Discover more from Eastsplaining’s Substack
Ukraine is like Ireland
Speaking Russian does not mean being Russian
Imagine yourself, browsing social media, minding your own business, and suddenly you bump into the following plan for Ireland:
Ireland should be reunited with the United Kingdom. This is historically English territory. Most of the population speak English, thy are actually Britons brainwashed with the nationalist Irish ideology. The Irish nationalists are terrorists and nazis (remember William Joyce? why nobody is talking about him? what the mainstream media are trying to hide?). Ireland is an artificial country, it was not on the map before 1922 (Lloyd George’s mistake!). London has every right to bomb Dublin to protect the English speaking population.
You will probably consider it to be the stupidest thing you have read today. Even taking into account the celebrity gossip on Insta.
Congratulations, now you feel like the Eastern Europeans feel when Elon Musk, Roger Waters or Tucker Carlson enlighten us with their expert knowledge of our region. Every sentence in that paragraph is a direct parody of similar claims regarding Ukraine (“Ukraine did not exist prior to 1917! Khrustchev’s/Lenin’s mistake! They speak Russian! These are historically Russian lands! And what about Bandera?”).
There is one claim we find particularly vexing. It’ss the assumption that “Russian speaking” with “Russian” (and the immediate conclusion that if someone is “Russian speaking”, they just can’t wait to be “protected” by Putin).
Somehow people in the West seem quite accustomed to the general idea that speaking English does not make you English. You could be English-speaking Irish, English-speaking Canadian, English-speaking American or maybe even English-speaking Australian (on second thought, scratch this one).
Being Francophone does not make you French. Speaking Spanish does not make you a Spaniard. Even speaking Swedish does not make you a Swede (there is a considerably large population of Swedish-speaking Finns).
If you look at the map of the contemporary world and compare it to a historical map from, say, 1830 - you will find many countries on the former that are absent from the latter. Are they all “artificial”?
They won their place on this map waging wars, staging uprisings and starting revolutions. This is equally true for Ukraine as it is for Belgium or Finland. If Ukraine is artificial, then every country is artificial.
I will explore it further in subsequent posts, but for now please just consider using the “Ireland criterion”. If some way of reasoning is false for Ireland, it is probably equally stupid for Ukraine.
Just as it’s very easy to imagine an Irish nationalist who speaks no other language but English - it is equally easy to imagine someone whose mother tongue is Russian, who attends the Orthodox church, listens to Russian music, reads Russian books, enjoys banya, drinks vodka, dances the kazatschok - and does not feel Russian at all. They might feel Estonian, Moldovian or Georgian and proudly display a bumper sticker “RUSSKY VOYENNY KORABL IDI NAKHOOY” on their Zhiguli (in Cyryllic, of course).
This guy could even be fighting for Ukraine right now.