While my kampf against overly idealistic Western observers continues, Mr. Kovpak, again, voiced an interesting argument: namely, that Ukraine and Ukrainians should strive to get Russians’ sympathies on their side, and to do that, they must repeal laws/ban OUN-UPA flags/take down Bandera statues/etc. There is, of course, an immediate problem with this argument: namely, that Ukraine and Ukrainians tried to appease Russians before, and it didn’t work.
Personally, I’m not sure how this can even work, because there’s this: I know a lot of perfectly reasonable, perfectly sane and normal-minded Russians who, come 2014, turned into rabid Putin fanboys and Ukrainophobes. Crimea returning is apparently ‘the dream of their generation’, and most of their arguments as to why they’re rooting for ‘Novorossiya’ are surprisingly similar to the ones circulated by Russian state TV: Nazis banning Russian language, shelling civilian targets, etc. Odessa is also mentioned, too, as is the near-universal belief that there is no Ukraine, that it’s a ‘country 404’, that Russia is justified in anything it does in (former) Ukraine, and so on. I’ve seen pictures with Ukraine divided into three parts circulated back in December 2013, for fuck’s sake. Lenin statues are thrown into the mix, and when everything else was already used, they bring up Right Sector and Azov. The fact that neither Right Sector nor Azov were actually documented doing any of the atrocities Russian TV attributes to them is lost on them for some reason.
The problem with trying to appease Russians is that sometimes you feel like you’re talking to a wall; you talk and explain and they just brush aside all of your arguments in favor of their own. Most often they don’t even do that; you talk and explain and the Russians just say that ‘who cares, Crimea is ours, Donetsk and Luhansk independent, look what your Maidan achieved, silly khokhols!’. Basically the only way of appeasing them is rolling over and admitting that you’re wrong and they are right, after which you may be graciously forgiven for the sin of being a Ukrainian. Apparently.
So who should we appeal to, then? These are perfectly reasonable Russian people. I can hold a perfectly reasonable conversation with them so long as nobody mentions the war. We have similar interests; we used to laugh at the same shitty Russian SF authors, for Christ’s sake. Now those shitty Russian SF authors are, apparently, war heroes.
It isn’t much better with the Russian opposition, because of much the same problem: Crimea, again, and their penchant for lecturing silly khokhols on what they are doing wrong. What, Mr. Russian dissident, Ukrainians are too independent for you? What’s that, they don’t appreciate your expert Russian dissident opinion on what Ukraine should apparently do? What’s that, Ukrainian is not a language (lite version – Ukrainian is a country language, while Russian is a city language and thus superior)? FUCK YOU, Mr. Russian dissident! We had that shit altogether too many times; what Russians do not seem to realize is that they’re far removed from Ukraine, their self-proclaimed ‘brother country’, and the gap is getting larger and larger with each passing month. Moreover, most Russians, even those affiliated with the Russian opposition, appear to have eagerly bought into the ‘Ukraine has civil war’ narrative Russian TV promulgates; nevermind that they started this ‘civil’ war in the first place by annexing Crimea. Most Ukrainians, on the other hand, (correctly) perceive the war as a war against Russia; for them, Russians are citizens of an enemy country first and everything else second. This makes communication between Russians and Ukrainians – even the most open-minded ones – totally impossible at best.
The problem with appeasing Russians is that to have a shot at appeasing them, Ukraine would have to be reduced to being basically a smaller Russia or a larger Belarus; a ‘Little Russia’, then, with any ‘good’ Ukrainian being a subservient Little Russian who knows his place and does not entertain any ‘delusions’ about his country being different – or, even, independent. This is what Ukraine was only two years before: pretty much everything it did was so as not to antagonize Russia, with EU integration being curtailed for pretty much the same reasons. Perfectly reasonable Russians want a return to that status quo; Russian opposition wants Ukraine to be their ‘dream Russia’, seeing as how they lost their shot at Russia in the first place. Both fail to notice the bad blood between Russians and Ukrainians – literal blood, in this case, blood spilled by Russian lies, Russian bullets, Russian tanks and Russian artillery. This is why their attempts at reconciliation, if any, will keep falling short until they finally deign to notice that.
Banning OUN-UPA flags (which were never banned in the first place) or ‘Slava Ukraini’ greetings will not bridge that gap. It won’t be bridged by Russian anti-war protests, either, although, unlike most Ukrainians, I’m grateful for that. It’s just that those protesters do not get modern Ukraine, nor do they get modern Ukrainians, at all.
Of course, sooner or later Ukrainians and Russians will reconcile. I mean, Croats and Serbs did, mostly, and that’s despite all the sawed-off heads and Milosevic’s shenanigans (suspiciously similar to Putin’s shenanigans). The only problem, though, is that Russians will have to apologize, first.
And I’m not sure Ukrainians will accept that apology.
P.S. Of course, the similarities Ukrainian nationalism (the ‘kill-all-moskali-black suns-and-wolfsangels’ kind, not the ‘wartime nationalism’ kind) has with its sworn enemy, Russian nationalism, are worthy of a separate post. Because there’s one too many, which may explain some Russian nationalists’ readiness to fight on Ukraine’s side (Illya Bogdanov comes to mind, and he started bullshitting the Ukrainian government as soon as he got his Ukrainian citizenship by Poroshenko’s personal order).
Ukrainian nationalism will most likely run its course. As I elaborated more than enough times, Right Sector is steadily losing its support, and even Azovgate went more or less unnoticed .
This does not mean OUN should be banned, though. They did highly questionable things, granted, but they do not deserve the shit piled up on them, least of all the shit the Russians piled up on them.
This is the last I’m going to say on this particular issue.