Destinations Magazine

Putin the Uniter

By Stizzard
Putin the uniter A message to Russia

MIKHAIL ZABRODSKY, the broad-shouldered commander of Ukraine’s airborne troops, came of age in the Soviet Union. After the Soviet collapse he even served in the Russian army. When he moved home to Ukraine he stayed in touch. “We were all friends,” he says, shaking his head. When Russia turned its guns on Ukraine last year, Mr Zabrodsky “couldn’t believe it.” He was not alone.

Ties between the two countries, forged over more than a millennium, are deep. Russia and Ukraine both trace their lineage to a Slavic prince, St Vladimir (or Volodymyr), who appears on both countries’ banknotes. For centuries, tsarist Russia claimed Ukraine as an extension, calling the territory “Little Russia”. Under the Soviet Union, the narrative shifted to one of brotherhood, with the Communists presenting Russia and Ukraine as parts of an inseparable Slavic family. When Khrushchev as Soviet leader gave Crimea to Ukraine in 1954, he was marking the 300th anniversary of the Pereyeslav Rada, a compact joining Cossack-ruled territory in Ukraine to the Russian empire. In 1982 a silver titanium “Arch of Friendship” in honor of “the reunification of…

The Economist: Europe

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