three nations.

When referring to the Galician-Volhynian principality and the Lithuanian-Ruthenian (Rus) principality, Riasanovsky (1977, 98, 99, 146-156) calls their inhabitants ‘Russians,’ and these territories the ‘two south-western Russian lands’ and the ‘Lithuanian-Russian state’ respectively.It’s obscure how these areas might be populated by ‘Russians’ and be ‘Russian’ after they had been by no means a part of the Muscovite state or Tsarist empire and had been integrated inside ‘Russia’ (i.e. USSR) solely in 1939 after they had been annexed from Poland.

Denigrating Ukrainian Historical past Writing

Kolstø (2000, 35) writes that western historians backed their Russian colleagues over questions such because the ‘possession’ of Kyiv Rus. ‘Western historians have usually accepted the Russian time perspective. True sufficient, sure émigré Ukrainian historians have at all times maintained that this was a theft of the historical past of the Ukrainian folks, however most of their Western colleagues have brushed these objections apart, dismissing them as slightly pathetic manifestations of Ukrainian nationalism’ (Kolstø 2000, 35).

Nationalising ‘Kievan Russian’ (Kyiv Rus) historical past for Muscovites and ‘Nice Russians’ had three penalties. First, western historians couldn’t declare they had been writing goal histories of ‘Russia.’ Second, they ignored pre-thirteenth century roots of Muscovy in Novgorod and Vladimir-Suzdal by focusing upon Kyiv Rus. Third, they denied a separate origin for Ukrainians, ignoring them till briefly mentioning them within the mid-seventeenth century throughout Hetman Bohdan Khmelnytskyy’s Cossack revolt. In doing so, western historians emphasised Ukraine’s ties to Russia whereas downplaying its non-Russian historical past as, for instance, a part of the Lithuanian-Polish Commonwealth. Western histories of ‘Russia’ tacitly settle for the Russian nationalist (imperialist) and Soviet narratives of Ukrainian historical past ‘culminating in union with Russia’ (Yekelchyk 2004, 35) and Ukrainians merging with Russians.

Ukrainian historical past was marginalised and subsumed inside ‘Russian’ imperial historical past within the West simply because it was within the former USSR. Programs in Ukrainian historical past in western academic curricula had been few and much between till the Nineteen Seventies, when there was the creation of Ukrainian research within the US and Canada, and solely within the Nineties within the UK. The transient look of Ukraine at completely different instances in historical past was complicated to pupils, college students, and readers as a result of Ukraine emerges in lots of ‘Russian’ historical past lessons from nowhere to solely disappear once more and eventually to change into ‘squatters’ on ‘Russian lands’ (see Kohut 1994).

Ukrainian territories skilled lengthy durations of existence exterior the confines of the Tsarist Russian Empire and USSR. Though Ukraine and Muscovy signed the Treaty of Pereyaslav in 1654, the Ukrainian Hetmanate didn’t lose its autonomy till the final twenty years of the eighteenth century similtaneously the Tsarist Empire conquered Crimea. Till the mid-nineteenth century, Polish cultural influences had been extra influential than Russian in Kyiv and central Ukraine, the place the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church was dominant till it was banned within the 1830s. Ukraine’s western areas remained exterior ‘Russia’ till the Second World Struggle. Roman Szporluk (1997, 88) factors out that, ‘It’s apparent that as we speak’s Ukraine can’t be considered merely as part of a historic Russia or trendy Soviet house; Ukraine is intimately linked not solely to Russia, but in addition to the international locations of Central Europe and the Black Sea area.’

Western Historians Writing About ‘Russia’

In one of many few comparatively goal histories of ‘Russia,’ Sumner (1947) mentioned the division of the japanese Slavs into two teams after the Mongol invasion of the thirteenth century. These created the Muscovites, who inter-mingled with the Finns, and Ukrainians and Belarusians who got here below Lithuanian-Polish affect. Sumner (1947) devotes some house in his Survey of Russian Historical past to the ‘Ukrainian Query,’ the place he discusses the strengths and weaknesses of its nationwide motion.

Nearly all of western historians of ‘Russia’ didn’t comply with Sumner’s (1947) lead and heed his recommendation, which is quoted at first of this chapter. Vladimir Volkoff (1984, XIII) begins his historical past of Russia with the phrase, ‘Russia begins with Vladimir the baptist and ends with Vladimir the apostate.’ This grew into ‘Holy Russia’ which was solely to be later artificially divided into fifteen republics. One other equally poor use of methodology is John Lawrence’s (1969) A Historical past of Russia.This guide, we’re advised within the preface, ‘is a guide concerning the Russian folks, not about their neighbours.’ The Kyivan period is described as ‘the cradle of Russia’ with its ‘well-known Russian black earth’ and ‘first Russian farmers.’ ‘Southern Russia’ is the place the ‘Russians’ first entered historical past within the seventh century, and the area the place the ‘Russian faith’ was established. What’s disturbing is that these sorts of claims present in western historiography of ‘Russia’ are much like these present in Putin’s discourse (see Putin 2008, 2014a, 2014b, 2015a, 2015b, 2017, 2019, 2020a, 200b, 2020c).

Nationalist (imperialist) ‘Russian historical past’ is centre stage in James H. Billington (1970, 3, 7, 8, 13). ‘Russian tradition,’ he alleges, is a story of three cities—Kyiv (the ‘mom of Russian cities’), Moscow (‘the center’), and St. Petersburg (‘the pinnacle’). We examine ‘early Russians,’ ‘Kievan Russia’ (Kyiv Rus), ‘Russian soil,’ ‘Previous Russia,’ the ‘Russian language,’ and ‘Russian theology.’Basil Dmytryshyn (1973) solely refers to ‘Kievan Rus’ when discussing this period, however the guide’s very title will affiliate ‘Kyivan Rus’ with ‘Russia’ within the eyes of its readers.

Janet Martin (1996) follows the identical logic as Dmytryshyn (1973). Your complete guide is outlined as ‘Russian historical past’ with the Kyivan legacy transferring to Vladimir-Suzdal, Muscovy and imperial St. Petersburg. Confusingly, she states, ‘Within the 12 months 980, an obscure prince landed on the northern shores of a land that grew to become often known as Rus’ and later, Russia.’ Her guide on ‘Medieval Russia’ consists of the Kyiv Rus period however ends at a interval in time earlier than the time period ‘Russia’ was coined within the early eighteenth century.

Martin (1996) ignores proof and the views of western and Ukrainian-based historians of Ukraine that the traditions and political tradition of Vladimir-Suzdal and Muscovy had been very completely different to these of Kyivan Rus.  Martin (1996) attracts upon the Russian nationalist (imperialist) faculty of historical past (for instance, Sergei M.Soloviev and Vasili O. Kliuchevskyi), which claims the switch of the Kyivan Rus legacy to be ‘phases within the historical past of 1 nation.’

Martin (1996) solely devotes 4 strains to the choice view by Hrushevskyy (1970) who wrote that the Kyivan Rus custom was inherited by the Galician-Volhynian Principality in what’s now western Ukraine. Martin (1996, 375) admits that Kyiv Rus and Muscovy had been inextricably linked; nonetheless, ‘Muscovy’s political buildings contrasted sharply with these of Kievan Rus.’Muscovite traditions radically differed from these of Kyiv Rus as a result of these traditions had been inherited by Galicia-Volhynia and never Vladimir-Suzdal. Plokhy (2015, 50) writes that the Mongols recognised two successors to Kyiv Rus which had been Galicia-Volhynia, the place they’d little affect, and Vladimir-Suzdal, which they occupied. In 1302, the Constantinople Orthodox Patriarch recognised two metropolitans in Vladimir and Halych the place Galician-Volhynian Prince Danylo was topped King Daniel (King of the Rus).

Kochan (1974) makes use of ‘Kievan Rus’ to check with the medieval period. However by together with it inside a survey of ‘Russian historical past,’ the reader is once more left in little question as to how Kyiv Rus is a part of ‘Russian historical past’ as a result of this era represented the ‘formative centuries of Russian historical past’ (Kochan 1974, 11). After the disintegration of Kyiv Rus in 1240, the vast majority of Ukrainian territories grew to become both unbiased within the Galician-Volhynian principality or got here below Mongol rule. They then handed below Lithuanian, Polish-Lithuanian and Cossack rule. The 1654 Treaty of Pereyaslav between Ukraine and Muscovy was concluded after the Poles refused to contemplate the Ukrainian Cossack proposal to rework the Polish-Lithuanian commonwealth right into a Polish-Lithuanian-Ruthenian (i.e. the previous time period for Ukrainian) Commonwealth. Ukrainian Cossack Hetman Khmelnytskyy signed the treaty provided that Ukrainian autonomy be recognised by the Muscovite Tsar. This Ukrainian interpretation of a confederal relationship of two equal peoples, much like the 1707 treaty between Scotland and England, has regularly clashed with the Russian, Soviet and partially western view of Ukraine’s submission to Muscovy and ‘re-union’ with Russia.

Western Historiography of Russia within the Put up-Soviet Period

Western historiography of Russia barely modified following the disintegration of the previous USSR and creation of an unbiased Russian Federation. A civic historical past of the Russian Federation (which might equate Russian historical past with the nation-state that got here into being in 1991) is but to be revealed. British historians wrote as if nothing had modified and proceed to make use of ‘Kievan Russia’ to this present day.

An try to come back to phrases with the complicated methodology utilised by western historians of ‘Russia’ was offered by Simon Franklin and Jonathan Shepard (1969). Early within the guide, they state, ‘This guide is and isn’t an account of the emergence of a factor known as Russia. The additional we pursue the factor into the previous, the extra deceptive our trendy vocabulary turns into. If we image Russia as a state inhabited primarily by individuals who consider themselves as Russians—if, that’s, our notion of Russia is colored by present political or ethno-cultural geography—then most of this guide isn’t about Russia in any respect, or a minimum of not about Russia alone’ (Franklin and Shepard 1969, XVII). Franklin and Shepard (1969, XVII) write, ‘The story of the land of Rus may proceed in a single route in the direction of trendy Russia, or in different instructions in the direction of, finally, Ukraine or Belarus. The land of the Rus is none of those, or else it’s a shared predecessor of all three.’

These two authors have due to this fact consciously not used the eighteenth-century phrases ‘Russia’ or ‘Russians.’ However, their guide is the primary quantity of Longman’s Historical past of Russia, which the publishers do confuse with Kyiv Rus, and by inserting the primary quantity inside this collection, readers will in fact assume that Kyiv Rus is the primary stage of ‘Russian’ historical past.

Geoffrey Hosking (1997) goals to interrupt new floor by focusing upon how ‘Rossiia obstructed the flowering of Rus’ or, ‘for those who choose it, how the constructing of an empire impeded the formation of a nation.’ But there may be little new that might differentiate it from earlier histories of ‘Russia.’ Hoskings (1997) differentiates Rus/Ruskij, the folks, from Rossiiski, the empire. By doing this, Hoskings (1997, XIX) believes that one can separate the pre-imperial state and imperial Russian empire into two distinct objects of research. By differentiating these two durations, he hoped to point out how the expansion of the Russian empire (Rossiia) obstructed the evolution of the pre-imperial Rus right into a nation. Therefore, ‘my story issues above all of the Russians’ (Hoskings 1997, XIX).

Probably the most troublesome issue impeding Russian nation-building was that which Hoskings (1997) doesn’t try and take care of; particularly, the query of Russia’s Ruskij query. Hoskings (1997) doesn’t, for instance, look to Novgorod or Muscovy as his pre-imperial object of research, both of which might be conceivably outlined as the primary (Nice) Russian states. As a substitute, Hoskings’ (1997) research of Rus consists of all three japanese Slavs. Implicit on this selection is the idea that Kyiv Rus constituted one united entity that might have advanced right into a Russian nation if its unity had not been destroyed by the Mongol invasion.

Hoskings (1997) equates the Ruskij narod to the English and Turkish peoples and the Rossiia empire to the British or Ottoman empires. Hoskings (1997) backs this declare by reference to the Belarusians, who, writing at the moment, he believed didn’t appear to know who they had been within the post-Soviet period (in 2020, from the vantage level of hindsight, the Belarusian revolution confirmed this to be unfaithful, if it ever was). Sometimes, Hoskings (1997) exaggerates the alleged division of Ukrainians into the ‘nationalist, Ukrainian-speaking west’ and the ‘pro-Russian, Russian talking east and south’ which was proven to be legendary in 2014 and which is critically mentioned in chapters 4, 5 and 6.[8] Riasanovsky (1977) additionally speculates in a fashion much like Hoskings (1997) that if the alleged unity of Kyiv Rus had been maintained it may need advanced right into a single ‘All-Russian Individuals’ (Riasanovsky 1977, 154).

By utilising nineteenth-century Russian nationalist (imperialist) historiography, Hoskings (1997) and different western historians discover it unattainable to elucidate how ‘Russians’ who allegedly lived in as we speak’s Ukraine within the medieval period, had been then changed by ‘Ukrainian squatters’ at an undisclosed later stage. As Hoskings (1997, 27), to his credit score, factors out: ‘Ukraine’s lack of its distinct nationwide id was extra sophisticated than that of every other area of the empire.’ The explanation for bans on the Ukrainian language, Hoskings (1997) believes, ‘seems to have been that the nationwide id of Ukrainian peasants was an unusually delicate matter for officers’ (Hoskings 1997, 27).  Simply because it continues to be for modern Russian leaders.

When nation-building was inspired, because it was in Austrian-ruled western Ukraine between the late-eighteenth century and 1918, it led to the event of a Ukrainian id. Paul R. Magocsi (1996, 456) writes, ‘Whereas Ukrainianism was being suppressed within the Russian Empire, all the basics that make attainable a viable nationwide life—historical past, ideology, language, literature, cultural organisation, schooling, faith and politics—had been being formally established in Austrian Galicia.’

Archie Brown, Michael Kaiser, and Gerald S. Smith (1994) embrace no separate part dedicated to any non-Russian republic of the previous USSR. The authors, as is commonly the case with western historians, confuse and interchangeably use the phrases ‘Russia,’ ‘Russian empire’ and the ‘USSR’ as in the event that they had been one and the identical factor. They once more use ‘Kievan Russia’ (Kyiv Rus) with the whole lot to do with it outlined as ‘Russian’ historical past. ‘Russia’ and ‘Russians’ are used as a substitute of imperial and Soviet. We learn concerning the ‘Russian Major Chronicle,’ Kyiv as ‘the Mom of Russian cities,’ Ruska Pravda as ‘Russian regulation,’ and the Rus Church is mis-translated because the ‘Russian Orthodox Church’ (see Plokhy 1996, 343).

Martin Gilbert’s (1993) historical past was reprinted in 1993 with solely minor revisions to take note of the disintegration of the Soviet Union. The guide spans ‘Russian historical past’ from 800 BC to the current by the prism of the usual translation of ‘Russian statehood’ from ‘Kievan Russia’ (Kyiv Rus), Vladimr-Suzdal, Muscovy, Russian Empire to USSR. Something to do with the pre-Vladimir-Suzdal period known as ‘Kievan Russia’ (Kyiv Rus), and its inhabitants are ‘Russians.’ Equally, John Channon and Robert Hudson (1995) embrace a gap chapter entitled ‘The Origins of Russia.’ Sadly, as with many western students, Channon and Hudson (1995) use ‘Kievan Russia’ and ‘Kievan Rus’ interchangeably, which leads one to imagine they consider them to be one and the identical; that’s, a territory populated by ‘Russians.’ The historical past of Rus between 1054-1237 is due to this fact included as a part of ‘The Origins of Russia,’ and, echoing Putin (2014a, 2014b), ‘Russia’ allegedly adopted Christianity in 988 in Crimea.

The Soviet state celebrated the millennium of ‘Russian’ Christianity in Moscow in 1988, a metropolis that didn’t exist till almost two centuries after Christianity arrived in Kyiv and 6 centuries after the founding of town of Kyiv itself. Kyiv celebrated its 1,five hundredth anniversary in 1982. In 2016, Putin unveiled a monument to Grand Prince Volodymyr in a metropolis that by no means existed when he dominated Kyiv Rus. One wonders whether or not in taking this the 1st step Vladimir (Putin) was influenced by one other Vladimir (Volkoff 1984) who wrote Vladimir: The Russian Viking.

Western Historiography of ‘Russia’ and Ukraine

Since 1991, western historians have continued to make use of Russian nationalist (imperialist) historiography slightly than altering and writing a civic historical past of the Russian Federation. This has a very damaging influence upon Ukraine’s historical past and id – particularly as a result of Russia and Ukraine have been at conflict since 2014. Ukrainians are ignored in western histories of ‘Russia,’ and, though they’re the second largest minority within the Russian Federation, political science books on nationwide minorities in Russia utterly ignore them (see Prina 2016). The historian Norman Davies (1994, 41) argues: ‘The very best factor to do with such an embarrassing nation (Ukrainians) was to fake that it didn’t exist, and to simply accept the previous Tsarist fiction about their being “Little Russia.” In actuality they had been neither little nor Russian.’ Ukraine was disinherited ‘from any declare to historic statehood and thereby denied any future declare to unbiased statehood’ (Szporuk 1997, 95).

David Saunders (1993, 101) writes, ‘Regardless of Ukraine’s centrality… commonplace works on the historical past of the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union say comparatively little about it.’ Saunders attributes this to 2 causes. The primary cause is that western historians derived their view of Ukrainians from Russian interpretations. The second cause is that these historians depended upon publications sanctioned by Russia and therefore centered upon the Russian heartland, in one other instance of educational orientalism. Many western students of ‘Russia’ ‘change into unconsciously Nice Russian centralizers’ (Saunders 1993, 101)when commonplace western accounts of the previous USSR handled the japanese Slavs as one homogenous complete. Little surprise western authorities leaders requested Kravchuk in ‘which a part of Russia was Ukraine situated?’[9] Practically three many years later, US President Donald Trump believed Ukraine (and Finland) had been a part of Russia (Bolton 2020).

Since 1991, western histories of ‘Russia’ have continued to comply with the nationalist (imperialist) framework developed by Russian historians within the nineteenth century. Joseph Stein (2010), Gregory L. Freeze (2002), Abraham Ascher (2002), and Philip Longworth (2006) are 4 latest examples of students starting the historical past of ‘Russia’ in Kyiv and after its fall, ‘Russian’ historical past moved to Vladimir-Suzdal, Muscovy, and the Russian Empire. The primary chapter of Stein covers the ‘early historical past from medieval to imperial Russia’ which known as ‘The period of Vladimir I.’ Ascher’s historical past of ‘Russia’ ‘covers the whole sweep of Russian historical past, from the earliest settlers to the aftermath of the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991,’ starting in Kyiv and ending within the USSR.

The USSR could have disintegrated, and Ukraine has an unbiased state, however historians of Russia proceed to write down concerning the territory of Ukraine as ‘Russian lands’ populated by mysterious ‘squatters’ with unknown origins for the final thousand years. It’s unattainable for these historians to establish who these Ukrainians are or why they don’t need to be a part of the Russian World.

Unexplained Origins of Ukrainian ‘Squatters’ on ‘Russian Lands’

As a result of ‘Russian’ historical past is at all times written as starting in Kyiv, the one clarification that may be given for Ukrainians ‘squatting’ on ‘Russian lands’ is  that they’re interlopers and their state is an ‘synthetic’ assemble created by chance or by scheming exterior powers who’re intent on weakening Russia and dividing the ‘All-Russian Individuals.’ Such a conclusion is mirrored in how Ukraine is considered by a big physique of historians of ‘Russia’ and a few political scientists who work on Russia as not an actual entity, a bitterly divided nation, and, let’s face it, ‘Russian’ (see Darden and Means 2014; Charap and Colton 2017; Hahn 2018; Cohen 2019).

Western historians of ‘Russia’ seemingly see no want to carry scholarly interactions with western historians of Ukraine or historians working in Ukraine. Western historians of ‘Russia’ don’t use Ukrainian sources or histories of Ukraine (see Kuzio 2001b). Educational orientalism by the usage of sources and frameworks from Russia is pervasive in western writing about ‘Russian’ historical past, which ends up in an imagining of Ukraine by Moscow’s eyes.

With the vast majority of western historians of ‘Russia’ upholding a Russian view of ‘Kievan Russia’ (Kyiv Rus) because the birthplace of ‘Russia,’ they maybe see no irony in President Putin unveiling a statue to Grand Prince Volodymyr in Moscow. Putin (2017) advised the Valdai Membership that the ‘monumental Russian state’ was based in ‘Kievan Russia’ (Kyiv Rus) and Russians and Ukrainians are its descendants sharing ‘frequent traditions, frequent mentality, frequent historical past and customary tradition’ (Feklyunina 2016, 784). Anti-Semitic nationwide Bolshevik Sergei Glazyev, Putin’s senior adviser on Ukraine, describes Kyiv as ‘our most Russian metropolis the place the entire of Russia started,’ exhibiting his perception within the ‘All-Russian Individuals’ consisting of three branches.[10] The baptism of ‘Kievan Russia’ (Kyiv Rus) laid the ‘civilised basis which unites the peoples of Russia, Ukraine and Belarus’ Putin (2014a) mentioned.

By persevering with to make use of nineteenth century nationalist (imperialist) theses, western historians of ‘Russia’ help these myths of ‘Russian historical past’ starting in Kyiv, the closeness and unity of three japanese Slavs, and Russian title to Crimea. Laruelle (2016b) defines Russkij not as a type of ethnic nationalism, however as an ‘imperial which means’ connecting Ukrainians to Russians and a ‘ghost from the imperial previous’ (see additionally Rowley 2000).  ‘Seen from the Kremlin’s perspective, this shared previous ought to decide a shared future’ as a result of Russians and Ukrainians are ‘one folks.’ Ukraine can’t be permitted to reside exterior the Russian World as a result of Ukraine’s ‘russkii-ness’ is ‘embedded in a pro-Russian geopolitical place’ (Laruelle 2016b).

Nineteenth-century nationalist (imperialist) ‘Russian’ historical past included 4 key myths:

  1. Muscovy is the inheritor to Kyiv Rus;
  2. Bringing Ukraine into the Muscovite realm was not annexation by a international energy however the so-called ‘gathering of Russian lands’ (a title Putin want to see himself go down in Russian historical past as);
  3. Muscovites had been the main folks of the japanese Slavs;
  4. Muscovy’s and the Russian Empire’s enlargement into and rule over Ukraine and Belarus aimed to rebuild the unity of Kyiv Rus.

Though it’s comprehensible (however on the similar time reprehensible) why nationalists (imperialists) resembling Putin proceed to make use of such myths, it’s unclear why western historians proceed to take action. Edward L. Keenan (1994, 21) writes that ‘none of those axioms can face up to trendy analytical scrutiny and confrontation with the sources.’ It is because Muscovite rulers had no information of hyperlinks to Kyiv Rus and had been ‘solely dimly conscious of the historical past of the Kievan interval, and even much less all for claiming it as their inheritance’ (Keenan 1994, 22). Ivan, the Muscovite ruler who’s described because the ‘gatherer of Russian lands,’ ‘made little – nearly nothing – of his Kievan ancestry’ (Kennan 1994, 24; see Pritsak and Reshetar 1963); Putin is as equally blind to Ukrainian historical past. Russian hyperlinks to Kyiv Rus and Ukrainian lands had been damaged for 4 centuries. When the Treaty of Pereyaslav was mentioned in 1654, each side used interpreters and Ukrainian (Ruthenian) Cossacks had a transparent notion of Muscovites as international ‘Others.’

Plokhy (2017, 55-104) focuses on id questions adopted by Russia’s rulers since Muscovy launched its ‘gathering of Russian lands.’ Russia’s ‘fable of origin’ claiming Kyiv Rus isn’t merely a viewpoint in historic debates however interprets into modern geopolitics as a declare to Ukraine. Muscovy’s propagandists described the three japanese Slavs as branches of 1 ‘All-Russian Individuals’ as do modern Russian leaders.

Writing almost twenty years earlier than the Russian-Ukrainian Struggle, Keenan (1994) warned that these myths had change into embraced by most Russians, which has meant they may not settle for a separate Ukrainian id (see D’Anieri 2019). ‘Ought to nonetheless, both authorities discover itself motivated to “act out” any of the related nationwide myths – together with the “nationwide unity” fable – unimaginable chaos may outcome.’ Russian views of Ukraine as a man-made entity and Ukrainians as certainly one of three elements of tryedynstva russkoho naroda grew to become more and more dominant within the Kremlin’s discourse and particularly after Putin’s re-election in 2012 (see Zatulin 2012). What Kennan (1994) warned about occurred in 2014 and thereafter.

Western Historians of ‘Russia’ and Ukraine

Competitors between Ukraine and Russia over the legacy of Kyiv Rus didn’t start in 1991, however went again so far as a minimum of the early-nineteenth century. In 1846, Istoria Rusov (Historical past of Rus/Historical past of Ruthenians) was revealed of unsure authorship. Istoria Rusov claimed that Kyiv Rus had been ‘the primary and oldest type of Ukrainian life’ (Chernenko 1994, 4). The guide was necessary in offering ‘a transparent sense of historic continuity for Ukraine’ and, due to this, had ‘an infinite influence on historians in addition to on the poets, folklorists, and language lovers lively within the slowly rising Ukrainian nationwide revival’ (Magocsi 2010, 383-384). Istoria Rusov described Ukraine as ‘an unbiased nation that solely just lately had come below Russian hegemony,’ freedom-loving Ukrainians had been contrasted with ‘serfdom and slavery’ in Muscovy, and Ukraine entered a interval of decline within the eighteenth century after coming below Russian rule (Magocsi 2010, 19, 383-384). Istoriya Rusov laid the groundwork for Hrushevskyy (1970) and different historians to deal with Ukrainian historical past individually to Russian historical past and to say unique title to Kyiv Rus (Magocsi 2010, 21).

A counter-discourse of resistance to assimilation and colonisation, and opposition to Russia’s discourse of chauvinistic superiority has been prevalent in Ukrainian political writings because the early-nineteenth century (Shkandrij 2011, 283). Taras Shevchenko, Ukraine’s nationwide bard, developed narratives that condemned Tsarist tyranny and imperialism, sympathised with smaller nations subjugated by the Russian empire, attacked serfdom, and rejected Russia’s ‘civilising mission’ (Shkandrij 2001, 134-135). This counter-discourse was additionally prevalent in Ukrainian underground publishing within the USSR (samvydav [samizdat]) and within the declarations and programmes of dissident teams and nationalist events.

Through the Mikhail Gorbachev period within the second half of the Nineteen Eighties, Soviet historiography got here below problem in Ukraine and another non-Russian republics (Velychenko 1991). Since 1991, Ukraine continued to switch Soviet and Russian historiography with Ukrainian nationwide historiography (Kotsur and Kotsur 1999; Kalakura 2004). Russia and Ukraine’s divergence after 1991 was based mostly upon completely different views of their histories and the way they need to be written, taught in schooling, and commemorated by the state (Velychenko 1992; Kohut 1994). These modifications started lengthy earlier than Viktor Yushchenko’s election in January 2005 – regardless that he’s normally described as Ukraine’s first ‘nationalist’ president. Jan G. Janmaat (2000) wrote about Ukrainian historiography more and more laying unique declare to Kyiv Rus within the Nineties.

The rehabilitation of Hrushevskyy (Kuchma 1996) got here after 5 many years of his denunciation by the Soviet regime as a ‘German agent’ and ‘bourgeois nationalist.’ Hrushevskyy’s (1970) historiography centered on the historical past of the Ukrainian folks and was the framework utilized by some Ukrainian historians and western historians, resembling Subtelny (Kuzio 1998, 198-229). Ihor Sevcenko factors out, ‘There have been no critical makes an attempt to refute Hrushevskyy (1970) on the idea of info by any historian practising the craft.’[11] One wonders whether or not western historians of Russia and Ukraine ever speak, have lunch collectively, sit on the identical panels at tutorial conferences, or learn one another’s histories.

The extent to which Hrushevskyy (1970) grew to become a part of the official mainstream might be seen by President Leonid Kuchma’s (1996) commemorative guide dedicated to him. Hrushevskyy (1970) was ‘the founding father of the revived Ukrainian state within the twentieth century, a historian of world renown’ (Kuchma 1996). Hrushevskyy’s significance lay in his devotion to Ukraine’s ‘nationwide revival,’ ‘the revival of its genetic reminiscence, a deep understanding of its personal historical past’ (Kuchma 1996). Hrushevskyy ‘developed an idea of the historic improvement of the Ukrainian folks, he proved that our folks have its personal core origins’ (Kuchma 1996). Hrushevskyy’s (1970) Historical past of Ukraine-Rus is to Kuchma (1996) ‘the historic Bible of the Ukrainian folks, a elementary work.’

Orest Subtelny (1988, 1991, 1994a, 1994b, 2000, 2009), Magocsi (1996, 1997, 2010, 2012), and Plokhy (2015) embrace the whole lot that has taken place within the territory of Ukraine inside their histories of Ukraine. The revival and improvement of Ukrainian nationwide historiography challenged Tsarist, Soviet, and western historiographies of ‘Russia’ as a result of they questioned almost the entire assumptions present in them. Russian rule is now not portrayed as ‘progressive,’ Russification and Russian imperialism are condemned, and former ‘traitors’ are outlined as nationwide heroes by monuments, stamps, medals, foreign money, and road names. Ukrainian Cossack chief Hetman Ivan Mazepa, for instance, who allied himself with the Swedes in opposition to Russia in 1709, was routinely condemned by Tsarist and Soviet historiography. His image is used on one of many Ukrainian hryvnya financial institution notes launched in 1996, and there are monuments to him in Kyiv and Poltava. Tsarina Catherine could also be constructive to Russians as a reformer-moderniser and empire builder however, to Ukrainians, she is remembered because the destroyer of the autonomous Ukrainian Hetmanate state and to Tatars because the conqueror of Crimea. The ‘Tsar liberator’ Alexander II banned the Ukrainian language.

When the College of Toronto revealed Subtelny’s Ukraine: A Historical past in 1988, they undoubtedly by no means anticipated it to change into probably the most extensively used textbook in an unbiased Ukrainian state just a few years later. Subtelny’s Ukraine: A Historical past (1988, 1991, 1994a, 1994b, 2000, 2009) was revealed in 4 editions in Canada and was revealed in Ukrainian (1991) and Russian (1994). The Ukrainian and Russian language editions had been reprinted in tons of of hundreds of copies when few different non-Soviet histories of Ukraine had been accessible in these two languages within the first half of the Nineties.

Subtelny (1988, 1991, 1994a, 1994b, 2000, 2009) was the primary in 50 years to deliver Ukrainian historical past as much as the current and is due to this fact much like different one-volume histories of Ukraine by Dmytro Doroshenko and Hrushevskyy. All three histories had been dedicated to the Ukrainian individuals who have lived on the territory we now have identified because the late-nineteenth century (and extra importantly since 1991) as Ukraine. Consequently Russians, Poles, and Jews, who performed an necessary function within the historical past of this territory, are solely given 5 out of 692 pages in Subtelny (1988, 1991, 1994a, 1994b, 2000, 2009).

Magocsi’s (1996, 1997, 2010, 2012) Historical past of Ukraine, additionally revealed by the College of Toronto, appeared in two editions in Canada and had been translated into Ukrainian (2007, 2012). In distinction to Subtelny (1988, 1991, 1994a, 1994b, 2000, 2009), Magocsi (2010, 610-625) centered upon the historical past of all of ethnic teams and occasions that happened on Ukrainian territory. Magocsi (1996, 1997, 2010, 2012) follows the usual western civic historiography which traces again in time the historical past of territories that grew to become nation-states within the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Though Hrushevskyy (1970) and Subtelny (1988, 1991, 1994a, 1994b, 2000, 2009) adopted people-based, whereas Magocsi (1996, 1997, 2010, 2012) and Plokhy (2015, 2016) adopted state-based multicultural approaches to Ukrainian historical past, respectively, the 2 approaches each declare title to Kyiv Rus (see Kuzio 2005).

Magocsi’s (2010, 2012) almost 800-page A Historical past of Ukraine spans ‘2,500 years of Ukraine’s historical past’:

Till now, most histories of Ukraine have been histories of the Ukrainian folks. Whereas this guide additionally traces the evolution of Ukrainians, it tries as effectively to present considered therapy to the numerous different peoples who developed throughout the borders of Ukraine, together with the Greeks, the Crimean Tatars, the Poles, the Russians, the Jews, the Germans, and the Romanians. Solely by an understanding of all their cultures can one hope to achieve an ample introduction to Ukrainian historical past. In different phrases, this guide isn’t merely a historical past of Ukrainians, however a survey of all kinds of developments which have taken place in the course of the previous two and a half millennia on the territory encompassed by the boundaries of the modern state of Ukraine.

Plokhy’s (2015) historical past of Ukraine, revealed in the course of the Russian-Ukrainian Struggle, follows the same method to that of Magocsi (1996, 1997, 2010, 2012). Few western students have centered on nationwide id as the foundation reason for the Russian-Ukrainian Struggle, which Plokhy (2015), a local of the Dnipropetrovsk area bordering the Donbas, focuses upon in his Epilogue. Plokhy (2015) believed the revival of a nationalistic (imperialistic) id in Putin’s Russia poses a elementary problem to Ukrainian nation-building as a result of language and tradition have been on the coronary heart of Ukraine’s revival because the mid-nineteenth century.


Till the mid-nineteenth century, most writers and historians assumed Kyiv Rus was a part of ‘Little Russian’ (Ukrainian) historical past. After 1934, Soviet historiography largely reverted to its pre-Soviet roots by re-adopting nationalist (imperialist) historical past writing developed within the second half of the nineteenth century. In Tsarist, Soviet, and western histories of ‘Russia’ the medieval state of Kyiv Rus was nationalised on behalf of ‘Russian’ historical past and the birthplace of the ‘Russian nation,’ turning into ‘Kievan Russia’ (Kyiv Rus). Russian claims to Kyiv Rus Tsarist nationality coverage outline the ‘All-Russian Individuals’ as composed of three japanese Slavs. If Russians and Ukrainians had been separate folks, the historical past of Kyiv Rus needed to belong to certainly one of them (Plokhy 2017, 117); in the event that they had been ‘one folks’ then ‘Kievan Russia’ (Kyiv Rus) was the birthplace of the ‘Russian nation.’  These histories ignored Ukrainians who solely appeared briefly within the mid-seventeenth century as Cossacks who allied themselves with Muscovy, then once more briefly in 1917, and once more in 1991. Russian and western nationalist (imperialist) historiographies by no means made clear how Ukrainians got here to be ‘squatting’ on ‘primordially Russian lands.’

Historiographies written by Russian émigré historians working within the West had been handled as ‘goal’ regardless that they had been nationalist (imperialist), denied Ukrainians any historical past, and assumed Ukrainians had been a part of the ‘All-Russian Individuals.’ Ukrainian historians, resembling Hrushevskyy (1970) and others, had been portrayed as ‘nationalists’ by Russian, Soviet, and western historians. Ukrainian historiography was ignored previous to 1991 and continues to be ignored by most historians of ‘Russia.’

The disintegration of the previous USSR led to the revival and re-writing of civic historiographies of the Ukrainian nation-state however not in Russia. A civic Russian historical past of the Russian Federation would come to resemble that which is present in Ukraine and western Europe. France and Britain each have hyperlinks to Rome and the Roman empire, however the histories of France and Britain are confined to the borders of the nation-states created in the course of the previous two centuries. Declaring Russia to be the inheritor to ‘Kievan Russia’ (Kyiv Rus) is as preposterous as Romania claiming it’s the inheritor to the Roman empire. If Romania ‘owns’ Rome, what ought to be achieved with Italy? On this dystopian Romanian and Russian world, Italians and Ukrainians can be ‘squatters’ on lands that rightly belong to Romania and Russia.

Historiography, myths, and legends are necessary within the formation of nationwide identities. Historiography performs an necessary function in creating and sustaining a nationwide ‘We,’ whereas laying declare to earlier or first settlement in disputed territories. Former President Kuchma believed, ‘Historical past might not be restricted to folks’s attitudes to the previous. Historical past continues within the current and has an influence on forming the long run.’[12] That is clearly seen in how nationalist (imperialist) historiography underpins Russian navy aggression in opposition to Ukraine (see chapters 4 and 5). Up to date Russia’s nationalist (imperialist) historiography helps Putin’s views of Ukraine as a man-made state and Ukrainians and Russians as ‘one folks.’ Western histories of ‘Russia’ sadly present the same image of Ukraine and Ukrainians.

Another civic historiography might be used to write down a nationwide historical past of the Russian Federation. Instructing and writing of historical past are intently tied to nationwide id and this in flip influences a rustic’s international coverage towards its neighbours. The forging of a civic Russian nationwide id would undermine the ideology that fuels conflict and navy aggression by Russia in opposition to Ukraine.

A Russian civic historiography based mostly upon the Russian Federation would accomplish 4 duties. First, it could help the constructing of a civic, inclusive Russian nation-state throughout the borders of the Russian Federation. Second, it could now not embrace Ukrainians inside ‘Russian’ historical past and would settle for Ukraine as an unbiased nation. Third, Ukraine and Russia can be seen as separate nations. Fourthly, Russian imperialism and chauvinism fuelling Russian navy aggression in opposition to Ukraine can be undermined.

The following chapter continues this dialogue of western historiography of ‘Russia’ by specializing in Crimea, the annexation of which by Russia in 2014 was a significant component in that 12 months’s disaster. Western historians and Russian leaders write about Chersonesus in Crimea because the place the place Grand Prince Vladimir (Volodymyr) baptised the ‘first Russian state.’ Subsequently, its annexation in 2014 was a pure improvement; in any case, the territory had at all times been ‘Russian.’ In his deal with welcoming Crimea’s union with Russia, Putin (2014a) linked Crimea to a ‘frequent historical past’ with Ukraine in Kyiv Rus, its return to Russia in 1783, and the ‘legendary metropolis’ of Sevastopol because the Black Sea Fleet base. ‘Every of those locations is sacred to us, these are symbols of Russian navy glory and unprecedented valour,’ Putin (2014a) mentioned. Crimea was introduced on Russian tv because the core of the ‘Russian’ nation and spirit (Hutchings and Tolz 2015, 25).


[1] https://euvsdisinfo.eu/report/belarus-means-white-russia-and-white-russians-identify-themselves-as-culturally-russian/

[2] https://www.bbc.com/russian/news-53929091

[3] https://spbdnevnik.ru/news/2019-12-19/vladimir-putin-russkie-i-belorusy-pochti-odin-narod

[4] Interview with Mark von Hagen, Director of the Harriman Institute, Columbia College, 19 November 1996.

[5] Interview with Stephen Velychenko, College of Toronto, 21 November 1996.

[6] M. von Hagen, ‘After the Soviet Union: Rethinking Trendy Russian Historical past’, The Seventeenth Annual Philadelphia Distinguished Lecture on Historical past, 1977, 9.

[7] M. von Hagen, ‘After the Soviet Union: Rethinking Trendy Russian Historical past’, The Seventeenth Annual Philadelphia Distinguished Lecture on Historical past, 1977, 9.

[8] Geoffrey Hoskings, Faculty of Slavonic and East European Research, College of London, 23 April 1997.

[9] Former US Ambassador to Ukraine, Roman Popadiuk, American Political Science Affiliation annual congress, Washington, DC, 28 August 1997.

[10] Radio Russia, 5 March 2004.

[11] The Ukrainian Weekly, 9 November 1997.

[12] Uryadovyy Kurier, 13 November 1997.

Additional Studying on E-Worldwide Relations


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here