Russian Vs Ukraine

The first few months of the conflict have been tough for Ukraine, but it is still far from a lost cause. The Ukrainian army is slowly gaining ground against the invaders, and missile strikes against power, heat, and water utilities in Kyiv have prompted citizens to become more resolute about their resistance to Russian aggression.

Russia’s military strategy in Ukraine, which it called a “special operation,” was based on the assumption that many Ukrainians—especially those living in the eastern part of the country—would accept some form of reintegration into a Russian sphere of influence because of long-standing cultural, linguistic, and religious ties. It also seemed to assume that the government of President Petro Poroshenko would not stand in the way.

But that assumption proved misguided. As the eight-year conflict between Ukraine and Russia-backed separatists rumbled on, Ukraine developed an increasingly robust civic nationalism that brought together Ukrainian speakers of all linguistic backgrounds behind the government led by Volodymyr Zelensky.

The concept of a unified, tripartite “all-Russian” people—comprised of Great (Russian), Little (Ukrainian), and White (Belarusian) Russians—has had a deep pedigree in elite Russian thought since the early modern period, when the grand Duchy of Moscow began bringing disparate East Slavic lands and peoples under its control. It continues to shape not only elite discourse but political practice. Even so, the idea of a Ukrainian-Russian marriage has grown less and less tenable in recent years. The rapid consolidation of Ukrainian civic national identity—which has boosted the popularity of Zelensky and, more generally, of the government in Kiev—is a direct challenge to Russia’s claim that Ukraine is its natural ally.