By Paul Goble
Behind Putin’s war in Ukraine is his broader goal to keep all the peoples living under Moscow’s rule from becoming political nations and having any rights of their own, Kharun Sidorov says. And that is why Ukraine must be destroyed because its very existence challenges that notion of “an all-fascist non-ethnic Russian nation.”
Putin began his war in Ukraine nominally in defense of “the Russian world,” but he has made it clear that he expects all the peoples of the Russian Federation to bear the burdens of that because he views them as having responsibilities but in no case having rights of their own, the Prague-based commentator says (idelreal.org/a/31790144.html).
“The active involvement in the militarist mobilization of representatives of many national and religious circles in Russia serves as a basis for concluding that Vladimir Putin has achieved real successes in constructing ‘a common civic non-ethnic Russian nation.’” But there is an important reason to think that he hasn’t because that is not his goal.
He isn’t interested in creating a civic nation but rather one that is more properly defined as a fascist nation in which none of the component parts, including the largest, have any rights but only responsibilities to the state to which they are subordinate, exactly the vision of Benito Mussolini a century ago, Sidorov continues.
Putin draws these ideas not from the Italian fascists or any other foreigners but rather from Russian fascists in the 1920s to 1940s, including Konstantin Rodzayevsky of the All-Russian Fascist Party who at the end of his life concluded that Stalin in fact was the chief Russian fascist.
But others from that milieu also played a role, including Aleksandr Kazem-Bek, the leader of the Young Russian movement. He in fact may have been the bridge to Putin because he worked in the editorial offices of the Journal of the Moscow Patriarchate where among his colleagues was the brother of the man who is now head of the Russian Orthodox Church.
According to Sidorov, the pastiche of ideas that Kirill absorbed and then promoted in the Russian establishment was “a parody” of the Russian original; but it was sufficiently attractive to those in the part of the Russian elite out of which Putin emerged that it has become very powerful indeed. Yet another figure who influenced Putin in this was is Ivan Ilin.
As this vision has taken shape, the Prague-based commentator says, the Kremlin has made the existence of a multitude of peoples within historical Russia an important part of its “historical uniqueness.” But in doing so, it has insisted on one condition: “these peoples must not be political nations” with their own rights.
The existence of Ukraine with its independent political nation is an offense to those who hold such views and therefore it must be destroyed because those behind Russian aggression in Ukraine know, Sidorov says, that were Ukraine to win out, “the fasces” or “bonds” holding Russia’s various peoples together would come apart.
Paul Goble is a longtime specialist on ethnic and religious questions in Eurasia. Most recently, he was director of research and publications at the Azerbaijan Diplomatic Academy. Earlier, he served as vice dean for the social sciences and humanities at Audentes University in Tallinn and a senior research associate at the EuroCollege of the University of Tartu in Estonia. He 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. Mr. Goble maintains the Window on Eurasia blog and can be contacted directly at [email protected] .