If Putin’s goal in Ukraine is capturing Kyiv, ethno-nationalism may make compromise impossible

Darrell Todd Maurina
8 min readMar 22, 2022
Russian President Vladimir Putin (via Pixabay)

Anything said in an effort to explain Vladimir Putin’s attack on Ukraine needs an important qualifier. I do **NOT** believe that the attack on Ukraine was justified. However, we need to understand what Putin is doing, and why he is doing it.

I’ve attached a link to an article from the Kremlin — probably the first time I’ve ever done this — that explains, in the Russian president’s own words, why he believes Ukraine and Russia are one country and why he believes that Ukraine has no separate national identity.

Here’s the link: “On the Historical Unity of Russians and Ukrainians” http://en.kremlin.ru/events/president/news/66181

I’ve also included several articles commenting on Putin’s views, including an almost mystical reverence for Kyiv as the cradle of Russian Orthodoxy and the Russian national identity.

Here’s an article by an Orthodox man written back in 2014, “Putin’s Orthodox Jihad,” after the Russian annexation of Crimea, warning about the role of Kyiv in Russian Orthodox history and what could come next: https://20committee.wordpress.com/2014/12/27/putins-orthodox-jihad/

Here’s an article analyzing Putin’s article: https://unherd.com/2022/01/putin-has-history-on-his-side/

And here’s another article analyzing Putin’s article: https://frenchpress.thedispatch.com/p/the-best-of-christian-compassion?

To be clear, my position is definitely **NOT** supportive of Putin’s armed invasion.

I think there were many alternative methods to resolve this dispute. It’s a matter of simple fact that a significant number of people living in Ukraine are ethnic Russians, speak Russian, and at least until a few years ago, would have preferred to be part of Russia. Some readjustments of borders would have been in line with a longstanding principle in Europe that ethnic groups — the Poles, for example — have a legitimate right to statehood based on a shared culture and language and history. That doesn’t necessarily mean all ethnic Russians want to leave Ukraine. There are Russian-speaking parts of Ukraine that don’t want to be part of Russia, and there are parts where the residents probably do want to be part…