The idea of a Pan-Slavic movement has been promoted since at least the 1880s (See The Karma of Untruthfulness, by Rudolf Steiner) primarily by Russians of successive regimes. Following the defeat of the Third Reich by the Allied forces Russia used this excuse to take control of the whole of Eastern Europe for 50 years. This idea is not supported by other Slavic folk who declare their own heritage is different from others and unique to themselves. It was on the strength of this feeling that Tito was able to unite various Slavic people under the name of Yugoslavia, the Southern Slavs.
President Putin has already declared that he considers the Russians and Ukrainians are one people. Oddly the Ukrainians do not agree. But it is a common policy of Empires the world over to put their own people in place to govern a conquered nation. It is a policy that has been pursued by Russia since the days of Stalin, when much of the population of Eastern Finland was moved to a distant part of Russia and the land filled with Russians. Just as we see in Palestine.
Between 1934 and 1959 the Russian population in Estonia swelled from just over 90 000 to more than 240 000, increasing to 20 % of the population. By 1989 this had further increased to 30 % but, following the collapse of the Soviet Union, it has fallen to 24 %. Much of the economy in Estonia is under Russian management. No doubt the situation is similar in Ukraine.
We have no word in English for the wilful destruction of a culture by an external entity. Genocide tends to be taken to refer to race. Nevertheless a word is lacking which describes the conscious attempt to subvert and ultimately destroy an alien culture
Once again we see Europe waiting for another sign of imperial aggression, as sanctions are declared against Russia following its invasion of the sovereign state of Ukraine. Already Russia has been fostering discontent in the industrial heartland of that country and Ukraine has had to fight a war on its soil for the past 8 years. The same occurred with Germany in 1938 when Hitler’s armies invaded Czechoslovakia on the pretext of Pan-Germanism. An identical pattern. It was only when Hitler invaded Poland a year later that Europe acted and the Second World War began. It is tantamount to Europe saying, ‘Oops, wait a minute we’re not quite ready.’
No-one takes war lightly. But what suffering can be avoided through acting decisively early on? I don’t expect the pogrom against the Jews we saw in that earlier conflict, but I do fear for the well-being of the Ukrainian people and other states bordering Russia. Already the authorities in Khazakstan have invited Russian troops to help put down insurrection by ‘terrorists’, who would appear to be citizens tired of the corruption and monopolising of the nation’s resources by its leaders. It would appear the current Russian administration intends to re-establish the Soviet bloc. Once more power has turned the head of a politician to believe he or she is invincible.