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russiaNumerous rather unintelligent Western media often pretend that those who wish to unite Russia, Bielorus and Ukraine or at least strengthen relations between them are all necessarily ideologues in the mould of Alexander Dugin or resurgant Soviet communists. This is not the place for an elaborate meditation on Dugin. Rather, I should like to note that Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, who conservatives would have once given great respect, shares the views espoused by Alexander Dugin on the Ukraine question, and it is no surprise that the West enjoys quoting Dugin rather than reading Solzhenitsyn. For while Alexander Dugin is convinced that Russia is now under attack by NATO and expresses himself like a man without illusions, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn saw that Russia was above all under attack by Western stupidity and forever expressed himself like a Christian. Western stupidity has, of course, thus far caused more harm to the West than to Russia, and the real fear of intelligent Russians is that Western stupidity, combined with arms and funds, will eventually overwhelm Russia after having first brought down the last remnants of Western civilization. Below, I have translated a 1990 letter from Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn to his Ukrainian friend Sviatoslav Karavanski, published in 1993 and fragments from a later interview with Solzhenitsyn published in 2006. Americans should take heed. Solzhenitsyn’s words would make President Reagan roll over in his grave. America in 2014 is supporting the goals of Lenin, helping pummel the city of Donietsk, a historic British city which was a bastion of anti-Leninist resistance and advancing a geopolitical vision dreamt up by German imperialists, pursued by Hitler in the west and Bolsheviks in the east. It is only historical ignorance which makes this possible. To get our bearing, we must revisit Solzhenitsyn who, in the translations that follow, explodes the myths of Western war propaganda as only a man who resisted the Soviet Union can:

Esteemed Mr. Sviatoslav Karavanski,

I deeply respect you for all that you have suffered and for your calm under duress when you were made to suffer. I am happy that I can hear your calm voice, even though your countrymen—from the tribune of the High Committee of the USSR to the far off emigrant newspapers—have concluded on the basis of my writings that I am simply a believer in Greater Russia, a chauvinist, a colonialist, a servant of imperial tyranny, and a “retarded imperialist” at that (as published in Gomin of Ukraine 10.10.1990). Such premeditated blindness and incompetence make one wonder, but also make one alert. Just what are they trying to hide by barking so loud?

I can appeal to you sir, in the hope for mutual understanding, since they have not sought such mutual understanding with me.

With regard to your historical arguments, begining with your reflections on Tatar invasion (at least with respect to Red Rus and not Rus itself), one could elaborate on this matter for quite some time. Yet all such elaborations would pale when compared to the strongest argument which you now fail to make, perhaps because it is so clear: If the hearts of the people of Ukraine desire to seperate from the Soviet Union, then we have nothing to quarrel about. All that is required is a movement of the heart! This was the thrust of my article. I also wrote about this in my Gulag Archipelago (part V, chapter 2). This is why my current view is certainly not without precedent. Yet even you, good sir, have failed to note that I have no quarrel with Ukrainian seperatism, only with the factual state of Ukraine.

Currently, as statues of Lenin are being torn down in Ukraine (as rightly they should be!), why is it that western Ukrainians of all people in that land desire that the state of Ukraine should have the borders made for it by Lenin himself? The borders which Uncle Lenin himself drew up for Ukraine? For the present borders of Ukraine are the result of Lenin seeking for a way to compensate the Ukrainian people for consuming their liberty under Soviet domination. Thus it was Lenin who arbitrarily attached Novorosiya, the Donbas (by which Lenin seperated the Donbas from the anti-Communist counter revolutionaries of Donietsk) as well as attaching parts of the left bank to Ukraine. Later, Krushchev arbitrarily added Crimea to Ukraine. And now Ukrainian nationalists stand firm in defense of their “holy” territorial integrity—of borders created by Lenin?

I wrote in my article (though I suspect no one read what I had to say): “of course, if the Ukrainian nation does indeed wish to go, then no one can dare use force to prevent their departure.” But realize please how heterogenous is this great territory and allow the local people to decide the fate of their districts. And for writing this, I am considered to be a “retarded imperialist?” What of those who forbid the nation from expressing its will, and, along with those democrats and liberty lovers, even fear this expression of national will for some strange reason?

Under such turbulent circumstances, it is impossible to discuss this complex problem through which our two nations have combined together through family ties in hundreds of cities. There is also an additional argument which, to my surprise, you make: you claim that the language which children will speak should not be left to the “whims” of parents, but should be determined by the State? You write that “non-Ukrainians are free to make their choice”. But will you limit the amount of their schools? As for Ukrainians, I understand you to be saying they are not free to choose? Thus you support coercion yet again? No sir, this dictatorship is unnecessary. Let all cultures develop in a natural way.

Zvezda, December 1993

That was Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn in 1990. By 2006, he had become far more alarmed and pesimistic, as we can see from this interview in the Moscow News:

WT: Personally, I think that the three basic components of Christian civilization, Euro-Atlantic civilization—the United States, the European Union and Russia—should all create a strategic alliance with one another sooner or later. If they do not, then our whole civilization will cease to exist. How can we save our European and Atlantic civilization; does it need to be saved?

Solzhenitsyn: Unfortunately, global processes seem to be moving along a direction contrary to your desires. The United States of America are moving their occupation armies into ever newer countries. Such was the case of Bosnia 9 years ago. Such was the case of Kosovo. We have witnessed it over the last 5 years in Afghanistan and over the last 3 years in Iraq. Although in Iraq, the occupation will not survive long. The activities of NATO and, seperately of the United States, do not differ except in minor details. NATO clearly realizes that Russia is not capable of threatening the Alliance and thus NATO methodically and stubbornly develops its military aparatus from Eastern Europe to the south of continental Russia. One sees it in their open support for a variety of color revolutions as well as the paradox of North Atlantic interests taking precedent there over central Asian interests. All of this leaves little doubt: NATO is in the process of encircling Russia and depriving Russia of its independence as a nation state. So, to answer your question: no, allying Russia to a North Atlantic Treaty Organization that uses violent force in various corners of our planet to plant the seeds of an ideology of modern western democracy will not expand Christian civilization, only terminate it.

WT: What is your view about what is happening in Ukraine. And what is your view on the issue of fragmenting the Russian nation (the most fragmented nation in Europe)? Should Russia raise the prospect of uniting all of the Russian and Rus lands if the Ukrainian elites turn their country in the direction of NATO and the EU?

Solzhenitsyn: Events in Ukraine, ever since the time of the referendum in 1991, with its poorly formulated options, have been a constant source of pain and anger to me. I have written and spoken about this often. The fanatic oppression and supression of the Russian language there (a language which polls show is consistently the prefered language of 60% of the people there) is a beastly methodology aimed primarily against the cultural prospects of Ukraine itself. The vast territories which were never part of historic Ukraine, such as Crimea, Novorosiya and the entire southeast were forcibly and arbitrarily consumed into the territory of modern Ukraine and made hostage to Ukraine’s desires to join NATO. Under the Yeltsin presidency, not one meeting was ever held with the Ukrainian President that did not end in Russia capitulating and accepting everything Ukraine requested. Yeltsin uprooted the Black Sea fleet from Sevastopol; something not even Krushchev did under the USSR. It is all a simple minded, indeed simpleton and cruel joke perpetuated against the entire history of XIX and XX century Russia. Given these circumstances, Russia will never, in any way, betray the many millions of Russian speaking peoples in Ukraine. Russia will never abandon the ideal of unity with them.

Moscow News, interview with WT Trietiakov published 28 April/4May 2006

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10 replies to this post
  1. Solzhenitsyn’s clarity of vision and foresight repeatedly leave me astonished. His life is a great gift to the world. Society would do well to heed him, but I am afraid we would do exactly what Harvard did in the late 70s if his voice ever was to be heard – boo him offstage, preferring rather, the comforts of our vices.

  2. To those on facebook who keep insisting on this being a struggle between “democracy” and “evil Putin” – please explain then why the President of Ukraine, Russia and the chief EU diplomat are scheduled to meet for peace talks in that bastion of liberal democracy – Minsk, while the Ukrainian parlament has just been disolved. I can explain it, and the explanation has nothing to do with the simple minded narrative the Western media have propagated.

  3. Those “borders made by Lenin” form a unique memorial to the cruel starvation the Soviets forced on Ukraine in 1930s – to the point that cannibalism, even within families, was resorted to. Some legacy the Russians left the Ukrainians. If I was Ukrainian I would want as little to do as possible with Russia, “Uncle” Solzhenitsyn notwithstanding.

  4. Madame:

    Who are these “Ukranians” you refer to from the 1930s? Do you mean the Citizens of the Soviet Republic of Ukraine? If so – they were not “Ukranians”, Madame, merely citizens of the Soviet Republic of Ukraine . You write “if I was Ukranian” – well – i if you were “Ukranian” in the 1930s, Madame, you would be either Russian or Polish, or Jewish, or German, or British, or perhaps Hungarian or Romanian. You may have lived there long enough to have developed some notion of yourself as a “Ukranian” and you may have earnestly desired a Ukraine nation-state, but more likely than anything, you desired either a return to the Polish nation-State and therefore had joined the forces of Marshal Piłsudzki in the war against the Bolsheviks, or you desired the creation of an Israeli state in Ukraine and thus were a Zionist and Ukranian nationalist, hoping that the new state of Ukraine – with its 30% Jewish population – would be an Israeli state in the “New Palestine” of the heart of Europe, or perhaps you had been a Communist who desired the creation of a Communist state – but if so, you might have wanted merely a Ukrainian Soviet Republic and therefore fought against the Bolsheviks who eventually disintergrated the Federation of Soviet States and eventually formed the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics in its’ place. Or – you might have been a patriot of the Donbas, who wanted to build a Donetsk-Krivoy Rog Soviet Republic. You might also, like Ludvig Von Mises, been an Austrian who was culturally Polish, politically Austrian and born in the Polish city of Lvov inside of the Ukraine. Or maybe you were a Romanian or a Hungarian with ambitions stemming from those national histories?

    You might have, of course, been a real Ukranian patriot schooled and financed by the III Reich and sent to kill Poles and Russians as well as Ukranians who considered the word “Ukranian” to literally mean “I live on the border” and were Austrians, Hungarians, Romanians, Jews, Poles, Russians etc. This type of Ukranian was very popular in the 1930s, particularly enjoying the patronage of Adolf Hitler. This Ukranian super-patriot was behind the assasination of the Polish foreign minister, and several terrorist activities in Poland aimed at weakening the II Republic.

    To simply state that the Holdomor happened in the Soviet Ukraine in the 1930s and therefore imply that no one in Ukraine wants to have anything to do with the Russians in 2014 is like stating “In the 19th century, Americans used black people as slaves, therefore if I were black, I would want nothing to do with America in 2014” – which of course would be a rather ridiculous statement.

    Finally – of course every Ukranian citizen is free to have an opinion and to vote in accordance with his opinion. Sadly, some Ukranian citizens and those in the West who think they know more about Ukraine than the people who live there and their immediate neighbors – decided one fine day that they were so dissatisfied with the results of a democratic election, and the soveriegn decision of the President to prefer 15 bilion euros in Russian aid to 1 billion euros in EU colonization, that instead of campaigning hard for their position in the next election – they decided to first hold a violent coup, take over the government, and use the armed forces to deal with those who disagreed with them – who, magically – overnight – went from being “citizens who support the Party of Regions” to “terrorists”.

    I would be quite happy if all of the Oblasts would hold a referendum under peaceful conditions and agree to abide by its’ results. Unfortunately, it seems one side is not interested in voting, only in shooting – and now they are quite miffed that some people have shot back, and that those shooting back are winning.

    None of this tragedy would have happened had people listened to Sholzenitzyn. However, I see that rather than listen to Alexander Sholzenitzyn – Americans prefer to listen to Anne Applebaum – who wrote the silly article about “what we need now is more Ukranian nationalism”

    This is why American foreign policy keeps failing: it does not want to deal with reality. It listens to reality – in the form of Sholzenitzyn – doesn’t like what it hears – and turns to a fairy tale in the form of Applebaum’s thinking and decides to craft policy on that basis.

    • I understand what your points about pro-Russia Ukrainians wanting a closer tie or even unity with Russia. Could you comment on the position that pro-West Ukrainians take including those who supported Euromaidan?

  5. Mr. Davis,

    In a sense, most of my articles on TIC concerning Ukraine, starting from “Ukraine: The Case Against the Revolution” have been comments on those positions. Earlier comments, where I warned of imminent disaster, were written on my webpage thepolitics on

    Nov 22 2013–poland-s-weak-executive-and-inability-to-reconcile-with-moscow-strike-again-63#.VAmb7vnV8pB

    Feb. 19 2014–poland—ukraine-79#.VAmaBvl_uuI

    Given the situation now, I am aghast at how accurate my fears of war proved to be and therefore consider the Western leaders – in Brussels and Washington DC – not intelligent enough to solve the problem.

    President Obama, daily showing signs of his lack of understanding, has recently opined that Russia must be stopped from restoring “lands lost in the 19th century” … If we are all going to die, I wish we would be killed on account of highly intelligent, motivated men like Hitler and Stalin, who actually knew something about geopolitics, instead of people like President Obama who, following his ignorance of the recent history of Kosovo now demonstrates his total ignorance of European history (because the territories in question now were not “lost in the 19th century” – they seperated from Russia in 1991!!!! Russia in the 19th century controled all of the lands up to what is today Western Poland – which wasn’t on the map…Russia has GIVEN UP all of those lands it had in the 19th century, giving millions of people soveriegn nation-states and freedom!! What an idiot President Obama is to sayt such an insulting and stupid thing to Russians – who allowed their empire and federation to disintergrate and freed millions of people…all to be told by President Obama that they are trying to “restore lands lost in the 19th century” )

    Anyways – I think the best answer to your question came from the German foreign minister, who recently opined that the fate of Europe and the world are now in the hands of Mr. Putin and Mr. Poroshenko – I would add to that: Mr. Lukashenko as well.

    It is a sad day for Western leadership – diplomatic, military, political, when the people who govern us are so obtuse that all hope now rests in Alexander Lukashenko and his peace conference in Minsk (today).

    If that succeeds – we will be able to discuss options for Western Ukraine beyond “dying”.

  6. Putin isn’t helping anything by what he’s doing now. Things may have been bad in Ukraine, but he’s not making them any better with his soldiers there.

  7. If Texas wanted to join Mexico, would you say that the United States should just stand back and let it happen? What if the United States refused, and Mexican soldiers came to aid the separatists? What if the Mexican soldiers had been fed false information as to where they were going before they were deployed? And what if, on top of all this, the American army trying to keep drive out the Mexican army were a weak force, poorly supplied? It takes on a different face, does it not, when it’s your country they’re carving up.
    Also, I find it hard to imagine Russia being seriously harassed by the EU, much less driven off the map. They own most of northern Asia! They are a major provider of gas, a vital commodity for Europe. Besides, much of their territory, like that of the United States, was taken by settlement and conquest from other indigenous peoples who often got the short end of the stick.

  8. Madame,

    Thank you for taking the time to read and comment. I do not think your analogy is accurate. A more accurate analogy would be: If the people of Texas and California voted to elect Joe Smith President of the United States, and then the people of New England gathered outside the White House and ejected him from office in a violent coup- would the people of Texas have the right to feel themselves disenfranchised and to leave the country? Especially if this were the second time the people of New England did this to the voters of Texas and California in the space of one decade? Would something like that be possible?

    Russia did not commence the territorial dismemberment of Ukraine – Ukraine did that to herself.

    As to imagining Russia being seriously harrased or driven off the map – I recomend you read Zbigniew Brzezinski’s 1997 article from Foreign Affairs in which just that is proposed.

    Personally – I think there are two issues of importance in such questions:

    A) What is the method by which changes of such magnitude are made?
    B) Are the changes desirable?

    We can debate (B) – and people can have different opinions. But we cannot debate (A) – only one opinion is just: The method of change must be peaceful.

    The method of change utilized by the Maidan revolutionaries was not peaceful – and now their revolution is consuming the very Ukraine they wished to save.

    I hope all parties can come to terms and resolve their differences peacefully. I fear this will not happen so long as the revolutionaries continue to employ the methods of revolution.

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