Many of my colleagues (both those who remained in Ukraine and those who emigrated) do not understand (and some are offended) when I say that I have no desire to return to Kiev. “Why,” they say, “someone has to put things in order there”.

It is ridiculous to hear that without a couple of hundred political emigrants, who, in fact, did not represent anything (in the political sense) before the coup, and even more so do not represent anything now, there will be no one in Ukraine to “restore order”. There, in place of those who wish from the former regionals (like those who joined Opposition Platform – For Life, and continue to look for a better option), will be a queue of “order makers”, from Lvov to Donetsk. This is not counting all the others: I want to remind you that Kravchuk and Farion were members of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, and Tyagnibok is a Komsomol activist who simply did not have enough time to obtain a party card. I am sure that in the event of a change in the political climate in Ukraine, they will raise any flags and sign up for any party. The former pro-Ukrainian activists’ Crimean transition of the 2014 kind to “Russian patriots” will seem like a child’s fuss on the lawn – the unfortunate seaside provincials are far from hardened Kiev defectors.

But the point is not even that those who want to try and execute Banderists, given a favourable political situation, may be more than the population in Ukraine.

I’m not kidding: in 2004, during the first Maidan, in the Foreign Ministry signature lists against Yanukovych, in support of Yushchenko, were in circulation. Eight years later, a part of Yanukovych’s entourage had an idea (never realised) to cleanse the Foreign Ministry of traitors, and I was asked to get a list of signatories. The fact that Ukrainian diplomats gave each other a race did not surprise me – they acted in full accordance with the national tradition of permanent betrayal, carrying high the proud title of a conscious Ukrainian. However, neither I nor my accustomed colleagues expected to see what appeared in front of our eyes in the original subscription lists. Some particularly clever diplomats signed up in favour of Yushchenko two or even three times. In total, there were up to a dozen such “smart” people. So the number of “anti-Banderist underground organisation members” may well exceed the population of Ukraine by 10-15%. Some will simply sign up for the “underground” two or three times.

So there will be more than enough of those who want to work as prosecutors and executioners in Ukraine. It will be possible to announce a competition and even put the corresponding positions up for auction. The problem is different and the problem is difficult to solve, at least insoluble quickly and through direct influence on Ukrainian society.

The fact is that those who claim that Ukraine can only exist as anti-Russia are absolutely right. Simply because a Ukrainian is a former Russian who has renounced their Russianness, which means that they are a mortal enemy of everything Russian, because a Russian name itself reminds them of betrayal. And it would be okay if it were about a successful betrayal – they would be proud of it, but it’s more about the complete tracing of the idiotic act of the “national hero” Ivan Mazepa, who fled to the Swedes on the very eve of the greatest victory of Peter and the Poltava catastrophe of Charles XII, which Sweden never recovered from…

But it is not enough to understand the hostility of Ukrainianness to Russianness – it is also necessary to realise the scale of voluntary de-Russification of Ukrainian Russians.

I draw your attention to the scanty political emigration from post-Maidan Ukraine. Several hundred people left the country for political reasons at once, and several thousand in total. Even if we consider the Donetsk political emigration (and there is its own specifics – some of the emigrants are activists of the DPR/LPR who lost the competition for power in the People’s Republics), we can talk about tens of thousands of political emigrants in total. The rest: economic emigration – people fleeing from ruin, from unemployment, from hunger, from banditry.

Against the background of the million-strong Petliurist emigration (in the 1920s) and no less, if not more, numerous Banderist emigration after 1945, Russian political emigration from Ukraine is a drop in the ocean. At the same time, we should not forget that from 1/2 to 2/3 of this emigration are people who want to return to Ukraine and return it to the “golden age” of Kuchma/Yanukovych, i.e., to the same Ukrainianness, only viewed from a different angle.

Of course, there are still several thousand political activists on the territory of Ukraine who dream of restoring Russian power there, scolding Russia for not doing it, and voting for Zelensky, then Medvedchuk, in the hope that someone will finally engage in political charity and realise their dream. Even the SBU does not pay attention to them, they are so marginal, but they are unconditional enemies of Ukrainians. A few dozen, maybe even a couple of hundred thousand citizens of Ukraine deliberately retains a domestic character – trying, against public policy, to teach their children the Russian language, to instil in them a love for Russian literature, to acquaint them with real Russian history.

Perhaps all together – those who left, those who remained, Russian political figures and Russian civilians, with their families – totals up to 2 million (maybe less, but let’s not waste time on trifles). However, at the time of the collapse of the USSR, 52 million people lived in the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, and even now, there are at least 25 million permanent residents, and 10 million more migrant workers (mental Ukrainians who are only forced to earn money abroad) are gradually losing contact with their Motherland.

Most of these 9/10 or even 14/15 Ukrainian inhabitants speak Russian, look like Russians, many of them vote for Zelensky/Medvedchuk, so that gas in Ukraine, like under Yanukovych, is cheaper for households than in Russia, so that Russia massively buys Ukrainian products, so that the standard of living is comparable to Russian, and even better if it is higher. And, of course, all of this should be called Ukraine and moved to Europe. And if it is already impossible to move to Europe (some are beginning to realise that the European paradise is terminating its work even for the Europeans themselves), then it is all the same to be separate from Russia, but to enjoy all the benefits of economic cooperation with it.

They are de-Russified Russians. And they were not de-Russified after Maidan under the yoke of the Banderist regime and not because they were offended by Russia, which “did not come”. They de-Russified almost immediately after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Let me remind you that the last election, which was won by a candidate who promised the maximum (up to the restoration of state unity) degree of integration with Russia, was held in Ukraine in 1994. In 1999, Kuchma was elected already scaring via the threat of communist revenge. In 2004, Yanukovych and Yushchenko did not represent the pro-Russian and anti-Russian camps, but different concepts of Ukraine’s development. For Yanukovych it was the national industrial capital, and for Yushchenko it was financial comprador. But both of these types of capital have already seen the main competitor in Russian capital, which after the second Maidan they reconciled themselves with.

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By 1996, the political organisations of pro-Russian forces were marginalised in Ukraine, the idea of Russian unity (even in the form of a soft confederation of independent states united only by economic interests) was pushed out of the media, and the Ukrainisation of education, culture, science and religion was moving at full speed. But society did not react to this in any way. The vast majority of Ukrainian citizens did not feel hostility towards Russia, were ready to support economic cooperation that was beneficial for Ukraine, but at the same time felt their otherness towards Russians living in Russia.

They did not consider themselves a single people with Great Russians, and many doubted their brotherhood. They were simply not aggressive, constructive, and therefore seemed, and many still seem, quite Russian from the outside. In fact, all the voting in Ukraine shows that the population deliberately refused to support pro-Russian parties as if they are excessively radical and even “extremist”. The greatest level of support has always been for “constructive pro-Ukrainian” forces that advocated a multi-vector approach. Their ideology was based on the statement that mentally and civilisationally Ukrainians are Europeans, but Ukraine is too strongly connected with Russia economically, so it is necessary to maintain a balance between the western and eastern vectors of foreign policy, gradually extending the western one at the expense of the eastern one.

The vast majority of the Russian population of Ukraine agreed with this concept and voluntarily Ukrainised, especially since for more than 20 years it was not necessary to change either the language of communication or the way of life for their own de-Russification – it was enough just to understand that “our place is in Europe”, and “backwards Russia” will not be received there. At first glance, everything confirmed this concept. The Soviet legacy is three of the most equipped and armed military districts, a huge number of industrial enterprises that produce everything up to space rockets, qualified labour resources and a huge scientific potential. This was accompanied by an excellent geographical location – in a relatively warm zone and on trade routes (from south to north and from east to west), ideal conditions for farming and an inexhaustible Russian market.

What more can one ask for? It is only necessary to secure all this wealth, because 150 million hungry “Moskals” are so eager to return the Soviet Union, in order to again share it among everyone. And the Russians in Ukraine became Ukrainians. Outwardly, they remained the same, but inwardly they felt different – the “masters” of their separate country.

And for almost 30 years, generations have grown up who no longer learned Russian at school, who sincerely believe that they are descendants of the ancient Ukrs, who gave humanity the plough, fire and wheel. They still know how to speak passable Russian, although the accent, previously characteristic of people from the village who lived in the city for less than three years, is now already heard in “native Kievans” and is getting stronger every year. But they are definitely not Russian and never were.

They went to parades of embroidery, participated in Pysanka competitions, did not read the Ukrainian “writers”, but they know that Zabuzhko and Andrukhovych are classics of world literature, in a different league to any Pushkin and Shakespeare. They know that “Crimea was stolen”, that “Russia attacked Ukraine in Donbass”. I emphasise that they do not believe Banderist propaganda, but initially “know” that this is exactly the case and can not be otherwise.

And these people were brought up not only and not so much by the state school and not Soros with the Rothschilds and reptilians who pierced their brains. They found this sense of otherness in their families. It was their parents who said: “I am ashamed that I, Ivanov, was born in the Urals and after living in Ukraine for 5 (10, 20) years did not learn the Ukrainian language. We, Ukrainians, should know our own language. I learn it, even though it’s hard for me. And my children speak Ukrainian fluently”. In fact, the children spoke an unimaginable Surzhik, and they did not know how to write correctly in any language at all, but is this so important, compared to the feeling of their own belonging to the “European nation”?

In general, Russian people became Ukrainians back in the 90s, who decided that the “end of history” had ended, the west won forever, and that by proclaiming themselves as Ukrainians it would be easier for them to integrate into the camp of winners than if they remained Russian. No, they did not think, “Let me betray my Russianness”, they really suddenly “felt” like Ukrainians. As psychologists say, protective mechanisms of consciousness turned on.

At that moment, when out of 50 million people, most of them chose to go with the flow, and not fight for the revival of their (Russian) statehood within its natural boundaries, they ceased to be Russians and we (in particular, I) parted with them forever.

Ukraine can be occupied by troops, it’s possible to restore relative order there, it’s possible to even create some new economy that is adequate for current tasks, opportunities and needs. This can be done even without overstretching Russian resources, if they are stretched out in time and do not pamper the “reunited” population. But the issue of re-Russifying the de-Russified millions is not so easily resolved. And without solving this issue, this territory will always be problematic. In the years of stability and prosperity, it will be the most loyal province – a supplier of executive personnel for any government (Ukrainian personnel will be ready to teach Russianness even to Russians). But any crisis will instantly change the situation, Ukrainian separatism will wake up (not that it hates Russians, but it is sure that it will be more convenient to escape without them – the boat is more spacious and there are fewer hungry mouths). Russianness will be discarded as an unnecessary husk (as Kravchuk and Farion discarded their faith in a bright communist future, and at the same time their party cards). They will stab you in the back without anger, without rage and passion, and also gently ask “Are you offended”?

Is it possible to avoid the revival of Ukrainism? Yes. For example, ancient Elam cannot be revived, because of the absence of the Elamites, or Carthage, because not only the Carthaginians, but also the Phoenicians are no longer there. There were their descendants, who took the names of other peoples, left a trace in history. But no more speakers of their language and culture, no people who would consider themselves Carthaginians or Elamite.

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The problem is that modern international law interprets as genocide (i.e. a crime against humanity) not only the physical destruction of representatives of a certain national group, but also the artificial creation of conditions conducive to the eradication of national culture, language and artificial assimilation of any people. Therefore, we cannot re-Russify the de-Russified through actions.

By actions, I do not mean administrative bans on the Ukrainian language or Ukrainian culture. There is a longer, but also more reliable option. For national ethnographic amusements – songs, dances, etc. – budgets are gradually being cut. Without state support, they will gather fewer people for their “Pysanka festivals”, and the state is not obliged to finance the void. Also, Ukrainian literature, Ukrainian theatre and other Ukrainian joys will gradually come to naught. It is enough just to put them in conditions of equal competition. But the problem is that the very attempt to put Ukrainian culture in conditions of equal competition can, if desired (and there will be the desire), be interpreted as genocide. And the danger is not that the west will start screeching and howling about this, but that this screeching and howling will be reflected in the next generations of “Ukrainians”, who will be told family stories about “evil insidious Moskals” who “stole Ukrainianness from Ukrainians” and about the “good west”, which “fights for Ukrainianness against Mordor”. As mentioned above, while there is no crisis, it’s possible to not care about this, but as soon as there is a crisis, one will be surprised to know how many aggrieved, humiliated and offended Ukrainians lived next to us and pretended to be Russian.

Is there a way out of this vicious circle? There is a way out. It’s completely inhumane. Significantly less humane than the prosecutor’s and executioner’s teams of volunteers conducting forced de-Banderisation. But it is simple, reliable and impeccable from the point of view of international law.

The fact is that Ukraine is not only scattering, but also dying out. In the southeast and north, the birth rate is already three times lower than the death rate, and the situation should worsen in the next 10 years. In the west and in the center, this ratio is a little better – 1:2, and in some places 1:1.5. Today, only in Kiev and in a couple of other regions is the birth rate higher than the death rate. But this does not change the overall Ukrainian picture, besides, in the next year or two, the mortality rate here should exceed the birth rate.

After 2014, Ukraine is losing its population at a catastrophic rate. State structures simply do not have time to adapt to the disappearance of the taxable class. In Kiev, they do not even know how many citizens are actually staying on Ukrainian territory at the moment. But they know for sure that every year there are fewer of them. Moreover, the number of Ukrainians is decreasing, and the rate of their evaporation is increasing. I.e., the picture is absolutely catastrophic.

This is not how states live, and we can already see that the Ukrainian state has essentially ceased to perform state functions, turning into a naked apparatus of violence, plundering the territory, in the interests of a limited number of local and foreign beneficiaries. It differs from the classic gang only in its representation in the UN and international recognition. If you take these two props from Ukraine, then the illusion of statehood will immediately fade away, leaving only a conglomerate of atamans and bandits, selflessly dividing the remnants of the resources.

Ukraine has already become quite a toxic asset. It is not even known whether Biden’s team will decide to bring relations with it out of the state of semi-freezing, which they were plunged into by Trump – too serious corruption scandals connect the Democrats with Kiev. In addition, Washington already knows its counterparties well and has no doubt that they also guarantee new scandals.

While Kiev can squeeze out interest on previously issued loans and partial repayment of the debt body, as well as while it is possible to replace state loans from the west and IMF loans by attracting private speculative financial capital, through the placement of Eurobonds, Ukraine is still thrown a little money, although it’s no longer enough for living. The financial crisis that hit Kiev at the end of 2020 has not resolved and will only worsen in 2021. This is despite the fact that the situation is already catastrophic. So we can assume that the west in the next year or two will try to forget about the Ukrainian experiment like it’s a terrible dream.

What awaits the long-suffering country and its population after the local bandits pretending to be politicians finally stop paying attention to the world community, I do not even want to imagine. One thing is certain, the decline in the population of Ukraine, both due to fleeing in all directions, and due to extinction, in the next year or two will take a landslide character. At the same time, along with the Ukrainians, the idea of their belonging to European civilisation will also die – after all, the west did not save or help them. Accordingly, there is a chance that the de-Russified society itself will begin its re-Russification, as the only chance to be saved.

How do we know this?

It’s very simple. If the process starts, we will be surprised to find that without any effort from the Kremlin, without funding, without Russian tanks and “seizing local media”, Russian parties suddenly gained popularity in Ukraine. The ones that are now marginal, and not ersatz products of the Zelensky/Medvedchuk sample. After all, if Europe is crossed out, and there is a need to live somehow, then one just has to “remember” that one has belonged to the Russian civilisation since time immemorial, and everything that has happened so far can be discounted.

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And just as there are no greater Russophobes than former Russians who have become Ukrainians (or Belarusians), there will be no greater Ukrainophobes than former de-Russified ones who are seeking to re-Russify. They will destroy the remains of the sharovary culture with such frenzy that they will have to hurry up in order to at least save something for the ethnographic museum.

I will not say that this possibility will necessarily become a reality. History and politics are not deterministic. But the alternative is the complete extinction of Ukrainians. The fact is that on the territory of Ukraine several million people engaged in subsistence farming (feeding from the ground) will always be able to exist. But such a primitive economy will not be able to support a modern state, and people do not live without a state now. So even an attempt to implement semi-primitive (but Ukrainian) statehood is unrealisable. At the same time, primitive communities that live on a subsistence economy do not create a state, nor do they form a nation. The people (nation) arises only within certain political structures. Well, if there are no people – there is no problem of genocide. The only drawback is that the full implementation of the process of extinction and extreme simplification will take at least a couple of decades, and this is too long for the current pace of development of historical processes.

As you can see, we have several options for the development of events in Ukraine:

1. Putin will take pity and allow Medvedchuk, Azarov or someone else, at the expense of Russian resources, to restore a pathetic semblance of Yanukovych’s Ukraine (perhaps without the western regions, if they risk separation to nowhere). In this version, the agony of Ukrainism will be prolonged, but not for long. As the Belarusian experience shows, if the state is based on an economic model that exists at the expense of a constant inflow of external resources, then it is necessary to ensure the inflow of such resources first in arithmetic, and then in geometric progression. Roughly speaking, Russia will very quickly face a situation where the maintenance of Ukraine becomes not only unprofitable, but simply impossible. After that, the natural process of disintegration and extinction of Ukraine, temporarily slowed down by Russian resources, begins to develop again, but re-Russification does not occur, since Russia will be guilty of Ukraine’s problems in the eyes of Ukrainians, which “did not build” the right economy and state for them.

2. The process will be allowed to proceed naturally, which will lead the remaining Ukrainians to disillusionment with the west. In this case, we have a chance to see a rapid (almost instantaneous) re-Russification of the surviving part of the population of Ukraine in a period from 5 to 20 years. Of course, a favourable geopolitical situation should remain, and in the west of Ukraine, re-Russification is likely not to take place and they will try to go somewhere, but in principle, the probability of voluntary amateur re-Russification of most of Ukraine is quite high.

3. The dream of the radical part of the Ukrainian political emigration will come true. As a result of some exorbitant provocation or a combination of other negative circumstances, the DPR/LPR troops will begin to attack Kharkov and Dnepropetrovsk, and then further (Kiev, Odessa, Zbruch). It is possible to ensure a plausible growth of the “revolutionary army” to the desired size without any problems. In this case, western Ukraine will also try to escape and it is unlikely that anyone will seriously hinder it in this good cause. Well, the part of the political emigration that is bursting with hatred and revenge has a chance to go to work not as prosecutors, of course, but as guards and executioners.

As you can see, all three options (you can paint a larger number, but why? – there is no fundamental difference) are either too long, or too dirty, or both. Even with the most favourable outcome, with the perfect coincidence of all the circumstances, only the grandchildren of today’s Ukrainians will become completely Russian (and not re-Russified fugitives from Russianness). In any case, I will not live to see it, and I am not used to taking on a task that I will not be able not only to report the result’s of, but even to see this result.

Besides, I don’t like to force people to be happy, and I don’t think it’s right. While I had the opportunity, I tried to explain to those who jumped from Russianness to Ukrainianism what their real happiness is and what they risk by a change of identity. They did not believe and shouted: “Suitcase, railway station, Russia”! The circumstances were such that it was necessary to fulfil their wishes. I don’t regret it. I am at home and my child will not be crippled by the Ukrainian education system. So, to some extent, I am even grateful to the de-Russified. Let them be happy in their eternal quest for civilisation, not noticing that the faster they run, the faster they run away from civilisation. Because their civilisation is Russian, and in Europe, even if they are received there, they can only be funny little animals. I am not their enemy or helper, I am only a chronicler of their decline.

If someone is lucky enough to return to Russianness and be saved, I will be glad. If not, I’ll get over it. I experienced a shock long ago, back in 1993-1996, when I was surprised to see how fast the majority of Russians living in Ukraine were being de-Russified, without even noticing it. More than 25 years have passed since then. We’ve lived our lives. And most of the people I knew have been strangers to me for a long time. Not all of them, of course. There are many decent and decent people left in Ukraine for various reasons. But we are talking about the state and society, and this is another matter – their face is determined not by individuals, of which there are abstractly a lot, but by the people, which is represented by a concrete overwhelming majority. In the Reich, too, there were many decent and decent people, this did not prevent it from being an anti-human Nazi death machine.

Yes, I know how to break them, and how to de-Ukrainianise them. But this will require so much time, human resources and state (Russian) resources that I do not see the point in driving people into happiness who are sure that they are already happy.

Everything played out. And it will pass.

Rostislav Ishchenko

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