Putin Denies the Ukrainian Identity, аnd the Accusations of Alleged Genocide Are Just an Excuse for Attacking Ukraine

Photo: kremlin.ru

Photo: kremlin.ru

The post is a manipulative disinformation claiming that Russia does not deny Ukrainian identity, but is defending the Russian minority suffering genocide by some installed authorities. All of this is wrong and consistent with the Russian interpretation of things with which Putin justified his attack on Ukraine

We are fact-checking a post on Facebook (screenshot here) that contains manipulative claims related to the war in Ukraine. The post, inter alia, claims the following:

First, Russia does not deny Ukrainian identity, nor self-determination. With the military operation, Russia simply defends the Russian minority in Ukraine from the repression and genocide performed by neoliberal Quislings installed in Ukraine. If one tries to draw a paralel between our situation with that of Ukraine, then we Macedonians are playing the role of the Russian minority in Ukraine, while the Bulgarians are playing the role of Ukro-Nazis.

First, it is not true that Russia does not deny Ukrainian identity and self-determination, which can be seen from the statements made by the Russian president, Vladimir Putin.

As Putin ordered the troops into two rebel-held regions in Eastern Ukraine, Donetsk and Luhansk, recognizing them as independent, he returned to a familiar argument that the Kremlin has pushed for years: that Ukraine’s claim to statehood is entirely baseless. In a television address to the nation (21.02.2023), Putin explicitly denied that Ukraine had ever had “real statehood” and said the country was an integral part of Russia’s “own history, culture and spiritual space”.

Putin’s speech, which went on for nearly an hour, was a new twist in the long-running battle to define Ukraine’s place in the world. In it, Putin set out his belief more forcefully than ever before that Ukraine is intrinsically Russian, that its three decades as a nation-state have been incoherent and that the country owes its existence to a series of mistakes by bumbling Soviet leaders.

In the televised address, Putin repeated his concern over NATO’s possible expansion into Ukraine, describing it as “direct threat” for the national security of Russia and produced provocative interpretations of Ukraine’s history.

The Russian President, inter alia, claimed that “Ukraine has never had a tradition of real statehood” and that the nation now known as Ukrainian was created by the Soviet leader Vladimir Ilyich Lenin who “carved out” this Soviet republic from the Russian land.

He gave a series of similar arguments in the article published 2021 under the title “On Historical Unity of Russians and Ukrainians”.

In his address, Putin elaborated his claim that Ukrainians and Russians were “one people”. For example, Putin asserts that Ukraine did not exist as a separate state and was never a nation. Instead, he claims, Ukrainian nationality was always an integral part of the triune nation: Russian, Belarusian and Ukrainian. In addition, Putin specifies that the Russians, Ukrainians and Belarusians have a common heritage – the heritage of the empire known as Kiev Russia (862–1242), which was a loose medieval political federation located on the territory of today’s Belarus, Ukraine and part of Russia.

In 2019, Putin said that Russian and Ukrainians constitute one nation and that the countries should find a way to integrate. These comments were made by the President in the interview with the famous American film director Oliver Stone on 19th June 2019. Material from the interview was used in Stone’s film about Ukraine, while the full transcript was published by the Kremlin.

I believe that Russians and Ukrainians are one people… one nation, in fact. When these lands that are now the core of Ukraine joined Russia… nobody thought of themselves as anything but Russian. In light of this bond we can use this as our competitive advantage during some form of integration, Putin said.

Second, it is not true that in Ukraine the Russian minority is repressed and genocide is performed, as claimed by the post. Truthmeter has already covered this topic.

In order to justify its attack on Ukraine, Russia is constantly repeating that the “genocide” of Russians in Ukraine performed by Ukrainian national radicals must cease. Two days after Russia’s attack on Ukraine, the Russian Ambassador to North Macedonia, Sergey Bazdnikin, in a column punblished by the newspaper “Nova Makedonija” (New Macedonia), uses the terms “demilitarization” and “denazification” of Ukraine, just like President Putin.

The term “genocide” is defined by the UN Genocide Convention from 1948 as “a crime committed with the intent to destroy a national, ethnic, racial or religious group, in whole or in part”. Even the OSCE missions – that have Moscow’s consent – that conduct investigations in the separatist areas on regular basis have not detected any ground for genocide.

According to UN data from 2021, in the conflicts in Eastern Ukraine, approximately 3000 civilians lost their lives. The OSCE report specifies that the largest number of victims were killed in artillery attacks.
The usage of the term “denazification” in relations to Ukraine is quite incorrect, states political scientist Andreas Umland from the Stockholm Centre for Eastern European Studies (SCEEUS). He notes that the current President of Ukraine is a Jew who defeated a non-Jew candidate in the last elections.

Umland mentions that right-wing extremist forces exist in Ukraine, but they are weak compared to those in other European countries.

In the last elections, the extreme right United Front won only 2,15 percent of the votes, notes Umland.

A military unit with a right-extremist background, active in the beginning of the conflict in Donbas was also target of criticism. However, that group, according to Umland, was integrated in the units of the National Guard. Experts conclude that right-wing extremist groups are of minor significance in Ukraine.

Third, Ukraine does not have “installed neoliberal Quislings”. President of Ukraine is Volodymyr Zelenskyy who was elected on the democratic elections in 2019.

Zelenskyy won in the second round of the Presidential Elections. According to data, he won 73 percent of the votes. Three weeks prior to that he also won in the first round with 39 candidates.

Zelenskyy defeated the President at the time, Petro Poroshenko, who won 25 percent of the votes.
From all of the above-noted, we can conclude that the post is a manipulative disinformation claiming that Russia does not deny Ukrainian identity, but is defending the Russian minority suffering genocide by some installed authorities. All this is wrong and consistent with the Russian interpretation of things with which Putin justified his attack on Ukraine. Hence, the post fact-checked is assessed as untrue.



This article was developed within the framework of the project “Promoting Access to Reliable News to Counter Disinformation”, implemented by the Metamorphosis Foundation. The article, which has been published on the Macedonian-language version of Truthmeter, was produced with the support of the American non-profit foundation NED (National Endowment for Democracy). The contents of the article is the responsibility of the author and do not always reflect the positions of Metamorphosis Foundation, NED or their partners.

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