Russian President Vladimir Putin wrote an article On the Historical Unity of Russians and Ukrainians which was published on the Kremlin website with a version in the Ukrainian language. During his recent Q&A conference, Putin stated that he considered Russian and Ukrainian peoples to be one single nation and promised to publish a lengthy article on the problem in the near future.
The president warned that as a result of the policy of assimilation, which is now being carried out in Ukraine, the Russian people may decrease "by hundreds of thousands, or even by millions."
"It goes about the coercive change of identity. The most disgusting thing is that Russians in Ukraine are forced not only to renounce their roots, from generations of ancestors, but they are also forced to believe that Russia is their enemy," Putin said.
In his opinion, the course of violent de-Russification and the formation of an ethnically pure Ukrainian state that is hostile against Russia, is comparable in its consequences to the use of "weapons of mass destruction”. In particular, the president wrote that he perceived the wall that had emerged between Russia and Ukraine during the recent years as "a great common tragedy." This wall is the result of one's mistakes made in different periods of time. "The kinship of Russians and Ukrainians goes from generation to generation, because we are one people," Putin wrote.
In the article, Putin talks about the "anti-Russia" project, which the West coined to set Ukraine against Russia. According to him, Ukraine was gradually drawn into a dangerous geopolitical game, the goal of which was to turn the country into a barrier between Russia and the European Union. At the same time, there is no place for sovereign Ukraine in the "anti-Russia" project. The policy eventually led to the tragic events of 2014, Putin wrote.
"The anti-Russia project was rejected by millions of Ukrainian citizens. The Crimeans and Sevastopol residents made their historical choice. The people in the southeast were peacefully trying to defend their position. But all of them, including children, were labeled as separatists and terrorists. They started threatening with ethnic cleansing and the use of military force. The residents of Donetsk and Luhansk took up arms to defend their home, language, their lives,” the article says.
The "right" patriot of Ukraine is a person who hates Russia, and Ukrainian citizens with pro-Russian views are "not allowed to raise their heads" — they are intimidated, driven underground and killed with impunity, Putin wrote. At the same time, he noted that Russia was open to dialogue with Ukraine, but Kiev must defend its national interests, rather than be an instrument of struggle with Moscow in the wrong hands.
"Russia has never been and will never be "anti-Ukraine”. What Ukraine should be like — it is up to its citizens to decide,” Putin wrote.
Russia has done a lot to make Ukraine an independent state. Russia's low prices on oil and gas saved Ukraine over $82 billion, Putin wrote in the article. He reminded that in the 1990s and in the new millennium, Russia provided Ukraine with significant support, but despite this, the Ukrainian authorities are now using their "political arithmetic".
During Ukraine's secession from the USSR, it had an significant economic potential, the article says.
"Having received such a legacy, the leaders of Ukraine, declaring independence, promised that the Ukrainian economy would become one of the leading economies, whereas the standard of living in Ukraine would be one of the highest in Europe,” Putin wrote, adding that the Ukrainian economy today is lopsided, while Ukraine itself has turned into the poorest country in Europe.
According to Putin, the Ukrainian authorities have "squandered" and "let go of the achievements of many generations." The Ukrainian elites have substantiated Ukraine's independence by denying its past:
"They started to mythologize and rewrite history, obliterating everything that unites us. They talk about the period of Ukraine's stay in the Russian Empire and the USSR as occupation. They pass off the common tragedy of collectivization and famine in the early 1930s as genocide of the Ukrainian people."
Putin believes that in 2014 the "just discontent" of the people of Ukraine was "cynically used" by Western countries. As a result, the state policy of the country fell into the hands of "radical nationalist groups", whose ideology was based on "frenzied aggressive Russophobia." The new Ukrainian authorities cracked down on everything that united Russia and Ukraine — the Russian language in the first place.
Russia "did everything to stop the killing" from the very beginning. Moscow tried to preserve economic ties with Kiev, but did not see a reciprocal desire from the Ukrainian authorities, which were "exploiting the image of victims of aggression." Ukraine's refusal to engage in dialogue is dictated by the very logic of the "anti-Russia" project, which can be implemented only on the image of an external enemy under the protectorate of Western powers.
Putin criticized the national policy of the Soviet Union and the change of the borders of the union republics during the Soviet era, which he called lavish gifts. Those changes had been carried out disregarding the opinions of the people. The President expressed confidence that Russia was in fact robbed, and the Russian people were treated as material for historical experiments. A number of politicians in post-Soviet countries condemn the crimes of the Soviet regime, but they do not consider it a crime to "alienate historical territories from Russia”, Putin wrote.
In the USSR, the borders between the republics were perceived as administrative, rather than state borders, within the framework of a single country. The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 "pulled people away from historical Russia" as they "found themselves abroad overnight." The founding republics of the USSR should return to the borders with which they joined the USSR, Putin believes. "Leave with what you came with," he summed up.
In the article, Putin stressed out that many territories of today's Ukraine were not part of this state historically. In particular, the territories of Novorossiya were annexed to the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic in 1918 during the merger with the Donetsk-Krivoy Rog Republic; Galicia and Volyn — in 1939; part of Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina — in 1940; the Black Sea island of Zmeiny — in 1948, and Crimea — in 1954. The process to deliver Crimea from the RSFSR to the Ukrainian SSR was conducted with gross violation of legal norms of that time, Putin wrote.
Subcarpathian Rus was mostly populated by Ruthenians. He recalled that proposals to include the region in the RSFSR or give it a status of a separate union republic were ignored, and its inclusion in the Ukrainian SSR was called "reunification with the Motherland."
Therefore, Putin concluded, Ukraine was created at the expense of historical Russia. Russia will never allow "our historical territories and people who are close to us who live there" to be used against it. Those who attempt to do it will destroy their country, he added.
"Russia is ready for a dialogue with Ukraine and is ready to discuss most complicated issues. Yet, it is important for us that the partner defends its own national interests, rather than services someone else's interests, that it is not used as a tool in someone else's hands to struggle against us.
"We respect the Ukrainian language and traditions, we respect the aspiration of the Ukrainian people to see their country as a free, safe and stable state.
"I am convinced that the true sovereignty of Ukraine is only possible in partnership with Russia. Our spiritual, humane and civilizational connections had been formed for centuries. They come from the same roots and had been put to the test with common tribulations, achievements and victories. Our kinship is passed on from generation to generation. It is in the hearts and memories of people living in today's Russia and Ukraine, it is in our blood ties that unite millions of our families. Together, we have always been and we will be a lot stronger and more successful, because we are one people."
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