Russification and Kherson

Nadin Brzezinski
3 min readMar 17, 2022
A recent photo shared a pro Russian Telegram Channel

There are reports emerging that the Russian Federation is arresting local politicians. They are also imposing pro-Russian administrative authorities. They did this in Donetsk, Luhansk, and Crimea in 2014. This is the policy of Russification and it is not new. Vladimir Putin and his people did not come up with this one.

It is called Russification. It goes all the way to the tzars. The idea is that Russia is the Third Rome. The term tzar is Caesar in English. This project is old. This idea that Russia is the Third Rome, and a worthy successor to the Empire.

Empires don’t deal well with cultures that develop a national identity. Ukraine, like many European nations, did this starting in the Romantic
Period. National poetry and the revival of language were central to this period. In the time it would lead to the unification of Italy, for example. In Ukraine, this would lead to the rise of a clear national identity.

This is a land on the periphery of several empires, not just Russia. But as far as Russia was concerned, this is little Russia, the frontier, the southwest of the empire. This is Russian land, not Ukraine. Why the language was forbidden. This is why forward-looking urban populations spoke Russian, not Ukrainian. This is why language became the front line of division, and serfs, later peasants, were distrusted.

During the Revolution of 1919 language and physical occupation became the front line. Genocide, as in cultural thought became central to the soviets. Control of grain, which is back, was central as well. Russification once again meant the end of Ukraine as a nation and a language.

Fast forward to Luhansk, Crimea, and Donetsk in 2014. It was the same policy. So are recent events in Kherson. Putin and his people did not come up with any of this. It’s old, but the effects are the same. They intend to homogenize the people into Russians. If they don’t like it, they can die. This is why there are kill lists of Ukrainian politicians.

It’s important to understand these things.

There are a few things that could be happening already. We have heard rumors, but the only evidence is in the history of the region. It involves grain. Russia may decide to take wheat, as much as they can, from Ukraine to Russia. The reality is that Russia might have issues feeding itself.

This happened both in 1919 and in the Holodomor. Food shortages are already a reality in Russia. Vladimir Lenin knew the importance of wheat and bread. So did Joseph Stalin. You can bet so does Vladimir Putin.

By the way, sources for this are Anne Applebaum’s Red Famine, as well as Richard Pipes's The Russian Revolution. And of course, current events in Ukraine.

History does not exactly repeat itself. But it definitely has echoes.

Nadin Brzezinski

Historian by training. Former day to day reporter. Sometimes a geek who enjoys a good miniatures game. You can find me at CounterSocial, Mastodon and rarely FB