“Ukraine as a state must be liquidated”

What awaits Ukrainian culture in the new Russian territories, will the pendulum swing in the opposite direction?

Alexey Peskov

Our today’s conversation with Rostislav Ishchenko , a well-known political scientist and columnist for Rossiya Segodnya news agency, was devoted to a very vague topic – the very idea of ​​Ukrainianism, which has grown before our eyes into outright “Nazism with a Ukrainian face.” Nevertheless, there is such an idea, it owns the minds of many, and it is impossible to ignore this fact. This is where we started.

What awaits Ukrainians as a national idea? What are the options?

– The options are endless – from complete oblivion to global success. The implementation of any idea depends on who undertakes it. There are no guarantees that tomorrow or the day after tomorrow, some local genius will not appear who will tear Ukrainians out of the current hole and lift them to shining heights.

Is it with irony or without it?

– Without any irony. Let’s remember history. France, 1799. The Directory has ruled for four years – a decomposed, corrupt regime. The country is on the verge of disaster. People plotting a coup d’état are no better than those in power. And then Bonaparte appears, who was involved in overthrowing the directory, but they were not going to give him power. The rest is known.

Or the history of the Russian Empire. 1917 Catastrophe. The Bolsheviks come to power intending to build an unbuildable society. And by 1920, it became clear that the country was about to explode from the inside – peasant uprisings, military riots, the Kronstadt rebellion … Few politicians could do what Lenin did , who suddenly switched from military communism and mass repressions to capitalism within the framework of the NEP. And he kept the power. And after his death, Stalin cleared out the petty-bourgeois strata of society and switched to paramilitary communism. But as a result, Soviet, or rather Bolshevik, power collapsed not in 1920 but in 1991. But it might not have collapsed because the potential for reforms existed, and we see this in China.

What if?

So the implementation of any idea depends on the individual and their efforts. Mussolini’s regime arose in Italy in 1922. If comrades from Germany had not dragged him into the world war, he could have existed for a long time. Like the similar fascist regimes of Franco in Spain and Salazar in Portugal. Yes, doomed to fall since a totalitarian regime cannot exist for too long, but a few decades is enough. It’s just that Francisco Franco did not buy into Hitler’s proposals to return Gibraltar to Spain. However, everything looked tempting: France was defeated, Great Britain was driven to its islands, and powerful Germany was in the allies. Take Gibraltar and rejoice. But Spain remained neutral, and Franco was in power until the end of his life.

In relation to Ukraine, this historical digression, what can it mean?

– Let’s compare the regimes of Zelensky and his predecessor in the presidency. Under the circumstances of Poroshenko, Ukraine could exist for a long time. First of all, Poroshenko ran to Russia in any critical situation to negotiate. Then he deceived, but agreed. The war in the Donbass was going on, but he did not seek to force it. And they shot, except for a few episodes, much less than now.

And then came Zelensky. Everyone expected that he, all so compromised and good, would bring peace. A comedian. Even pro-Russian in places, from a good intelligent family. Not like his predecessor, from a family of hucksters. So what? As a result, this under-Bonaparte is fighting with might and main. Poroshenko would not allow this…

To be honest, when the special operation began by entering Ukraine from three sides, I had an idea – with such a demonstration, Russia gave Ukraine a chance to inoffensively capitulate for the clear advantage of the enemy. And under Poroshenko, this would most likely work …

– Now we see – Ukraine is being squeezed, and, in theory, they should be squeezed. But the problem must be considered in a global context. We are not at war with Ukraine but with the United States. And there is a powerful coalition against us. Although we say that most of the world is with us, we understand that the part of the world that is not with us is a very solid force. 

Yes, all these countries have big problems. They are not at all as weak as they seem from afar. And they will not just fight with us but achieve victory. Because at what point we will have to stop, we do not know. And our resources are not endless. We do not know our real losses – which is understandable since this is a military secret. But, without knowing the specifics, drawing any conclusions and forecasts is impossible.

How much longer can we maintain offensive potential? A limited number of servicemen participate in the special operation, and mobilization is not only pointless but also criminal because, as a result, we will get the same as in Ukraine. There will be a contingent that does not know how to fight but is simple and easy to kill. You can’t train a soldier in a week, month, or two. So far, contract soldiers are participating in the battles, but their number is still limited …

And since it is not yet possible to take and brush off all the opponent’s pieces from the board, Ukraine as a state will likely be preserved in one form or another

“I can’t come to that conclusion. Ukraine as a state must be liquidated, and not only we are interested in this, but also the Poles, Hungarians, and Romanians … Theoretically, if you work on this issue well, you can find a certain consensus. If we cannot do it alone, then we can do it collectively. Understand – we can annex the Crimea, Donbass, Zaporozhye and Kherson regions, Odessa, and anything. But if we leave at least the smallest piece of Ukraine, even somewhere in the Zhytomyr swamps, then this piece will legitimately claim all the territories that were torn away.

You can see for yourself how dramatically the situation in the world is changing rapidly – in the 70s the USSR was on horseback; in the 80s, it was already under horseback, and in the 90s the Soviet Union did not exist at all, and the United States was on horseback. Now the States are breathing their last breath, together with Europe.

State of Russia in ten years

And we do not know what state Russia will be in 10 years from now: who will come to power, what alignments will emerge among the elites. States, as we see, are rapidly collapsing; for some 3-4 years, there may be no trace of their former power. Therefore, leaving such a contender for vast territories is at least unreasonable – there will definitely be someone who decides to take advantage of this.

But if I say “necessary”, then this does not mean that we will succeed. We are fighting, they are fighting with us, and it is impossible to say unequivocally who will win. If we were now sitting at the table in Potsdam and dictating our inexorable will to all mankind, as we did in 1945, we could say that these will live, but these will not exist. But for now, we are still in the process. 

And who could say, for example, in 1943 on the eve of the Battle of Kursk, who would win the war. Yes, we just won Stalingrad – but after that, we lost Kharkov. A huge strong army stood against us, and it was pointless then to argue where and how the war would end. Yes, we were not going to lose, and there was already an understanding that the Germans could not defeat us. But there were no guarantees that we would definitely win at that moment.

US provoking China

And now we are still in the process, fighting is going on – and all over the world. We do not know how the situation will develop in Southeast Asia, where the US is strongly provoking China to war. And most likely within a year, this war should begin – if Taiwan does not surrender just like that. And that war in general can result in a nuclear one, however, like ours.

How so?

— And so. There is a lot of nonsense going on at first glance: Estonia has closed the borders, a British plane violated the Russian border twice, Ukrainian DRGs in Crimea are blowing up our ammunition depots… But these seemingly unrelated events add up to a single picture of escalating tension between the West and us. There is a danger of expanding the war zone and involving new countries.

We are in a situation where we do not know who we will fight tomorrow. Therefore, to argue where we will reach in Ukraine, what we will annex … Only the Lord God can know this, for he is omnipotent and therefore knows how this clash will end. But today he knows, but tomorrow he can change his mind.

But some part of the Ukrainian territories will most likely be annexed to Russia, if we proceed not from a hypothetical future, but from today’s realities. And here is the burning question of what awaits Ukrainian culture in the new Russian territories. Won’t the pendulum swing in the opposite direction, won’t everything Ukrainian be spread rot in response to long years of oppression of everything Russian?

– I’m just afraid there will be no persecution but demonstrative support of Ukrainian culture that no one needs. This is generally in the Russian tradition – to demonstrate that “we are not like that.” One side. On the other hand, we have an exaggerated idea of ​​how many bearers of Ukrainian culture there really are and how deeply it has ingrained them in Temechko. 

For some reason, many believe that if we (we, not them!) do not develop Ukrainian culture, then they will be very offended by us. Although, in fact, the process there will be exactly the same as with Ukrainization. Since the country is Ukraine, the language should be only Ukrainian, and my son will attend a Ukrainian school. What for? And then, what is the future of this? They will also say why a son or daughter will attend a Russian school. We are Russia now, which means the Russians have the future.

The experience of the Soviet Union

But I fear that they will repeat the experience of the Soviet Union, when, albeit non-violently, but the Ukrainization of these territories took place constantly. The Russians were told that they were Ukrainians, there were signs in Ukrainian everywhere, and they urgently invented Ukrainian literature and history. However, all this was part of Russian literature and Russian history. We start talking about the Ukrainian playwright, but it turns out he is Russian. About Ukrainian writers – even Gogol , even Bulgakov  – and they are also Russian. Akhmatova was born in Kiev, but she is a Russian poetess. And so on.

From my point of view, in the liberated territories it is necessary to promote the theme that we are all Russians, that we have a common culture. But let all these flecks, embroidered shirts, borscht with donuts, dumplings and other bells and whistles remain an ethnographic trifle. Similar local specifics can be found in every corner of Russia. But if someone likes it, no one forbids it, they can organize hobby groups within the framework of the current legislation, and there you can make dumplings or play the bandura. But finance at your own expense, not from the state budget.

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