Although Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 caught many analysts off-guard, Ukrainian-born scholar Ivan Katchanovski (University of Ottawa) predicted the growth of tensions well before the Maidan. In some respects, the Ukraine War as well as Vladimir Putin and Putinism had their roots in the early 1990s. On the one hand, the West made contradictory promises to Ukraine about its security while demanding they give up nuclear arms, and on the other, Zbigniew Brzezinski’s fears (The Grand Chessboard, 1997) of America’s “mismanagement” of its Russia policies were slowly realized. At the same time, Russia’s poverty and instability in the 1990s gave rise to ultra-nationalism and other forms of right-wing discourse which would eventually go mainstream.
In ArtiFact #38, Alex Sheremet is joined by Ivan Katchanovski to discuss some lesser-known details of Russian and Ukrainian history in light of the Ukraine War.
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0:00 – Ivan Katchanovski’s theory of the Maidan Massacre as a right-wing false flag attack
1:32 – Ivan Katchanovski as a Ukrainian dissident in the Soviet Union & a Ukrainian dissident today; Alex Sheremet’s Chernobyl mutations
5:20 – Ivan Katchanovski on the pitfalls of Russia-Ukraine discourse; his upbringing in Ukraine under the USSR; why studying international relations was impossible in the Soviet Union; studying alongside the future presidents of Georgia and Ukraine; family expulsions from Poland; attending anti-Soviet demonstrations; why writing a thesis in Ukrainian was acceptable but its content rejected; censorship today
24:16 – Alex: censorship in the West is (mostly) outsourced to liberal institutions rather than government censorship; on the nature of the left/right divide & student demonstrations in the USSR; how Soviet politics bleed into Ukrainian & American politics; why Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is more like the Crimean War of 1853-56 as opposed to Hitler’s invasion of Poland; neither Russia nor America want a truly strong, independent Ukraine, but a client state; fractures in pro/anti-Soviet referendums in early 90s Ukraine; why some post-Soviet states remained free of conflict & others not
51:32 – Eduard Limonov’s 1992 prognostication of civil war coming to Ukraine; to what extent are his comments on Ukraine the thinking of Russian intellectuals in the 1990s; right-wing and left-wing repression in the 1990s; Boris Yeltsin’s & Vladimir Putin’s relationship with right-wing post-Soviet thought
01:07:50 – the historical & linguistic fault-lines between Russia, Ukraine; Bolshevism & anti-Bolshevism the roots of ultranationalism and Nazism within Ukraine; the lack of hostility between Russians & Ukrainians after 1950s; Ukraine’s present-day illiberalism on language policy; Lenin’s policy of Ukrainianization; class-based policies vs. cultural policy
01:26:42 – the Donbass: its history & present; how the Donbass thought of itself through history; why Donbass was unhappy after voting for a unified Ukraine; Donbass as “Europe’s final frontier”; Donbass independence streak means Russia might have to deal with Donbass secessionist movements; how oligarchs took over East Ukraine; how Maidan changed oligarch structure
01:40:49 – assessing the 1990s for Russia & Ukraine’ Zbigniew Brzezinski’s “The Grand Chessboard” & Heartland Theory; how America’s behavior towards 1990s Russia helped create Putin & Putinism; how Putin combined multiple ideologies; the West has blocked peace deals in the Ukraine War; why did the US offer a Marshall Plan for Europe but not for Russia; the Customs Union vs. European Union Association Agreement
02:13:36 – was the Maidan Massacre a false flag; right-wing groups were not politically popular, but provided the muscle for Maidan; what changes if the Maidan Massacre was a false flag?; Ivan Katchanovski on the role of right-wing militias; Ukraine as containment strategy; assessing whether Maidan was a “Western-backed coup”, totally independent, or something in the middle?
02:50:52 – why Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is illegal; hypothetical circumstances under which Russia’s invasion would be legal or ethical; John Mearsheimer & getting beyond the Monroe Doctrine; how the Russia-Ukraine war will determine the fate of America & Russia
Tags: #russiaukrainewar, #russia, #ukraine