World » Former USSR
Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov

History does repeat itself: Novorossiya

By Gaither Stewart

It has been said that a nation is simply the spiritual body that a people acquires during the course of its history.

Novorossiya or New Russia, so absent in mainstream media and so present in alternative news sources today, is popularly believed to be a fleeting matter, simply a new name created ex-novo for effect by the local militias of southeastern Ukrainians today fighting and defeating the Ukrainian regular army troops invading their territories. In doing so the people of Novorossiya are also shattering the dream of American President Obama. The truth is the people of this region are closely linked to the history of their lands.

According to Alexander Zakharenko, field commander and Prime Minister of the Donetsk Peoples' Republic (DPR) in southeastern Ukraine speaking at a recent press conference, invaders from West Ukraine run or surrender at the first shot. The American-financed troops, conscripted by force by the puppet state in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev, simply don't measure up to the warriors of the southeast Ukraine who are defending their lands, their cities and villages, and their families. The point is that the regular army troops are demotivated and scared and want to return to their homes in West Ukraine. Besides, many Ukrainian soldiers do not want to shoot at their fellow countrymen. Therefore they either desert to the so-called Separatists of the DPR, or flee.

People following the US-instigated attack on the now adequately armed and experienced militias of the Donetsk and Lugansk peoples' republics by troops of the American puppet regime installed in Ukraine after the illegal overthrow of the legal government and "regime change" in Kiev will be surprised to learn that Novorossiya has been the name of the territory north of the Black Sea for over 200 years, long before the Napoleonic invasion of Russia. Since Tsarist Russia annexed the area following the conclusion of the Russo-Turkish War in 1774, the area has been known as Novorossiya. Already in the late 18th century Russians, Ukrainians, Germans, even some Italians, and a mishmash of other peoples colonized the region and established major cities such as beautiful Odessa and Donetsk, now the capital of the Donetsk Peoples' Republic.

Time passed. Situations altered. Much happened in this area between the Crimean War (1853-55) and today: western interventions in Russia, Nazi Germany's invasion and defeat in WWII, Cold War, sanctions against Russia in these days, and the West's unconcealed envy of Russia's space, one-sixth of the Earth's surface and its natural resources.

In the historian's eyes the history of Western relations with Russia has continuously repeated itself since the 1800s into the 1900s and the 2000s. These repetitions, for example the tradition of Allied interventions in Russia, are not the most inspiring aspect of what has happened time and again in our world. A Russian cultural historian, Vladimir Weidlé, whom I once interviewed in Rome, said that the "Slavic-Orthodox world would never be that of Roman-Germanic Europe" because their respective heritages at the outset were so different. He claimed there was not just one Europe, but two Europes, disunited but as strange one to the other as the Arabian world from the world of China.

This division between USA/West Europe and Russia amounts to an absolute schism. That schism has apparently fostered, on the one hand, jealousies and envies one for the other. On the other hand the schism has strangely created a sense of superiority in West Europeans and Americans vis-à-vis Russia. A missionary kind of zeal infects the USA to stamp out the heresy of Socialism in the neocon view still alive in Russia, which, in turn, is the "infection" that has prompted some of the western military interventions in Russia.

For three centuries the West has assaulted Russia with regularity,  in almost 50 year intervals, always seeking to contain her, conquer her, occupy her, exploit her and above all destroy her.

However, the reality is that Russia is not Oriental, but also part of Europe, in this case however, a Europe of the East. Despite Arab influences in Europe, Cervantes, Weidlé noted as an example, was not a Moor, nor Pushkin a Mongol. In the same manner the centuries of Tartar occupation of Russia, likewise Lenin with his face of Mongolian cast was not a Tartar. Nonetheless, today Russia's eyes have turned eastwards because of pressures from the West.

Still, the geographical situation of Russia has pointed the path of its expansion and the very shape of the empire, but not the direction its cultural development has taken. Weidlé believed that the invasion of Russia by Asian Tartars changed the very roots of Russia, yet such non-European elements do not really belong to her history but to the raw materials of her nature. The Russian language shows certain analogies to the languages of Turco-Tartary; but Russian developed from Greek, to which was added the influence of the literary languages of Western Europe. The Asiatic influences that appear from time to time in Russia have thus far been fleeting. Here, again, its geographical position on the map assumes important historical importance.

When Tsardom finally collapsed in the early 20th century, it had crushed one revolutionary movement after the other during most of the 19th century. Trotsky wrote in his autobiography, My Life, that "the best elements of that generation went up in the blaze of dynamite warfare" (that is, in the blaze of revolutionary terrorism). Tsardom fell to continuing revolutionary fever spread throughout Russia and to the pressures of WWI and the huge losses Russia suffered. In fact, it was the very force of the history of European capitalism and the Russian Revolution that changed everything in Russia.

In 1918, the region of Novorossiya-where battles between local militias and regular Ukrainian army troops have raged since last May-was incorporated by the new Soviet government into Russia, which eventually transferred the territory to the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic. It was a purely administrative move, for it changed nothing since the Ukraine then was an integral part of the USSR. Then following the collapse of the Soviet Union, the term Novorossiya began to be used again in calls for the independence of the region, including the rich Donbass with its great Russian majority corresponding to the historical area of Novorossiya in today's southeastern Ukraine. (The map accompanying this piece shows clearly the Novorossiya borders on Russia and the Crimean peninsula recently annexed by Russia.)

It must be kept in mind that the borders of the Russian world extend significantly farther than the borders of the Russian Federation. There is Russia and there is also "Greater Russia" in the same manner as our big cities today consist of the city proper and the surrounding metropolitan areas. For example there is Paris-the city proper-and Greater Paris, including regions extending in all directions far from the Place de la Concorde.

As an example of Greater Russia, in a 1994 interview, the head of the separatist state of Socialist/Communist, Russian-speaking Transnistria, a breakaway state from Moldova, also bordering on Novorossiya, said that that state was "an inalienable part of the Russian state's southern regions", including also the city of Odessa, the Crimea, and other Ukrainian oblasts, all of which were collectively part of the historical Novorossiya region. Dmitry Trenin of the Carnegie Moscow Center wrote that in 2003 some Russian academics had again discussed the idea of a pro-Russia Novorossiya state being formed out of southeastern Ukraine as a response to the US Drang Nach Osten-including its desire to bring Ukraine into NATO and the occupation of areas bordering Russia.

The former Russian Empire was ultimately vanquished by history. Then also the USSR collapsed because of the economic pressures from the capitalist West during the Cold War, especially the intentional dislocations brought about by the constant arms race.

Today, the self-declared Federal State of Novorossiya is a confederation of the Donetsk People's Republic and the Lugansk People's Republic. Though internationally unrecognized, both are breakaway states claiming independence from Ukraine. The envisaged extent of the state will most likely one day encompass not only the Ukrainian administrative areas of Donetsk and Luhansk, (in Russian, Lugansk), but also the present Ukrainian cities and surrounding areas of Kharkov, Kherson, Odessa, Zaporrizhi and Dniepropetrovsk as well as the Russian-speaking Transnistria Republic. All of these areas which the USA/NATO threatens border with Novorossiya.

The Cold War, and its consequent bloated defense spending due to the US-imposed arms race, was an extraordinary burden on the Soviet economy. It stunted its ability to "deliver the goods", the fruits of revolution to the ordinary citizen, thereby "proving", as the Americans claimed, that socialism was inferior.  It eventually contributed greatly to the USSR's implosion.

The Novorossiya territory is internationally considered as sovereign territory of the Ukrainian state. Western media write of a southeastern Ukraine run by "terrorists" and moreover backed by the great "Satan" of Russia, Vladimir Putin. Despite Washington's frustration because of the failure to bring Ukraine into NATO, its neocons remain intent on intervening in Ukraine against Russia, subduing the Novorossiya independence movement, and placing US/NATO Lily Pad-style military bases along Russia's borders.

Gaither Stewart

Senior Editor Gaither Stewart serves as European Correspondent for The Greanville Post and Cyrano's Journal Today.  He is also TGP's director of the Russia Desk. 

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