UKRAINE UPDATE: “Why won’t they just help us?”


UKRAINE WORLD PODCAST: RUSSIAN IMPERIALISM, interview with Vera Tolz, Professor of Russian studies at University of Manchester

  • The place of Ukraine is different in the Russian imperial imagination.
  • Ethnic Russians started to compose a minority of the empire.
  • Draconian decrees against the Ukrainian language, for example. 
  • The modern Russian nation started to emerge in 1880 in response to the Ukrainian nationhood.
  • Russians fear that without incorporating Ukraine and Belarus, they will cease to be an imperial force.
  • Putin’s government has developed this narrative that the Ukrainian nation is an artificial construct.  But, any nation is a construct.  It’s more plausible that the idea of the Russian nation in modern terms is a reactive one, to the challenge of the Ukrainian nationalism.
  • Putin is making a war against the Leninist idea of a confederation of separate nations. 
  • Some empires collapsed in the fact of the first WW.
  • Lenin had a clear understanding of national movements that had been emerging and challenging empires.  The Soviet Union was an attempt to address this idea of national challenge.
  • That attempt allowed a quasi-imperial structure to last for another 70 plus years.
  • The idea that you can undo the decades of Soviet legacy of recognizing Ukrainians as separate nations and go back to some idea of a pre-revolutionary ideal, is a fantasy.
  • This can only occur in a very personalized dictatorship.
  • The centralized mass education system during the 30s emphasized the crudest narratives of Russian empire.  From Stalin onwards this was the basis of mass education.
  • Putin’s propaganda tries to cancel the Soviet Union organization.
  • There is an impulse to use history selectively according to the demands of today.
  • There was a systematic denial of imperialism when Russia annexed Crimea.  Now, with Ukraine, a manifestation of imperialism, the imperialism is embraced by the propaganda.

UKRAINE THE LATEST podcast, The Telegraph

  • “Nobody’s gonna break us.  We are strong.  We are Ukrainians.”
  • Day 111 in the war against Ukraine.
  • Routes to evacuate Sieverodonetsk have been cut off in the effort to cut off the Donbas region.  70% of the city is under Russian control.
  • This may well turn out to be another Mariupol situation. 
  • Russians have warned the military in Sieverodonetsk that they must surrender or die. 
  • Macron has been accused of betraying Ukraine.
  • A large amount of money has been made by the Russians on gas from France.  The EU has accounted around 60% of the exports of the Russians.
  • France, Belgium and the Netherlands have snapped up Russian oil and gas at cut rates. 
  • France is being particularly criticized.  A new shipment worth 900 million.
  • We will see whether the commitments about Russian energy supplies will be honored.
  • Amnesty International has reported war crimes in Kharkiv.
  • The Russians are using cluster munitions in Kharkiv.  These are indiscriminate in their effect.

In this podcast, there is an interview with a young Ukrainian woman now living in England.  She had to convince to leave southern Ukraine.  While she was trying to talk with them about leaving her father told her he was responsible for the twenty families of his employees.  She promised to help support them.  You could hear the fear and the guilt and the shame in her voice as she said she found that she could hardly provide them anything.  Why won’t they just help us, she kept asking, her voice quavering.  Why won’t they just help us.  It is heartbreaking and shameful that the West is not doing more. 

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