Healing of Ukraine and Treating of Russia

Ukraine is healing itself of the "little brother syndrome”
and treating Russia of its "big brother syndrome”.
Unfortunately, this is possible only via war.

A.Danylko and V.Putin.
Images by Alina Vozna and Kremlin.ru via Wikimedia Commons

A friend of mine with 12 years of prison experience sometimes told me about the way things were organized there. If two inmates don't like each other very much and quarrel all the time, they usually are given the knives and offered to finalize their matter. This is the law of highest justice in prison when both opponents are "right”.

Approximately the same thing is happening now between Ukraine and Russia except that the "knives" (forces) of the opposing sides are unequal, but the collective West has begun to supply Ukraine with the weapons it needed.

It has been more than three weeks since Russia treacherously attacked Ukraine. Ukraine is fighting back quite successfully, despite heavy civilian casualties and bombed infrastructure and cities. The Russian troops are also pretty battered and that's probably why they have almost stopped their advance through the occupied country.

It may seem strange, but this war has pluses also. Ukraine is now healing itself of the "little brother syndrome” and treating Russia of its "big brother syndrome”.

Russians have always looked down on other nationalities in the USSR. I noticed that when I was a child while living in the Ukrainian SSR. We used to speak Russian while playing together and for some reason we considered kids who spoke Ukrainian or mixed Russian-Ukrainian to be "commoners”. However, as a child I have read a lot of books in Ukrainian, and could even edit Ukrainian texts. In defense of the USSR, I can say that Ukrainian language was taught at school no less than Russian, there were Ukrainian newspapers, magazines, movies, etc. I did not notice any particular difference between Russian-speaking and Ukrainian-speaking citizens of Ukraine. Very many people in Kyiv understood both languages equally like me.

Then, in the mid-1980s I was an officer in the Soviet Army and watched different nationalities of the USSR for 2 years. There were Russians, Ukrainians, Kazakhs, Uzbeks, Georgians, Chechens, Armenians, Azerbaijanis, ethnic Turks in our unit... I noticed that Russians, especially from Moscow, behaved somewhat arrogantly toward other soldiers and were beaten for that sometimes. I called that attitude the "big brother syndrome” then.

One of our senior officers (a professional military man, graduated from a military academy in Moscow) mentioned once that one of his academy instructors told him he would not make a good career in the army. When asked why, the instructor replied, "Because you are a Khokhol and you'll always be a Khokhol”.

Then, after the collapse of the USSR I communicated a few times with the Russians from Russia on business and discovered an interesting pattern: the farther a person lived from Moscow, the less arrogant he was and the more pleasant it was to talk to him.

I remember an experience I had at the international exhibition CeBIT in 1997 in Hannover (Germany).
We visited the stand of a large South Korean company which was selling lamination equipment and consumables, and asked the president whether they had representatives in Ukraine. He said "no", we offered to cooperate, discussed our future purchases, and the president left. We took product samples and were about to leave, but the president's secretary introduced us to businessmen from Russia - two guys and a girl. The Russians immediately stated that they were the only representatives of this South Korean company in the CIS i.e. at whole territory of the former USSR, and we would buy equipment etc. only from them. I informed them that the president of the company told us they had no representatives in Ukraine and hasn’t mentioned any intermediaries. There was an awkward pause, and then Russians began to incoherently explain something. It sounded like we misunderstood the president and their firm really had exclusive rights for entire former USSR. We stopped arguing and left. I disliked much the fact that Russians lied to us and even when they have been caught they kept on lying.

Now, 25 years later, I was reminded of this incident while reading about Russian foreign minister shamelessly claimed that Russia didn’t invade Ukraine.

Pathological lying to themselves and others is an inseparable part of the "mystifying Russian soul”. Russians seem to see the world quite in a different (actually, the opposite) way, so the majority of Russians should be treated for correct vision, and that is exactly what the Ukrainians are doing now.

The Russians have always treated other nationalities of the USSR as second-grade people. They have often made fun of the Ukrainian language (as well as of Belorussian, by the way), and sometimes distorted it even in the movies like it was done in famous Soviet movie “They fought for their сountry”. I think this can be called Russian chauvinism.

Chauvinism is the belief in the superiority or dominance of one's own group or people, who are seen as strong and virtuous, while others are considered weak, unworthy, or inferior. Chauvinism can also be described as a form of extreme patriotism and nationalism, a fervent faith in national excellence and glory. Putin has deliberately and consistently developed this chauvinism/nationalism in Russian people during at least 10-12 last years of his rule. Why?

First, he seems to sincerely believe in the special mission/purpose of the Russian nation (and himself) in history.
Secondly, it is a unifying idea of the Russian nation now which helps much Mr. Putin to rule the country easier and effectively distract the attention of his people from “color revolutions”.
And thirdly: it is a revenge to Ukraine. In 2004, the Ukrainians did not let his protege Viktor Yanukovych to become a president, and then they kicked Yanukovych the president out of Ukraine during the Revolution of Dignity in 2014. Just then Russian media began to use the words “Nazi”, “Neo-nazi” and “banderites” in reference to almost any event in Ukraine.

This long-standing Russian chauvinism/nationalism as the national idea and Putin's personal grievances seem to be the main reasons for Russia's current war in Ukraine. Russians perceive Ukrainians like a big "clever" and strong man perceives his little "silly" and weak brother/sister who is incapable of any meaningful action. The big brother raised the little one and helped him in every way, but the little brother did not appreciate that and wanted to live his own life, although, in Putin's opinion, he couldn't, and would create a lot of problems (with NATO, for example, and so on). That is why this muddle-headed little brother has to be punished. That is how a lot of Russians perceived the war in Donbass in 2014. That is how they perceive the current war in Ukraine now. It is a necessary punishment for the good. Almost all Russians turn a blind eye to the fact that children are dying from Russian bombs in Ukraine or the fact that a nuclear bomb may be dropped on some Ukrainian city in order to "denazify and demilitarize" Ukrainians which are “one people” with Russians.

Putin said many times that Russians and Ukrainians are "one people". This is the essence of the attitude of Russians to Ukrainians, Putin's appeals to the West and his mentioning of “new Yalta”. It is a call for the West to divide the world into spheres of influence like it was done by the US, Britain, and USSR in 1945 and not to interfere when one of the “big brothers” wants to set his “little ones” on "the right path”.

Now about Russia's "little” and “silly” brother/sister - Ukraine.

It’s needed to say that Ukraine has always played well with Russia in creating and maintaining its image as a simple rural girl with big breasts from the outskirts of the great empire who has moved to the city and spoke in Russian-Ukrainian mixed dialect. This image was created by a very successful (both in Russia and Ukraine) Ukrainian actor Andriy Danylko for many years. I have always been ashamed of his work, despite his undoubted talent. From my point of view he was just deliberately wiping his feet on Ukraine and offering to do the same to his audience in Russia, although I understand that he had to offer the Russians what they wanted to see. It was just his business, nothing personal.

All the presidents of "independent” Ukraine (maybe with the exception of P. Poroshenko because of the hostilities in Donbass since 2014) constantly went to Moscow to consult Putin on various issues. Ukraine's 2nd president Kuchma is now cursing Russians, even though he has been a loyal collaborator (or vassal?) of Russia for 10 years of his presidency.

In spring of 2014, the Russians seized peninsular of Crimea in Ukraine. Ukrainian troops simply have been withdrawn from there under their own performing of Ukrainian national anthem. Immediately thereafter, “Donetsk” and “Luhansk” People's Republic emerged in eastern Ukraine with the help of Russian special forces.
A new elected president of Ukraine, P. Poroshenko, has launched "anti-terrorist operation” in Donbass, but failed. Since then there has been eight years of positional warfare between Ukraine and two self-declared republics with Russian troops being behind them.

Finally, on February 24, 2022, Russia could no longer tolerate the "threats" of the Ukrainian “neo-Nazis” to the Russian-speaking population of Donbass and had brought troops into Ukraine along the entire northern, eastern and partially southern borders. The purpose of the invasion according to Putin were “denazification” and “demilitarization” of Ukraine.

Thus, over the years, Ukraine has created the image of a silly little brother/sister and greatly weakened Putin's vigilance. He invented, believed and made almost all Russians believe in the fairy tale of "one people," the weakness of the Ukrainian army, the strength of Russian army and the sympathy of Ukrainian people, suffering under the yoke of the "neo-Nazis”. However, over the past 8 years, Ukraine has somehow managed to strengthen and train its army. Other than that, the Russian invasion instantly united the Ukrainians which became one of the causes for disrupting of Putin's planned blitzkrieg. The unarmed inhabitants resisted the occupation in every possible way and sometimes stopped armed Russian soldiers! The Ukrainian troops have been fighting great, the Russians have lost a lot of manpower and equipment in almost 4 weeks of war and were hopelessly stuck in Ukraine.

The brazen attack of Russians also united the collective West (and even Democrats and Republicans in the US) which quickly enough provided Ukraine with money and weapons, imposed devastating sanctions on Russian economy and even personally on Putin and many of his cronies.

All that together became a big surprise to Mr. Putin and he 1) started bombing the civilians; 2) started recruiting mercenaries in Syria (so there are no more reserves) and 3) approached China for financial and military aid (so Western sanctions work).

Every cloud has a silver lining.

Putin somehow managed to do the impossible – he united the Ukrainians (I thought it would never happen) and the West against himself and Russia in 3+ weeks of war. Ukrainians began to get rid of the "little brother syndrome” and Mr. Putin would have to give up his “big brother syndrome”. Now no one in the world will say that Ukraine is "somewhere out there next to Russia". Ukraine began to become conscious about itself and its place in the world. This could be the birth of a new nation through the shock of war.

Then Ukrainians will find out that the war with Putin's Russia is not the main and most difficult test. War is a test by fire, which Ukraine is now passing through with the honor. After that there will be the next tests which every nation must pass if it really wants to be a subject and not an object of the world politics.

P.S. Dear Reader! I am very much interested in your opinion on the subject of this article. Please, write a comment or ask a question if you want to clarify something.
Igor Chykalov
  1. Concerned21 March 2022 17:00
    I just discovered your blog. Your perspective is interesting. My impression is that in Ukraine, there used to be a lot of pro-Russian sentiment, but Putin's war has destroyed that. Is that correct? And what do you think will be the political consequences of a Ukraine totally hostile to Russia?
    1. Igor21 March 2022 20:40
      Hello, Mr. Concerned. Thanks for your questions.
      1. My impression is that in Ukraine, there used to be a lot of pro-Russian sentiment, but Putin's war has destroyed that. Is that correct?
      Basically yes. You can see the evolution of the attitude of Ukrainians toward Russians in my "Hopeless Ukraine" series of articles. Unfortunately, I did not have time to finish the last article about the Revolution of Dignity, the Russian seizure of Crimea and a piece of Donbass in 2014. This war (which neither Russians nor Ukrainians called a war) lasted from 2014 until now. Throughout that time, attitudes toward Russians in Ukraine changed much for the worse. The Russian invasion on February 24 just clarified everything. All pro-Russian forces fled Ukraine and Putin's open war created not just resentment, but hatred among Ukrainians.

      2. What do you think will be the political consequences of a Ukraine totally hostile to Russia?
      I can ask you – when? It’s a very wide question and there maybe tons of consequences.
      The most important and closest consequences of Ukrainian total hostility to Russia I see are:
      - the real threat of nuclear strike on Ukraine;
      - a nuclear strike on Ukraine and on some facility in Europe (at NATO member country including, Poland, for example), i.e. a threat of World War 3;
      - Putin's physical elimination. The more Ukrainians hate Putin and Russia, the longer Ukraine will fight. Together with the growing effect of Western sanctions, this will very likely lead to an intra-elite coup at the very top of the Russian pyramid of power and Putin will simply be killed by one of his cronies. In my opinion, this is a very necessary and important consequence of Ukrainian total hostility to Russia - to rid everyone (Russians, Ukrainians and the whole world) of Mr. Putin. He became now a big problem for everyone, including his cronies. You can read more in my article “Is there any personal risk for Putin now?”.
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