‘Two Ukraines’ Reconsidered: The End of Ukrainian Ambivalence?
By Mykola Riabchuk
Volume 15, Issue 1, pages 138-156
The 2014 Russo-Ukrainian war, euphemistically called the ‘Ukraine crisis’, has largely confirmed, on certain accounts, a dramatic split of the country and people’s loyalties between the proverbial ‘East’ and ‘West’, between the ‘Eurasian’ and ‘European’ ways of development epitomized by Russia and the European Union. By other accounts, however, it has proved that the Ukrainian nation is much more united than many experts and policymakers expected, and that the public support for the Russian invasion, beyond the occupied regions of Donbas and Crimea, is close to nil. This article does not deny that Ukraine is divided in many respects but argues that the main – and indeed the only important – divide is not between ethnic Russians and Ukrainians, or Russophones and Ukrainophones, or the ‘East’ and the ‘West’. The main fault line is ideological – between two different types of Ukrainian identity: non/anti-Soviet and post/neo-Soviet, ‘European’ and ‘East Slavonic’. All other factors, such as ethnicity, language, region, income, education, or age, correlate to a different degree with the main one. However divisive those factors might be, the external threat to the nation makes them largely irrelevant, bringing instead to the fore the crucial issue of values epitomized in two different types of Ukrainian identity.
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