Donald Trump just blew the minds of G7 leaders, when he, according to Buzzfeed, casually said:
“Crimea is Russian because everyone who lives there speaks Russian.”
That one sentence was enough to trigger lamentation, and impotent helpless rage in the stenographers union, also known as western media. Trump also allegedly said that Ukraine is one of the most corrupt countries in the world.
According to Transparency International, after more than 4 years from the “revolution of dignity” Ukraine has 130 rank in corruption perception, among 176 states, “out-performed” by such countries as Guatemala, Nigeria, Turkmenistan and Somalia.
This is something Ukrainians are all aware of, as they suffer daily under a government that literally tried to legalize corruption.
Buzzfeed claimed that Trump told this to G7 leaders via “two diplomatic sources”, who just so happen to be anonymous. Half of the sources the corporate media uses these days have been anonymous lately.
Still, it’s no secret Trump has been known to, at times, say reasonable things about Russia, as he seems to understand at least in theory, that ‘getting along with Russia is a good thing’. He certainly says it many times, but the jury is still out on whether he means it, or is actually capable of achieving better relations. To be clear, it’s not Russia which has done anything to cause the bad relations.
While we don’t have a video of Trump saying those words, he has recently spoken on camera about Russia in relation to the G7.
Specifically, Trump said:
Russia should be in this meeting. Why are we having a meeting without Russia being in the meeting. I would recomend Russia should be in the meeting, it should be a part of it. Whether you like it or not, and it may not be politically correct, but we have a world to run, and at the G7, which used to be the G8, they through Russia out. They should let Russia come back in, because we should have Russia at the negotating table.
Trump was referencing the fact that Russia was expelled from the G8, which then became the G7, when Russia was accused of invading Crimea, even as it’s pro-Russian people voted to rejoin Russia in a democratic referendum. All that considered, Trump’s comment about Russia being in the G7, and his allegedly stating that Crimea is Russian, triggered the Western media, who just couldn’t handle the truth, and basic logic. Below is a tweet that sums up the western reaction:
I have read what Trump said at the G-7 about Russia, Crimea, etc. I have read it but can hardly believe it. This is the U.S. president? Why is he talking like an RT host? Just when you think things might be slightly normal — you're jolted back into reality. A head-spinning time.
— Jay Nordlinger (@jaynordlinger) June 9, 2018
Suffice to say, Trump saying that Crimea is Russian drove his haters, and the Russophobes crazy.
It must be remembered, however, that as of now, Buzzfeed is the original source for this story, even as it’s been reported on by RT, as well as many mainstream sites like The Hill, The Daily Beast, and others.
Ever still, without definitive proof, like a direct statement from Trump, or video evidence, we must remember that as of now, this is only based on reports.
It’s possible Trump said it, as he has been known to say surprisingly sober things about Russia occasionally, at least when compared to his colleagues.
It’s also possible it’s simply fake news, designed to get #Russiagate cultists, and the #resistance movement “screeching”, as RT put it. Even if he said and meant every word of it, in this climate, and for that above reason, it’s highly likely he may deny it, or simply deny to comment on it, and so we may never know whether or not he said it.
Still, it doesn’t change the fact that it’s completely true. Crimea is Russia, however, Trump’s view seems to be only influenced by basic logic. He knows that the population of Crimea is mostly ethnic Russian, so it seems natural that Crimea is Russian, however there is more to it.
Ukraine itself, her people and her history, are in fact, Russian.
How are Ukrainians Russians?
And let me be clear, I am not saying that Ukraine is currently, or should (or should not) be a member of the Russian Federation. The only way for this to happen, is for the Ukrainian people to choose to join Russia, as Crimeans have already done. When I say Ukraine is Russian, what I am trying to say, is that it is Rusian.
Ukrainians are Rusians
Ukrainian cities, people, culture, and language are descended from Kievan Rus’, along with Russia and Belarus equally. These three peoples are all Rus’ folk. When I say they are Rusians, in this case, I do not mean Carpatho-Russian/Rusyn, though they to belong to Rus, but I am referring to the Ancient Land of Rus’, the first East Slavic State
Ukrainians don’t deny that the ancient nation which existed on the territory of modern Ukraine was called Rus’. They claim it as their own, in fact, calling it Ukraina-Rus’ (adding the word Ukraine to it, which was not used historically for the nation).
The Borderland of Rus’
The word Ukraine, originally meant, and still means, borderland, a fact supported by even official Ukrainian language academic sources.
The word Ukraine even appears in a 16th-century translation of the Gospel of Matthew (Matthew 19:1), called the Peresopnytsia Gospel, in which the word Ukraine refers to the shoreline, of either the Jordan River, or the Sea of Galilee.
Historically, the term for what Ukrainians considered “Ancient Ukraine”, but in reality was the motherland of Modern Russians, Ukrainians, and Belarusians equally, are Rus’.
Ukrainians do not deny their connection to Rus’, but they simply claim that they are true descendants of the citizens of this state, as opposed to Russians. That is absurd, if you think about it. The map below shows Kievan Rus’ was spread equally among the territories of the modern Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus. How are Berlin folk more German than Bavarians?
If Ukrainians are Rusian, why are they called Ukrainian?
Ukrainians, or rather, the current forces in power, within Ukraine, claim that they are the true descendants of Rus, as noted, they think they’re more Rusian than the Russians. If one thinks about that for a moment, they realize it is ridiculous. If Rus’ is the state, then the obvious ethnonym for its people would be Rusian, or Rusky.
From Rus’ to Russia – Ot Rusi do Rossii
The extra s, in Russian, is a result of Russian people choosing to use the Greek spelling for Rus’ – Rossia, to reflect the belief that Moscow was (is) the Third Rome, when Ivan the Great married Sophia Paloelogos, the niece of the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Emperor.
Eventually, the term Rus’ in Russian began to refer to the ancient period, before Ivan the Great in the 15th century, and Rossia began to be used for modern Russia, from the Renaissance period onward.
It is obvious, however, that Russia is related to the word Rus’, and likewise, Belarus is clearly related as well, but how do you get Ukraine from Rus? Simple…you don’t.
The Ukrainian identity was pushed on the native people of the modern Western Ukraine (Galicia and Bukovina provinces), who called themselves historically Ruthenians (which is Latin for Rusian), but were encouraged to replace this word entirely with Ukrainian.
This was part of the plot of the Austro-Hungarian government, with the aim to root out in those people, their self identification as closely related to Russians, and their growing aspirations to join Russian Empire.
The grim history of Ruthenian oppression before WWI, and their mass repressions and murders in 1914-1917 by Austria-Hungary is comprehensively described by Rostislav Ischenko in his book “Galicia vs Novorossia: the future of Russian World”
Different parts of modern Ukraine, after the 1300s, were occupied and ruled by many different powers, especially Poland-Lithuania and Austro-Hungary. It was from these Empires, that some Ukrainians developed a mentality that they were different from Russians. It was an intentional plan – divide and conquer.
Before that came to pass, Ukraine was a part of the Ancient Rus’, however, it was the invasion of the Mongolians that began the division, when Kiev fell in 1240, ending the Kievan Rus period. The territory of what is now modern Russia remained under Mongol Yoke, while the territory of modern Ukraine and Belarus would be dominated by Poland and Lithuania, who by the 16th century, would merge into a single state – the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.
During the Mongol-Tatar Yoke (1237-1480) Russians had to pay tribute to the Golden Horde (Mongols) and Russian princes had to receive as confirmation of their power “yarlyks” from Mongol khans.
Still, Mongols did not intermingle much with Russians, nor did they attempt to change their religion in a major way. Mongols were steppe nomads, and unlike Europeans, they had little interest in physically occupying and culturally/ethnolinguistically assimilating Europeans, like Russians, who were too foreign to them.
They left the Russians be, so long as they accepted this vassal relationship, but this also meant that Russians would still be able to think independently, not being ruled by a people who wanted to ethnically erase them. There was still room for Russian national development, so Russia eventually overthrew the Mongols, when the Moscowite princes managed to reunite other principalities of the former Kievan Rus.
Ukraine, however, was not so lucky to be occupied by an Empire that did not care to meddle in their internal affairs.
From Rus’ to Ukraine
Culturally similar Slavic Poles, and their Lithuanian partners heavily influenced the culture, and day to day life of Ukraine, as they ruled and occupied it. Ukraine, or rather, what was the central and western parts of Kievan Rus’, was partitioned into the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, and their self-rule ceased to exist completely.
The Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth ruled Ukraine, and began to try and change the people, to make them more similar to their Polish-Catholic overlords. This culminated in the Ukraine of Brest (1595-1596), a treasonous union, when the Vatican got some Orthodox Bishops to unite with the Roman Catholic Church, betraying the locals who were Orthodox Rusians (Ruthenians). They went to bed Orthodox, and woke up Catholic.
Reunification of Russia and Ukraine
Eventually, for this and many reasons, including severe economic oppression of Rusians, the Cossacks, Orthodox warriors who lived in the wild fields of Southern Ukraine united under Bogdan Khmelnitsky, and in 1654, drove the Poles away from the central Ukraine, and decided to pledge allegiance to the Russian Czar to reunite with Russia. When they resisted the West, and rejoined their people, Zaporozhian Cossacks (the ancestors of many Ukrainians), did in 1654, what Crimeans did in 2014.
This map below shows the evolution of the Ukraine’s territory. Notice how Austro-Hungary eventually ruled far Western Ukraine, and the further west you go, the longer it was until union with Russia. Austro-Hungary kept control of Galicia and Bukovina, and it was from there, they forced many Ruthenians to identify as Ukrainians, in the 19th century, up until WW1. To be clear, there was no true ethnic difference between a Ruthenian or a Ukrainian, it was not like they were two separate nations.
The name Ukraine was rather a cultural project, designed to make Ruthenians forget their connection to Rus’, and make them more docile vassals of western powers.
They wanted them to forget all about ‘Holy Rus’, Great Rus’, Orthodox Rus’, and by extension, not wish to recreate Kievan Rus’, by joining with Russia.
Crimea, which had been ruled by Tatars since the beginning of Mongol-Tatar Yoke, had never a part of Ukraine at any point in its history. It began as a Greek colony, and then became a part of the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire.
In 1475, the Ottoman Empire conquered the Genoese colonies, and also the last bastion of the Byzantine Empire, the Principality of Theodoro, inhabited by Orthodox Christians (Greeks, Alans, Goths, etc.) by up to 200 thousand people.
The maps above shows the point at which Crimea was rejoined with Russia. Crimea’s history essentially goes, in a very abridged way:
- Ancient peoples: Greeks/Scythians, Persians, 600 B.C to 63 B.C.
- Roman Empire 63 B.C.
- Eastern Roman Empire 800s to 1220s Mongol invasion. Tatars spread across all of the Pontic Steppe and Crimea.
- Venise and Genose briefly rule in 13th century
- Crimean Khanate begins in 1449, and continues until 1783
- Between 1475-78, Ottomans invade, establish presence in what is now Southern Ukraine, Crimean khanate becomes vassal of Ottomans.
- New Russian Period, Catherine the Great liberates Crimea in 1783, and Crimea joins the Russian Empire as a part of Novorossia.
- Soviet period between 1921-1991
- Khrushchev gives Crimea to Ukrainian Soviet Republic in 1954
- Crimea becomes a part of independent modern Ukraine in 1991
- Crimeans vote to rejoin Russia in 2014
In short, as you can see, Crimea was never a part of any Slavic country at all until 1783, when it joined the Russian Empire. Crimea certainly was never a part of Ukraine in old history.
It is also worth noting that the accession of Crimea in 1783 was peaceful, the result of diplomatic negotiations between Russia, the Ottoman Empire, and the Crimean Khan Girey.
New Russia (Novorossia)
Effectively all of the cities in Southern Ukraine, including Odessa, Mikolaiv, Kherson, as well as Crimean Sevastopol, Simferopol, Yalta, etc. were built in this period (late 18th century) by the Russian Empire. They were NOT part of Ancient Kievan Rus, and much like the concept of “Ancient Ukraine”, they did not exist.
They were not part of the old Russia, or the Ukraine occupied by Poland, but instead, they were cities built in the frontier, in the borderlands and Wild Field, that during the Ancient Rus period was raided by Polovtsians (Cumans), Khazars and Pechenegs, and became New Russia in the 18th century.
For this reason, the southern portion of Ukraine was called New Russia (Novorossia), to contrast with Little Russia (Malorossia), which is the term used for the central region which was formally Kievan Rus’ (Kiev, Cherkassy, Pereslavl, Poltava, Chernigov, etc.
Ukraine is Two Countries
In the most simplistic of ways, you can say that when talking about Ukraine, you are speaking about two different countries: the East and the West.
Ukraine was once divided during the Polish period, along the River Dnipro into left and right bank Ukraine for this reason.
In general, this is an accurate division, reflected in Ukraine’s demographics, and mindsets displayed broadly across these regions. Indeed, the country is historically divided into East and West.
While the West is distinct from the East, this does not mean that historically speaking, the West, even Lviv was any less Rusian than the East. The West was simply occupied for the longest period of time by Poland and Austro-Hungary, so the Russian culture was persecuted and suppressed there the most.
Still, in Galicia, the far western region, in Zakarpattya (Transcarpathia), we can see the suffering of Russians quite acutely, in the persecution of the Carpatho-Russians, also called Rusyns, and their intellectual movement, the Galacian Russophiles, whose feelings of brotherhood with Russians can be summed up in the words of Father Ivan Naumovich. This Carpatho-Russian Priest wrote a book called “A Glimpse into the Future” which reads:
The time has come . . . to cross our Rubicon and say openly so that everyone can hear it: We cannot be separated by a Chinese wall from our brothers and cannot stand apart from the linguistic, ecclesiastical, and national connection with the entire Russian world!
Carpatho-Russians were brutally persecuted by Austria-Hungary for their culture and even mere possession of Russian literature. They were often under forced pressure to convert from ancestral Russian Orthodoxy to the Uniate Catholic Faith, and to identify as Ukrainians.
History repeats itself. For centuries the Great Pochaev Lavra was a fortress of Orthodoxy under years of Uniate persecution. There, Saint Job of Pochaev, together with Polish-Lithuanian Prince of Ruthenian blood, Konstantine Vasil Ostrogski, fought to preserve the Church Slavonic language, by printing the first book in this old Slavic tounge, when Catholics were trying to force everything to be served in Latin.
Those events in Western Ukraine were in the 16th-17th century, but that persecution never ended, and continued under Austro-Hungary and even into the 21st century.
A perfect example of this suffering, is the life of Hieromartyr Saint Maxim Sandovich, a Priest born in Lemkivshina, a Ruthenian land now in modern Poland. He studied at the great Pochaev Lavra, showing how history repeats itself.
He was murdered in front of his family, and pregnant wife by the Austro-Hungarian authorities, and his final words were
“Long Live the Russian People! Long Live Holy Russia and all Slavs! Long Live the Holy Orthodox Faith!”
His story is a microcosm of what happened to the Russian people, when the Carpathian Mountains in Galicia became like a Second Golgotha, when the Rivers Tisa and Bug flowed with blood like the Nile. There, the Russian spirit was kept in bondage, and it still suffers greatly to this day. Luckily, the Russian Spirit is among the few which knows how to flourish like a phoenix in suffering.
Far Western Ukraine, however, has always been more hostile to Russian culture, as it was the birthplace of the Uniate sect, and later, where the Austro-Hungarians began their policy of Ukrainianization from the 19th century until WW1.
Famous WW2 Nazi collaborator Stepan Bandera, who united with Hitler, was a Uniate, and he continued this legacy of purging Russian culture from Ukraine. His “Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists” (OUN) became the source of servicemen to Waffen-SS division Galicia.
Bandera envisioned the Ukraine as a classic one-party state, with himself in the role of führer (providnyk), and expected that a new Ukraine would take its place under the Nazi umbrella.
Bandera was officially proclaimed a Hero by the Ukrainian government in 2010 and idolized by ultra nationalists after the Maidan coup in 2014.
It was the rise of this extreme neo-Nazism, which we saw in Korsun, Cherkasy region, in February 2014, when Ukrainian armed extremists attacked 8 buses with Crimeans, who participated in the anti-Maidan protests, and were returning home after the snipers massacre.
This was another event which caused Crimeans to want to leave Ukraine, and return to Russia.
It was the mass murder in Odessa, in May 2014, when scores of innocents, including pregnant women, were burned alive which convinced Crimeans that they made the right decision.
This form of extreme Ukrainian nationalism comes primarily from Far Western Ukraine (Galicia), and that is what makes the far west distinct from the near west and central regions.
Even to this day you can find people in Malorossia, and in Novorossia (a majority in Donbass), who feel they are brothers with Russians. Most speak Russian as a primary language anyways, and you’d be hard pressed to find someone who does not have some form of relatives in Russia.
I would argue from personal experience, that the people of these regions are merely being silent about what they truly feel about Ukraine and Russia, taking the attitude of “Moya hata za Krayu” (it’s none of my business).
Many would express Pro-Russian views if they felt safer. You can still hear people saying: Россия, Україна и Беларусь, вместе мы – святая Русь – (‘Rossia, Ukrainina, i Belorus’, vmesto my Svyataya Rus’) or Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus, together, we are Holy Rus’.
I have believed this since my earliest memories, and this is confirmed by the words of Orthodox Saints like Lavrenty of Chernigov, who was born in 1868 in Chernigov, Russian Empire, and reposed (died) on the Feast of Theophany, 1950, Ukraine CCP.
These regions could theoretically, in the future, unite with Russia, however Galicia (and some in Malorossia today) may never want that.
Many Western Ukrainians, however, truly see themselves as different from other Ukrainians, and Russophilia has almost been completely erased from history there.
While Far Western Ukraine can still be grouped politically and culturally with central Ukraine, generally speaking, it is the only region where Uniates are a majority in some areas, and where the Ukrainian nationalist sentiment is the highest. Galicia is very different from the rest of Ukraine.
Ukraine is Three Countries
As a result, Ukraine is really, more like three countries, rather than two:
- Little Russia – Malorossia, Central Historical region of Rus’)
- New Russia – Novorossia was southern and eastern Ukraine)
- Galicia–Volhynia – the far west, the only region ruled by both Poland AND Austro-Hungary. This region includes Transcarpathia.
Ukraine is best understood as a merging of several historical regions, all of them related to an extent, but some having more in common with neighboring countries (Russia or Poland), than they do with other regions of Ukraine. Ukraine is not a united nation-state.
Ukrainians in fact, have the Soviet Union to thank, for repatriating Carpatho-Russians from Slovakia and Poland to Ukraine, and forming the Ukrainian state, which would not have existed were it not for the Bolsheviks.
Despite the narrative about Soviet oppression (the Bolsheviks oppressed Russians the most of any Soviet people), the Soviet Union did what the Russian, Austro-Hungarian, and Polish-Lithuanian Empires never could do – not only united the left bank and right bank Ukraine, but also substantially enlarged its territory, by assigning Novorossia (including Crimea) to the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic that they established.
Upon Khrushchev’s initiative, on 300th anniversary of the Ukraine’s reunification with Russia, Crimea was transferred from the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (that became Russian Federation in 1991) to the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic in violation of the Constitution of the USSR, and without asking for the opinion of Crimea population, further complicating things, though Crimea was always predominantly Russian speaking.
I have written about the languages of Ukraine here, for those interested.
In conclusion, if President Trump truly said Crimea is Russian, he is very right. Crimea is Russian both by self-determination of its people, when they voted on 16 March 2014 for reunification with Russia, as well as obvious logic.
Crimea, was in fact, the site of the baptism of Equal-to-the-Apostles High King (Grand Prince) Vladimir of Kiev, beginning the period known in history as Holy Rus’ or Holy Russia.
Crimea has been filled with the stories of great Russians, like Saint Luke, the Archbishop of Crimea, who also happened to be not only a Physician, but one of the most talented surgeons in Russian history. Check out the above link to learn more. From a secular perspective, he was an amazing surgeon, and Christians believe his medical talents were in fact, miraculous. He created many unheard of, and lifesaving surgery methods for the first time in human history.
Crimea was once an Ancient Greek colony, leaving behind wonders like this Dormition Caves Monastery, which later was expanded on by Russian monks.
Crimea is a crucial part of Russian history and culture, and if President Trump recognizes that, he is not “siding with Russia”, he is simply being smart, by accepting the obvious fact which was always there. Crimea is Russian.