Attitude to Russia from Ukraine and Georgia: Find the difference
Russians visiting the capital of Ukraine are sometimes surprised that the vast majority of local residents, especially in Kiev, communicate with each other exclusively in Russian. Here lies the first striking difference with Tbilisi where most of young people do not know the Russian language and the older generation uses it infrequently.
This is confusing for many Russians. They believe that if people speak Russian and think in that language it means that they will undoubtedly be pro-alliance with Russia. However, when it comes to the political preferences of Kiev residents, it is quite the opposite. The paradox is that the majority of Russian-speaking residents of Kiev are in favor of the maximum distancing from Russia, they are pro "European choice" of Ukraine. They tend to blame Russia of all deadly sins, and some consider it a hostile country. Even during elections they vote for ultra-nationalist parties and candidates who are rabidly russophobic. The percentage of those who favor closer rapprochement with Russia in Russian-speaking Kiev will be much lower than in the Georgian-speaking Tbilisi.
Thus, we can speak of the existence of the Russian-speaking, anti-Russian community in Ukraine. This community is not only large, but also extremely powerful. There are no Ukrainian - speaking people in the narrow circle of the most powerful people in Ukraine who control the economy, security services, ministries and departments. Nearly all the elite speak exclusively Russian among themselves, leaving Ukrainian only for "official" appearances. However, its anti-Russia and anti-Russian policy actions are the reality.
Mikhail Pogrebinsky, a well-known Ukrainian political analyst, explained this phenomenon:
"Ukraine today is turning into "another Russia" before our eyes. This is a country that communicates in Russian and even has a Russian mentality, but is fundamentally different in terms of geopolitical orientation. This is Russia where in some way "European" values and European system fundamentally different from the Russian Federation in terms of culture have been introduced. There is no point in making "third Russia" out of Georgia, at the very least because it is not a Russian-speaking country. Despite the praises of Saakashvili's reforms by Moscow liberals, Georgia has not become a role model for the Russian public opinion."
Such "other Russia" free of great imperial power, "Russia-light" so to speak, represents great interest primarily for the West that does not want the reintegration of Ukraine and Russia into a new superpower. From the above, it becomes clear why the West is now so interested in signing the Association Agreement EU-Ukraine and at the same time doing everything possible to avert the Ukrainian elite from the integration of Ukraine into the Customs Union. In this case the prospect of "Great Russia" reemerges on the horizon, and the project of making "Russia-Light" from Ukraine will not be successful. Michael Pogrebinskii believes that if the Ukrainian project "other Russia" is implemented, it will be an example for the Russian Federation and its elite. It will be an example of the well living country that has become part of the European Community after rejecting its geopolitical ambitions.
It should be considered that the majority of Russian citizens still see Ukraine and Ukrainians as part of the country and do not think of it as a foreign country. Another thing is other former Soviet republics. For example, Georgia, like Ukraine, is a predominantly Orthodox country, and its elite declared its "European choice" even under the outgoing President Mikhail Saakashvili. But the people of Russia do not consider Georgia part of the country. This is the opinion of a significant number of Russians. Few Russians care which direction of geopolitical development Georgia will elect. In addition, ordinary people generally cannot particularly distinguish between people from the Caucasus. Some cannot tell between Georgians, Armenians, Azeris and people from the North Caucasians. It makes no sense for the Russian public opinion and the Russian elite to make an "exemplary Western country" out of Georgia (which is very difficult given the mentality of the population). Consequences of "Westernization of Ukraine" may be completely different.
A Kiev activist, leader of the "Orthodox choice" Dmitry Zhukov said the following about the peoples of the Caucasus:
"Georgia is an Asian country in the minds of both Russians and Ukrainians. It has nothing to do with the Georgian's elite statements that they are Europeans. There is nothing wrong with that. Like other Asian nations, the Georgians are faithful to their traditions, they are more religious, which, unfortunately, many Ukrainians and Russians lack.
But the majority of Russians do not consider Georgians one of their own. Their origin, language, and mentality are too different. For Russians who know Georgians it is hard to see how Georgia is moving under the control of the West and becoming hostile towards Russia. Most do not see any particular tragedy in this.
Another matter is Ukraine and the Ukrainians. Russians for the most part consider Ukrainians brothers and sisters, and many consider one another integral part of the once unified nation. On the mental level there is no difference at all between the Russian and eastern Ukrainians. It will be painful for Russians to lose Ukraine, especially if Ukraine becomes hostile towards Russia. Russian consciousness can come to terms with the loss of Georgia, but will not accept the loss of Ukraine.
If instead of this loss Georgia were to join Russia along with all other Soviet republics, the loss of Ukraine would not be compensated. It is especially painful for people with Russian consciousness in Ukraine to see the spiritual alienation of Ukraine from Russia. It hurts to see when your friends, neighbors, relatives, speaking only Russian become enemies of Russia at heart. This is "Ireland-isation" of Ukraine, we have lots of Russian-speaking people who hate Russians and Russia. It is similar to Ireland, where English-speaking people who do not speak Irish hate the English.
As for the "love" of Ukrainians to Georgia and Georgians, unfortunately, this love is very shaky, rather, it is an attempt to make friends based on hatred towards Russia. During the 2008 conflict Russian-speaking Ukrainian Russophobes for some reason became very fond of Georgia. Today, after the government of Georgia has changed and the new government is taking steps toward Russia, such Russophobes got disappointed in Georgia. They say that Georgians succumbed to the Kremlin. Therefore, it is dangerous if the feud between Ukraine and Russia escalates."