08/11/2014 08:53 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

The Irony of Current Russian-Ukrainian Relations


In all the wise commentary on the tragic Russia-Ukraine situation, I have seen few observations (admissions?) that 20th-century Ukraine is essentially a Soviet geopolitical construction, although by now it is common knowledge that Khrushchev made Crimea part of Ukraine in 1954.

I need not repeat summaries of the history of Soviet-created Ukraine; they are available (granted, through various interpretations, on the Internet). As for the immensely talented and cultivated people living in the former Ukraine SSR, they more than ever deserve global admiration for their unique achievements, given the political oppression they have endured for centuries under various empires (vampires?)/regimes. Gogol and Shevchenko didn't come out of nowhere.

History is full of ironies. But it does seem particularly ironic that the President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, reportedly nostalgic about the USSR, is -- by questioning the territorial integrity of communist-imagined Ukraine -- further dismantling the now-defunct Soviet Union.

In VVP's pre-Bolshevik, tsarist imperial dreams, Mother Russia should not limit herself to being only one member of that passé geographical expression, the USSR. Granted, Russia SSR was numero uno among the so-called Soviet republics. But that hegemonic position among "equals" is not enough for Tsar Vlad. He aims for nothing less -- I surmise from "news" reports -- than the absorption, by Russia, of "Made in the USSR" Ukraine/sections of what was the Ukraine SSR. In his words, "We need a great Russia." His reasons? Quien sabe.

Allow me to stretch historical irony to an intellectual breaking point. Is Putin, supposedly an admirer of the good old CCCP, who is described by one of his star TV propagandists as "comparable among his predecessors in the twentieth century only with Stalin," not in fact a traitor by Soviet standards? How would Stalin have reacted to a minor ex-KGB agent's efforts to place more nails in the Soviet coffin?

Such ideological misbehavior could of course be done with by "liquidating" VVP by means of an anti-Putin 1930s Moscow-style trial. Or maybe hard-nosed communist admirers of non-ethnically Russian, Georgia native Uncle Joe could offload russkii Volodya on exile to yet another former SSR republic (Georgia), Stalin's birthplace, known among culinary experts for its exceptional food and wine?

But that of course would be too generous by Stalin's standards. Under the mustached Man of Steel, Vladimir Vladimirovich would more likely end up in a Siberian Gulag, where he would keep himself mentally warm (and here I am, of course, adding a scene to the theater of the absurd defining Russian-Ukrainian relations today) by VV praying en cachette for an American visa, all the while keeping his half-frozen fingers

crossed that his daughter would keep on living comfortably in Holland in case papa couldn't make it to Brighton Beach under the excuse of being an anti-Soviet "dissident"...

Top image (flag of Ukraine SSR) from; Shevchenko image from; pizza image from; Putin/daughter image from article under the headline "Dutch furious after Putin's daughter is found living in Holland"