Russian Ukrainophobia differs from usual Xenophobia and is far more dangerous

Russian ultra-right march in Moscow

Russian ultra-right march in Moscow 

2014/07/02 • Analysis & Opinion, Featured

Xenophobia exists almost everywhere, based as it typically is in a sense of how different other peoples are and how distinctive one’s own is. And it has often been used by political leaders to mobilize their populations or distract their attention from domestic problems.

But Russian Ukrainophobia is different in three important ways, Olga Mikhaylova writes today on, and those differences in turn have serious consequences for the future of Russian-Ukrainian relations and should dictate the world’s reaction to what Moscow is doing.

“Ukrainophobia as perverted in Russia is constructed somewhat differently” that xenophobia normally is, she writes. “It does not cultivate the idea of the otherness of Ukrainians and does not lead Russians to hold themselves apart from Ukrainians.” Instead, “its structure is more complicated” and rests on three notions.

First of all, it is based on “the denial of the uniqueness and specificity of the Ukrainian nation.” The fact that Ukrainians speak closely related languages and share a religious faith “are being used in anti-Ukrainian rhetoric as arguments for the unity of Ukrainians and Russians in the framework of a single (or triune) Russian people.”

Second, Mikhailova writes, Russian Ukrainophobia denies “the self-sufficiency of the Ukrainian nation” and thus of its ability to function on its own. Those who are “infected” by this notion believe that Ukrainians must be directed and carried by Russians because they cannot make progress on their own.

And third, she continues, Russian Ukrainophobia is based on a denial of unique achievements of Ukrainians in the past and of the possibility that Ukrainians on their own can achieve anything in the future.

Mikhaylova points out that “an important element” of this set of notions is “the hyper-identification of the Russians themselves” and an increased focus by them on their identity “markers” and a sense of superiority over others, in this case, even over those whom they view as culturally close.

Imperial peoples like the Russians frequently promote the hyper-identity of their core nationality and promote a negative view of neighbors like the Ukrainians who do not share a sense of imperial mission, Mikhaylova writes. Regarding peoples who are culturally dissimilar like the Estonians and Georgians, Russian xenophobia is typical of xenophobia elsewhere. But when Russia deals with a nation similar in many respects, its xenophobia takes on this very different form.

Russian Ukrainophobia’s insistence about “the non-unique, non-self-sufficient, and non-independent” nature of Ukrainians, Mikhailova says, gives Russians a sense that they have the right and even the moral duty to interfere in Ukrainian affairs. Ukrainians have often ignored such attitudes in order to avoid clashes.

But when Russians intervene as now, Ukrainians can no longer afford to do that, especially since one of the consequences of Russian Ukrainophobia is unprecedented cruelty.

Such a complicated xenophobia “could not have appeared spontaneously,” she suggests. Instead, it has been promoted and developed “by all the intellectual and organizational resources of present-day Russia. And this means that xenophobia is an organic and inalienable part of the state policy of imperial Russia.”

Not all xenophobia represents the kind of threat that Russian Ukrainophobia does, Mikhailova says. The nearest parallel was “the elevation of anti-Semitism to the rank of state policy” by Nazi Germany. That kind of xenophobia threatens the world and should dictate how the world should respond.

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  • Kruton

    Translation”the Russians are nutjobs”.

  • sandy miller

    These are people who need someone to push around.

  • Dennis Fetcho, “The Fetch”

    Articles like this provide us with fascinating insights because what these types of articles are really doing is revealing the true nature of the author. This article is a projection – so we can surmise that the author is a rabid Russophobe appealing to all those who are equally rabid Russophobes.

    Simply invert this article using the principle of projection.

    • Rascalndear

      Let me guess. You are a Russophile. Moreover, by your logic, no one can analyze anything without it being reversible. That’s known as nihilism in philosophical terms. So you are a Russophilic nihilist. Makes sense! Thanks for the fascinating insight. : )

      • Dennis Fetcho, “The Fetch”

        Your guess is entirely incorrect. But that is ok. You obviously missed the point. This author as stated on the right side bar has “served in various capacities in the U.S. State Department, the Central Intelligence Agency and the International Broadcasting Bureau as well as at the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.”

        In other words, he is totally unreliable and agenda driven. He is clearly projecting onto Russians what is the stated agenda and rather obvious observable behavior of Western Ukrainians since their racist agenda was brought to power through US State Department machinations – the very State Department that this wholly useless agenda driven author is said to have worked for.

        My point is that the agenda coming out of Washington’s Jewish controlled wings of the US State Department are very obvious and predictable.

        As many said here: this article is a total waste of space. This is a very astute observation. Whether someone is a “Russophile” has absolutely nothing to do with the obvious pathetic attempts of this rather agenda driven and seemingly clueless author.

        With idiots like this author working for CIA and State, no wonder we see them failing in nearly every venture they put into play.

        • Rascalndear

          People like you are really very funny. On the one hand, you make a blanket statement about Western Ukrainians being racist when most of the presidents of Ukraine after Kravchuk were from south and the east of the country, and many of the PMs as well. In the same breath you accuse the “Jewish controlled wings of the US State Department” (in an obviously racist remark), of supposedly working with these same “racist Western Ukrainians.” Make up your mind, dude, what kind of racist you yourself are. Then make remarks about the racism of others.

          And if the article is such a waste of time, why did you bother reading it and adding a half-page of comment to it? Let me guess. A Kremlin hired pen. It’s the contradictions within your own statements, so similar in nature to those of your “fearless leader,” the bare-chested, smaller-than-Napoleon Putain, trying to play both sides against the middle at all times, that are so amusingly obvious.

    • Rascalndear

      Oh, and by the way, there are two authors involved in this article. Which of the two did you have in mind?

  • George Kingfish Stevens

    This article is sheer nonsense and a waste of space and I’m sorry I wasted my time reading it.

    • Rascalndear

      And I’m sorry I wasted my time reading your useless comment. 😀

  • Lauren Kolenko

    Having devoted much of my life to Russia, and having married a Ukrainian, I can vouche for the claims of these authors. This isn’t russophobia, it’s a quick look at what is known in Slavic Studies as (Great) Russian Chauvinism; the conclusion here actually could have gone a bit further to say just how historically entrenched ukrainophobia is. I have not only studied this stuff from an “aloof” academic perspective, I’ve met Russian Chauvinism face to face in my personal life. It is important to look soberly at the role of Russian Chauvinism today, because it is, indeed, dangerous – its political use is costing lives today, as it did in the Imperial age. One can certainly examine it without russophobia, but russophilia tends to get in the way.

    • dhalisman

      the only russophobic twats are you. Russians are living in ukraine which you treat them like second hand citizen fat loser westerners like you are so pathetic they need to search wifes in ukraine because western women dont want you

      • Rascalndear

        Stop spouting bullshit. If ethnic Russians were treated in Ukraine the way Ukrainians are treated in Russia, there would be NO Russian-language schools, theaters, movies, radio, television, publications, etc etc anywhere. Any deputy that spoke Russian in the Verkhovna Rada would be chased out of the chamber on the spot. Get a life and stop lying to yourself, as that is the most dangerous kind of lying.