File Size: 14120 KB
Print Length: 402 pages
Publisher: Basic Books; 1 edition (October 10, 2017)
Publication Date: October 10, 2017
And/or Russia’s indecipherable steps merely the result of wrangling by the many conflicted bureaucracies that manage Russia’s government from different opinions. Why, for example, do Russia make a half-hearted, bungled attempt to grab the Eastern Ukraine, while declining to move into Belarus, which was predisposed to voluntarily unite with Russia?
Just like many Americans, I feel trying to understand the current position of Russia and how it pertains to all of us.
This book has maintained to convince me that Putin’s Russia is much more a cautious, bureaucracy-infested snail when compared to a hungry gambling. It describes the background of Russia's governance in conditions of squabbling parti vying to resolve the " nationality problem. " Some factions in Russia’s governing bureaucracy believe in scrupulous adherence to the norms of international law, and non-interference in border former Soviet “Republics” like Ukraine, Georgia, and Weißrussland, that are now impartial nations. Other factions prefer a reconquest of these territories, especially Ukraine.
Serhii Plokhy explains how these intramural Russia squabbles have resulted in sneaky, half-hearted efforts to recover Russian-settled regions of Eastern Ukraine, but not in sufficient force to succeed. Russia’s plans resemble the under-handed Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba by the USA in 1961. Rather than serving in enough forces to insure its success (or of foregoing the attack altogether), the USA timidly supported a tiny force of Cuban exiles, and then denied involvement when the getting failed. It absolutely was a huge embarrassment for the USA, and succeeded only in conditioning the prestige of Castro’s communist government.
It turned out the result of Russia’s half-baked meddling in neighboring nations. According to Plokhy, it has infuriated individuals --- even the people of European ethnicity --- in the Ukraine and Belarus, plus made Russia appear duplicitous and potentially aggressive to the rest of the world. Russia has none gained any territory of significance (other than Russian-settled Crimea) while inciting the enmity of its neighbours, and instigating financial sanctions by its trading partners in the European Marriage and North America.
Plokhy makes it clear that Russians have always been conflicted about whether they are part of your ethnic European nation state or a multi-cultural empire, and we in turn have been confused by Russia’s intentions towards the world beyond its borders;
Russia today has enormous difficulty in making up the mental maps of Russian ethnicity, culture, and identity with the personal map of the European Federation.
Do Russia’s present-day political borders coincide with the borders of the Russian nation? The answer depends on the way in which Russian political and intellectual leaders and Russians on the whole imagine their country. The question of European identity and its geographic extent is of more than academic interest, as it influences issues of war and peace together Europe’s eastern frontiers today and may influence them for generations to come.
Really does the Russian nation, recognized in ethnic and cultural terms, consist only of ethnic Russians within and outside of the borders of the Russian Federation, or does it also include fellow Eastern Slavs—Ukrainians and Belarusians? This is the key question experienced today by the European elites and the public at large as they try to reinvent on their own and their nation in the post-Soviet world.
The book is a background of Russian nationalism at its cross section with Russian imperialism.
From your damages of the Mongol Empire to the reinvention of Russian nationhood after the tumble of the USSR, my book follows the efforts of the Russian elites to restore the comarcal unity of the “lost kingdom”—the medieval Kyivan claim that provided all Eastern Slavs with much of their cultural legacy.
It is in the pursuit of that vision that Russia has lost its way to modern nationhood, and in that sense has become a “lost kingdom” in their own right.
The book is an interesting synopsis of the history of the fusion and fission between Russia and its kindred Slavic neighbors Ukraine and Belarus. Like the English-speaking countries, they are a family of nations that share a similar genetic and cultural template. In times they have got merged (or been forcibly merged) into one super-state, including other times, such as now, have insisted on surviving in their own houses. The particular Ukraine, especially, is an ambiguous nation. Its eastern conclusion touches on Russia Proper, while its western conclusion looks towards European Europe.
My takeaways are that Russia is a sui generis (one-off) country that is definitely understood only by other Russians. Russians are much more intellectual (in the sense of trying to wrap a philosophy, real or contrived, around their actions), bureaucratic, and cautious than Us citizens. Like other peoples, there is a broad streak of mankind and fairness in the Russian heart, but also cunning, and the peasants’ instinct to appropriate the neighbor’s chicken if it wanders into his yard.
The books reminds all of us that Putin, like most others in the Russian federal government, are highly educated people, not barbarians. Russians market leaders are educated about the USA and Europe, probably far exceeding our leaders’ education about Russia.
Disclosure: I actually approached this book having no direct connection to Russia. I’ve met exactly two Russians in my life, one for a 30-minute job interview and one for five minutes of conversation at a party. However, I have studied Russia extensively (see my Amazon review list). I’ve read dozens of books about Russia during WWII, including British correspondent Alexander Werth’s diary of surviving in the Soviet Marriage (Russia, Ukraine, and the Baltics) during its near-death experience as a result of Hitler’s panzer armies. I’ve studied the U. S. Air Force’s textbook on the Soviet Union through the Cold Conflict of the 1950’s.
So what DOES Russia really want? My sense, verified after reading this publication, is the fact that we may be overestimating Russia’s malevolence and its lust for comarcal aggrandizement. We have become alarmed at Russia’s annexation of Crimea --- that was a part of Russia for hundreds of years before its transfer to Ukraine as an honorary award in 1954 when Russia and Ukraine were joined in the Soviet Union. But Crimea's annexation does not necessarily suggest that Russia has designs on its other neighbours.
Perhaps Russia merely would like to be acknowledged as the important country that its geography and populace make it, and also to be treated at least as well by the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA and Europe as we treat nations of similar importance like Brazil and India. Let’s not assume the worst about Russia, or that there is no room to improve relations. Of course, it is also up to the Russians to show respect and goodwill to their neighbours, especially Ukraine, and also to offer up an ironclad renunciation of further territorial aspirations., In February 2014 the future was so tantalizingly near. The Sochi Olympics closed to fanfare and acclaim. Despite the naysayers (and the budget-busting construction), Russia had pulled off a first-class spectacle, hosting one of the world’s most crucial international events.
And then, four days later, masked Russian troops keeping no insignia occupied Crimea. Less than a calendar month after that, Russia said the Ukrainian peninsula as Russian territory, ignoring international outrage. Hybrid warfare in eastern Ukraine followed, and Russia’s relations with the West headed into an ever-deepening abyss, culminating in the election meddling scandals and, most recently, tit-for-tat diplomatic expulsions.
If we want to understand what is going on, argues Plokhy, we need to look at Crimea and Ukraine in the context of the longer sweep of Russian history. We need to understand what it means to be Russian, what the variation is (for Russians) between national borders and national identity.
One might question whether one should turn to a Ukrainian-born vem som st?r for an knowledge of European foreign policy and national intent. But, on the other hands, one could argue that this is exactly the sort of writer one wants to hear from these days, that is, if one seeks a balanced understanding of the proceedings in Russia’s borderlands. Plokhy is a gifted historian and he or she retells this history in a very engaging style, which helps one easily grasp the through-lines in background he wants to light up.
And his point is: Russia will not find security or prosperity through territory or ideology. Instead, it must “adjust Russia’s own identity to the requirements of the post-imperial world. The future of the Russian nation and their relations with its neighbours lies not in a return to the lost paradise of the dreamed East Slavic unity of the medieval Kyivan express, but in the development of a modern civic nation within the borders of the Russian Federation. ”
As reviewed in Russian Life , Anti-Russian sentiment annoyingly written in Ukrainian spelling. Offering little insights just more propaganda
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