This is an excerpt from Crisis in Russian Studies? Nationalism (imperialism), racism and war by Taras Kuzio. Get your free download from E-International Relations.
In this book, the term academic orientalism is used to describe how Western historians of Russia and some political scientists with expertise about Russia selectively use sources when writing about Ukraine and other non-Russian countries of the former USSR. The use of sources published primarily in Russia is both lazy and biased. Academic Orientalism is lazy because we live in an internet era where Ukrainian sources are available online and in Russian. Therefore, scientists do not necessarily need Ukrainian. Publications, sociological surveys, think tank publications, and official websites available online, as this book shows, are used by most of Russia’s western scholars on relations between Ukraine, Crimea, Donbass, and Ukraine-Russia have written, largely ignored.
Up until World War II, Orientalism was reflected in Western scholars who wrote about colonies overseas through the eyes of London, Paris, and other imperial metropolises. Today, academic orientalism is reflected in Western scholars who write about Ukraine through the eyes of Moscow. Academic Orientalism is biased because it creates a subjective, Russocentric view of Ukrainian-Russian relations. This form of academic orientalism goes a step further when Western scholars writing about Ukrainian-Russian relations quote Russian leaders Ad infinitum, but rarely quote Ukrainian politicians. Sakwa (2015), for example, never quotes Poroshenko once, but rather Putin 31 times. Toal (2017) quotes Putin and Prime Minister Medvedev 44 times and Poroshenko only once – less than his two quotes for Soviet President Gorbachev. The work of Charap and Colton (2017) is full of quotes from Russian leaders with only four from Poroshenko.
Changes in Ukrainian historiography since 1991 and identity since 2014 have been recognized to some extent by historians in North America (but not the UK and Western Europe) and to varying degrees by political scientists. Academic Orientalism remains a subject within Russian studies, whose political scientists are usually the porters in most of the western academic centers of post-communist Europe and Eurasia. An example of academic orientalism in Ukraine is the political scientist Sakwa (2015), an expert on Russian politics. The only Ukrainian source used by Sakwa (2015) was the English language Kyiv Post. This is because “the author does not intend to deal fully with the Ukrainian material” (Kravchenko 2016). Writing a book about the Russo-Ukrainian war did not affect him [Sakwa’s] preconceived notions and interpretations of Russia, Eastern Europe and the world order ”(Kravchenko 2016). For more examples of academic orientalism, see this chapter.
This chapter is divided into five sections. The first section applies Edward Said’s (1994, 1995) concept of orientalism to Western writings on the 2014 crisis and the Russo-Ukrainian war. The second section uses orientalism to analyze how the Russo-Ukrainian war is presented through a biased use of sources. The third section discusses polling manipulation, and the fourth section discusses non-scientific review processes and analysis. The last section is a critical discussion of four conspiracies of the Euromaidan revolution: first, that it was a US-backed operation to bring western Ukrainian nationalists to power; second, that Ukrainian nationalists murdered protesters during the Euromaidan; third, that the May 2014 fire in Odessa was organized by Ukrainian nationalists; and fourth, Ukraine’s military strategy (in the same way as the whole country) is controlled by the US and NATO.
Said’s (1994, 1995) description of the Western nationalist (imperialist) conception of the Orient is found in the Russian nationalist (imperialist) conception of Ukraine and the conception of Ukraine by Western historians and some political scientists. The Orient and the Ukraine are treated as passive, subordinate subjects of the world order, denied the dignity to choose their own destiny.
The portrayal of the European colonies and Russia’s neighbors was and is a relationship of power, rule and hegemony that supposedly benefited the lives of the ruled. This is a relationship between the strong and the weak that is best served by a great power that is given a sphere of influence to maintain order over subordinate people who are unable to rule themselves. Such views have been found in British imaginations of Ireland and Polish and Russian imaginations of Ukraine (see Kuzio 2020a). Ukraine has been featured in Polish and Russian literature as terra incognita, an empty country in which chaos reigned and in which more “civilized” peoples had to create order.
Said’s (1995, 7, 15) Orientalism is reflected in the relationship between power and cultural hegemony in the western script of “Russian” history, Crimea and the Russia-Ukraine crisis. Said (1994, 96) points out: “Almost all colonial plans begin with the assumption of the backwardness of the indigenous people and the general inadequacy of being independent,” equal “and fit.” Ukrainians were treated as backward, ignorant, barbarians, dangers to civilization, children, gullible, energetic, cunning, dishonest, treacherous, liars and deceivers (Said 1995, 35, 38–40, 39–40, 59, 228, 232, 328).
In the Russian-Ukrainian relationship between colonialists and colonists, Russia endures the disobedience of these leaders in the way adults endure naughty children (Minchenia, Tornquist-Plewa and Yurchuk 2018, 225). When Lukashenka and Yanukovych acted in support of Russia’s interests, they were encouraged and pardoned. If they didn’t, they were scourged as “traitors” and “Russophobes”. Russian nationalism (imperialism) is portrayed as benevolence which “preserves the feeling of Russian superiority over its neighbors and confirms the dominant logistics of dominance among the Russians” (Minchenia, Tornquist-Plewa and Yurchuk 2018, 226). Igor Gretskiy (2020, 19) writes: “What the Kremlin wants from the Ukrainian government is the public demonstration of compliance with Moscow’s obesity.” When that didn’t happen in 2004 or 2014, the Kremlin got angry and retaliated against Ukraine. The Russian political technologist Gleb Pavlovsky described 2004 as “Putin’s 9/11” (Krastev 2005). Would Hiroshima or Nagasaki be the best way to describe 2014 for Putin?
Western imperialists brought “civilization” to “backward peoples” who were unable to govern themselves. The colonies are “a subject race dominated by a race that knows them and what is better for them than they could possibly know themselves” (Said 1995, 35). Colonial rule was justified in the name of progress by a more “civilized” people.
There is a long history of Russian national identity claiming moral superiority over a “degenerate West”. Solzhenitsyn complained about a “degenerate West” during his western exile in the 1970s and 1980s. Russian nationalists (imperialists) believe that tsarist Russian and Soviet rule benefited Ukraine and other peoples and that life in the Russian world would therefore be better than in the EU. Eurasianism claims that Russia’s values are superior to European values, rejects Western political models, and embraces the Mongol-Tatar-Eurasian heritage.
The origins of Putin’s “neo-revisionism” lie in long-term Russian inferiority complexes in which nothing negative can be found in Russia’s past. The most extreme example of this is the rehabilitation of Stalin (Kuzio 2017b). A cult of Stalin during Putin’s presidency has made him the second most popular historical figure in Russia (Tsar Nicholas II came first).
Laruelle (2020b, 345) denies that a full-blown Stalinist cult is emerging in Russia and instead describes it as “the ambivalent rehabilitation of Stalin by some sections of the Russian political elite”. Cohen (2019) also denies that there is a cult of Stalin in Russia. Putin’s Stalin cult has led many Russians to judge Stalin positively. As of 2019, 52% of Russians assessed Stalin positively, compared with only 16% of Ukrainians. In contrast to Russians, almost three quarters of Ukrainians (72%) believed “Stalin is a cruel, inhuman tyrant who is guilty of destroying millions of innocent people” (Stavlennya Naselennya Ukrayny do Postati Stalina 2019).
In 2019 the Russian Levada Center, the last independent think tank and electoral organization in Russia, wrote:
There is no significant age differentiation in terms of the views of the Führer – in all age cohorts and generation groups, a positive perception of Stalin now dominates over a negative one, although 18- to 24-year-olds in Russia are generally more indifferent than others. At the same time, the dynamic trend of opinions between 2012 and 2019, even in the youngest age group, shows the acceptance of the norm by the older generations, with young people more likely to give positive reviews to avoid answering questions about the leader. Support for the positive image of Stalin and the romanticization of the Soviet era is characteristic not only of respondents with communist views, but also of supporters of other political parties (Stavlennya Naselennya Ukrayny do Postati Stalina 2019).
Academic Orientalism describes European colonies and the Ukraine as artificial units, regionally divided and weak states with immature rulers. European depictions of cunning colonial peoples resemble the Russian depictions smarter (khytryy) Ukrainians who are distinguished by intrigues, lies and deceit. Colonial peoples and Ukrainians would be left to themselves and create instability and threaten the “civilized” order (Said 1995, 328–367). From the nineteenth century until today, Russian scholars, literature, writers, travelogues, military expeditions, judges, pilgrims, and bureaucrats have written about Ukrainians as disorganized, uncivilized, despotic, backward, and bloodthirsty people (see Riabchuk 2016).
Russian nationalists (imperialists) imagine Ukraine as an artificial, failed and divided state whose ruling elites have sold their souls to the West (see Chapter 4). Since the Ukrainians are unable to take their own initiative, they are manipulated by the West into pursuing “Russophobic” policies and “anti-Russian conspiracies” (Belafatti 2014). Ukraine is seen as a puppet state of the West because colonists, as Said (1994, 1995) noted, always imagine those who conquer it as passive subaltern subjects incapable of becoming active subjects (Belafatti 2014) .
Ukraine’s artificiality is reportedly reinforced by its lack of history. European colonies and the Ukraine are excluded as “unhistorical peoples” in a racist hierarchy imposed by Said (1994, 1995) as a western imposed. European and Russian identities are more important than those of the subordinate subjects in the Orient or in the Ukraine.
Western writing about post-communist countries was written from a “skewed, hierarchical and ultimately orientalist (if not downright racist) perspective on the small countries of Eastern Europe” (Belafatti 2014). Condescending mentalities have long shaped the West’s view of Central Eastern Europe and the former USSR. In the middle of the 20th century, Hans Kohn (Kuzio 2002) wrote about “good” Western and “bad” Eastern nationalisms, and Said (1994, 1995) wrote about the colonial conception of the Middle East.
Liberals, Realists and Nationalists (Imperialists)
Since the 19th century, hegemonic imperial ideologies in cultures have been part of the European and Russian perception of the territories over which they ruled. At that time there was little disagreement in Western Europe, and in Russia today there is little disagreement about the right of certain races to rule over others (Said 1994, 62). British and Russian liberals (e.g. John Stuart Mill, Pyotr Struve, Pyotr Stolypin, Russian liberal Cadets 1917 and the White Army) supported the building of empires and a racist hierarchy of peoples (Said 1994, 96, 129; Procyk 1995).
Mill rejected Irish and Indian independence (Smart 1992, 529) because he believed that some countries were unwilling to take this step (Said 1994, 96, 97). European countries like Great Britain had a “schizophrenic attachment to both racism and liberalism” (Weight 2000, 437). Russian intellectuals have “granted the empire the role of a Western” civilizing power “with permission to suppress national resistance in the name of modernization and social reform” (Shkandrij 2001, 103).
Russian liberalism has always ended on the Russian-Ukrainian border. The concept of Russians and Ukrainians as “one people” goes back to Struve, a member of the Liberal Cadets and after 1917 the anti-Bolshevik whites. “In 2014 Putin brought forth the reincarnation of Struve’s ideas at the highest level of Russian politics” (Plokhy 2017, 341). The expression “Russian Westerners” is a contradiction in terms, as they have always been suspicious of any Ukrainian movement (Plokhy 2017, 115). In the nineteenth century a leading Russian “Westerner”, Vissarrion Belinsky, criticized Ukrainians like Shevchenko for seeking independence for Ukraine because a union with Russia gave them the opportunity to overcome their earlier “semi-barbaric way of life” (Shkandrij 2001 , 121). Similar colonial racism shaped British views on Ireland (see Kuzio 2020a). Belinsky wrote: “Oh them khokhly! [a racist term for Ukrainians]. They’re just stupid sheep, but they’re liberalizing themselves in the name of dumplings made with pork fat! “(Plokhy 2017, 116). Ukrainians are considered to be lard eaters (pork fat)[[[[salo]]) just like Irish are of potatoes.
There were a small number of exceptions, such as Aleksandr Herzen, the father of Russian populism and socialism, as well as the Russian dissidents Bukovsky and Amalrik. Writing in January 1859 in The bell Hearts, published in London, described the suffering that Ukrainians had caused by “Muscovites” and asked why the Russians were surprised that Ukrainians do not want to be Poles or Russians: “From my point of view the question is very simple to decide. In this case Ukraine should be recognized as a free and independent country ”(Plokhy 2017, 128). The cat had let hearts out of its pocket.
During the Cold War, the Russian diaspora in the west was dominated by the National Alliance of Russian Solidarists (NTS), which continued to support Tsarist Russians and whites emigrant Views of Ukraine and Ukrainians. emigrant Eurasiasnists who, like NTS, emerged from the younger generation of whites Emigrantscame to support Stalin’s national Bolshevism. NTS’s monopoly was challenged from the 1970s with the arrival of democratic Russian dissidents in exile like Bukovsky in the West. Russian Democrats were not anti-Ukrainians, but they rarely commented on nationality issues in the USSR. Ukrainian dissidents and nationalists had good relations with Jewish dissidents and non-Russian nationalists.
In the post-Soviet era, most Russian liberals became nationalists in the 1990s. Alexei Navalnyi (2012a, 2012b) began to speak of Russians and Ukrainians as “one people” at the same time as Putin (see Laruelle 2014b, 281). In 2014 Navalnyi said: “I don’t see any difference between Russians and Ukrainians” (Dolgov 2014; Bukkvoll 2016, 270). It is therefore strange that almost all Western political scientists working on Russia have ignored how many sections of the Russian opposition took Putin’s chauvinism towards the Ukrainians on board. At the same time, it is wrong for scholars to describe opposition politicians like Navalnyi as “liberal nationalism” because Navalnyi’s attitude towards Ukraine is not liberal (see Kolsto 2014; Laruelle 2014b; Hale 2016).
There are a few exceptions that could be described as Russian liberals. Grigory Yavlinsky, leader of the Yabloko Party, believes Crimea has a right to self-determination, but refused to use Russian troops to achieve this (see Bacon 2015). Boris Nemtsov (who was murdered in February 2015) and Garry Kasparov opposed the annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol. In the 1990s Nemtsov had different views and supported the integration of the three Eastern Slavs and the Russian “economic expansion” (instead of military aggression) into the “Crimea, starting in Sevastopol”.
There is no Russian “liberalism” in Crimea. Nemtsov supported the claims of Moscow mayor Yuri Luzhkov for the port of Sevastopol and described it as a “Russian city acquired with Russian blood”. The Communist Party of the Russian Federation (KPRF), the LDPRF, Just Russia, Other Russia (successor to the Edushevist National Party under Eduard Limonov) and the exiled oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky supported the annexation of Crimea. Russia’s most popular opposition leader, Navalnyi, has said several times that Crimea will not return to Ukraine (see Dolgov 2014).
Russian and European imperialists believed they had “inalienable” rights to Eurasia and the Middle East, respectively. Russia has a “hierarchical superiority” in Crimea, Ukraine and Eurasia that Ukrainians are not allowed to question. Ukrainians should accept their place in an “order of things in which Russia dominates” (Belafatti 2014).
The Russia-Ukraine crisis of 2014 brought together the western left and right realists (Mearsheimer 2014; Menon & Rumer 2015), who agree that Ukraine is of course part of the Russian sphere of influence and that non-Russians in Eurasia are opposed to the dignity of actors in the Process “without the right to choose its direction (Belafatti 2014). Such views permeate realistic proposals of how Eurasia should be configured by Russia and the West into a new big deal – over the heads of the Ukrainians, as was done in 1945 in the Yalta Agreement on Eastern Europe signed by the victorious allied powers.
Left critics and right realists both Deny Ukraine and small countries the freedom of choice to determine their futures and believe that the fate of countries like Ukraine should be decided by the great powers. Strangely enough, left scholars became fans of the populist nationalist Trump (Cohen 2019). In searching for Trump’s election, “Russia wanted the agreement to be signed by the great powers and imposed on Ukraine” (Charap and Colton 2017, 131).
The downplaying of Russian and exaggerated Ukrainian nationalism blames Kiev for the Donbass War. Just as the West is blamed for promoting democracy and sparking color revolutions, and like the enlargement of NATO and the EU is blamed for sparking the crisis, so are Ukrainian leaders blamed for fighting rather than negotiations. While Putin is believed to have little to no responsibility, President Poroshenko has been accused of sparking war after his election in May 2014, rather than seeking compromises.
Hahn (2018, 253, 264) accuses the Ukrainian authorities of starting an “unnecessary war” which is accompanied by war crimes, human rights violations and a “dehumanizing” discourse. Pijl (2018, 8) compares the military actions of Ukraine from April 2014 with those of Georgia, which triggered an “invasion” in South Ossetia in 2008. Pijl (2018) is obviously not aware that countries cannot “penetrate” their own territories.
Representation of the war by Russian sources
The crisis in relations between Russia and the West following the annexation of Crimea by Russia and the military aggression in eastern Ukraine has resulted in a multitude of publications and the spread of bad science. Scientists have written about the crisis from the point of view of their specialty, be it Russian and Eurasian territorial studies, international relations, realism, and security studies. Others have added books about Ukraine to books that were already in production.
The Euromaidan, the annexation of Crimea by Russia and the Russian hybrid warfare in eastern Ukraine have resulted in the publication of over 500 books, magazine articles and articles by science and think tanks (for a partial bibliography see Kuzio 2017c, 363-399). Western science on the crisis is not dominated by a pro-Ukrainian perspective or an official Ukrainian interpretation of the conflict. Claims in this regard are based on stereotypes that exaggerate the influence of the Ukrainian “nationalist” diaspora (see Matveeva 2017, 276; Molchanov 2018, 73, 227; Sakwa, 2015, 257). The Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute and the Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies (CIUS) traditionally do not deal with politics and international relations and have largely ignored Crimea and the Russo-Ukrainian war. Harvard Ukrainian Studies and the East-West / Journal of Ukrainian Studies did not publish any articles about the 2014 crisis, Crimea or the Donbass War.
Russian political scholars have continued to claim expertise on the non-Russian countries that emerged as independent states after 1991. During the Soviet era, travel beyond Moscow was limited to sensitive republics like Ukraine, but this is not the case today. The Internet also provides generally available primary sources from Ukraine to scholars, many of which are in Russian. The official websites of the Ukrainian President, Parliament and Government are available in Ukrainian and Russian. The majority of the Ukrainian media have Russian-language pages or are published in both Russian and Ukrainian. Three of the five weekly political magazines of Ukraine are in Russian: focus, correspondent, and Novoye Vremyaand two are published in Ukrainian: Kray and Ukrayinskyy Tyzhden.
MA and PhD students are instructed to use primary sources and do field research to continue their research. This advice is ignored by Russian scholars writing about Ukraine (Sakwa 2015, 2017a; Toal 2017; Charap and Colton 2017) who rely heavily on secondary sources and quotations from official Russian sources.
While Sakwa cited sources from Russia 75 times, all 16 Ukrainian sources are from the English language Kyiv Post. One wonders whether external reviewers would rate a manuscript on a hypothetical Ukrainian invasion of Russia positively if only sources from the English language were used Moscow NewsMark Galeotti’s (2016) study on hybrid warfare does not use Ukrainian sources from a country that has seen the greatest effects of Russian hybrid warfare and has published numerous studies on hybrid warfare (see Russia’s “Hybrid” War – Challenge and Threat to Europe 2016 ); Horbulin 2017).
The vast majority of Western writers who write about crisis and war have never traveled to Ukraine. A Ukrainian expert notes: “A lot of people take part in the discussions about Donbass. Far fewer of them actually went there. The lack of real experts for the region is palpable ”(Mairova 2017, 83). While many scholars may not want to follow in this author’s footsteps when traveling to the Donbas War Zone, that does not excuse the lack of field research in Kiev and southeastern Ukraine. Few Western publications on the crisis include interviews with Ukrainian officials, civil society activists and security forces in Kiev and southeastern Ukraine.
Anna Matveeva (2018) traveled to Russian-controlled Donbass enclaves and to Moscow, where she conducted interviews as part of her field research. Her book offers a bottom-up overview of the Donbass War. This could have been more balanced if similar fieldwork had been carried out in Kiev and southeastern Ukraine, including in the Ukrainian-controlled Donbass. It seems that academic orientalism does not believe that the Ukrainian point of view is worth studying or quoting.
Interviews in south-eastern Ukraine have shed light on the views of Russian-speaking people who have traditionally been mistakenly identified as “pro-Russian” by Western scholars and journalists writing about Ukraine. The failure of Putin’s “New Russia” project in the eighth southeast of Ukraine Oblasts stresses the importance of interviews with primary sources on site (see O’Loughlin, Toal and Kolosov 2016; Kuzio 2019a). Ukrainian opinion polls available on the Internet are useful for researchers. Nothing, however, is more revealing than talking to people in the midst of conflict, as wars throughout history have accelerated the crystallization of national identity (Smith 1981). By not doing fieldwork, scientists are ignoring an intellectually rewarding opportunity to explore a crucial moment in restoring Ukraine’s national identity and Russian-Ukrainian relations.
Manipulate opinion polls
Manipulating survey data to provide “evidence” of pre-fabricated views designed to prove support for pro-Russian separatism in Crimea. In 1991, 93% of Crimea voted not for a “separate Crimean republic”, but for its upgrading Oblast into an autonomous republic of Soviet Ukraine (Pijl 2018, 87). By writing that Crimea “has never reconciled itself with its place in an independent Ukraine”, Pijl (2018, 40) wants to prove that Crimea was eagerly awaiting its “liberation” and its return to Russia in 2014 . This unscientific claim has nothing to do with historical facts.
Some Western scholars have portrayed the annexation of Crimea as a “return to normal” and misused sociological data to claim that the majority of the peninsula’s population has always supported separatism. This has never been the case. Desperate to find sociological data showing that the majority of Crimea supports separatism, Sakwa (2017a, 155) writes: “As early as 2008, the electoral office of the Razumkov Center for Economic and Political Studies (hereinafter: Razumkov Center) 63.8 percent of Crimea firmly I wanted to withdraw from Ukraine to join Russia. “Sakwa’s manipulation of the Razumkov Center’s poll data to depict the majority stake in Crimea for separatism is quoted by others Putin understanding Scientists, Ploeg (2017), Pijl (2018, 40) and Hahn (2018, 235). Sakwas (2017a, 157) description of the annexation of Crimea as a “democratic secession” is based on opinion polls that do not exist. In a rare moment of doubt, Sakwa (2017a, 157) admits that it was also an “imperial annexation” because Russia had not “reached an agreement with the country from which the territory split off”. Elsewhere, Sakwa (2017b, 10) admits that there was no majority stake for separatism in the Crimea or Donbass.
The Razumkov Center (AR Krym: Lyudy, Problemy, Perspektyvy 2008, 19-22) stated that the survey data cited by Sakwa (2017a, 157) show a disorientation of the Crimea over the status of its autonomous republic, which meant “temporary support” mutually exclusive alternatives. “Die Hälfte (50,1%) entschied sich für” mindestens eine der Optionen, bei denen die Krim die Ukraine verlässt, und eine der anderen Alternativen, die es ihr ermöglichen, in Zukunft in der Ukraine zu bleiben. “Das Razumkov-Zentrum kam zu dem Schluss “Die Hälfte der Krim kann je nach den Umständen sowohl die Trennung der Krim von der Ukraine als auch das umgekehrte Szenario unterstützen” (AR Krym: Lyudy, Problemy, Perspektyvy 2008).
Dies war keine Bestätigung des pro-russischen Separatismus, den Sakwa (2017a) behauptete; Vielmehr spiegelte es verwirrte Identitäten wider, die in postsowjetischen Staaten wie der Ukraine in den neunziger Jahren üblich waren. Vor 2014 hatte noch keine Meinungsumfrage den Separatismus auf der Krim mehrheitlich unterstützt, und sicherlich nichts in der Größenordnung, die Russland in seinem Referendum vom März 2014 behauptet hatte. In der Regel unterstützten Umfragen einen unabhängigen Staat auf der Krim und eine Union mit Russland, die beide fälschlicherweise unter dem Label „Separatismus“ zusammengeführt wurden, mit einer Unterstützung von ungefähr 40%. Keine einzige Meinungsumfrage vor 2014 hat den Separatismus auf der Krim zu über 50% unterstützt.
Nichtwissenschaftlicher externer Überprüfungsprozess und unwissenschaftliche Analyse
Faktische Fehler in einem Großteil der Schriften über den russisch-ukrainischen Krieg sind das Ergebnis einer schlechten, ideologisch motivierten Wissenschaft, die von externen Gutachtern hätte gekennzeichnet werden müssen. Pijls (2018) Buch kann beispielsweise nicht als akademisch bezeichnet werden, wenn es Zitate aus Wikipedia und Verschwörungstheorien aus Putins Propaganda-Fernsehsender enthält Russland heute.
Ein ähnlich merkwürdiger Fall für das Fehlen eines sorgfältigen externen Überprüfungsprozesses ist der von Boris Kagarlitsky, Radhika Desai und Alan Freeman (2018), deren Buch die Ergebnisse einer Konferenz zusammenstellte, die im Mai 2014 auf der damals von Russland besetzten Krim stattfand. Warum sollten etablierte westliche Wissenschaftler drei Monate nach der Annexion des ukrainischen Territoriums durch Putin an einer solchen Konferenz teilnehmen? Man fragt sich, wie die von Routledge verwendeten externen Gutachter dies zugelassen haben.
Es ist verdächtig, dass Putinversteher Wissenschaftler geben auf den äußeren Umschlägen der Bücher des jeweils anderen Vermerke ab, was zu der Frage führt, ob sie die „blinden Rezensenten“ für Pijl (2018) und Kagarlitsky, Desai und Freeman (2018) waren. Sie zitieren sich großzügig, insbesondere Sakwa (2015).
Mangelndes Wissen über die Ukraine führt zu zahlreichen Fehlern in Büchern über die Krise und erneut zu Fragen nach der geringen Qualität des externen Überprüfungsprozesses. Hahn (2018) enthält so viele Fehler, dass ein separates Kapitel erforderlich wäre, um sie zu diskutieren. Nur einige von ihnen umfassen (Hahn 2018, 118, 165, 249) die Westukraine, die als „katholisch“ bezeichnet wird, wenn vier von sieben Oblasten sind orthodox, chesno übersetzt als Knoblauch und Ehrlichkeit, wenn das ukrainische Wort für Knoblauch ist chisnyk. Hahn (2018) hat nicht nur die Ukraine nie besucht, er hat höchstwahrscheinlich auch nie eine Karte der Ukraine studiert, da er Tschernihiw als „westliche Region“ beschreibt, wenn es sich im Nordosten der Ukraine befindet. Hahns Entschlossenheit, alle “ukrainischen Nationalisten” aus der Westukraine in eine Schublade zu stecken, ist höchstwahrscheinlich der Grund, warum er Tschernihiw geografisch im Westen der Ukraine platziert hat. Dies liegt daran, dass viele dieser Gelehrten die Existenz eines russischsprachigen ukrainischen und jüdischen Patriotismus in der Ostukraine nicht akzeptieren können.
Die Behauptung, dass die West- und Zentralukraine die ärmsten Regionen des Landes sind, ignoriert Kiew, die reichste Stadt der Ukraine (Hahn 2018, 121). Um zu beweisen, dass die Ukraine ein künstliches Konstrukt ist, senkt Hahn künstlich den Anteil der Bevölkerung, der ethnisch ukrainisch ist. Aktuelle Zahlen zeigen, dass 92% der Bevölkerung sich als ethnisch ukrainisch erklären, während nur 6% ethnische Russen sind (unter den 18- bis 29-Jährigen nur 2%).
Pijl (2018, 25) ignoriert die Tatsache, dass die Holodomor wurde von jedem ukrainischen Präsidenten als Völkermord akzeptiert (Kuzio, 2017b). During Kuchma’s presidency, the Party of Regions upheld the official position of the Holodomor as a genocide, only adopting the Russian position after 2005–2006 and especially during Yanukovych’s presidency in 2010–2014. Throughout his book, Pijl (2018, 40) portrays eastern Ukrainian politicians as pro-federalist, which is factually inaccurate; no president, including eastern Ukrainians Kuchma and Yanukovych, and no political party, including the Party of Regions and Communist Party of Ukraine, has supported federalism.
In downplaying Yanukovych’s plunder of Ukraine, Pijl (2018, 83) writes that he sent his ‘private possessions’ to Russia before fleeing Kyiv. In fact, as security camera footage at his palace showed, a huge amount of stolen loot, such as gold bars, art, and other valuables were taken with him when he fled Kyiv in February 2014. While downplaying Yanukovych’s looting of Ukraine, Putin is presented as a president who placed ‘limits on oligarchic enrichment’ (Pijl 2018, 158), a statement which has no relationship to the kleptocracy that Russia has become on his watch (see Dawisha 2014; Belton 2020; Sakwa 2017b, 19, 22).
In Love with Conspiracy Theories
Academic orientalist writing about the Donbas War loves conspiracies (see Ploeg 2017, 36–68), which could have been taken from Russian information war templates. There are four key conspiracies.
The first is that the Euromaidan was a US-backed conspiracy by ‘Ukrainian nationalists,’ who dominated the ranks of protestors and who continue to influence Ukrainian politics heavily. Hahn (2018, 285) writes that the ‘deep political paralysis’ in Ukraine is ‘driven by the ultranationalist and neo-fascist wings of the Ukrainian polity.’ Ukrainian nationalists dominate post-Euromaidan Ukrainian politics (Sakwa 2015, 99, 320; Cohen 2019, 61, 84, 91, 126, 144. 180, 181; Pijl 2018, 1, 5).
An ‘extraordinary level of repression in post-Euromaidan Ukraine’ was allegedly the norm (Ploeg 2017, 176). ‘Galicia-based Ukrainianness’ and the ‘inordinate influence’ of the Ukrainian diaspora were omnipresent (Molchanov 2018, 73). Cohen’s (2019, 44, 144) claim of ‘pro-Yanukovych’ parties being banned is complete fiction. The Opposition Bloc and Opposition Platform-For Life, two successors to the Party of Regions, have participated in every election held since 2014. D’Anieri (2018) has analysed how the loss of 16% of Ukrainian voters in Russian-occupied areas of Ukraine is one of the reasons for the reduction in the pro-Russian vote, not because Ukrainian polls manipulate Ukrainian views of Russians (Petro 2016, 2018).
Matveeva (2018, 53) wrongly claims that President Yushchenko closed Russian language television broadcasts, claiming there was ‘no Russian permitted until the 2012 language law was passed.’ Ukraine’s most popular television channel Inter has always broadcasted primarily in Russian, including under Presidents Yushchenko, Poroshenko, and Zelenskyy. Far more Russian-language print media are published in Ukraine than are Ukrainian-language print media. Medvedchuk, Putin’s representative in Ukraine, owns three television channels – NewsOne, 112, and Zik, and exerts a high level of influence over Inter through his political allies in Opposition Platform-For Life.
Seeking to claim that Ukrainianisation took place, Matveeva (2016, 27) writes that Yushchenko’s presidency ‘dealt a decisive blow to Russian language in Donbas.’ That this is untrue is beyond question, because there were few Ukrainian-language schools in this region prior to 2014. What is bizarre is that Matveeva’s accusation is based on a citation from an undated article in RusBalt News Agency, which was closed down in October 2013 by the Russian government, and from an undated interview with Alexei Volynets. Presumably official Ukrainian statistics and opinion polls would not have backed up her claim and hence were never used.
The second conspiracy is that the snipers who killed Euromaidan protestors were Ukrainian nationalists, not Berkut special forces from the Ministry of Interior. Russia later re-modelled this conspiracy theory by claiming that Georgian snipers, organised by former Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili, killed the protestors.
This conspiracy theory was developed by Ivan Katchanovski (2016), who is the only source cited by all Putinversteher scholars for this alleged false flag operation on the Euromaidan. Katchanowski’s (2016) work reflects that of a political technologist more than that of a scholar through his highly selective compilation of sources gleaned from conspiratorial corners of the Internet and YouTube. That the conspiracy is bogus can be seen in the six imprisoned Berkut officers whom Russia sought in the December 2019 prisoner exchange (see chapter 6).
Katchanowski (2016) is cited by all Putinversteher scholars (Sakwa (2015, 320; Hahn 2018, 199; Ploeg 2017, 38, 41; Pijl 2018, 80; Cohen 2019, 144, 179). Ploeg (2018, 174–176) cites Katchanowski (2016) on thirty occasions, some of them being very long quotations. David Lane (2018, 146) praises the ‘detailed research of Ivan Katchanowski’ (2016). Hahn (2018, 200-201) writes that there is ‘no evidence’ of police shootings, and that security forces ‘seemed to demonstrate some restraint,’ downplaying human rights abuses by the security forces and Party of Regions vigilantes. One particularly brutal kidnapping in the Euromaidan is described as a ‘faked’ abduction (Hahn 2018, 218).
Proof that the killings were undertaken by Berkut has been shown by journalists (Harding 2014), 3D research (Schwartz 2018; Chornokondratenko and Williams 2018), and academic studies (see bibliography in Kuzio 2017c, 363–367). There is little dispute among the broad mainstream of scholars, experts, and policymakers that Yanukovych’s vigilantes and Berkut riot police killed and wounded Euromaidan protestors.
The third conspiracy is that ‘Ukrainian nationalists’ are to blame for the 2 May 2014 fire in Odesa, which killed 48 protestors, 42 of whom were pro-Russian activists. The Odesa fire was planned by Kyiv using ‘Ukrainian nationalists’ who were ‘disguised as civilians and pretending to be “separatists” who fired at Ukrainians’ (Hahn 2018, 109, 260, 262; Pijl 2018, 109; Ploeg 2017, 129). Sakwa’s (2015, 97–99) main source of information for this conspiracy is the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ White Book (he uses no Ukrainian sources). This unsurprisingly exaggerates the number of deaths into the hundreds as a ‘massacre’ with ‘beatings’ and ‘rapes’ committed by ‘Ukrainian nationalists’ to the chants of ‘Glory to Ukraine.’
This conspiracy ignores the presence of nationalists (imperialists) and neo-Nazis from Russia and the Trans-Dniestr region, who were active in Odesa from February 2014. Russian neo-Nazi leader Anton Raevskyj, who called for violent attacks against Ukrainians and Jews in Odesa, was expelled from Ukraine on 29 March 2014.
Fieldwork and interviews in Odesa were never undertaken, and Ukrainian sources were ignored. The extensive work of Odesa journalists and video footage was used by this author to compile ‘The Odesa Conflict on 2 May 2014: A Chronology of What Took Place’ (see Table 11.1. in Kuzio 2017c, 334–337). In Odesa, the first deaths on 2 May 2014 were of pro-Ukrainian protestors. Both sides were shooting at each other from and into the Trade Union building. Both sides threw Molotov cocktails from inside and into the building, which set fire to the building. Of the 48 people who died, six died from gunshot wounds, 34 from smoke inhalation and burns, and eight from jumping from the fire to their deaths.
The fourth conspiracy is that US and NATO led Ukraine’s military strategy. Ploeg (2017, 226) writes, ‘It seems reasonable to suggest that Ukraine’s war strategy is heavily influenced by Washington.’ US ‘directed regime change’ in Kyiv by ‘neo-conservatives in the US government and NATO’ worked through ‘fascists,’ ‘nationalists,’ ‘Blackwater’ mercenaries, the CIA, and the FBI (Pijl, 2018, 30, 69, 105). Perhaps Pijl (2018) and his external reviewers at Manchester University Press were unaware that, in 2014, the US was led by Democratic President Barack Obama, who was not a neo-conservative and neither supported democracy promotion nor NATO and EU enlargement.
Pijl’s (2018) purpose is to deflect blame for the shooting down of MH17 from Russia to Ukraine and the West. Pijl (2018, 29) discusses MH17 as part of a Western conspiracy of the EU Eastern Partnership (which he describes as the ‘Atlantic project’), where Ukraine would be transformed into an ‘advance post for NATO’ (Pijl 2018, 147). Ukraine would be used ‘to destabilise the Putin presidency’ (Pijl 2018, 76).
A large number of scholarly articles, think tank papers, and books have been published on the 2014 Russia-Ukraine crisis, Russia’s annexation of Crimea, and Russian military aggression against Ukraine. Many of these are excellent. They are cited in this book and can be found in the references. There is a large number of scholarly articles based on ground-breaking research, often conducted by a new generation of political scientists.
Academic orientalist imagining of Ukraine is, however, evident in scholars mainly using sources from Russia when writing on the Russia-Ukrainian crisis. The roots of academic orientalism lie in Western histories of ‘Russia’ and Crimea, political scientists who work on Russia acting as ‘gatekeepers’ to Russian and Eurasian studies in the western world, and western journalists continuing to cover the entire former USSR from Moscow. Academic orientalist views of Ukraine are fleshed out in the next chapter, in which nationalism in Ukraine and Russia is discussed. Orientalism always depicts nationalism in colonies in a negative manner and the nationalism of the imperialist hegemon in a favourable light. In the same manner, contemporary academic orientalism – as shown in the next chapter – exaggerates the influence and cruelty of Ukrainian nationalism and downplays the existence and nationalist (imperialist) drive of Russian nationalism.
 Tass, 20–21 January 1997.
 https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2014/08/a-24-step-plan-to-resolve-the-ukraine-crisis/379121/; https://www.europeanleadershipnetwork.org/group-statement/easlg-twelve-steps-toward-greater-security-in-ukraine-and-the-euro-atlantic-region/; https://www.defensepriorities.org/explainers/saying-no-to-nato-options-for-ukrainian-neutrality
 https://www.husj.harvard.edu/ and https://www.ewjus.com/
 The official Russian-language pages of the websites of the Ukrainian president: http://www.president.gov.ua/ru; parliament: http://iportal.rada.gov.ua/ru; and government: http://www.kmu.gov.ua/control/ru.
Further reading on E-International Relations