Dostoevsky Русская целостность Целостность Целостность в русской культуре Monism Monist Tselostnpst' Monist Tsleostnost Russia Russian Culture Russian Culture and Thought Russian history Russian history and culture Russian Ideology Russian invasion of Ukraine Russian messianism Russian monist tselostnost Russian Orthodox Church Russian Orthodox theology Russian philosophy Russian Political Culture Russian Security Culture Russian Tselostnost' Russian Tselostnost` Russian Wholeness Russian-Ukrainian relations Russo-Ukrainian war Ukraine Ukrainian Crisis

Working Paper: RUSSIAN TSELOSTNOST’ (WHOLENESS) AND UKRAINE – Parts 1-5 (Complete Version)


Russian culture, thought, history and politics demonstrate a certain Russian belief in or aspiration to wholeness, ‘integrality’ or tselostnost’. I discussed tselostnost’ and its four types in my most recent book Russian Tselostnost’: Wholeness in Russian Culture, Thought, History and Politics (Europe Books, 2022). So it struck me recently that it might be worthwhile to consider whether and in what ways Russian tselostnost’ may be influencing Russian beliefs, attitudes, ideas and, ultimately, policies towards Ukraine or affect the emergence and development of the NATO-Russian Ukrainian war. To be sure, other factors are important in these matters, including NATO expansion, Western meddling in Ukraine elsewhere in the former USSR and among Russian allies, the history of relations between Russia and Ukrainians, and the rise of russophobic Ukrainian ultra-nationalism and neofascism just to mention a few, about which I have written about extensively. But it could very well be that Russia’s preference, even passion for wholeness, unity, tselostnost’ over schism and division has some influence on Russian political culture and has played a significant role in recent events and those yet to come. I will examine to what extent the Russian tendency in favor of wholeness or tselostnost’ may influence not just Russian political culture but its strategic culture represented by Russians’ articulations about Ukraine as a measure. A secondary goal is implicit—to examine the influence of the myth and norm of tselostnost’ on Russia’s Ukraine policies.

Russian Tselostnost’

In my Russian Tselostnost’: Wholeness in Russian Culture, Thought, History and Politics I hypothesized four types: (1) monism – the integrality of Heaven and/or God with all existence and/or mankind, of spirit with matter, of mankind with all the rest of the cosmos; (2) universalism – the unity in one form or another of all mankind or alternatively a portion of mankind with Russia (all Slavdom, all Orthodox Christianity, Europe and the West writ large, Eurasia); (3) communalism – spiritual, social and/or socioeconomic wholeness (Orthodox conciliarity or sobornost’), the old Russian village’s communal obshchina and mir, and Soviet forms of collectivism such as the labor collective, the communal apartment, and parttiinost’ or intense loyalty to the Communist Party of the Soviet Union); and (4) solidarity – the belief in the importance of and the persistent aspiration to and pursuit of national political, cultural, and ideological unity.[1] Since publication of Russian Tselostnost’, I have researched a fifth form of Russian tselostnost’: historical tselostnost’ or historicism—the idea that history has a single direction, driver, and/or is teleological, having a predetermined outcome. Taken together these beliefs, aspirations, even norms reflect a Russian relentless hope and spiritual, intellectual, artistic, scientific, social and political quest for the unity of Heaven and Earth, God and humankind, spirit and matter, of the peoples of the world, of society’s disparate groups and classes, of Russia’s usually divided and conflictive politics and contested national culture, identity, and history.

How tselostnost’ relates to Russians’ attitudes, aspirations, and fears about Ukraine is the subject of this article. I would argue that Russian monism, especially traditional Orthodox Christian monism, universalism (again especially that rooted in Orthodoxy), solidarism, and historicism have more direct implications for Russian attitudes, beliefs, aspirations, and fears regarding Ukraine. Communalism has the least and indeed few if any implications for the Ukrainian question in Russian thought, culture, history, or politics. Communalism may be a quality common to both Russian culture and, to a lesser extent, Ukrainian culture. This lends a certain level of commonality that might facilitate comity between the two peoples and cultures all else put aside. However, as a factor driving Russia attitudes towards Ukraine it lacks sufficient significance, in my view, to be addressed in any detail in this article. Here I will concentrate on the connection between Russian monist, universalist, solidarist, and historicist tselostnost’, on the one hand, and Russians attitudes, beliefs, aspirations, and fears in relation to Ukraine and Ukrainians. It should be noted that most of the belief in the wholeness of Russia and Ukraine with each other comes from Russia’s traditionalist or ‘conservative’ wing, as is the case with each of the five forms of tselostnost’ taken independently from the Ukrainian question.

Russian Monism and Ukraine

Monism is in many ways the foundational tselostnost’, the well spring from which the other tselostnosts emerged and rose to importance as values in Russia. Russia’s earliest monism was strictly religious and anchored in Russian Orthodox Christianity as it was borrowed from Greek Byzantium in the 9th century by Kievan Rus’. Moreover, Kievan Rus’ adopted Eastern Orthodoxy by way of Grand Prince Vladimir I or the Great’s baptism and the prince’s baptism occurred in Khorsun (Khersones) on Crimea, according to ancient Kievan Rus’ historical chronicles or letopisi. Therefore, the first brick in the foundation of Russian national identity as Eastern Orthodox was laid in today’s contested Crimea, Ukraine. Kiev has direct implications for Russian monist tselostnost’, which posits a connection between God and humankind, the Heavenly Kingdom and earth, spirit and matter, even the world and cosmic history. It is a foundational and vital connection for Russians to the Orthodox Christianity and Church that define past, present, and future religious monism (and universalism as discussed further below). Kiev is the city where Orthodox Christianity was first adopted in the 9th century by Russians.

From Kiev and the Russian Orthodox Church’s Kiev-Pechersk Lavra or Kiev-Pechersk Monastery of the Caves, Russian Orthodoxy spread across the other Russias over the next several centuries. For Russians, Kiev is the cornerstone of the Russian Orthodox Church, and at the center of Orthodoxy in Kiev stands the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra, where the relics of ancient Byzantine and Kievan church fathers. Numerous ancient chronicles, theses, and even prayers scribed and uttered by metropolitans and other Orthodox clergymen in Kiev Rus’ remain important texts for Russian history, culture, literature, and religion to this day.

Since Kievan Rus’ and the rise of Western (and Mongol) threats to Kiev and the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra, Russians have treasured Kiev. Ask any Russian what city is the ‘mother of all Russian cities,’ and he/she will answer without hesitation: Kiev. Russians have a series of names for Kiev: ‘cradle of the Russian state’ and ‘the holy font of the Russian people.’ These are ideas that have carried across centuries and still can be heard today, making Ukraine and the present war a sacred and volatile issue for Russian and Ukrainian Orthodox believers, regardless of which ‘camp’ one belongs to. This places Kiev at the center of the wound that any possible or actual separation of Ukraine from Moscow inflicts on the Russian psyche, and great powers over the centuries – from the Vatican and Poland to Napoleon to Austria-Hungary to Nazi Germany and to 20th and 21st century West and NATO – have sought to accomplish such a separation. Kiev is especially crucial, since, according to the monist Russian myth, many believers see the hand of God placed on Russian history. Any time of trouble touching religious issues takes on an apocalyptical aura. The loss of Kiev – the root, embryo, and integral part of the Russian universe, civilization, or ‘world’ (in the non-politicized version as interpreted by Russians and Westerners) – at the end of the Cold War and the Soviet collapse meant the loss of the birthplace of not just the Russian people, state, and culture but the predominant Russian faith. Kiev’s policies aimed at de-russifying the religious and Orthodox community in Ukraine – the seizure of churches, arrests of priests – adds to the sense of loss and wound.

The Russian idea of, and aspiration to monism (as well as universalism’s semi-universalist pan-Orthodoxy) raises the importance of Kiev, given its status as a lynchpin for all kinds of unities for Russia: spiritual, ethno-national, religious, cultural, and territorial. There is a monist element in Russia’s foundational folklore and historical chronicles, which are tied directly to Russian Orthodoxy through the Kiev-Pechorsk Lavra and still read today throughout Russia. The first historical chronicles ‘The Lay of Igor’s Tale’ and Kievan Rus’ Orthodox Church Metropolitan Illarion’s historico-theological ‘A Word about Law and Grace’ (‘Slovo o Zakone i Blagodati’) (1050), the rich folklore and ‘bylinas’ such as “Three Bogatyrs” (Heroes) and Ilya Muromets, Pushkin’s epic poetical fairy tale “Ruslan and Lyudmilla” centered on the kidnapping of Prince Vladimir’s daughter, Lyudmilla, and hundreds of other such cultural monuments are from and/or set in Kiev and often filled with religious themes and symbols. “Three Bogatyrs” hero Ilya Muromets is thought to be based on a 12th century monk, Ilya Pecherskii, whose relics are preserved in Kiev-Pechorskaya Lavra’s caves and who was beatified by the Russian Orthodox Church in 1643. Similarly, the relics of 11th century historical chronicler Nestor Kievskii (of Kiev) are also held in the Lavra. Concern for Kiev’s unity with Russia in religious terms has a long pedigree, with implications for Heaven-Earth, God-Man, and Russian ‘Holy Rus’ messianism and monist tselostnost’. The Russian Orthodox Church still celebrates the birthdays of ancient church fathers and the heads of the Kievan Rus’ Orthodox Church, called the ‘Metropolitan of Kiev and all Rus’ before the Mongol yoke, the ‘Metropolitan of Kiev, Moscow, and all Rus’ immediately afterwards, and later the ‘Metropolitan,’ then ‘Patriarch of Moscow and all Rus’.[2] In sum, Russian monist tselostnost’ is joined to any issue connected with Orthodoxy, and any violation of the proper order of the world as defined by Orthodox monism verges on sacrilege.

Orthodox monism merged with, evolved within and spread throughout much of Russia’s secular culture after the Westernizing reforms of Peter the Great. Russia’s greatest poet Aleksandr Pushkin (1799-1837), who was also a great thinker in his own right, remains something of a Russian thought leader in his homeland’s discourse. Although he never articulated anything about Ukraine in overtly monist, universalist, or any other shades of tselostnost’, such a sensibility can be gleaned from the totality of his many writings. His monist tselostnost’ is mystical not theo-ideological, unlike that of many other Russian thinkers. Much as his religiosity is usually stated in terms of everyday religious faith.

With a few possible exceptions, Pushkin’s monism and any connection it might have to Ukraine must be teased out. The most intriguing case comes in one of two seemingly monist and perhaps historicist assertions that God had given Russia its history. Pushkin expressed this feeling in his famous 19 October 1836 letter to Chaadaev. The sentiment follows a few sentences after a reference to ancient Kievan Rus’s princes Oleg and Svyatoslav, which together read: “As for our historical insignificance, I absolutely cannot agree with you. The wars of Oleg and Svyatoslav and even specific strife — isn’t this the kind of life full of boiling ferment and fervent and aimless activity that distinguishes the youth of all peoples? … I swear by honor that for nothing in the world would I want to change the Fatherland or have another history, except the history of our ancestors, such as God gave it to us.”[3] This apparent manifestation of historical tselostnost’ borders on a messianic interpretation. His religiosity and semi-monism, along with his negative attitudes towards Ukrainian heroes like Ivan Mazepa and Polish independence, also suggest he placed great value on Russia’s religious heritage and on Russian-Ukrainian religio-cultural solidarity and the national territorial and political solidarity between Kiev, Malorossiya or ‘Little Russia’, later to be called ‘Ukraine’ (see below).

One of Russia’s greatest writers and most influential thinkers yesterday and today, Fyodor Dostoevskii (1821-1881), combined both Russian monism, universalism, universalism’s pan-Slavism and pan-Orthodoxism, and historicism (as well as communalism) in a messianic vision that placed Russia at the center of Christian teleology, soteriology, and eschatology. The great writer’s life was touched by Kiev and Ukraine in intimate ways. Dostoevskii’s grandfather was born in Ukraine and was a Greek (Uniate) Catholic priest as was his uncle, and he valued the great pilgrimages to the Kiev-Pechorsk Lavra. Dostoevskii was well aware of the centrality of the Lavra as a shrine for Russian pilgrimages,[4] in which he himself participated to Sergii-Trinity Monastery near Moscow. The source for one of his most famous characters is just such a monastery and its starets Father Zosima, in his most important novel, The Brothers Karamazov. Zosima delivers Dostoevskii’s monist, universalist, and historicist message.

No Russian writer, with the exception of the philosophers, manifests all four types of tselostnost’ – but most of all monism and universalism – as robustly as does Dostoevskii. He embedded the semi-universalisms of Slavophilism and pan-Slavism so popular in his day in the widespread idea of Russia’s messianic destiny in the larger monist and universalist Orthodox eschatology of his day. Zosima’s words reflect theurgy, God-Man, Heaven-Earth, and spirit-matter “all-unity”, expressed by Russia’s greatest philosopher, the “Russian Plato,” Vladimir Solovev and the various intellectual trends his teaching spawned in Russia, from the God-seekers to the intuitivist philosophers to the symbolist poets to the ‘Vekhi’ (‘Signposts’) political philosophers.[5] In Dostoevskii’s view, Russia would one day unite the world in Christ first by uniting the Slavic peoples, obviously including Ukraine – which, needless to say, was still part of Russia – through peaceful means in order to establish an Orthodox Slavic capitol in Constantinople, from which Orthodoxy would spread across the world in preparation for the inevitable second coming of Christ.[6] For Dostoevskii, the significance of uniting Slavic and Orthodox peoples through Constantinople was part of the very monist Christian soteriology, and Kiev, having received revelation from Constantinople, could have had no less monist-based value for him. Thus, for those Russians who think along the lines of Orthodox monist Dostoevskii or may be convinced of ideas by reading him, the separation of Ukraine from Russia might very well be seen as a sign of the Anti-Christ’s temporary advantage that presages the apocalypse.

Dostoevskii’s embrace of Russian monism (and universalism and nationalist solidarism, see below) is but one, albeit a most resonant example of the circulation in Russian discourse today and yesterday of such ideas and how they might be connected to Ukraine for many Russians. Mikhail Katkov (1818-1887), Dostoevskii’s conservative editor, publisher, and opinion-maker, waxed eloquent about “golden-domed” Kiev as being “even more unifying force than the name of Moscow itself” among Russians.[7] Kiev was particularly sacred for the mostly traditionalist Slavophiles, whose monism was reinforced by a communalism based in the Eastern Orthodox idea of spiritual conciliarity or sobornost’—the belief that those in the Orthodox community were of one spirit in communal unity under the divine blessing spirit or blagodat’.

As Russian traditionalists, albeit of various sorts, Russia’s 19th century Slavophiles and pan-Slavists were particularly inclined towards expressions of monist tselostnost’. In 1864 article, influential Slavophile Ivan Aksakov (1823-1886) criticized ‘Ukrainophilia’ and warned against the potential danger of Ukrainian separatism, emphasizing the religious significance of Kiev. His closing declared that “southern Russians” (i.e., Ukrainians) “were an indigenous Russian tribe, connected with all of Russia by their faith and the unity of the Kiev shrine.”[8] Founding Slavophile Aleksei Khomyakov (1804-1860) argued that the spark of spiritual monist tselostnost’ in Russia came from Kiev during the reign of “Kiev’s favorite,” “enlightener of the Russian land” Prince Vladimir II Monomakh (1053-1125): “The spiritual integrity and unity that was expressed under Monamakh, but his personal actions did not find other pillars in the still unenlightened land, and the aspiration to unity was already extant and searched for other pillars in physical forces and physical violence.”[9] In counterposing the Russian tselostnosts of universalism, solidarism, and communalism to Western individualism in another work, Khomyakov noted in Russia “you have the majestic golden domes of the Kremlin; there, in the south are the Kiev Cave Monastery and in the north the Solovetsky Monaster, a centre of homely virtues and above all a centre of independent, unyielding Orthodoxy.”[10]

Slavophile Nikolai Danilevskii (1822-1885) is best known for his theory of civilizations or “historico-cultural types,” articulated in his 1885 Russia and Europe, and his pan-Slavism, which is almost identical to Dostoevskii’s, calling for a federative “All-Slavic Union” with its capitol in Constantinople.[11] In Danilevskii’s view, Slavdom was a specific “historico-cultural” type and should not attempt to borrow from Europe or other civilizations. Like species, civilizations could not borrow from one another; any attempt to do so was harmful. Slavdom had a great historical mission if Russia could lead and unite the other Slavs to form the nucleus of a new kind of communalist and harmonious civilization.[12] But more importantly for our discussion, Danilevskii placed Kiev near the center, along with Moscow, in what he saw were two sources of “the main stream of world history,” and he did so in clearly monist, universalist, and messianic terms. Both of history’s sources were born on the “banks of the Nile.” “One, heavenly and godly” spring flows “from Jerusalem and Constantinople to Kiev and Moscow, before which it attains undisturbed purity.” The other runs along Athens, Alexandria and Rome. But it was Russia that was to lead history to the promised land: “A new well-spring is breaking through on the Russia land: a socioeconomic system which justly provides for the broad masses.” Danilevskii follows this assertion in the closing sentence in his still very influential book, Russia and Europe: All these streams should merge into one broad reservoir on the broad valleys of Slavdom.”[13] Thus, the entire stream of world history should end in a new universal order ordained by the ‘heavenly and godly’ Slavic lands of Moscow and Kiev.

The Russian Slavist professor and pan-Slavist V.I. Lamanskii (1833-1914) believed like Dostoevskii in the inevitability of Slavic unification[14] and wrote about Kiev in religious and monism-connoting terms:

“Russia’s basic strength, its nucleus and impulse is the peasantry of central and northern Russia, Siberia, and New Russia Territory (Novorosskii krai), under the words: Holy Rus’ and the Holy Russian land, which always means Kiev and its region. Glorious Kiev lives deeply in the consciousness of our people in its poetic traditions across the entire Great Russian expanse. The capitol of the red sun, the center of the triumphs of the people’s bogatyrs, the keepers and preservers of the Russian land, and the mother of Russian cities draws to itself thousands of worshippers from the entire Great Russian territory. Kiev with its region is equally as dear as Little Russia as well as Great Russia to our people by its shrines and the coffins of God’s saints, by the moral ideals of the Russian people, and by those spiritual gatherers of Russian land! The removal of Kiev and its region from Russia would lead to the decay of the Russian national way of life and the collapse and breakup of the Russian land.”[15]

Here, monist tselostnost’ is viewed as undergirding Russia’s religious, cultural, national, and territorial solidarity—the mandate of Russian solidarism.

Anton Kartashev (1875-1960), a Church historian and journalist, noted in the 19th century that Illarion’s ‘Word on Law and Grace’ of 1050 is the Russian source of Russian universalism and messianism, though its origins lie in the Byzantine “world perspective” about “chronography.” Since this Russian mission is a religious one presented by God, it is also a monist message of God’s involvement in the world through Russia. Thus, Kartashev notes that the introduction to the ‘Word’ christens Illarion’s work a monist revelation of Russia’s universal task:

(Illarion) was brought up on the world perspectives of Byzantine chronography and writes a victory song to the New Testament era of ‘grace’, which replaced the Old Testament era of ‘law’. The Word’s heading reads: ‘(The epoch of) the law has gone, grace and truth are spreading to the whole earth, and (the Word) reached our Russian language.’ … So Byzantium instilled in the highest conscious stratum of Russian people the idea of a great task, a great service to Russia. A place in history and in the providential plan for the salvation of the whole world has been found, indicated by and assimilated to the cross-Christianized Russian people, so far without any separation from a number of other Orthodox peoples. … The Word of Illarion is the undisputed manifesto of the still young, newly baptized Russian Church, but already conscious of itself next to Byzantium, the bearer of a universal soteriological mission.[16]

Kartashev was an important religious leader. He was the Minister for Religious Affairs in the post-February 1917 Provisional Government and Ober-Procurator of its Church Synod eventually shut down by the Bolsheviks. The point here is that Kievan Russians in the 11th century and modern Russians in the 19th century received a very similar message of monism, universalism, and messianism—one born in Kiev and delivered by the authoritative figures.

During the atheistic Soviet era, this kind of Orthodox monist significance attributed to Ukraine and Kiev disappeared, replaced by the idea that Russia and Ukraine (or for that matter Russo-Ukrainian-Belarussian unity) were but one building blocks, along with Caucasian and Central Asian building blocks, upon which a new proletarian Soviet man and culture were being constructed. After completion the ethnonational, religious, political, economic, and artistic cultures of such bourgeois entities as nations would wither away. Materialist monism had nothing else to say about Russia, Ukraine, and relations between the two, though Soviet historiography reinforced the Russian Imperial message that Ukrainian language and culture had been parts of their Great Russian counterparts.

Russia’s Orthodox-rooted monism continued to be articulated in relation to Ukraine in émigré` circles, where it survived, indeed thrived. For example, Semyon L. Frank (1877-1950), after founder Nikolai O. Losskii (1870-1965), was the second most important figure of the influential and very monist (and universalist) Russian philosophical trend known as ‘intuitivism’. He was deeply religious, a converted Jew, and his work is a prime example of Russian tselostnost’, especially its monist variant. Frank reflected the centrality of Kiev and the Kiev-Pechorsk Lavra in his literary analysis of the work of Austrian poet Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926) in significantly monist terms. Emphasizing Rilke’s enchantment with Russia, Orthodoxy and Russian culture, Frank noted Rilke’s visits to Moscow and Kiev, in particular noting visits to the Kiev-Pechorsk Lavra and the impressions they made on Rilke. For example: “In the second part of Stundenbuch, in the ‘book of pilgrimages’, in the poems which speak about how all human culture, moving into the past, flows into God’s bosom, and how in it (humanity’s Christian culture) is preserved by Rome, Florence, and Piza and mentioned along with them are Kazan and the Trinity Lavra, and the Kiev-Pechorsk monastery, and Moscow with its church bells. And there in a series of poems the Kiev-Pechrosk Lavra is described, and the images and its holy hermits and pilgrims who come to worship are recreated.”[17]

Religious philosopher and religious and cultural historian Georgii Fedotov (1886-1951), who would emigrate to America rather than Europe as Frank, Berdyaev, and many of the other 1922 Bolshevik deportees and who is getting attention in post-Soviet Russia, struck monist and universalist themes in discussing Kiev as the source of Russian nationhood. Mixing religiosity and patriotism in his magnificent study Russian Religiosity, Fedotov praises ancient Kievan Church metropolitan Illarion of Kiev – the first appointed independently from Constantinople – and his truly seminal ‘A Word on Law and Grace’. The ‘Word’ is described as “a theological hymn to salvation” on the “national theme interspersed with the great universal-historical picture of God’s redemptive Providence,” vividly expressing the “Russian national spirit.”[18] Thus, Fedotov proposes that one of the first declarations in Russian history was delivered in monist and universalist terms by a great Kievan clergyman. In his 1926 article “The Three Capitols”, discussing the cultural significance of Kiev, Moscow and St. Petersburg, Fedotov  noted that in Kiev “the cross of the First-Called (St. Andrei Pervozvannogo) shone, and here the golden sky of St. Sofia fell on the Slavonic-Varangian terem.”[19] “An eternal symbol was given to Kiev in the dome of St. Sofia — not only for (Kiev), but for the whole of the Russia to come. What does that symbol say? (It speaks) not only about the eternal truth of Orthodoxy and about the perfect sphere embracing the diversity of national and private worlds. It also gives an indication of our special path among the Christian peoples of the world.”[20]

After the Soviet collapse, the return of pre-communist thinkers to the Russian discourse has revived Orthodox monism and universalism. As is the traditional pattern historically, Russian thinkers continue to proselytize ideas replete with monism, often tying monist tselostnost’ to universalist tselostnost’.[21] Esoteric and increasingly influential Russian political philosopher and neo-Eurasianist or ‘Orthodox Eurasianist’, Aleksandr Dugin – who is not an advisor of Vladimir Putin, despite misleading claims by Westerners – does this in relation to the battle for ‘Novorossiya’, as he sees it. Investing a mystical aura into the Russian language, he calls for the creation of “special detachments of the Russian Logos” (the Word) to organize apparently sermon-like gatherings at the war front in Ukraine that would meditate upon Russia, God, the Church, Earth and Heaven, and the world along with much else: “It is necessary to create in Novorossiya special detachments of the Russian Logos (Word). Before battle, after battle, and during battle we should think – about Russia, about God, about the Church, about history, about ourselves, about being, about the world, about truth, about geopolitics, about Earth and Heaven, about our identity, about the nature of power, about life and death. To think and discuss, to meet, being in the Logos. The war in Novorossiya was begun from language. This is no formality. The Russian language is the language of the Russian Logos.”[22] On this background, it is no coincidence whatsoever that Dugin has been an outspoken supporter of Russia’s support for the Donbass rebels beginning in 2014, during which he criticized Putin for not waging all-out war and seizing Kiev.

Ideally, for Dugin, it would be his theo-ideology that the Logos detachments would preach. Dugin’s thought brings Russia back full circle to the mixed monism and universalism of Dostoevskii’s system, for Dugin also predicts a universal, essentially Orthodox Christian revolution tied to the metaphysical, if not the Divine—in other words, Russian monism. Dugin’s monism-universalism is evident in his idea of a “sophiological revolution” and the realization of a new world based on the concept of “Dassein.” In his 2014 book The Fourth Way: Introduction to the Fourth Political Theory, Dugin explicitly acknowledged his Orthodox Christian faith with an implicit monism, given the Orthodox roots of much Russian monism already discussed. He prognosticates “the return of the Divine,” “the return of the sacred,” and the Second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” and interprets “history in Christian terms.” “The Living God, Himself is returning… Therefore it is fully appropriate to speak of a total return of the sacred and about a sacred Revolution.”[23] The revolution Dugin predicts and proselytizes is to bring about a new world order based on his rather esoteric Fourth Political Theory, which might be called ‘Daseinism’, being based on his interpretation of Martin Heidegger’s idea of ‘Dasein’ or ‘humankind’s being’ and its place in the world.[24]

In a way similar but still distinct from Solovev, Florenskii and Bulgakov, he gives a place in his theory to the variously interpreted Christian spirit ‘Divine Wisdom’ or Sophia, referencing the Silver Age symbolist sophiists Vyacheslav Ivanov, Andrei Belyi, and Fedor Sologub. For Dugin, Divine Sophia is “a historical personage” and the “Universal light, enlightening the mind and soul of the Russian person.” “(T)he equating of Sophia and Rus’…resonates with the intuitive Russian truth about the fact that Rus’ is the land of the Mother of God, her country” (Dugin’s emphasis).[25] Here the use of the title ‘Rus’ in place of Russia harkens back to Kievan Rus. The Fourth Political Theory’s “sophiological Revolution” will bring the advent of “a holy Russian Polis, a holy Russian City” (Grad), as Kiev and later other Russian cities were thought of. The revolution needs a leader, according to Dugin, “a figure of Sophia’s guard, a Russian guard of Sophia, who will be the carrier of the political project.”[26] Thus, for Dugin, Russia’s efforts in Ukraine are entailed by, embedded within his monist idea of a worldwide Orthodox revolution.

Dugin’s close ally, the Orthodox, pan-Slavic oligarch Konstantin Malofeev sees world history as struggle between “Empire,” manifested in a series of empires going back millennia to ancient Egypt, and “Khanaan,” a counterforce of those who have worshipped money and presently manifested in the West. Malofeev is virulently pro-Orthodox and pan-Slavist and has been a strong financial and political supporter of Russian military operations in Ukraine going back to 2014. In the third installment of his ‘historiosophical’ trilogy Imperiya: nastoyashchee i budushchee, he, like Dugin, portrays the present NATO-Russian conflict over Ukraine as the beginning of a twilight struggle between the light of Holy Rus’ and the darkness of what he calls ‘Khanaan.’ His model is a slightly re-worked Holy Rus’-Antichrist model in which the ‘other world’ of the divine is active on the world stage and has selected Russia to play the messianic role in the Christian salvation of the world.

However, Malofeev replaces Dugin’s idea of a sophiological revolution with the idea of a twilight conflict between Empire and Khanaan, and Kiev’s connections with Orthodoxy and the last empire, a new Russian Empire, are clearly expressed:

“Kiev is the ‘mother of Russian cities’, and the first abode of Russian holiness is to be found in it—the Kiev-Pechorsk Lavra. Therefore, it is not surprising that beginning in 1991 Khanaan (the West) particularly thoroughly administered the de-russification of Ukraine. … Matters were not limited to nurturing the neo-Nazi Banderite ideology, which took its beginning in the concept of Ukraine-ness (Ukrainstvo) as anti-Russianism (antirusskost’) that the Austrian intelligence organs used already on the eve of the First World War. On the expanse of ancient Holy Rus’ descended tens of American Protestant sects. Such Jewish communities of Uman and Dnepropetrovsk (formerly Yekaterinoslav) also developed enormous activity. Precisely in Ukraine global Khanaan strongly established its favorite political model – oligarchy.”[27]

In this monist construction of world-historical conflict, the Ukraine becomes the frontline much in the way that in the pluralist West Ukraine is the frontline in the ‘cold war’ between Western democracy and the ‘rules-based world order’, on one side, and the Sino-Russian-led authoritarian rogues and retrogrades, on the other.

         Russian Orthodox Church Patriarch Kirill has repeatedly invoked Kiev, Ukraine, and the Kiev-Pechorsk Lavra in a monist context if not always in monist terms. In a 2010 visit to Kiev, he tied Kiev and its Orthodox shrine to Russian history and, in the monist tradition of Christianity, to God’s power to act in the world. Kirill invoked “the mother of Russian cities – ancient Kiev, the first monastery of the Russian land – the Kiev-Pechorsk lavra,” and prayed that “God show mercy” on Ukraine as “holy land” and on its “much suffering people and unite those in division.” He also expressed hope that “coming in touch with Kiev’s shrine will strengthen him in his service as patriarch.”[28] Here we find rather standard, albeit, Christian expressions of belief in God’s involvement in the world and the possibility that it can come through the Kiev shrines. Moreover, he seems to appeal to God to help overcome the growing divisions within Ukraine and between Ukraine and Russia by wishing for God to ‘unite those in division.’

         President Vladimir Putin has not made any detailed monist articulations in relation to Ukraine. Putin has stated and written clearly and unambiguously that “Russians and Ukrainians are one people, a single whole.” In the same article he made the point in another way that hints at monism by asserting that Russia and Ukraine are “parts, in essence, of a single historical and spiritual space” (my emphasis).[29] A caveat is in order, however. Russians, more so in the past than at present, sometimes to use the term ‘spiritual’ (dukhovnyi) to indicate something more cultural or generally spiritual rather than religiously spiritual. But Putin also uses the term later in the article in a clearly religious fashion, referring to “the spiritual choice of (Kievan Grand Prince) St. Vladimir, who was both the Novgorod and Kievan grand prince.”[30] Thus, it seems Putin has been influenced by the ubiquitous Russian monist tselostnost’, if not being a conscious purveyor.

To those who might doubt the relevance of Russian monist tselostnost’ for ongoing events today, particularly that in its religious Orthodox form, I offer the following. In an April 2023 article published in the Russian newspaper Vzglyad on events regarding ostensibly as rising ‘Satanism’ in Ukraine demonstrated by Zelenskiy’s expropriation of numerous churches, monasteries, and shrines, including the Kiev-Pechorsk Lavra, which belonged until recently ROC-affiliated Orthodox Church of Ukraine, the author closed by noting the following: “The darkest hour is before dawn. The prophecy attributed to the Donetsk elder Zosima reads: ‘The Kiev-Pechorsk Lavra will fall. All the grace of the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra will be transferred to Moscow’s Optina Pustyna. I won’t live to see it, but you’ll see.’ And he also said that after the fall of the Lavra, in exactly six months, the reunification of Russia will begin. These words are widely known in Ukraine. But so far one senses that in addition to ‘Geranium’ and ‘Calibra’ missiles Ukraine needs to be treated with ‘ammunition’ of a different kind – sprinkle it with shells filled with holy water.”[31]


Russian Universalism and Ukraine

Russian universalism, as I define it, relates both to the unity in one form or another of all mankind and alternatively to the unity of a segment of mankind with Russia. Russians’ penchant for universalism has been evident in its political discourse in its medieval, imperial, Soviet, and Post-Soviet periods.

Russian universalism evolved from Russian monism and it often accompanies it in the articulations of individual Russian thinkers. This is because both these forms of tselostnost’ have their roots in the Christian theurgy and teleology of Russian Orthodoxy, which, as we know, was born in Kiev borrowed from Byzantium. Thus, Russian universalism, like monism, has its roots in Christian theurgy and eschatology, leading some Russian thinkers to promote Russian Orthodoxy’s own messianic teleology—to ‘unite the world in Christ.’ The founder of the Moscow Sergiev-Trinity Monastery, the heart of the ROC, St. Sergii Radonezhskii, was a missionary, who spread Christian Orthodoxy across the Russian land from its cradle in Kiev, embedding in Russian culture the monism and universalism of Russian Orthodox Christianity and the Church.

Over the centuries, articulations of Orthodox monist tselostnost’ were routinely coupled with articulations of universalist tselostnost’. Orthodox universalism in tandem with monism sunk deep roots in Russian culture and survived the Petrine secularization and, in new form, even the Bolshevik communization. For example, in his famous 1880 speech, Dostoevskii credited Pushkin with revealing Russians’ universalist “responsiveness” (otzyvchivost’) or ability to feel and adopt foreign cultures or elements thereof.[32] Dostoevskii concretized this revelation, tying the Russian people, state, and Church to Orthodox teleology and eschatology of universal salvation in Christ. Such Orthodox and Russian universalism shaped Russia’s communist and other revolutionaries, whose ties, attenuated albeit, to Orthodoxy and the religious sensibility they brought to their revolutionism: sacred texts, unswerving faith, maximalism, the teleology of revolution’s imminent ‘arrival’, self-negating martyrdom and, most of all, belief in a worldwide, universal revolution.[33]

Any Russian Orthodox monist articulation has unconscious or unspoken roots in ancient Kiev’s Orthodox founding on Russian lands. For example, in Fedotov’s 1926 “Three Capitols”, Kiev is also a medium for Russia’s Orthodox-rooted universalism, inherited Byzantium and Orthodoxy from Constantinople and passed it down from her to all Russians, who received a gift from God in the form of Orthodoxy’s universal truth: “In the depths of Christian Greece-Byzantium, classical Greece lives, maturing to Christ, and its precious gift belongs to us by right, as first-born and legitimate heirs. … Our great happiness and undeserved gift of God is that we have accepted the truth in its universal focus.” [34] Of course, Russia became Constantinople’s heir not in Moscow but in Kiev first, then Moscow.

Given the deep interconnection between and overlapping in articulations of Russian monism and universalism, many of the articulations of monism noted in the section above on monism included allusions to universalism at the same time. Therefore, I will not repeat or add substantially to the documentation here. Instead, I will look at the semi-universalisms that value Ukraine as part and parcel of their political visions or projects.

Russian Semi-Universalisms and Ukraine

Russian universalism also includes such ‘pan-isms’ as pan-Slavism (some form of unification of Russia with some or all of the Slavic peoples), pan-Orthodoxism (some form of unification of some or all Orthodox Christians), pan-Europeanism or pan-Westernism (some form of unity of Russia with part or all of Europe or the West), and Eurasianism or neo-Eurasianism (some form of unity of Eurasian as it might variably be conceived). Ukraine touches on all of these in different ways.

Taken out of historical and cultural context, it might seem an unreasonable to include some or all of the semi universalisms in the same category with universalism. The latter is often a religious or metaphysical idea in Russian thought, initially rooted in Russian Orthodoxy. The former, the semi-universalisms, are political phenomenon we find in many non-Orthodox cultures that are not steeped in monism or universalism. There are pan-Western ideas, pan-Islamic ideas, pan-Albanism, pan-Turkism, pan-Americanism, among others. However, in the cases of pan-Orthodoxy or Orthdoxism and Eurasianism or neo-Eurasianism, there is and Orthodox monist and universalist driver. In this regard, the case of pan-Orthodoxy is prima facie. In the case of Eurasianism and pan-Eurasianism this is not so, but the Orthodox connection is there. Where there is no Orthodox connection, ancient Turkic and Mongol bonds, mixed with Orthodox Slavic cultures, are marshaled by Russian universalists, especially of the Eurasian kind, to consolidate the civilization’s tselostnost’. In the case of pan-Slavism there is no religio-universalist driver. This is an ethno-linguistic idea. Nonetheless, we often find that pan-Slavism accompanies Russian Orthodox universalism and monism in major Russian thinkers, most notably, as we have seen and as is discussed below, in Dostoevskii.

Russian Slavophilist and Pan-Slavist Semi-Universalism and Ukraine

Dostoevskii’s vision noted above is far from the only one in which the Russian semi-universalisms of pan-Orthodoxy and Slavophile pan-Slavism would entail Ukraine and certainly Kiev as part of an integration vision or project. Pushkin, for example, was in a way Russia’s first Slavophile and Pan-Slavist, and in his famous poem “To Russia’s Slanderers” (1831) lashed out at Westerners who castigated Russia for putting down the 1830 Polish rebellion. In doing so, he touched on the international, geopolitical, and pan-Slavic aspect of the Polish question:

Who will stand in an unequal dispute:

A proud Polack, or the faithful Russian?

Will Slavic streams merge into the Russian Sea?

Will it run out? That’s the question.[35]

Pushkin might be regarded as the first pan-Slavist, presaging the movement that emerged in mid-century just a few decades after his death.

Consequently, Pushkin’s writings made important contributions to the image of Ukrainians in Russian culture, most notably that of Hetman Ivan Mazepa. Indeed, Pushkin established Mazepa’s image as a traitor precisely because he betrayed the Russian cause in the Great Northern War against Sweden in an attempt to gain an independent Cossack state (see below).

Like Pushkin and Dostoevskii, the Slavophiles and pan-Slavists made scant reference to Ukraine since in the Ukrainian nationalist movement did not emerge in any significance until the movement was less vibrant and stood in the shadow of problems such as Poland and the troubles of Slavs in the Ottoman Empire. But also like Pushkin and Dostoevskii, they would be harsh opponents of any idea that proposed the separability of ‘Malorossiya’, as Ukraine was called at the time, from the Russian motherland. Slavic unity was centered first and foremost around the unity of Russia, and Ukraine (like Belarus) was considered an integral if somewhat separate Slavic entity.

Orthodoxy was an important pillar of Russia and Slavdom among Slavophiles and pan-Slavists alike. We have seen an assumption of pan-Orthodox in the monist articulations that promoted Kiev’s unity with Russia. Additionally, an assumption of the need for a united Orthodoxy overlapped that for a united Slavic civilization. For example, the 19th century Russian Slavophiles and pan-Slavists (and their many everyday successors today), more than most Russians, were proselytizers of cultural and religious unity and the idea of their sources in Kiev. Khomyakov wrote a poem dedicated to Kiev. In his “Kiev”, pilgrims from across Russia are united around the Orthodox shrines of Kiev in a symbolic rendering of Kiev’s place in Russian history as the cradle of an all-uniting Orthodoxy:

High in front of me

Old Kiev over the Dnieper,

The Dnieper sparkles under the mountain

Iridescent silver.

Glory, Kiev is centuries-old,

The cradle of Russian glory!

Glory, our fleeting Dnieper,

Russia is a pure font!

Sweetly the songs were distributed,

The evening bell is quiet in the sky:

“Where are you going from,

Worshippers, on a bow?”

– “I’m from where it flows

The Quiet Don is the beauty of the steppes.

“— “I’m from where it’s swirling

Boundless Yenisei!”

— “My land is the warm breg of Euxine!”

— “My land is the breg of those distant countries,

Where is one solid ice floe

Bound the ocean.”

— “The top of Altai is wild and scary,

Eternal is the brilliance of its snows,

My native country is there!”

– “My fatherland is old Pskov.”

— “I am from the cold Ladoga.”

— “I am the blue waves of the Neva.”

— “I am from the Kama polywater.”

— “I am from Mother Moscow.”

Glory, Dnieper, gray waves!

Glory, Kiev, wonderful city!

The darkness of your caves is silent

More beautiful than the royal chambers.

We know, in the ages of yore,

In the ancient night and the darkness is deep,

Russia flashed above you

The sun of the eternal east.

And now from distant countries,

From unknown steppes,

From midnight deep rivers —

A regiment of praying children —

We are around our shrine

All lovingly collected…

Brothers, where are the sons of Volhynia?

Galich, where are your sons?

Woe, woe! they were burned

Poland wild bonfires;

They were lured away, they were captured

Poland’s noisy feasts.

Sword and flattery, deception and flame

They were stolen from us;

They are led by someone else’s banner,

They are ruled by an alien voice.

Wake up, Kiev, again!

Call your fallen children!

Sweet is the voice of the father of his own,

The call of prayer and love.[36]

The absence of Slavic “sons” from Galicia (Galich) and Vohlynia is a rebuke to Poland’s incorporation of Cossack lands, Cossacks being overwhelmingly Orthodox in faith and subordinated now to Catholic and Uniate rulers.

When the geopolitics of the Polish uprising and harsh European criticism of Nicholas’s action sparked a unifying patriotism across Russia society, Pushkin joined in with relish, defending both Nicholas and ‘Russia’s territorial integrity.’ In his 1831 poems “To the Slanderers of Russia” and “On the Anniversary of Borodino”, the poet condemned European criticism of Russia’s suppression of the Poles as outside interference in “a family quarrel” and warned that surrender to the Poles would place in doubt Russia’s territorial integrity in other parts of the empire: “Would Lithuania be torn from Russia, would Kiev?”[37] Clearly, Pushkin saw the Polish uprising as a threat to the unity of the Russia-led Slavic world centered in Moscow and Kiev.

The territorial integrity and cultural unity between Kiev and Russia, according to nineteenth century pan-Slavist Lamanskii, was under threat from Polish expansionism as it had been during the 17th century Time of Troubles. Writing in 1861, Lamanskii warned ‘Malorossiya’ as well as other Slavs in Austria and Hungary needed protection from Western domination by way of preserving Russian integrity:

“(W)e would deserve the contempt of these very Poles…if we surrendered to their bait (by) recognizing the legality of the wild Poles’ claim to Malorossiya to the Dnepr with Kiev. But Russia will not go for such shame: all Polish gentry dreams for that will be shattered to pieces before the will of the people, which for their Kiev will stand up as one person. By our deep conviction the claim should provoke in each Slav fear and trepidation for the entire future of our tribe, for any attempt to tear away, for example, Kiev from Russia will provoke such troubles and unhappiness, the consequences of which are impossible to foresee. Hasn’t our long-suffering tribe suffered enough travails and strife? Aren’t all previous victories and present conquests by the Germans in Slavic lands obliged to them? And sincerely wishing the Polish nationality all good and enlightenment, we state at the same time our intense interest and sympathy for the Ruthenians in Galicia. We deeply rejoice for the real rapprochement of the Czechs with the Poles in Austria, but, it is recognized, we look forward with a sinking heart, understanding all the enormous difficulties of the inevitable struggle of the Czecks against the Germans not of Austria alone, but, perhaps, of all Germany. We deeply grieve over the circumstances making the Russian people’s representatives in Vienna to stay on the side of the German unionists. We more often and for a long time ponder the disappearance of the Polish nationality in Prussia. Not just for Russia alone, but for the good of all Slavdom we are obliged to maintain integrity and unity of the Russian land!” (Lamanskii’s itsalics).[38]

Thus, the unity of Russia is seen as a precondition for keeping the Poles out of Kiev and protecting Slavic minorities in German states. Any patriotic Russian from almost any period of Russian history – including today in a different context of removing Ukraine from Russia’s sphere of influence – would support similar views in the temporal context.

One of Russia’s greatest thinkers and informal philosophers, the émigré’ thought leader Nikolai Berdyaev (1874-1948), insisted on the unity of the eastern Slavic peoples. Born in Kiev and graduate of Kiev University, Berdyaev is prepared to sacrifice the well-being of each of the eastern Slavic nations for the sake of a unified Russia. “A suffering, sick, misfit Russia would be better than well-off and self-satisfied states of Great Russia, Little Russia, Belorussia, and other regions, thinking themselves independent wholes.” He even considers Russia’s colonization of frontier peoples “was not an evil misconception” but the “internally justified and necessary process for the implementation of the Russian idea in the world.”[39] Hence, the Russian idea, for Berdyaev, is universalistic, if not colonialist and imperialist. Perhaps this casts a shadow of doubt over the veracity of Vladimir Kantor’s caution that Russian universalism – a passionate concern for humankind’s condition and fate – should not be construed to be a consequence of Russian imperialism.[40] By contrast, Berdyaev’s words here support my own suggestion that perhaps Russian universalist tselostnost’ contributed to the development of Russian imperialism, keeping in mind my caveats. be seen as a serious cause of the latter.[41]

Vasilii Rozanov, a symbolist writer and philosopher of Russia’s Silver Age in the late 19th and early 20th century, noted Russians’ universality and contrasted it with Ukrainians’ provincialism, arguing that if  Russia lost its universalism, its “fine gift of flexible love and flexible reflection in ourselves of surrounding peoples and countries,” then it would lose Ukraine, which had given great gifts to Russia, most notably one of its literary giants, Nikolai Gogol.[42]

The predominance of communist internationalism – a Sovietized version of and substitute for Orthodox universalist tselostnost’ – during the Soviet era rejected national histories, whether Russian or Ukrainian. History was class-based and proletarian eschatological and teleological, and building a communist world required subsuming Ukraine into the USSR after the Red victory in the civil war. In this scheme, neither nations nor states played any permanent role, and Ukraine, Russia, all Slavic and other peoples were entailed by communism’s universal project. The lack of any real meaning of concepts such as ‘Russia’ and ‘Ukraine’ was reflected in the casual way in which, for example, the Soviet Party-state transferred Crimea from Soviet Ukraine (the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic) to Soviet Russia (the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic).

Today, the belief in the unity of eastern Slavic peoples (Russians, Ukrainians, and Belorussians) remains a widespread belief and aspiration in Russian culture, even if in some circles limited to cultural, religious, and linguistic unity. In the third installment of his ‘historiosophical’ trilogy Imperiya: nastoyashchee i budushchee, the pan-Slavist and pan-Orthodox Konstantin Malofeev portrays the present NATO-Russian conflict over Ukraine as the beginning of a twilight struggle on a global scale: “Precisely in Ukraine global Khanaan strongly established its favorite political model – oligarchy.”[43] Patriarch Kirill noted in his missive to world leaders regarding Kiev’s repressions of the ROC in Ukraine at the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra “the common spiritual and monastic tradition of the Russian, Ukrainian and Belarusian peoples.”[44]

Eurasianist and Neo-Eurasianist Semi-Universalism and Ukraine

Eurasianism’s emergence in the late 19th century and its unofficial persistence into the Stalin era offered an alternative both to the late Imperial pan-Slavist and Soviet communist international forms of universalist tselostnost’. Eurasianism’s successor movement of the post-Soviet era, neo-Eurasianism, is proving to be a far more robust competitor to both, making inroads into the corridors of power and influencing the emerging anti-Western Russian ideology and foreign policy of the late Putin era. Both early Eurasianists and contemporary neo-Eurasianists have tended to support the idea of Russian-Ukrainian unity, often in the standard way, holding that both had various common roots in Kiev.

Neo-Eurasianist, Alexander Dugin combines two different semi-universalist trends of thought in his conceptualization of the Russian side in the conflict over Ukraine. In the wake of the 2014-2015 Donbass civil war, he argued that a “unity of fate” in a Russian-led Orthodox Eurasianist civilization or “cultural-geopolitical position”, consisting of many but not all Orthodox peoples as well as of non-Slavic and non-Orthodox Turkic, Caucasian, and Siberian peoples, and based, in MacKinderian terms geopolitical terms, at the center of the World Island was now at war with the Atlanticist ‘World Island’ of Western states promoting secularism, feminism and transgenderism. The Atlanticists have established a bridgehead in western and central Ukraine, expanding the Western-allied portion of Slavdom east and thus making Orthodox and Slavic southeastern Ukraine or ‘Novorossiya’, (from Crimea east and north through Kherson, Zaporozhe, Donetsk, Luhansk, and Kharkov) the “front line of the struggle of Orthodox Eurasia with Atlanticist liberal-Nazism” in a global confrontation.[45]

Neo-Eurasianism’s inclusion of an ‘Asian pivot’ as the central concern for present Eurasianist thought and policy tends to give second tier status to concern over the more narrow issues of pan-Slavism and Kiev. Western policies, such as NATO’s policy of expansion to Ukraine, refocused Moscow on Kiev but at the same time has intensified its alliance with China and attempt to rally the non-West to the side of the Sino-Russian de facto alliance. Western encroachment and the NATO-Ukraine war have revived another important from of tselostnost’ that can have more direct political implications—solidarism—to be discussed in Part 3 of this Working Paper.

Pan-Orthodox Semi-Universalism and Ukraine

One way to ensure more broad inclusion under Russian universalism is root it in more than one source. Concepts sych as pan-Slavism or even neo-Eurasianism may not be sufficient to anchor Slavic Ukraine and Belarus in the system, no less Armenia, Georgia, or Serbia. Since Eurasianism holds that civilizations, such as the proposed Eurasian one, are based on religious foundations, it is quite logical that the ancient tendency to support Orthodoxy worldwide is brought into the vision. In addition to the Slavic peoples, there are Orthodox communities spread across the Eurasian space from Eastern Europe’s Serbia, Montenegro, and Bulgaria to the Transcaucasus. Regarding Ukraine, Patriarch Kirill has described the Lavra as being of “pan-Orthodox significance.”[46]

Putin’s purported spiritual mentor Tikhon Shevkunov, the Metropolitan of Pskov and Porkhovsk, turned to the issue of pan-Orthodoxy in the heat of the Ukrainian Maidan regime’s repression of the ROC-affiliated Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) in spring 2023. On the 500th anniversary of the monk Philotheus’s letter to Moscow Grand Prince Aleksei III expounding the idea of Moscow as the Third Rome – that is, refuge for all Christianity after the falls of Constantinople and Kiev – Shevkunov warned that the concept was too often taken by Russians as a chauvinist imperialist idea. He noted this in pan-Orthodox, rather than pan-Christian terms: “Very often this idea (of Moscow as the Third Rome) is perceived vulgarly. Here, we are the best, the greatest, everyone else is insignificant and so on. Nothing close to this has ever been and is not in this idea. At that time, 500 years ago, Russia was the only (Orthodox) state free from external control. It was, as they say now, the only Orthodox sovereign state. And it was this burden – both the preservation of Orthodoxy and the support of other Orthodox peoples – that was laid in the idea of Elder Philotheus. Today we are not saying that we alone preserve Orthodoxy. No, of course not. There are Orthodox peoples, Orthodox churches in other countries and on other continents.”[47] That this was said in the midst of conflict between the ROC and UOC, on the one hand, and the Maidan state and the Orthodox church organizations it created to replace the UOC suggests that Ukraine and the UOC was on Metropolitan Tikhon’s mind as well as other Orthodox churches also being separated from Moscow by various Greek Orthodox Churches elsewhere, including the Constantinople Patriarchate, making for a new Church schism following on the NATO-Russia ‘new cold war.’


Russian Solidarist Tselostnost’ and Ukraine

I have defined solidarist tselostnost’ or simply solidarism as the belief in, norm of, or aspiration to national wholeness or unity. Such national solidarity can come in the form of one, several, or all of the following types: territorial, political, ethnonational, cultural, or linguistic. Most often tinted with concern for Russia’s political unity and territorial unity, solidarism has been a constant and most sensitive strand in Russian political culture, particularly for Russian traditionalists for centuries.

The various types of solidarism were taken for granted as far as Ukraine was concerned until the emergence of a distinct Ukrainian nationalist movement in the 19th century Russia. With Ukraine an independent state since the Soviet collapse, past articulations assuming or asserting Russian-Ukrainian unity do not lose their power by any necessity. To the contrary, past articulations are reminders of the old unity and reinforce different Russian thinkers in different ways today. Some Russians refuse Ukrainians a right to an independent state, as it violates their value of state-political solidarism and sense of solidarity. Others accept a separate Ukrainian state but hold that Russians and Ukrainians are the same nation or two parts of a united Russian people, consisting of Great Russian, Ukrainians (Little Russians), and Belorussians (White Russians). Such Russians can live with a two- or three-state solution as it were. Other Russians might reject both Ukrainian state independence and ethno-national separateness but can agree that Russians and Ukrainians (and Belorussians) have cultural or linguistic distinctions that make them separate sub-ethnic groups that might deserve some administrative-territorial and/or cultural autonomy. For each of these types of Russian positions, there are articulations from the past and present that reinforce their views in their own minds and hearts and thus in Russian culture and political culture as well.

The present conflict opens up old wounds not just of the Soviet collapse but of the Imperial collapse, the Russian revolution, October Bolshevik coup, and their consequences for Russia (as opposed to the Soviet Union). The tragedy of the Russian-Ukrainian history derives especially from the common roots of the now two peoples—the dissolution of a once true tselostnost’. That history can be summed up by the stages it traversed: unity, schism, and now conflict between two parts of fully bifurcated, counter-opposite pair. First, the ontological unity of Russia was undermined by the Mongol yoke and displacement of the Russian political and cultural center to the north in Moscow, Poland’s seizure of Cossack lands, Polonization of the Ukrainian-(Malorussian) Russian dialect, politicization of the Malorussian dialect’s development towards the formation of an autonomous Ukrainian language by opponents of the Russian Imperial regime – Poland, Austria-Hungary, and portions of the Russian and Ukrainian intelligentsia. This led to attempts to establish independent Ukrainian states when Imperial Russia collapsed in the wake of the February 1917 Revolution. The Bolsheviks reconquered Kiev Governate and surrounding ethnic Russian areas and cobbled them together to form the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic (UkrSSR). In the wake of the Great Patriotic War, Stalin attached what historically had always been ‘Ukrainian’ territories in Austria-Hungary, then Poland. In 1954, the Soviet communist regime transferred Crimea from the Russian Soviet republic to the Ukrainian SSR, completing the territorial-administrative Ukraine we knew until March 2014, when Russia annexed Crimea.

The norm of national solidarity is a constant theme in Russian discourse historically and could not but have been touched by the present conflict with Ukraine in a general political or state sense and in its particulars: territorial, ethnonational, cultural, linguistic, religious. Although Ukraine is no longer a part of the Russian Federation, there are many in Russian who do not see it that way and many more who regret that it is no longer so. This is true of many ethnic Russians and some ethnic Ukrainians in Ukraine as well. The conservative publicist Russian Katkov put forward the idea of Russian-Ukrainian solidarity perhaps most forcefully. In 1867, he held up Kiev as “primordial and most sublime, most indisputable and most pure symbol of Russian unity and its true center.”[48] In 1866, he called “southern Russia” or Ukraine the “main member” nation and “main part” of the Russian people.[49] Such past texts promoting national unity of one kind or another in Russian-Ukrainian relations in their various stages are published, read and reinforce particular views on this complicated subject.

Ukraine and Russian Territorial and Political Wholeness

Professor Richard Wortman’s study demonstrating the importance of territorial tselnost’ and the importance of said for any state obviates the need for a detailed discussion.[50] So I will offer limited remarks here, focusing on this idea interpretively as a norm in Russian culture as demonstrated through various articulations. Russians often thought of ‘Ukrainians’ in a territorial rather than ethnonational, cultural, or linguistic category, and the territory was circumscribed to fit as a constituent regional area within the larger Russia. As late as the 19th century were considered and referred to as not just ‘little Russians’ (malorossiyany, malorusskie) but often as the “southern part of Russian people” or “western Russians.”[51] The power of the idea of a Russian territorial integrity that encompasses Ukraine is rooted in part in the Kievan Rus’ grand prince’s sovereignty over “all the Russian lands” including most closely Great Novgorod but also Pskov, Smolensk, Vladimir, Great Rostov and other principalities, including Moscow, founded by a Kievan prince, Yurii Dolgorukii.

The ancient chronicles from Kievan Rus’ still read by Russians today are a powerful source for solidarism, and these sources were born in Kiev. Russian emigré` scholar Georgii Fedotov describes well an Russian ancient sense of territorial solidarity and implies a certain cultural solidarity sung in these chronicles. A good example is Fedotov’s description of these elements articulated in the 13th century historical chronicle ‘The Lay of Igor’s Campaign’, which describes Kievan Prince Igor Svyatoslavich and his 1185 military expedition against the Polovtsians on the Don River:

The third source of social ethics for the Russian chronicler of Prince Igor is steadfast patriotism, which covers not individual Russian principalities, but the entire Russian land. This pan-Russian consciousness, as we have seen, was in decline at the end of the XII century, and only a few traces of this decline can be found in the chronicles of that period. … There is not a single phrase in the poem that is repeated as often as ‘Russian land.’ This expression is perceived not in that narrow sense, including only Kiev and the surrounding lands, which was characteristic of that time, but in a broader sense. This concept included all principalities and lands inhabited by Russian people. … Russian prince Svyatoslav, in his bitter and passionate appeal to all Russian princes, demands that they come out in defense of the Russian land, ‘for the wounds of Igor, the strong Svyatoslavich!’ Smolensk and Polotsk, Galicia and Suzdal, the most remote areas near the borders of Russia — all are embraced by this passionate appeal.”[52]

‘The Lay of Igor’s Campaign’ is a reminder of pan-Russian unity across Russian-populated territories and is still read widely in Russia today.

With the fall of Kiev and the rise of Muscovy, Moscow ‘gathered in the Russian lands’ in pursuit of Igor’s ideal. Kiev’s integration into the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth after the end of the Mongol yoke is seen often as a temporary aberration caused by military aggression, and the Russian element in the Lithuanian half of the commonwealth is emphasized. With the return of ‘Ukrainians’ to the Russian fold through Hetman Khmelnitskii’s submission to the Russian tsar in order to escape Polish tutelage and the Cossacks’ preference for Orthodoxy over Uniate Catholicism, the connection with Kiev was restored. For Russians, this should have been for eternity. Imperial Russia expanded Russia’s holdings to finalize the ancient Kievan idea and move beyond the traditional ‘Russian lands’. Despite the foreign nature of some of these new territories, Imperial Russia promoted as an important ideological and political-cultural pillar the idea of the empire’s territorial tselnost’ whether the issue was Poland or later Central Asia, as Wortman’s study demonstrates.

Seven centuries after Igor’s campaign, the giant of modern Russian literature Aleksandr Pushkin demonstrated Russia’s continued allegiance to her territorial integrity. He revealed himself to be a patriotic supporter of the unity of Russian lands and thus a would-be opponent of Ukrainian independence, nationalism, or separatism had it arisen in his day. His authority in Russia today gives added weight to today’s Russian patriots, many of whom reject the idea of Ukraine’s state independence. In particular, Pushkin denigrated Hetman Ivan Mazepa, one of the premier symbols of Cossack independence, which can be regarded as a surrogate of Ukrainian nationalism during his lifetime. In 1709, during Peter the Great’s Great Northern War against a Swedish-led alliance that included Poland, Mazepa changed sides going over to the Swedes and Poles, despite a long a career from which not only he personally but also the Cossacks more generally had benefited from Russian protection from the Poles. The Russians’ resounding and decisive victory over the Swedes at Poltava in 27 June (10 July) 1709 forced both the now ‘traitor-hetman’ Mazepa and Swedish King Charles to flee to Ottoman-controlled Moldavia, where Mazepa died on September 21st. The legend of Mazepa was just beginning; a battle royale ensued that persists to this day over his image – in Russia, one primarily that of a traitor and first propagated by Pushkin.[53] His poem “Poltava,” which had to clear Nicholas I’s censors, was seminal for Mazepa’s future image. It was a damning one, depicting a “cunning and deceptive,” “ferocious and depraved,” “snake.” Mazepa “loves nobody” and “is ready to spill blood like water.” He is so “ambitious” and egotistical that he risks the Cossacks’ fate by abandoning Peter’s Russia for Charles’ Sweden, because the Russian emperor ostensibly pulled his moustache at a dinner feast.[54] Both Belinskii and the Slavophiles regarded “Poltava” to be Pushkin’s, if not Russia’s first national poem, knighting both Pushkin as Russia’s first ‘national poet’ and, for a time, Mazepa as Russia’s most famous dissident traitor.[55] Koznarsky argues that Mazepa’s image played a “pivotal role” in delineating between the Ukrainian and Russian national identities.[56] Pushkin’s ‘anti-Ukrainian’ stance, along with his already discussed pan-Slavism and lack of sympathy for the cause of Polish independence, suggests Pushkin would have had no sympathy for Ukrainian independence or separatism, which would have been viewed as a dismantling of the Russian core of the Slavic world. Hetman Mazepa has been coopted by Ukrainian nationalists as a precursor to the modern Ukrainian nationalist and independence movement, despite the far from clear connection between Western Ukraine and the Cossacks of central and eastern Ukrainian areas.

By the time Ukrainian national identity consolidated and Ukrainian separatism emerged in the mid-19th century, the Russian Slavophile movement drew sharp lines between Russian and the West and spawned a pan-Slavic movement that argued for and sometimes prophesied even in religious terms, the unification of all the Slavic peoples under Russian leadership. To the extent they discussed ‘Little Russia’ or Ukraine, its adepts rejected Ukrainian nationalism and saw it as a threat to Russia’s territorial integrity. For example, in 1881 Slavophile Ivan Aksakov, seeing Ukrainian separatism now as a direct danger for the territorial integrity of the Russian empire – something he had played down in his 1864 article – issued an impassioned call against the notion being fostered by Vienna and Warsaw that Kiev was a Polish city, declaring that Russians would defend Kiev as they would Moscow.[57] In another article, he condemned the efforts of the government and press of the Austro-Hungarian Empire to support and incite Ukrainian nationalism and the idea of a federative Russia in order to undermine “the united Russian state.” [58] He cited efforts to divide Russia and Ukrainians in culturally and linguistically by creating a new national identity of ‘Ruthenian’ in place of Galician, adding letters to Ukrainian Cyrillic alphabet, and appropriating Russian and Ukrainian Russian-language writers to create a separate Ukrainian literary language.[59] The separatist efforts were intended, in Aksakov’s view, “to cut up a living whole (tsel’nyi) organism.”[60]

Writing during World War I, Russian liberal Christian thinker Pyotr Struve (1870-1944) attacked “Austro-German Ukrainism (Ukrainstvo)” in defense of the Russian state’s territorial integrity and a united Russian culture. Although he granted that there should be space for the dialect and “the regional peculiarities of the Little Russian wing of the Russian people,” he saw Ukrainian nationalism as a project inspired from abroad by Germans. Specifically, he pointed to arguments in Austrian sponsored pro-Ukrainian publications that argued, as one written by the head of the Ukrainian group in the parliament, the following: “All the south and southwest of Russia should form an independent ‘Ukraine.’ ‘Muscovite Russia should be pushed from the Black Sea and between Russia and the Balkans in Ukraine’s oblasts and the screws should be tightened against Russia.’” He condemned this attempt to “squeeze Russia almost into Asia” and any notion that “Odessa, Nikolaev (the author writes ‘Mikolaev’), and Kherson” are Ukrainian regions, emphasizing that they are “the essence of the creation of the Russian state.”[61] In another article defending Russia’s historical integrity, Struve emphasized the organically integrated economy, citing the role of Russian and Jewish traders from Russia in “Novorossiya” and elsewhere in developing Ukraine under Russian Imperial rule. Sumy and Kharkov were cities that had been built by Russian traders, and other Ukrainian cities lived on economies almost entirely based on Russian trade and traders.[62]

In the Soviet era, different arguments had to be brought forth in defending Kiev’s subjugation to Bolshevik power. Poet Dmitrii Kedrin (1907-1945), like 19th century Slavophile Khomyakov, titled one of his poems “Kiev” and touched on monism, though most of all state and territorial unity, in a poem written during the Great Patriotic War against Nazism. Born in Makeevka, Donetsk Oblast, Kedrin hailed the “ancient city” twice as “the heart of Ukraine”, then as a SSR (Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic) in the USSR. Nevertheless, an old monist theme emerges, albeit in restrained form given the atheist era: “With a bold hand the greedy Polack/Furtively groped/Kiev-Pechersk Lavra’s/Gilded dome./But from their raids/Russia was your fence.” A “fierce enemy has taken free Kiev”, but “Be patient, brother! The gate will disappear! Ours have not weakened!” Russia – the “Red Knight”, the Red Army of Soviet Russia – liberates Kiev, restoring ‘Russian’ territorial unity.[63]

The schism between the Russian and Ukrainian peoples would be semi-institutionalized partially by the Soviet regime’s formation of a separate Ukrainian administrative-territorial unit – the Ukrainian SSR. This raises the issue of the wholeness of the internal structure of the Russian Imperial, Soviet, and post-Soviet states as a measure of the robustness of tselostnost’. Any elements of autonomy or federalism in relation to Ukraine historically should shape our view of tselostnost’s influence on Russian attitudes towards Ukraine.

Thus, loose ties between the Russian principalities in feudal Kievan Rus’ gave way to a more centralized power under a still primitive form of state organization in medieval Muscovy. However, Peter the Great’s construction of a significant state bureaucracy under highly centralized autocratic power established a greater form of organizational integrity that would grow stronger over the next few centuries. Although Poland and Finland enjoyed significant autonomy at times, ‘Malorossiya’ never did with the minor and brief exception of Zaporozhian Cossack Sich after its accession to Russian control under the Pereyaroslavl Treaty in the mid-17th century as a way to protect itself from Turkey and Poland, from which the Cossack entity had struggled to separate. With the post-1917 Imperial collapse and civil war, several briefly independent Ukrainian entities rose and fell.

With the Red victory in the civil war and the Bolsheviks’ restoration of the country’s territorial integrity, the Soviet system of pseudo-federalism gave Ukraine no autonomy. Although Lenin envisaged autonomy for the Soviet Union’s constituent parts, he was opposed by Stalin. With Lenin’s death, Stalin’s rise to power, and that of the Communist Party apparat and secret police agencies (NKVD, OGPU, and KGB), Party-state became a monolith. The Party apparatus and KGB came to penetrate all state and societal institutions, establishing an exceedingly whole totalitarian mono-organizational system in which the Ukraine SSR enjoyed no autonomy.[64] Polish and Austrian encouragement of Ukrainian nationalism in the Galicia region, Polish Galicia’s incorporation into the Ukrainian SSR after the World War II, and simultaneously the emigration of Nazi-allied Ukrainian fascists to the West created a free, anti-Soviet diaspora determined to liberate Ukraine from Soviet power someday.

In the late Soviet years Mikhail Gorbachev’s perestroika did afford Ukraine and many of the other union republics gain some autonomy. Soviet pseudo-autonomy for the Ukrainian SSR and other union republics was filled with quasi-federative content, leading to further institutionalization of secondary state power and the reemergence of Ukrainian and other nationalist movements inside the USSR, helping to break up the USSR along with the deep regime split in Russia and Moscow itself. In 1989 Gorbachev began preparing a transition to a more federative system under the Union Treaty negotiated in the course of 1990-1991. However, the institutions upon which the old totalitarian, mono-organizational Party-state’s integrity had rested rose up on the eve of the planned signing of the Treaty in August 1991, leading to the culmination of  Boris Yeltsin’s Russian revolution from above, the Soviet state’s dissolution, and Ukraine’s present independence. The resistance to Gorbachev’s decentralization and planned federative system is perhaps a measure of the strength of solidarist tselostnost’ as it came to exist in the USSR.[65]

With the USSR collapsing in 1991 the traditionalist Russian Imperial support of Russia’s territorial integrity begins to be re-echoed. The Ukrainian SSR ‘apartment’ did not envisage real autonomy; integrity was guaranteed by the once ubiquitous Party and KGB apparati now themselves in disunion as a result of Russia’s revolution from above. The traditionalist rejection of Ukrainian independence is echoed in more antagonistic form in the 1991 poem “To the Independence of Ukraine” composed by – of all people – dissident Nobel Prize laureate Joseph Brodskii. Expelled from the USSR decades earlier for his anti-Soviet views, Brodskii denigrates Ukrainians and the idea of Ukrainian independence. The poem reads like the tirade of a spurned spouse involved in a bitter divorce, declaring his ‘good riddance’ in response to the pain of rejection. The poem closes:

With God, eagles, Cossacks, hetmans, turntables!

Only when it comes time for you to die, bullies,

scratching the edge of the mattress, you will be wheezing

lines from Alexander, not from Taras’s bullshit.[66]

The nod to Alexander Pushkin is logical, as much of Brodskii’s poem is reminiscent of, almost an ode to Pushkin’s poem “Poltava,” which played an important role in forming the image of Mazepa as a traitor to Russia. Brodskii is clearly driven by the emotion of resentment of Ukraine’s violation of ‘Russia’s’ (the USSR at the time) territorial tselostnost’ and his fear of Ukrainian neo-fascism as a Soviet Jew, many of whom feared the regression of this political disease in European Russia as the USSR was collapsing in 1991.

With the schism between Russia and its once constituent part, Ukraine, complete after 1991, the post-Soviet era saw the transition from national schism to national antagonism, leading to today’s ‘duel’—the NATO-Russian Ukrainian war. In this context, there is little need to review the numerous articulations today – usually from the patriotic and nationalist wings of the Russian political spectrum – insisting on Ukraine or various parts of its territory being a constituent, inalienable part of Russia territory. They come from Putin in the center to Dugin and Strelkov-Girkin on the far ‘right.’ Regarding Putin, the annexations of Crimea and ‘Novorossiya’ (the oblasts of Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporozhe and Kherson) make the point without the need to reference the numerous texts written by himself, Dugin, Strelkov-Girkin and countless others.

There is one contemporary source worth consulting as evidence of the persistence of articulations promoting solidarism between Ukraine and the Russian state. Russians today can read the popular historical study by Sergei Belyakov, Mazepa’s Shadow: The Ukrainian Nation in the Era of Gogol’ (Ten’ Mazepa: Ukrainskaya natsiya v epokhu Gogolya) published in 2016. It notes numerous ties political and military ties between Kiev, Moscow, and the ‘other Russias.’ For example, Belyakov notes that when 17th century Kievan Metropolitan Pyotr Moghyla’s restoration of the famous Desyatin Church in the Kiev-Pechorsk Lavra uncovered what appeared to be the remains of Vladimir Monomakh he had them sent to Tsar Mikhail Romanov in Moscow—a sign Kiev “recognized” the authority of the new post-Ryurikov Russian dynasty. Belyakov also highlights the Orthodox Cossack prince and member of the Polish gentry or schlachta from Volyhn Dmitrii Vishnevetskii service under Tsar Ivan IV or Grozny (the Terrible). Having built an Khortitsiya island fortress in the Dnepr River used by the Zaporozhian Cossacks, Vishnevetskii helped recruit the Zaporozhians and together with the Don Cossacks fought for Russia in many campaigns long before Hetman Khmelnitskii formed the union with Russia’s Tsar Aleksei in 1654. Among those Belyakov notes were those against the Nogais and Crimean Tatars on the Azov coast and in Crimea.[67]

Two centuries later, Belyakov shows, Khmelnitskii’s popular image had been transformed from that of a “deceptive and two-faced politician” to wise and proud person, who had restored the unity of Western and Eastern Rus’. Several histories are cited to make the point, but Belyakov notes that the actual “historical” Khmelnitskii was more complex, noting several episodes of near betrayal of Moscow. Nevertheless, Khmelnitskii is credited with the “reunification of the fraternal peoples” under 1654 ‘Pereyaslavskaya Rada’ treaty that “not just Russians but also enlightened Little Russians” welcomed. Consequently, “Kiev, the mother of Russian cities came under the rule of Moscow…, and Russian troops together with Ukrainian Cossacks fought against the Poles at Lvov and Lublin.” “For a hundred and ten years of the Hetmanate Little Russians…fought together with the Russian army in Azov, Ochakov, Liflandiya (parts of Latvia and Estonia today, Prussia.”[68] Of course, today the areas of Azov and Ochakov are part of the battlefield in the NATO-Russia Ukrainian war. The solidarity of Great and Little Russians in a common Russian state was expressed, as Belyakov, notes, by the 19th century sculptor Mikhail Mikeshin, who designed monuments to both Khmelnitskii and the destroyer of the Hetmanate, Catherine the Great, made the monument to Russia’s millennial anniversary, which depicted Russian historical figures. Among them were at least eleven Ukrainians in addition to the Kievan princes and Kiev-Pechorsk saints.[69]

We now move on to the issue of Ukraine and Russians’ views of Russian-Ukrainian cultural integrity in the context of Russian solidarism.

Russian Cultural and Ontological Solidarism and Ukraine

Concern over Russia’s cultural or ontological (self-identity) integrity, has a long pedigree. As it relates to Ukraine it emerged in force with the threat to such national solidarity posed by the rise of strong Ukrainian identity, nationalism, and separatism. Entities located temporarily or otherwise in what would be called Malorossiya or Ukraine ironically often posed a threat to Russian solidarity but were never discussed in terms as separate ‘Ukrainian’, ‘Malorussian’, Little Russian’, or Kievan forces undermining or existing separately from Russian culture. The Kievan theological school and Cossack rebellions come to mind and are discussed further below in a different way.

But with the rise of Ukrainian nationalism as a more intensified form of Ukrainian national identity autonomous from Great Russian culture or overall Russian culture, discourse on this subject soon abounded. In Struve’s article noted above in which he speaks out against Austro-German attempts to tear territory away from Russia by promoting Ukrainian nationalism, the author clear saw the connection between cultural unity and territorial sovereignty, noting “the general Russian culture and only national culture in the united Russian land” and the necessity of the hegemony of a general Russian culture as the single national culture of a united Russian state.” [70] He warned that “a ‘Ukrainian’ danger exists and will continue to exist as long there is a Ukrainian inclination towards “some kind of a special statehood and national culture.”[71]

Perhaps the leading Eurasianist thinker of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Nikolai Trubetskoi, offered a unique argument to arrive at the the conclusion of Russian-Ukrainian cultural unity or solidarity. The two peoples were entirely one until the Mongol yoke followed by the Cossacks incorporation into the Polish-Lithuanian Union and their partial Polonization and Catholicization. Meanwhile, the culture of the Russians in Muscovite Rus’ under Tsar Alexei underwent a religious Ukrainization under Nikon’s Church reforms, which replaced Muscovite teaching with the teachings of priests from the Catholicized Kiev-Moghyla Academy, prompting the Great Schism in the ROC with the defection and mass immolations of the schismatic Old Believers, who refused to comply with the reforms of the ‘Latins.’ by Peter the Great, whose Westernization brought in Polonized Ukrainian priests to develop the reforms. Kievization had only touched Muscovite Orthodoxy, but the broad Westernizing reforms of Alexei’s son, Peter the Great, led to the full Ukrainization of Muscovite Russia. Thus, Westernized Kiev had Westernized Muscovy, restoring an overall cultural unity among the elites of the two peoples. Nevertheless, significant but not fundamental differences had emerged between the Great Russians, the Little Russians (Malorussians or Ukrainians) or, as Trubetskoi tends to write, “Western Russians”, and White Russians (Belorussians) under a generally common “all-Russian” (obshcherusskaya) culture, with three sub-branches.[72]

In a 1912 article, “All-Russian Culture and Ukrainian Particularism,” liberal Christian Russian political philosopher and member of Berdyaev’s Vekhi group, Pyotr Struve, insisted on the vitality of Russian cultural unity, despite dangers arising from Ukrainian separatist tendencies. He argued that “(n)o political coup” can destroy this unity. … It is a basic fact of Russian culture, historically facilitated by our state development, but already independent from political forms and administrative systems.”[73] An opponent of Struve’s on the issues of Ukrainian self-identity and language separate from Russia even acknowledged that the “further development of the Ukrainian people is possible only in connection and close, complete solidarity with the Great Russian people.”[74] On the eve of the revolutionary catastrophe, one internationalist revolutionary turned traditional monarchist, Lev Tikhomirov (1852-1923), was insistent on the “historical creation of all-Russian unity” between Russian and Malorossiyany (Little Russians) or “‘Ukrainians,’” their “unified life,” and the preservation of “the unity of Russian culture”: “The Russian state was built by all Russians, the Russian language was created by all, Russian culture is the common creation of all the Russian tribes.”[75]

Father Pavel Florenskii (1882-1937) – poet, philosopher, theologian, mathematician, biologist, parish priest, martyr, and ‘Russian da Vinci’ – alluded to the Kiev-Pechersk and Lavra’s significance for Russia’s national and cultural wholeness in the 1920s before the Bolsheviks arrested him and in 1937 put him to death. In doing so, he seemed to regard the Lavra as the seed of Russian communalism: “(Russian) culture began with communal living: the Christian community, the monasteries. The Kiev Lavra, the Trinity Lavra (the St. Sergii Radonezhskii Trinity Lavra near Moscow – GH). The center was not seen in foreigners, but in the Russian nation speaking through the Lavra.”[76]

Émigré` scholar Georgii Fedotov in his Russian Religiosity tells Russians: “Kievan Christianity for Russian religiosity has the same meaning as Pushkin for Russian artistic consciousness: the meaning of form, the golden mean, the royal path.”[77] Kiev’s first Russian metropolitan Illarion Kievskii “stands at the very springs of original Russian literature.”[78]  In Fedotov’s remarkable article, “Three Capitols”, he describes the spiritual and cultural significance for Russia of St. Petersburg, Moscow, and Kiev. The last, Russia’s first capitol, provides a potential solution to the Russian dilemma of being divided between its later Western ‘Germano-Roman’ influences of the Petersburg period and its earlier Asian Turkish-Mongol period of Muscovite Rus’—“the Western seduction of Petersburg and the Asiatic seduction of Moscow.”[79] The Hellenic and Byzantine influences of “the most wonderful of Russian cities”, Fedotov regrets, has been forgotten by the 1920s, but he calls upon his Russian readers to recall that it is through Kiev, not the later capitols that the foundation of Russian culture – Orthodox Christianity – came to Russians through Byzantium’s Greek Orthodoxy, which carried within it Hellenic elements, which, however, Kiev failed to take advantage of in time before the Mongol invasion.[80] The symbol of this alternative center for Russian culture and Orthodox identity is not Kiev’s Pechorskaya Lavra surprisingly but its St. Sophia Cathedral, which “expresses in stone the very idea of Orthodoxy” (Fedotov’s emphasis).[81]

In the Soviet era, Russian and Ukrainian culture were to be subsumed and eventually wither away under the hegemony of a new Soviet ‘proletarian’ machine-oriented culture, replacing the common Orthodox spiritual culture that once founded Russian culture in Kievan Rus. With the Soviet collapse, the old literature on such issues reemerged. Minakov’s compilation of 19th century traditionalist Russian writing on Ukraine which I use here is a case in point. This revival of pre-Soviet discourse and the separation of Ukraine resulting from the demise of the USSR’s Union state has yielded new articulations in a revived patriotic Russian discourse promoting the idea of Russian-Ukrainian unity.

There are various articulations of Russian-Ukrainian cultural unity expressed today. Aleksandr Dugin’s ‘Orthodox Euraisianism’ envisages Russian annexation of at least the southwestern or the entire Left Bank of Ukraine, east of the Dnepr River precisely because this territory of ‘Novorossiya’ is not just geopolitically opposed to the West or is Eurasian but because it is culturally anti-Western and “antiliberal” and possesses an “Orthodox self-identity in the religious-cultural sense.”[82] Left Bank Ukraine “has no relation whatsoever to western Russian lands (western Ukraine),” which always felt itself independent from the Poles, Austrians and Muscovites,” and consists solely of “Cossack lands” with “no different between them and the Don” (Russian Cossack lands).”[83] Thus, like Russia it is “against Ukrainian church nationalism and the Uniate religion as well as against the liberal theory of human rights and defense of sexual minorities” and is the “frontline of Orthodox Eurasianism with Atlantic liberal-Nazism.”[84] For these reasons, beyond the geopolitical, Novorossiya and even all Ukraine east of the Dnepr should be incorporated into Russia or at least the Eurasian Union as an independent state.

The following is a more standard, present day Russian academic discussion of Russian-Ukrainian cultural closeness. The article, titled “The Histories of Cultures in the Social Dimension (On Russian-Ukrainian Commonality)”, is worth quoting at length:

“Not just a common historical path inextricably ties the Ukrainian and Russian peoples. The people’s culture itself is one, and there are many common beliefs, rites, and riddles, many of which have survived till our days: the smells, barbecues, and the widespread holidat of Ivan Kupala. Youth conducted circle dances and walking choirs and organized games which in various localities had certain distinctions. …

“Unique traits present precisely in Ukrainian culture are well known also in Russia. With the resettlement of Ukrainians to the European part of Russia, many of them began to speak Russian, but meanwhile they preserved their traditional everyday culture, and the women continued to wear their national dress. Many traditional characteristics are preserved in many holidays. … Many (Russians) are familiar with Ukrainian musical instruments. The dances ‘Gopak’ and Kasochok’ were widespread. N. V. Gogol thought that he did not know what was in his soul more: Russian or ‘khokhlatskaya’ [a denigrating term for Ukrainian]. T. G. Shevchenko created works in both Russian and Ukrainian and dreamed of a state uniting the Slavs. … Vladimir Sosyura wrote to (Soviet poet Aleksandr) Prokofev: ‘I always appreciated you as a good-natured internationalist and at the same time a deep Russian and a brightly expressive national poet of great Russia. … A deep bow to you not just from me but from millions of sons and daughters of Ukraine for your brotherly voice resonating in all the Soviet Union and that means in the whole world.’

“In the contemporary era (after 1991) contacts between Russia and Ukriane, both direct and within the framework of the CIS, have been an important factor in the development of the post-Soviet space. …In St. Petersburg in 2000 a monument to T. G. Shevchenko was opened in the presence of the presidents of Russia and Ukraine. In 2003 Ukraine handed over to our city a copy of the sculpture of Emperor Aleksandr II. A Saint Petersburg Government resolution created a business information center in Kiev. In 2010 ‘Days of Ukrainian Theater and Film’ took place. In the framework of Saint Petersburg Days in Kharkov a festival of the Russian language ‘Saint Petersburg and the Russian Word’ was held. In 2011 there took place a forum of partners of ‘Saint Petersburg – Cities and Regions of Ukraine.’ In the period 2000-2010 there were 22 delegations of various levels traveled to Saint Petersburg and Ukraine.[85]

Russia’s National Institute for the Development of Contemporary Ideology has supported the continuing presence of Russian culture in Ukraine and provides a list of Russian measures, a list of Russian and Ukrainian institutes, organizations, and political parties who support that endeavor, and a list of Russian and Ukrainian political and cultural leaders stating as a matter of fact or aspirational imperative the close Russian-Ukrainian cultural ties. The introduction to the list notes: “Cooperation with Ukraine has always been one of the most important priorities for Russia, since we are a united Slavic people with a common culture and history.”[86] One could produce several volumes of such articulations.

With the annexation of Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporozhe, and Kherson the Russian state has begun to undertake the reformation or ‘integration’ of Donbass into Russian culture. The ROC has offered its services and schools to assist this process. The chairman of the ROC Synod’s Department of Public Relations and Media ROC V. R. Legoyda, who is also a member of the Russian Public Chamber and Professor at the Moscow State Institute for International relations (MGIMO), underscored the importance of reintegrating Donbass’s culture with Russian culture, focusing on education and the arts. At a June 2022 conference Legoyda noted: “(P)lanning ways of integration is always a search for common things — what unites us and will serve as a guarantee of unity in the future — and timelessness, extending beyond political and other conjectures. Integration is connected with the awareness of identity. In this connection the word ‘Russian’ has special significance for Donbass: Russian culture, Russian education, and Russian science. Our self-identification as a single people is the main guarantee of unification, for which conditions must be created.”[87]


Russian Religious Solidarism and Ukraine

The value of, belief in, and aspiration to religious unity between Russia and Ukraine through Kiev, the Lavra of the Caves, and common Orthodoxy already has been strongly suggested in Part 1 on Russian monist tselostnost’ and Ukraine. Almost all of Russia’s pre-Soviet, Soviet, and post-Soviet historians have concluded that there is a direct cultural, religious, and Church-organizational continuity between Kievan and post-Kievan Rus’. They would wholeheartedly subscribe to the following assessment of the cultural and ecclesiastical continuity between Kievan Rus’ and post-Kievan Rus’ in Fedotov’s Russian Religiosity: “Great Russia inherited most of Kievan literature. Every northern historian began his narrative by quoting the ancient Kiev Chronicle, the so-called Primary Chronicle, or the ‘Tale of Bygone Years’. The Church’s structure also remained unchanged: Russia was a metropolis of the Patriarchate of Constantinople. The head of the Church, who was in Vladimir, and later in Moscow, received the title of metropolitan inherited from the Kievan branch. In the religious and cultural fields that make up the subject of our study, the continuity of tradition was even more noticeable than in the political and social spheres.”[88] And this would be the view of most Russians who read their works over the centuries and inherited them today. I can only add to this the picture described in Part 1 on the implications of the profound bond formed between Orthodox-generated monist and even universalist tselostnost’ and Russian Orthodoxy’s origins in Kiev.

Today, there remains a profound, millennium-long connection in Russians’ minds between Orthodoxy and Ukraine; one that supports their support for continued religious ties with the country and for religious unity with Orthodox communities on Ukrainian territory. Russians reading the Belyakov’s 2016 Mazepa’s Shadow: The Ukrainian Nation in the Era of Gogol’ will find: “The Orthodox Tsar helped with money (Kiev Metropolitan) Pyotr Mogyla, who started the restoration of the ancient churches of Kiev, sacred not only for the Western Rusin (Ukrainian), but also for the Russian from Moscow, Ryazan, and Yaroslavl.” [89]

Ukraine’s recent escalation of repressive measures against the ROC, in particular a 10 March 2023 order that the priests of the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra depart from the shrine permanently by 29 August 2023, prompted Russian Patriarch Kirill to issue a letter to world political and religious leaders in which he underscored the Lavra’s central place in the history and culture of not just Russia but of Ukraine and Belorussia as well. He noted: “The Kiev-Pechersk Lavra is the first monastery of Kievan Rus, existing since the 11th century, the ancestor of the common spiritual and monastic tradition of the Russian, Ukrainian and Belarusian peoples. This is the cradle of our civilization and national cultures. The first historical monument of Ancient Russia was written here — ‘The Tale of Bygone Years’, and it is from here that the writing and literature of our peoples originates.” The Lavra is also described as being of “pan-Orthodox significance.”[90]

Linguistic Unity  

Once Ukrainians began to develop a literary language, demand political support for its further development, and thereby, in the view of traditionalists, raise the specter of Ukrainian national identity and separatism in the 19th century, there was a rise in concern about the danger to Russian national, cultural, and ultimately state unity. Ukrainian ‘nationalism’ in the form of an autonomous full-fledged literary and national language strengthened Ukrainian ‘particularism’ and thus ‘separatism’ far beyond any ‘Malorussian’ dialect could. Russian traditionalists therefore were set on reinforcing the idea that Ukraine’s linguistic autonomy and development should not be left unattended and should be given only limited state support and be strictly controlled. Critical was the idea that Ukrainian was but a dialect and part of a Russian language common to Russians and Ukrainians.

For example, the conservative Mikhail Katkov emphasized that the Russian people’s “first cultural monument” and “first act of historical self-awareness of Russian nationality,” the Chronicle of Nestor, was written in “the language used by us” (‘us’ meaning Russians, including those thought of as Little Russians) and “belonged” to ancient Kiev.[91] Also, like many Russian conservatives, he saw the Ukrainian language’s emerging development from a Russian dialect into a separate language as the deliberate work of Russia’s foes, in particular the Poles and Austria-Hungarians, undertaken in order to foment separatism and undermine Russia’s integrity.[92] The former revolutionary Tikhomirov argued the unity of the Russian and Ukrainian languages in 1913 from a different angle, that “the role of the Little Russians is equal, at the least, with (that of) the Great Russians in the development of the Russian literary language.”[93] The legal Marxist-turned Christian liberal Pyotr Struve asserted that the Great Russian language was “not in the same rank  with’Little Russian’ or ‘Belorussian’” but was the common Russian language of Great, Little, and White Russians.[94]

Numerous leading Russian thinkers – Lamanskii, Katkov, Andrei A. Ivanov, Ivan Aksakov, Struve, the founder of Russian philosophical intuitivism Nikolai O. Losskii, among many others – expressed the view in the 19the century that the Russian and Ukrainian languages were a unified whole, with Ukrainian being a dialect and part of the earliest sources of the Russian language.[95] Like Tikhomorov many – the state conservative Katkov, the Slavophil Ivan Aksakov, the liberal Struve, the intuitivist philodopher Losskii, and the émigré’ historian Nikolai Ulyanov, among others – argued that Ukrainian was being artificially promoted to a literary language by Austria-Hungary and Poland in order to undermine the solidarity between the Russians and Ukrainians and the latter’s allegiance to the Russian state.[96]

For Russian traditionalists across time, including today, this primordial fact trumps the formation of a separate Cossack-turned southern or western Little Russian or Ukrainian identity certainly from the time of Khmelnitskii’s fight for autonomy from Poland in the 16th and 17th centuries and then moving forward to the establishment of independent Ukrainian entities during the early 20th century and late 20th century Russian revolutions and after the Soviet collapse. The fall of the Romanov dynasty and the Bolsheviks’ rise to power was indeed facilitated in part by the Austro-Hungarians’ encouragement of Ukrainian national identity and Ukrainian elites’ attempt to institutionalize the national schism in the form of an independent Ukrainian state rather than ally with the Tsarist whites. Before receiving German financial and logistic support, Vladimir Lenin and his Bolsheviks sought Austro-Hungarian support in exchange for allying with Ukrainian separatists also backed by Vienna. Ultimately, the Russian empire’s opponents – Ukraine, Poland, other parts of the former Austro-Hungarian Empire (Hungary, Czechoslovakia) – would become even greater victims of the new hyper-vigilant, hyper-solidarist and proletarian internationalist Soviet regime.

It has been common practice for nearly two centuries to cite the fact that the Ukrainian national poet Taras Shevchenko wrote prose in Russian. The Slavophile Ivan Aksakov claimed that while in exile Shevchenko wrote his diary in Russian and showed no animosity to Russians when he socialized with him during the poet’s days in the Slavophiles’ haven, Moscow. The Ukrainian Nikolai Gogol’s Russianness is similarly referenced by Aksakov and numerous others. [97]

Today Russians continue to insist on the unity or at least an emotional solidarity between the two languages. Thus, in his famous article on Russian-Ukrainian ties, Putin emphasized linguistic solidarity:

“(A)gain, I would like to emphasize the linguistic closeness. Thus, back in the early XVII century, one of the hierarchs of the Uniate Church, Joseph Rutskii, reported to Rome that the inhabitants of Muscovy called Russians from the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth their brothers, that their written language was exactly the same, and although their spoken language was different, it was insignificantly (different). According to his expression, like the inhabitants of Rome and Bergamo. This, as we know, is the center and north of modern Italy.

“Of course, over many centuries of fragmentation and life in different states regional linguistic features have emerged and dialects. The literary language was enriched as opposed to the popular language. Ivan Kotlyarevskii, Grigory Skovoroda, and Taras Shevchenko played a huge role here. Their works are our common literary and cultural heritage. Taras Shevchenko’s poems are written in Ukrainian, and his prose is mostly in Russian. The books of Nikolai Gogol, a patriot of Russia and a native of Poltava region, are written in Russian and full of Little Russian folk expressions and folklore motifs. How can this legacy be separated between Russia and Ukraine? And why do it?[98]

Ethno-National Solidarity

Today, regardless of how much Austrian-Hungarian, Polish, or later Western cultivation of a separate identity, culture, indeed nation played a role in the formation of a separate Ukrainian national identity, many Russians are reluctant to acknowledge a separate Ukrainian identity or at least full Ukrainian nationhood. And so a large minority tends to reject independent Ukrainian statehood. Today, it is the foreign-backed dissolution of ethnonational solidarity that followed foreign-backed Ukrainian linguistic development – deep blows to overall Russia’s national solidarity that broke its territorial integrity and statehood twice in the 20th century – that in good part drives the Russian resistance to Ukraine’s incorporation into the West. From the earliest days of the formation of a separate eastern Cossack or Malorussian self-identity, Russians have been well aware of Western efforts to promote Ukrainian nationality, and the more traditionalist and patriotic among the Russians have viewed this as a deliberate attempt to break up Russia, to undermine its sacred unity norm. Accordingly, they have rejected the idea of a separate Ukrainian ethnicity as many have rejected a separate Ukrainian culture, language, and state.

The pan-Slavist Lamanskii considered that “Little Russians and Great Russians together with the White Russians…form one Russian people and a united Russian land.”[99] The ultra-traditionalist Katkov was vehemently opposed to the development of multi- or pluri-nationalism in Russia fearing for “the unity and integrity of the Russian people.”[100] Some, such as the reformed revolutionary, turned monarchist Tikhomorov, argued that there was no separate Ukrainian ethnic group and that Ukrainians were Great Russians.[101] One way that other traditionalist Russians attempted to preserve the idea of a united Russian nation subsuming Russians, Ukrainians, and Belorussians while acknowledging some ethnic autonomy for Ukrainians was to promote an early form of pluri-nationalism. Thus, Trubetskoi held that the Russian nation was a triune ‘general Russian’ nation that includes the Great Russian, Ukrainian (Little Russian), and Belorussian (White Russian) nationalities, while he stipulated the three eastern Slavic ethnoses’ had a common ethnic heritage and national identity.[102] He demonstrated the deeply intertwined nature of the eastern Slavic nationalities and their common formation of a common Russian nation and culture by showing there was a historical continuity between ancient Rus’ and post-Petrine Imperial Russia. Although Muscovite and western Russia diverged in the 15th to 17th centuries, they still represented two versions of the same nation and culture. Like the German states or, according to some, two Chinese states today, they were divided only by different state sovereignties. Muscovite Rus’s backing of the Kievan party over the Old Believer Muscovite party during the Great Schism began the process of Muscovy’s Kievization. After reunification, Russians and Ukrainians under Peter the Great each claimed to be the original Russian culture and that the other had been spoiled—Muscovy by the Mongols and Ivan the Terrible; western Russia by Polonization, Latinization, and Catholicization. Peter the Great relied to a great extent on figures educated in Polonized Kiev and the West, closing the circle with Petersburg’s Kievization of Muscovy.[103]

The USSR’s support of ‘national apartments’ in the form of union republics like the Ukrainian SSR inadvertently preserved the idea of Ukrainian nationality. Instead of the withering away of nations and the rise of a Soviet man under proletarian internationality, the Ukrainian SSR offered a vessel for the remnants of the Ukrainian national movement in the post-war diaspora to return to. The movement had radicalized in the interwar era to produce the Stepan Bandera’s Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) and its military wing, the Ukrainian Partisan Army (UPA), and survived in Ukrainian nationalist diaspora spread out across the West in the U.S., Canada, and Germany and supported by the CIA. With the Soviet collapse, these and other Ukrainians returned to build their dream in a newly independent state. The new Ukrainians held to the view that they were a distinct nation, with a distinct culture and language. Some asserted that Ukrainians are the real Russians and that Russians are Turks or Asians. The national divorce is complete as far as the majority of Ukrainians is concerned.

This has sparked a backlash in Russia among her traditionalists and radical nationalists. Russians’ sense that they and Ukrainians were one ‘nation’ was reinforced by the Soviet experience, despite their participation in a seemingly anti-national internationalist project. The new Soviet proletarian internationalism functioned as a new Russian semi-universalist, ultimately fully universalist tselostnost’ binding the Russian and Ukrainians (and eschatologically all other nations and nationalities) together. With the Soviet demise, as with the Yugoslav demise, many communist internationalists rediscovered nationalism, universalism, and even the semi-universalisms of pan-Slavism and (neo-)Eurasianism. For example, Orthodox neo-Eurasianist and ‘sophiological’ revolutionary Aleksandr Dugin argues there is no Ukrainian ethnicity or nationality, only “western Russian lands”: “(T)here is no Ukrainian ethnos, no Ukrainian nation, and no Ukrainian civilization. Western Russian lands exist…They (Ukrainians) were in part in Poland, part under Austria, part with us, and sometimes changed their subordination.”[104]

Putin made a similar point but from a positive rather than negative perspective in his July 2021 article on Ukraine:

Russians, Ukrainians, and Belarusians each are heirs of Ancient Rus, which was the largest state in Europe. Slavic and other tribes in a vast area – from Ladoga, Novgorod, Pskov to Kiev and Chernigov – were united by one language (now we call it Old Russian), economic ties, the power of the princes of the Rurik dynasty. And after the baptism of Russia – and one Orthodox faith. The spiritual choice of St. Vladimir, who was both a Novgorod and a great Kievan prince, and today largely determines our kinship.

The Kiev princely table occupied a dominant position in the Ancient Russian state. This was true from the end of the IX century forward. Oleg ‘s Prophetic words about Kiev: ‘May it be the mother of Russian cities’ – preserved for posterity the ‘Tale of Bygone Years’.” [105]

Given all the above it is not surprising that most Russians and even some Ukrainians today still hold to the unity of Russians and Ukrainians and the triune inclusion of the Belorussians. Thus, in his article about Ukraine, Putin invoked the presumed the state, cultural, linguistic, and religious aspects of the solidarity – the commonality and closeness – of the two peoples: “The integration of Western Russian lands into a common state space was not only the result of political and diplomatic decisions. It occurred on the basis of a common faith and cultural traditions. And again, I would like to emphasize the linguistic closeness.”[106]

Ukraine and Russian Historical Tselostnost’

Above I have occasionally underscored the importance to Russians of the Kievan Rus’ roots of Russian statehood, culture, language, literature, and Orthodoxy. These elemental parts of Russian self-identity to which Putin refers as having developed over a thousand years of history since Kievan Rus’, Russians know well and are quite passionate about, as much of the above demonstrates. The title of Putin’s July 2021 article “The Historical Unity of Russians and Ukrainians” alludes to another form of Russian tselostnost’. Not only do Russia and Ukraine have inextricable histories, the Russian traditionalist view holds, but there is wholeness of Russian history itself, marking another way in which Russians believe in the existence of or aspire to tselostnost’. I explore this Russian historical tselostnost’ in a series of articles on this site.[107]

In terms of the Russian value of or aspiration to historical tselostnost’ and the Ukrainian question, there is a centuries-long connection established in Russian culture. Pushkin — a formative and reinforcing element in Russian artistic, political, and historical culture – expressed monist tselostnost’ regarding Russian history, noting in the already cited letter to Chaadaev: “I swear by honor that for nothing in the world would I want to change the Fatherland or have another history, except the history of our ancestors, such as God gave it to us.”[108] Here, Pushkin speaks of history as an integrated whole, and his beliefs in Orthodoxy – and by implication its eschatology and teleology – and that God gave Russia its particular history suggest Providentially predetermined outcome. At the same time, Pushkin, a superior student of history, established the Russian mythology of Hetman Mazepa as a cynical traitor, as noted earlier, for attempting to switch the Cossacks’ allegiance from Russia to Sweden in the Great Northern War. This implies Pushkin would not have accepted Ukraine’s break with Russia. Pushkin’s poem “Poltava” commemorates Mazepa’s and Charles XII’s defeat at the Battle of Poltava, located in present-day Ukraine. In the end, the weak Ukrainian Cossacks fail to achieve independence, and “one hundred years later,” Mazepa and the other personage that appear in the poem have been forgotten, lost in an “impenetrable shadow, closed for us” except for an annual reaffirmation of the Church anathema issued against Mazepa is noted in a song by a blind Ukrainian monk. Time has buried the details of History.[109]

A perhaps classic statement of Ukraine’s importance to Russians’ highly-valued sense of historical unity as historical continuity was penned by the famous 19th century Russian traditionalist Mikhail Katkov, arguing the continuity of Great Russian-Ukrainian unity throughout general Russian history. He noted in an 1863 article about Ukraine: “Are these places settled by special peoples accidentally unified with the Russian (people) which has become part of its state? No, here from time immemorial lived the Russian people, here the Russian state began, here the Russian religion began, and right here the Russian language began. Here the historical consciousness of the Russian people was first born, and here the monuments of spiritual life, its education, and literature appeared. The southern and northern, the eastern and western populations of Russia were aware of themselves from the very beginning as one people, and there is not one sign in history that there has been between us any kind of hatred, any kind of antagonism.”[110]

There were numerous expressions of teleological historical unity. The pan-Slavist Lamanskii had a teleological view of Slavic unity and Ukraine’s unity with Russia, believing that history’s destiny was the unification of all the Slavic peoples.[111] The liberal Pyotr Struve, perhaps waxing rhetorically, expressed a teleological historical view of the fate of Russian unity. Writing about “all-Russian culture and Ukrainian particularism,” he asserted: “(H)istory created, is creating, and will create the cultural unity of the Russian people.”[112]

Berdyaev asserted both a continuity- and teleology-based form of Russian unity. Russia without Ukraine would be “a terrible betrayal and terrible crime in the destruction of the entire cause of Russian history which carried out the idea of Russia.”[113] The reference here suggests the importance of Ukraine for Russians’ attachment to another form of Russian tselostnost’ not covered in Russian Tselostnost’—historical unity or historical tselostnost’.

The late Imperial era, Silver Age symbolist poet and thinker Aleksandr Blok (1880-1921) reveled in the secret of ‘Eternal Russia.’ Hardly a traditionalist Orthodox believer, he penned a powerful patriotic ode to Russian cultural and historical unity and Russia’s deeply ancient historical roots in his 1906 poem ‘Rus`’. Russia is called Rus’ after the Kievan and later Muscovite model, but the former is emphasized by Blok’s reference to Russia’s “initial purity.” The poem closes:

You have rocked a living soul,

Rus, in your vastness,

And here — she did not stain

Her original purity.

I sleep — and there is a secret in sleep,

And Russia rests in the secret.

She is extraordinary in sleep,

And I won’t touch her clothes. [114]

Still asleep in “dream,” Russia risks spoiling her ancient purity by awakening from its eternal sleep and being tainted and torn by surrounding forces. There is a suggestion, perhaps, that her ‘sleep’ represent Russia in divine history and if awakened she will be spoiled by material, human history.

Today, the idea of historical unity has been expressed in quite practical terms by Putin but in more theo-philosophical and mystical terms by Dugin. Putin and top Russian officials have emphasized the continuity of Russian history and thus its processual tselostnost’. In an important December 2016 speech commemorating the 1917 revolution, Putin expressed support for an idea of Russian history as a “common history” and quoted 19th century intuitivist philosopher Alexei Losev’s admonition to Russians to treat “all” of it with respect. Putin warned against dragging “schisms” in Russian history into the present, reminding Russians: “We are a united people, we are one people, and we have one Russia.”[115] Security Council Secretary and former FSB Chairman Nikolai Patrushev noted  in June 2020: “The generalized idea of ​​the totality of traditional Russian spiritual and moral values” and “the historical unity of the peoples of Russia, the continuity of the history and our homeland.”[116] While there is no mention of Ukraine in these statements, it is hard to maintain the view that Russian history is replete with continuity if it has been broken by Ukraine’s separation from Russia, especially if historical tselostnost’ is tied directly to solidarist and the other three types of tselostnost’ in the cultural in general in these leaders’ minds.[117] And we know that both Putin and Patrushev consider parts of Ukraine to be ancient, if not eternal Russian lands. In this way, the various tselostnosts are connect in their own and the public’s mind—a phenomenon I noted in the book Russian Tselostnost’ and which I discuss below in relation to the present subject.[118]

 Dugin’s ‘fourth theory’, rooted in ‘Dasein’ or being, clearly draws on the Russian Orthodox-informed monist transcendental, eschatological, messianic, and utopian tradition. It is not just messianic (a Russian guard leading divine revolution), it is millenarian. Dugin expects his “divine” “sophiological revolution” to ring in the last stage of human history.[119] Dugin proposes that a unified “composite subject” in history, “being,” replace the subjects of the first three political theories: the individual in liberalism, the working class in communism, and race and state in fascism.[120] Reminiscent of Solovev and then Nietsche, his spiritual utopia of Dassein will have “transcendent gender, spiritual feminism [Sofia], and heroic virility.”[121] But most indicative of his Orthodox monist tselostnost’ is the connection Dugin draws between Christ’s second coming and a worldly Daseinist ‘sophiological’ revolution at the end of history. Thus, Dugin offers a teleologically historical tselostnost’ in which the apocalypse and second coming ring in a universe that is to be not just Christian but Orthodox and Russian. And as already discussed, this historical unity is entailed by monism and universalism, which help construct Dugin’s imperialist attitudes towards Ukraine and demand its reunification to Russia as part of the universal all-encompassing divine-matter integration to come.

The more mainstream Belyakov in his Ten’ Mazepa points to many concrete historical continuities between Kiev and other Russian regions. For example, Belyakov notes that Muscovite Prince Ivan Kalita sent his now famous ‘golden’ fur hat to the Kievan Grand Prince Simeon. By the 15th century it was called ‘the fur hat of Monomakh’ or ‘shapka Monomakha’ was worn by Muscovy’s tsars Ivan III and Ivan the Terrible, establishing historical continuity between Muscovite Rus’ and Kievan Rus’ through its Grand Prince Vladimir ‘Monomakh’, who adopted Orthodoxy and baptized Rus’.[122] Russians have access to eminently fair historical studies of Russian-Ukrainian history such as Belyakov’s Ten’ Mazepa, but most are clearly more geared to the traditionalist’s interpretation, which, although it has its points of veracity, clearly are sympathetic to the view of the wholeness of those relations in one or more of its aspects, whether historical, ethno-national, cultural, religious, linguistic, or political.[123]

In literature, Russia’s most popular writer Zakhar Prilepin, like Putin pursues solidarist tselosnost’ by promoting the unity in and of Russian history. In his fiction writing, Prilepin emphasizes the commonality and uniformity rather than difference between communism’s perpetrators and victims: “The executioner and the victim are indistinguishable from each other, equally cruel and equally disgusting.”[124] They are the one and same and made revolution and terror together, and so Russia remains whole and impenetrable. Moreover, the Bolshevik experience is just another Smuta, after which little changes. It “is like a Solovetsky boulder: you can’t get inside it.”[125] The Abode tells us that Russia’s history demonstrates her metaphysical tselostnost’. Russia is whole and complete, though not pretty, in the Gulag. Not even God can change it. The camp wards’ moral descent matches that of the wardens.[126] Prilepin’s politics carry forth the same politic-historical tselostnost’ preached in his literature. It represents another example of the seemingly odd post-Soviet mix of Orthodox religiosity and Soviet nostalgia, made compatible in part by their commonalities in monism, universalism, communalism, and solidarism.[127] His ‘For Truth-Just Russia’ party program puts forward a broad historical, cultural, and identity tselostnost’. It recognizes the contribution to the formation of “Russian civilization” made by “Peter I and Catherine the Great with Stepan Razin and Emelyan Pugachev, Nicholas I and Mikhail Speransky with the Decembrists and Herzen, Alexander II and Pyotr Stolypin with Lenin and Stalin,” by “both sides in the Civil war – the Reds and the Whites,” by all nationalities of Imperial and Soviet Russia.[128] In Prilepin’s review of Russian historical personages we have Catherine the Great, who terminated the last vestiges of the Hetmanate’s autonomy, and Ukraine as one of the Imperial and Soviet era nationalities that constructed Russia (and made its history). Prilepin was killed in a Ukrainian-sponsored terrorist attack in his home village—Kiev’s retaliation for his material and moral support for Russia’s ‘special military operation’ in Ukraine on 24 February 2022.


Russian Communalist Tselostnost’ and Ukraine    

Russian communalism is somewhat of an outlier, since I define it as wholeness or unity associated with sub-national groups. Therefore, it has somewhat limited relevance to Russians’ views of Russian-Ukrainian tselostnost’. So a detailed referencing of communalist articulations related to, say, the Russian commune or obshchina in Ukraine has limited relevance for our subject and the effort to track them down and analyze them here is not worth the space. The commune could not really provide an explanation or revelation about Russian-Ukrainian integrality other than as a common cultural value. The symbol of pre-Soviet Russian communalism, the village commune, was imported by Russian Empress Catherine the Great into ‘Little Russia’ after she terminated the Cossack Hetmanate’s semi-autonomy in the late eighteenth century. Quasi-Slavophile Konstantin Leontiev (1831-1891) praised Catherine for this.[129]

Perhaps Russia’s historically most adamant champions of the Russian communalism, the Slavophiles, promoted the consensual, unanimous nature of communal decision-making in the Russian mir’s obshchina and often saw this as an eternal value constant across Russian, indeed all Slavic history. Thus, Konstantin Aksakov argued that “from the earliest times the Slavs tried to preserve the cherished principle of unanimity” and “when unable to reach agreement, they preferred rather to do battle, to inflict punishment upon themselves.”[130] One is tempted to extrapolate this claim on to the present Russian-Ukrainian conflict, which has elements of a fratricidal Slavic civil war. It also is worth noting that this is a typical example of the contentious, conflictive, schismatic Russian/Slavic reality being in contradistinction to the aspiration for tselostnost’, whether of the commune, larger community, nations, state, (Slavic) ‘race’, or universal humankind. Aksakov also averred that the liberum veto “was not an invention of the Poles but goes back to the beginning of Slavic history.”[131] In this view, this aspect of Russian communalism extends from all Slavs and ancient Slavic history and would entail Kievan Rus and Ukraine.[132]

Today, academics note the commonality of communalist customs among Ukrainians and Russians as a cultural unity. Alekseev and Nemina note: “Special significance was given to the custom was given to Bratchina rites (communal gatherings) [customary collective picnics often surrounding certain important life or village events – Hahn’s comment], where family and personal matters were decided. At this time conflicts ceased, true brotherhood was achieved between people, and peace manifested itself in relationships with each other. This found reflection in the sayings: ‘People’s friendship and brotherhood is dearer than any wealth’ (Russians, Ukrainians, and Belorussians) and ‘There will not be good, if there as animosity among yourselves’ (Ukrainians).” [133]

The other form of pre-Soviet communalism I examined in Russian Tselostnost’ – the Orthodox communalist idea of sobornost’ or conciliarity, which asserts a Church community united in grace, intersects with Russian monism and through pan-Orthodoxism, being a semi-universalism, to universalism. Sobornost’ was an idea that the Church and traditionalist secular ideologies such as Slavophilism propounded. The idea of a pan-Orthodox community in a communalist or ‘sobornyi’ collective of believers united as one through divine grace coming from God to those under the roof of the Church should clearly trump for believers any and all ethnonational, cultural, linguistic or other differences. The presence of the Russian Orthodox Church-affiliated Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) in Ukraine, curator of the Keivo-Pechersk Monastery and Lavra, until its banning by Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelenskii would naturally extend the umbrella of Orthodox communalist sobornost’ to the communities under the UOC. With the expropriation by the Ukrainian state of OUC churches and monasteries and their transfer to other Orthodox Churches established under the Zelenskiy government’s aegis, this form of communalist tselostnost’ will have a more direct impact on Russian-Ukrainian relations.

The Tselostnost’ of Tselostnost’ and Ukraine

Many of the unities or wholenesses of Russian tselostnost’ are tied together in various moments, objects, historical figures. Since the purveyors of tselostnost’ often adhered to several, even all five types, they often interweaved these themes, and they did so in relation to Ukraine as well. For example, the cultural artifact from the 11th century, “The Chronicle of Past Times” or “Chronicle of Nestor”, touches on Russia’s historical, cultural-literary or ontological unity, national solidarity and security, and monist tselostnost’. It ties Russians to Kievan Rus’ and Russian history with Kievan history and thus Ukrainian history. It is one of the first artifacts of Russian literature and still read today. It ties Russians to Kiev and its history. Finally, Chronicler Nestor Kievskii’s remains are preserved in the sacred Kiev-Pechersk Lavra.

Berdyaev expressed the strong Russian tendency to interweave solidarist, universalist, monist, and historical tselostnost’. A good example of this from pre-Soviet Russia can be found in the works of Berdyaev. There, Ukraine was integrated firmly into a framework of Russian national solidarity. First, he denied both the Great Russians and “Little Russians” or Ukrainians any status as separate nations. Just as there is no separate Ukrainian nation or nationality, so too there is no separate Great Russian nation or nationality; there is only the Russian nation and “tribal differences” between Russian and Ukrainians.[134] In other words, he affirmed support for the solidarity of the Russian nation as a united ethno-cultural entity, noting its centuries’ long continuity until 1917, if in somewhat unique form by denying the Great Russians national status separate from its union with Ukraine and other traditional territories and even its colonized peoples.

He also noted the undermining of Russia’s culture-linguistic solidarity, reflecting his own solidarism. In rejecting the idea of some that Peter the Great’s project could be terminated while Pushkin and the Great Russian Literature that, in Berdyaev’s view, he and Dostoevskii were the greatest symbols, could be preserved: “The emanation of the great Russian language conquered all the nationalities, which populated Russia and by its spiritual power made (them) recognize the great Russian literature as their own literature and summoned a consciousness of their belonging to the united and great culture of Pushkin and Gogol’, Dostoevskii and Tolstoy. Today they have trespassed on this majestic significance of the Russian language. First the Ukrainians trespassed, and so are committing apostasy against the people of Pushkin and Dostoevskii, overthrowing the majestic Russian language in the name of the little Russian (malorusskogo) dialect, and dividing Russia. The spirit of particularism, provincialism, separatism are victorious. These spirits, these little demons are destroying Great Russia and Russian culture as much as the great demon of (communist) internationalism. The existence of Russia, the Russian people, and the Russian idea are being negated from two sides.”[135] Thus, in Berdyaev’s reading Ukrainian separatism played an important role in destroying the Imperial Russian state and was threatening to annihilate the Russian people, its literature, culture, and identity.

Berdyaev also viewed all this as a process of the breaking of Russia’s historical unity. He recognized the forced, temporary breakup of the Russian nation between Kiev Rus’s southern (Ukrainian) and northern (Great Russian) parts during the Mongol yoke. This is being repeated with the advent of the Bolshevik yoke, and these breakups destroyed the unity of Russian history—Russia’s historical tselostnost’: “(The revolution) dissolved Russia, united and great, and gravely wounded the Russian national sensibility. Russia, the greatest state in the world, disintegrated in a few months and transformed into a pile of garbage. The cause of all Russian history, the cause of the gathering in of Russia from Ivan Kalita, the cause of Peter the Great, the cause of all Russian culture – Pushkin and Dostoevskii – was canceled, annihilated, and declared an unnecessary, evil cause.”[136]

We find similar interweaving of the various tselostnosts today. In a 2009 liturgy, for example, Patriarch Kirill, emphasized the connection between Kiev and the ROC, on the one hand. and Western attempts in the past and present to break Russia’s territorial integrity and the unity of the Orthodox community (pan-Orthodoxism and communalism), on the other hand, closing with words with a distinctly monist message. The quote is worth reading in its entirety or, as below, with some redactions for brevity’s sake:

Today we remember St. Alexei, Metropolitan of Moscow and All Russia. More precisely, the title of the saint sounded different — Metropolitan of Kiev, Moscow and All Russia, because St. Alexei was the last of the first hierarchs of the Russian Church to bear the ancient title of Metropolitan of Kiev. … (But) having used this formidable invasion from the east, our opponents from the west sought to finally split Russia, tearing Kiev — the Mother See city from it, and divide the Russian Orthodox Church.

“St. Alexei received from the Patriarch of Constantinople the title of Metropolitan of Kiev and All Russia, which at that time was carried by the Primate of our Church. But since he lived permanently in Moscow and it was the city of Moscow that began to rise as the new capital of the great Russian state, then the title of the saint was Metropolitan of Kiev, Moscow and All Russia.

“The concern of St. Alexei was, on the one hand, to protect our country, people and Church from the oppression of the Horde…. On the other hand, his concern was to preserve the unity of our Church, to prevent the separation of the First See of Kiev from Russian Orthodoxy. This ministry of the saint was associated with special difficulties, because political influence on the western Russian lands was aimed at preventing the Primate from visiting Kiev. … Already in the distant XIV century, some forces sought to divide Russia. It was not unexpected and new for us that similar attempts were repeated in the 90s of the XX century… (and) attempts were made to divide the unified body of the Russian Church. Again someone wanted to draw a border along the same historical boundary, trying to cut off the mother of Russian cities and destroy the unity of all Ancient Russia. …

“By the grace of God, the Councils that took place in the 1990s of the 20th century and at the beginning of the 21st century with the participation of the entire episcopate of our Church, again and again testified to the unyielding desire of the entire ancient Orthodox Russia to be united and have its Patriarch at the head.

“This desire for unity was especially vividly expressed last summer, when the Bishops’ Council was held in Moscow in June. Russian prelates gathered in the capital, aware of the increased desire to divide the Russian Church, and therefore adopted a historic declaration ‘On the Unity of the Russian Orthodox Church.’ This declaration was once again confirmed during the days of the Local Council held at the end of January this year. … (These documents) express the ardent desire of the entire fullness of the Church of historical Russia to preserve unity…

“The Church sought to be beyond any political influence, beyond any state mechanism, remaining internally free and defending only one right — to be the conscience of its people. …

“(T)he only purpose of the Church is the salvation of people; and everything that it does, including relations with society and the state, it does and should do only for the sake of saving people, so that the Kingdom of God approaches, so that everyone in his heart really feels the touch of Divine grace and responds to this touch with the purity of faith and life.[137]

Thus, in struggling to preserve the unity of the ROC, with its branches abroad, including in Kiev and based in the Pechorskaya Lavra, Alexei I and II were saving souls ‘so that the Kingdom of God approaches’ and each person is touched by God’s grace. In this way, both Orthodox monism and communalist sobornost’ and tselostnost’ are linked with the semi-universalism of pan-Orthodoxism.


The entire traditionalist, neo-traditionalist, and internationalist communist portions of Russia’s political spectrum as well as individual centrist and democratic thinkers (e.g., Losskii, Struve) have been in agreement over the centuries that Ukrainian nationality, culture, dialect/language, and Orthodox (even Uniate Catholic) believers are a part or at least closely related offshoots of their Russian counterparts. These beliefs are connected to at least four types of Russian tselostnost’: monism, universalism, solidarism, and historicism. The small sample of views presented herein is a thin sliver of the Russian [and a few Ukrainian and Belorussian (Losskii)] thinkers, whose articulations can be marshalled to demonstrate the relevance of Russian tselostnost’ for Russian thinking about Ukraine.[138] Indeed, a book could be written on this for each of the four types of tselostnost’ most focused here and perhaps even for the less interesting case of communalism, which is or at least has been a cultural strain Ukrainians shared with Russians, particularly in the past, through the belief in sobornost’ in their respective Orthodox communities. Monism is again, as during the pre-Soviet period, deeply enmeshed in Russian Orthodoxy. There is a danger that given the strong patriotic traditionalist wing in Russia and the inevitable de-moderation (radicalization) of all polities in time of war that the appropriation of God in Russian monism tselostnost’ can lead an even more virulent strain of authoritarian thinking in Russia, with little to no toleration for political dissent. This is especially true when, as we have seen, Russian Orthodoxy is strongly tied to ideas regarding unity with Kiev.

Russian solidarism tends to deny or diminish the ‘otherness’ of Ukraine and Ukrainians. This certainly encourages rather than discourages Russian pursuit of linguistic presence in Ukraine and/or cultural, religious, economic, and political integration. The latter might include territorial and state integration either in direct reunification or in a multi-state union such as the Russia-Belarus Union or by international organization or agreements such as the Commonwealth of Independent States, the Eurasian Economic Union, and the Collective Security Treaty Organization. The constant reiteration of articulations in Russian culture regarding the history of common statehood and cooperation, shared religious and cultural practices and institutions, linguistic commonalities, and joint historical roots serves – sometimes intentionally, sometimes not – to reinforce the value of Russian-Ukrainian wholeness in Russian political culture and the motivation to pursue one or more types of integration, depending on which Russian institution or political force one is talking about.

Russian universalism is more forgiving than monism and solidarism in regard to the extent of Ukrainian otherness. Nevertheless, universalism or forms of internationalism can entail Ukraine. Semi-universalisms such as pan-Slavism, pan-Orthodoxy, and some Slavophilism have tended to downplay Ukrainian claims to otherness. Communist internationalism, which still has some influence inside Russia and has reinforced Russian universalism, has sought to erase otherness – Ukrainian or otherwise – altogether a form a united global proletarian—a new Soviet man, culture, and universal state. Today, these trends remain in pockets of Russian political culture and shape state policies. The Russian Orthodox Church has been anxious to preserve its affiliated Church in Ukraine, something that supports both Russian religious and cultural influence along with the ethnic Russian and Russian-speaking populations there.

Russian monism’s roots in Russian Orthodoxy, born in Kiev, imposes a divine, sacred imprimatur on Russian ties to Kiev and Ukraine. This overlaps with the other tselosnosts tied to Orthodoxy: the communalist idea of Church sobornost’ and the semi-universalism of pan-Orthodoxy. Monism is thus reinforced and expanded through these two aspects of tselostnost’. Therefore, the monist views touching on Ukraine described above, which dominated among Russian thinkers, especially in the 19th century, have important implications for present day Russian discourse on Ukraine. The post-Soviet era has seen them be rehabilitated and, especially among new traditionalist and conservative Russians, honored, lending their works greater influence than might other be the case.

The almost entirely religious content of Russian monism today (fully dominating over teleologies such as residual communist thought and the small number of democratic and transhumanist thinkers) makes the increasingly intensified religious conflict between the Maidan regime under Zelenskiy and the Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU or PTsU in Russian and Ukrainian), on the one hand, and  the ROC-affiliated Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC or UPTs) fraught with potentially far-reaching, grave ideational, ideological, and political consequences. The recent Ukrainian raids on the Kiev Cave Monastery and numerous other Russian Orthodox churches and shrines, their expropriation by the Ukrainian state for transfer to a Ukrainian Orthodox Church, and the arrests of Russian Orthodox priests, and the likely complete ban UPTs throughout Ukraine can only reconfirm Russians’ trepidation regarding the ‘loss’, the new fall of Kiev. The perhaps still distant but far-reaching upshot of such a humiliating loss of golden-domed Kiev, particularly the Monastery of the Caves Lavra, might spark among the Russian faithful’s visions of the rise of the anti-Christ, Armageddon, and the coming of Christ and the Heavenly Kingdom to the world. It may also prompt the Kremlin to escalate the war in Ukraine.

In response to Kiev’s repressions at the Lavra and the noted evacuation order, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church’s Metropolitan Pavel (Ponomaryov) stated that “apparently the apocalypse is beginning in Ukraine.”[139] Although neither Russian tselostnost’ nor Western or Ukrainian assaults on that Russian sensibility may not be signs or causes of a coming apocalypse, they certainly are factors producing the present time of troubles in Slavdom today.

Through monist tselostnost’, in particular the role of religion, the present Russian-Ukrainian conflict and NATO-Russian Ukraine appear to be such that they can very easily transform, escalate, and endure perhaps beyond what any of the players, external and internal, could have imagined. Even though they began largely as a result of Western interference – most importantly NATO and EU expansion – they could carry on for years as religious fervor drives national hatred to higher and higher levels. More optimistically, we might hope that Christianity’s message of love will triumph and that the ROC, Ukrainian Churches, and other Christian faiths will place words encouraging restraint, peace and reconciliation and tip the scale tottering towards Armageddon towards peace instead.

The confluence of objective, subjective, tselostnost’-related, and ontological or identity factors firmly anchors Russian attitudes, beliefs, and aspirations towards Ukraine. Many of those held by Russians about Russia, Ukraine, and points of intersection or unity are historically factual objective realities. In addition, the subjective views, which may be less or not factual but firmly held by dint of the Russian discourse, are intertwined with the powerful Russian value of tselostnost’, further consolidating Russian culture’s and thereby Russians’ emotional attachment to Ukraine.

There is an irony here. Russians, past and present have continued to support various forms of unity with Kiev and Ukraine despite their role in helping to foment two of Russia’s greatest ontological, cultural schisms: the the ROC schism or Raskol’ and the revolutionary reforms of Peter the Great. In the former a ‘Kievan party’ of clerics schooled in the Jesuit-modelled Moghyla Theological Academy in Kiev was allied with the ‘Greek party’, which encouraged retranslations of the Byzantine Orthodox holy books leading to Patriarch Nikon’s reforms rejected by the ‘Russian party’, the ‘raskolniki’ or schismatic Old Believers. Kievan scholars, most notably Simeon Polotskii became highly influential in the court and influenced Tsar Alexei’s Kremlin bedroom quartermaster, Fyodor Rtishev. Thus, Kiev became the conduit for the Catholic or Jesuit ‘infection’ that sparked the schism with the tradition-loyal schismatics. In the latter the Kievan party, already more firmly entrenched in Russian politics, was closely tied to Peter the Great’s family through his father Tsar Aleksei’s first wife, Maria Miroslavskaya. The Kiev Academy-educated Simeon Polotskii had educated Maria and was a major influence on Tsar Aleksei, promoting Westernization in the arts (iconography and music), the Church reforms that sparked the Raskol’, and a more secularized Russian way of life.[140] Polotskii’s 1667 book, The Eagle of the Russias, hailed Tsar Alexei, now considered the anti-Christ by the Old Believers and promoted both Russian absolutism and Moscow’s messianist claim as the Third Rome and Nikon’s vision of Russia as ‘God’s kingdom’, exclaiming: “May thou be victorious over all the world and may the world find faith by means of Thee.”[141] Thus, we have an irony with an irony: a Western-influenced Kievan promoting an Orthodox-based universalist tselostnost’. It is worth adding to our original irony that many of the peasant revolts throughout Russian history – that which helped drive the Polish-sponsored False Dmitrii in the early 17th century, the Pugachev, Stenka Razin, and other rebellions – often emerged or intensified in ‘Ukrainian’ Cossack lands.

The main point, however, is that two of the types of tselostnost’  that are rooted in Orthodoxy – monism and universalism – tie Russian attitudes favoring one or another form of Russian-Ukrainian unity closely to confessionalism, one of the important civilizational and national identity-forming factors and drivers of historical and contemporary events. In Russia, Orthodox monist tselostnost’ is the progenitor of universalist and solidarist tselostnost’ – all of which help to strongly incline Russian political culture and overall culture towards a preference for some form of unity with Ukraine.

Thus, President Putin’s assertions about the unity of the Russian and Ukrainian peoples as part of tripartite whole including Belarussians is much more than a personalist ruler’s opinion and autonomous policy. Many of his views regarding Ukraine’s closeness to Russia are ubiquitous throughout much of Russian culture and discourse and has deep roots that reach down into an intricately interconnected and well-entrenched matrix of five, certainly four fervently believed and valued wholenesses, the pillars of Russian tselostnost’. We can hypothesize that the idea of Russian-Ukrainian unity nurtured by the five types of tselostnost’ discussed here with regard to Ukraine created fertile ground for the seeds of Galician-Kievan repression of Russia-oriented Ukrainians in the country’s east and south and of NATO expansion and the security dilemma to sprout a powerful response of Russian vigilance against security threats emanating from the West, leading to the present NATO-Russia Ukrainian war.

To conclude, we can say taking an apophatic approach that Ukraine and Russia form an antinomy, which philosophers, especially Russian thinkers inclined towards tselostnost’, note constitute bifurcated wholes. These two cultures have grown together in a unified yet bitter discourse. But from medieval times their national identities began to diverge developing in opposition to each other and the discourse became increasingly antagonistic by the mid-19th century. Symbols — Belyakov notes this about the counter-opposite views of Mazepa adopted by the two cultures[142]— were constructed, perceived, and purveyed that had completely countervailing meanings for each culture. For Russians Mazepa may have been a traitor; for Ukrainians he became a heroic champion of Ukrainian independence and struggle for statehood. In Russia, Khmelniyskiy, who joined the Zaporozhian Cossacks to Russia, is respected. In Ukraine, he is seen most often in a negative light either as a failed statesman or a traitor. As usual in Russian history any belief in the reality of tselostnost’ is forced to give way to a hope for and aspiration to tselostnost’.

None of what is written in this working paper should be construed as a justification on the part of the author for Russia’s attempt to incorporate parts of all of Ukraine back into the Russian fold. However, much of it evidences justification in the eyes of many Russians and certainly undermines much of the black and white view of the Ukrainian question among Westerners. Nor should what is written below should be considered an endorsement of the Russian views presented. Many of them are undoubtedly accurate. Some, however, are not. Legitimate historical claims to another state’s sovereign territory do not justify policies or wars designed to end such sovereignty for the sake of national self-aggrandizement or even historical justice. Even if it is thought true that Ukrainians were or are Russians or a subset of the latter, this cannot negate the development and existence of a separate identity today that warrants a separate Ukrainian state. After all, there are many Arab states, two German states, and three English-speaking states, two of which fought a war leading to American independence from Britain. There is no reason why there cannot be two or three ‘Russian’ states and peoples that can learn to both resolve their historical and cultural issues and preserve their historical and cultural commonalities so that they might enrich them together rather than drive them apart. For that, it would be best if outsiders refrained from meddling in these incredibly sensitive and complicated issues to the detriment of the direct parties’ comity. The purpose of this working paper has been to explain not justify Russian ideas and actions related to Ukraine. To the extent there remains any interest outside Russia in understanding the complex web of Russo-Ukrainian history and relations, perhaps this paper can contribute to outsiders’ ability to work with Ukrainians and Russians with more humility and in pursuit of comity not amity both among them and between them and ourselves.


[1] Gordon M. Hahn, Russian Tselostnost’: Wholeness in Russian Culture, Thought, History and Politics (London: Europe Books, 2022).

[2] Patr. Kirill (Gundyaev), “Slovo za Bozhestvennoi liturgiei v den’ pamyati svyatitelya Aleksiya, mitropolita Moskovskogo i vseya Rusi, chudotvortsa, v Bogoyavlenskom kafedral-nom sobore g. Moskvy, 25.o2.2009,”,

[3] “Pis’mo Pushkina k Chaadaevy 19 Oktyabrya 1936 g.,”,

[4] F. M. Dostoevskii, Dnevnik pisatleya: 1873-1881 (St. Petersburg: Lenizdat, 2001), p. 555.

[5] Hahn, Russian Tselostnost’: Wholeness in Russian Culture, Thought, History and Politics, chapters 4-5. Solovev was christened the ‘Russian Plato’ by Russian philosopher Vladimir Ern (1882-1917), ‘title’ rejected for Solovev by Frank. See Semyon Frank, “O natsionalizme v filosofii” and “Eshcho o natsionalizme v filosogfii,” in S. L. Frank, Russkoe morrovozzrenie (Saint Petersburg: Nauka, 1996), pp. 103-12 and pp. 113-19, respectively, at pp. 108-9 and 115-16.

[6] Dostoevskii, Dnevnik pisatleya: 1873-1881, pp. 251-5.

[7] M. N. Katkov, “Peredovitsa v ‘Moskovskikh vedomstvyakh’ za 21 iyunya 1863 g.,” in A. Yu. Minakov, ed. Ukrainskii vopros v Russkoi patrioticheskoi mysli (Moscow: Knizhnyi mir, 2016), pp. 91-100, p. 99.

[8] I. S. Aksakov, “Opasno li ukrainofil’stvo dlya Russkogo gosudarstva?,” in Minakov, Ukrainskii vopros v Russkoi patrioticheskoi mysli, pp. 200-211, at p. 211.

[9] A. S. Khomyakov, “Po povodu stat’i I. V. Kireevskogo,” in Aleksei Sergeevich Khomyakov, Polnoe sobranie sochinenii, Tretii vypusk, Tom 1 (Moscow: Universitetskaya tipografiya, 1900),, pp. 197-260, at pp. 234-5.

[10] Khomyakov cited in Andrzej Walicki, The Slavophile Controversy: A History of a Conservative Utopia in Nineteenth Century Russian Thought (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1975), p. 228.

[11] N. I. Danilevskii, Rossiya i Yevropa (Saint Petersburg: Strakhov, 1895), pp. 416-22.

[12] Danilevskii, Rossiya i Evropa, p. 125, cited in Losskii, Istoriya russkoi filosofii, pp. 79-80 and Danilevsky, Rossiia i Evropa, Vzgliad na kul’turnye i politicheskie otnosheniia slavianskogo mira k germane-romanskomu, pp. 113, cited in Andrzej Walicki, A History of Russian Thought: From the Enlightenment to Marxism (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1979), p. 292.

[13] Danilevskii, Rossiya i Yevropa, pp. 556-7.

[14] V. I. Lamanskii, “Natsional’naya bestaktnost’,” in Minakov, Ukrainskii Vopros v Russkoi patrioticheskoi mysli, pp. 37-57, at p. 46.

[15] Lamanskii, “Natsional’naya bestaktnost’,” pp. 47-8.

[16] Anton Karatashev, “Pravoslavie i Rossiya” in  S. Verkhovskogo, Pravoslavie i zhizn’: sbornik statei (New York: Izdatel’stvo imeni Chekhova, 1953), pp. 184-5,

[17] Semyon Frank, “Ril’ke i slavyanstvo,” in Frank, Russkoe mirovozzrenie, pp. 609-13, at p. 611.

[18] Fedotov, Russkaya religioznost’- Chast’ 1: Khristianstvo Kievskoi Rusi, X-XIII vv., pp. 88 and 91.

[19] G. P. Fedotov, “Tri stolitsy,” Versty, No. 1, 1926, in G. P. Fedotov, Tom 1: Litso Rossii – stati 1918-1930 (France, YMCA Press, 1988), pp. 49-70, at pp. 67-8,

[20] Fedotov, “Tri stolitsy,” p. 69.

[21] Hahn, Russian Tselostnost’: Wholeness in Russian Culture, Thought, History and Politics.

[22] Aleksandr Dugin, Moya Voina: Geopoliticheskii dnevnik (Moscow: Tsentropoligraf, 2015), pp. 500-1.

[23] Aleksandr Dugin, Chetvertyi put’: Vvedenie v chetvertuyu politicheskuyu teoriyu (Moscow: Academicheskii proekt, 2014), p. 85.

[24] Dugin, Chetvertyi put’: Vvedenie v chetvertuyu politicheskuyu teoriyu, pp. 438-66. Dugin’s emphasis on ‘being’ and “intuition” clearly borrows from late 19th century Russian formal philosophy, in particular the intuitivists. Dugin, Chetvertyi put’: Vvedenie v chetvertuyu politicheskuyu teoriyu, p. 39.

[25] Dugin, Chetvertyi put’: Vvedenie v chetvertuyu politicheskuyu teoriyu, p. 426.

[26] Dugin, Chetvertyi put’: Vvedenie v chetvertuyu politicheskuyu teoriyu, p. 427.

[27] Konstantin Malofeev, Imperiya: nastoyashchee i budushchee (Moscow: Isdatel’stvo AST, 2022), pp. 384-5.

[28] Kirill (Gundyaev), part., “Iz slova v Krestovozdvizhenskom khrame Uspenskoi Kievo-Pecherskoi lavry,” Kiev Bishopric, Ukraine, 24 February 2010,,

[29] “Stat’ya Vladimira Putina ‘Ob istoricheskom edinstve russkikh i ukraintsev’,”, 12 July 2021,

[30] “Stat’ya Vladimira Putina ‘Ob istoricheskom edinstve russkikh i ukraintsev’,”, 12 July 2021,

[31] Dmitrii Grunyushkin, “Satanisty na Ukraine mrut strakha,” Vzglyad, 14 April 2023,

[32] Dostoevskii, Dnevnik pisatleya: 1873-1881, p. 675.

[33] Hahn, Russian Tselostnost’: Wholeness in Russian Culture, Thought, History, and Politics, pp. 351-531.

[34] Fedotov, “Tri stolitsy,” p. 70.

[35] Aleksandr Pushkin, “Klevetnikam Rossii,”

[36] Aleksei Khomyakov, “Kiev”,,

[37] Pushkin quoted in Richard S. Wortman, The Power of Language and Rhetoric in Russian Political History (London: Bloomsbury, 2018), p. 164.

[38] Lamanskii, “Natsional’naya bestaktnost’,” pp. 48-9.

[39] Berdyaev, “Rossiya i Velikorossiya,” p. 418.

[40] Vladimir Kantor, Lyubov’ k dvoiniku: Mif i realnost’ russkoi kul’tury (Moscow: Nauchno-politicheskaya kniga, 2013), p. 284.

[41] Hahn, Russian Tselostnost’: Wholeness in Russian Culture, Thought, History, and Politics, pp. 807-8.

[42] V. V. Rozanov, “Malorossy i Velikorossy,” in Minakov, Ukrainskii vopros v Russkoi patrioticheskoi mysli, pp. 273-9, at pp. 277-9.

[43] Konstantin Malofeev, Imperiya: nastoyashchee i budushchee (Moscow: Isdatel’stvo AST, 2022), pp. 384-5.

[44] “His Holiness Patriarch Kirill has addressed religious figures and representatives of international organizations in connection with the situation around the Kiev Pechersk Lavra,”, 11 March 2023,

[45] Dugin, Moya Voina: Geopoliticheskii dnevnik, pp. 350-1.

[46] “His Holiness Patriarch Kirill has addressed religious figures and representatives of international organizations in connection with the situation around the Kiev Pechersk Lavra,”, 11 March 2023,

[47] The infamous Orthodox oligarch Konstantin Malofeev seemed to reject Metropolitan Tikhon’s depoliticized version of the Third Rome theory. He proposed that it can be the Russian state’s “ideology” and thereby fill the void created by the lack of one in the Russian Constitution. Constantinople Patriarch Bartholomew has criticized the ROC for the idea of the Third Rome, ostensible “ethnotribalism”, and supposed attempts “to tear Slavic believers from the mother Church” (that is, the Constantinople Patriarchate), the Orthodox ‘mainstream,’ marking growing new scism in the Orthodox world. Andrei Mel’nikov, “Depolitizatsiya Tret’ego Rima,” Nezavisimaya gazeta, 6 June 2023, It is worth noting that, given Tikhon’s Orthodox faith and position within the ROC, it can be safely assumed that Metropolitan Tikhon is not just a pan-Orthodox semi-universalist but an Orthodox universalist and, indeed monist as well. Indeed, we can know this with regard to monism at least if we read Shevkunov’s 2011 book on his life in the Pskov-Pechorsk Monastery in which he clearly states his belief in the interconnection and interaction between God and our world. See Arkhimandrit Tikhon, “Nesvyatyie svyatyie” (Moscow: OLMA, 2011), p. 69, for example.

[48] M. N. Katkov, “Peredovitsa v ‘Moskovskikh vedomstvyakh’ za 19 sentyabrya 1867 g.,” in Minakov, Ukrainskii vopros v Russkoi patrioticheskoi mysli, pp. 120-35, at pp. 144-51, at p. 149. Katkov makes the same point five months later in M. N. Katkov, “Peredovitsa v ‘Moskovskikh vedomstvyakh’ za 7 maya 1866 g.,” in Minakov, Ukrainskii vopros v Russkoi patrioticheskoi mysli, pp. 136-43, at p. 137.

[49] M. N. Katkov, “Peredovitsa v ‘Moskovskikh vedomstvyakh’ za 15 yanvarya 1866 g.,” in Minakov, Ukrainskii vopros v Russkoi patrioticheskoi mysli, pp. 120-35, at p. 131, at p. 149. Katkov makes the same point five months later in M. N. Katkov, “Peredovitsa v Moskovskikh vedomstvyakh’ za 7 maya 1866 g.,” in Minakov, Ukrainskii vopros v Russkoi patrioticheskoi mysli, pp. 136-43, at p. 137.

[50] Pushkin quoted in Richard S. Wortman, The Power of Language and Rhetoric in Russian Political History (London: Bloomsbury, 2018), p. 164.

[51] A. A, Ivanov, “O malorosskom literaturnom yazyke i ob obuchenii na nem,” in Minakov, Ukrainskiii vopros v russkoi patrioticheskoi mysli, pp. 66-90, at p. 68.

[52] Fedotov, Russkaya religioznost’- Chast’ 1: Khristianstvo Kievskoi Rusi, X-XIII vv., pp. 296-7.

[53] When Peter the Great began to impinge on the Hetmanate’s autonomy during the Great Northern War against a Swedish-led alliance and supposedly refused to provide military assistance to the Cossacks after Sweden’s then Polish allies moved on Ukraine’s Left Bank, Zaporozhe Cossack hetman Ivan Mazepa (1639–1709) and his 3,000-strong force turned to talks with the Swedes. Unsure of the Peter the Great’s ability to protect the Hetmanate as the northern war dragged on, Mazepa opened secret talks with the Poles and then the Swedes no later than May 1707. In the end, he put his money on the wrong horse and lost everything. Although Mazepa wavered before taking any concrete action in support of the Swedes, he was forced to show his cards when Charles marched on Malorossiya. The hetman joined his Cossacks with the Swedes on 29 October 1708. Two days later Peter’s closest friend and lead commander Menshikov seized Mazepa’s capitol of Baturin. The Russians’ victory at Poltava then forced Mazepa to flee to Moldavia, where Mazepa soon died.

[54] Aleksandr Pushkin, “Poltava,”, last accessed on 26 July 2018. As Ukrainian scholar Koznarsky notes, Pushkin’s poem “Poltava” is “an indicator of and participant in the shaping of the grand narrative of Russian imperial history, where Mazepa fits as a demonized and lowly foil to the monumental character of Peter.” Taras Koznarsky, “Obsession with Mazepa,” Harvard Ukrainian Studies, Volume 31, Numbers 1 and 4 (2009-2010): Poltava 1709: The Battle and the Myth, pp. 569-615, p. 570.

[55] Koznarsky, “Obsession with Mazepa,” pp. 582-3 and 610, fn 61. See also Sergei Belyakov, Ten’ Mazepy: Ukrainskaya natsiya v epokhu Gogolya (Moscow: AST, 2016).

[56] Koznarsky, “Obsession with Mazepa,” pp. 569 and 571.

[57] I. S. Aksakov, “Pol’skii li gorod Kiev?,” in Minakov, Ukrainskii vopros v Russkoi patrioticheskoi mysli, pp. 212-221, at p. 214.

[58] I. S. Aksakov, “Ob ukrainofil’skoi agitatsii gazety l’vovskoi gazety ‘Delo’,” in Minakov, Ukrainskii vopros v Russkoi patrioticheskoi mysli, pp. 222-237, at p. 226.

[59] Aksakov, “Ob ukrainofil’skoi agitatsii gazety l’vovskoi gazety ‘Delo’,” pp. 230-4.

[60] Aksakov, “Ob ukrainofil’skoi agitatsii gazety l’vovskoi gazety ‘Delo’,” p. 233.

[61] P. B. Struve, “Avstro-germanskoe ‘ukrainstvo’ i russkoe obshchestvennoe mnenie,” in Minakov, Ukrainskii vopros v Russkoi patrioticheskoi mysli, pp. 409-12, at p. 410.

[62] Struve, “Obshcherusskaya kul’tura i ukrainskii partikularizm. Otvet Ukraintsu,” p. 392.

[63] Dmitrii Kedrin, “Kiev,”,

[64] On the wholeness of the Soviet mono-organizational, totalitarian political and territorial-administrative system, see Hahn, Russian Tselostnost’: Wholeness in Russian Culture, Thought, History, and Politics, pp. 738-59.

[65] On perestroika, Union relations, the draft Union Treaty, and Russia’s revolution from above, see Gordon M. Hahn, Russia’s Revolution from Above, 1985-2000: Reform, Transition, and Revolution in the Collapse of the Soviet Communist Regime (London: Routledge, 2002).

[66] Iosif Brodskii, “Na nezavisimost’ Ukrainy,”,

[67] Belyakov, Ten’ Mazepy: Ukrainskaya natsiya v epokhu Gogolya, pp. 347-8.

[68] Belyakov, Ten’ Mazepy: Ukrainskaya natsiya v epokhu Gogolya, pp. 350-4. Belyakov also notes that a ‘small number” Cossacks fought against Petersburg in this period and that Cossacks helped Nicholas I put down the 1831 Polish uprising. Belyakov, Ten’ Mazepy: Ukrainskaya natsiya v epokhu Gogolya, pp. 354 and 356.

[69] Belyakov, Ten’ Mazepy: Ukrainskaya natsiya v epokhu Gogolya, pp. 356-7.

[70] Struve, “Avstro-germanskoe ‘ukrainstvo’ i russkoe obshchestvennoe mnenie,” p. 409 and 411.

[71] Struve, “Avstro-germanskoe ‘ukrainstvo’ i russkoe obshchestvennoe mnenie,” p. 411.

[72] N. S. Trubetskoi, “K Ukrainskoi probleme,” in Minakov, Ukrainskii vopros v Russkoi patrioticheskoi mysli, pp. 420-44. See also N. S. Trubetskoi, “K ukrainskoi problem,” in N. S. Trubetskoi, Istoriya. Kul’tura. Yazyk. (Moscow: progress, 1995), p. 365. Belyakov and several sources he cites cast doubt on the veracity of Trubetskoi’s conclusion, regarding it as an exaggeration. Belyakov, Ten’ Mazepy: Ukrainskaya natsiya v epokhu Gogolya, pp. 357-8.

[73] P. B. Struve, “Obshcherusskaya kul’tura i ukrainskii partikularizm. Otvet Ukraintsu,” in Minakov, Ukrainskii vopros v Russkoi patrioticheskoi mysli, pp. 381-408, at pp. 402-3.

[74] The opponent is cited by Struve himself in Struve, “Obshcherusskaya kul’tura i ukrainskii partikularizm. Otvet Ukraintsu,” p. 382.

[75] L. A. Tikhomirov, “Ukraintsy i Malorossy,” in Minakov, Ukrainskii vopros v Russkoi patrioticheskoi mysli, pp. 265-9, at 266 and 268.

[76] Pavel Florensky, At the Crossroads of Science and Mysticism: On the Cultural-Historical Place and Premises of the Christian World-Understanding (Kettering, Ohio: Semantron Press, 2014), p. 108

[77] Fedotov, Russkaya religioznost’- Chast’ 1: Khristianstvo Kievskoi Rusi, X-XIII vv., p. 367.

[78] G. P. Fedotov, Russkaya religioznost’- Chast’ 1: Khristianstvo Kievskoi Rusi, X-XIII vv., in G. P. Fedotov, Sobranie sochinenii v 12 tomakh, (Moscow: ‘Matris’ Sam & Sam, 2001), Vol. 10, p. 86.

[79] Fedotov, “Tri stolitsy,” p. 64.

[80] Fedotov, “Tri stolitsy,” pp. 64-7.

[81] Fedotov, “Tri stolitsy,” p. 68.

[82] Dugin, Moya Voina: Geopoliticheskii dnevnik, p. 350.

[83] Dugin, Moya Voina: Geopoliticheskii dnevnik, pp. 14-15.

[84] Dugin, Moya Voina: Geopoliticheskii dnevnik, p. 350.

[85] A. G. Alekseev and V. M. Nemina, “Istorii kul’tur v sotsial’nom izmerenii (O russko-ukrainskoi obshchnosti),” Vestnik Russkoi Khristianskoi Gumanitarnoi Akademii, Vypusk 3, Tom 15 (2014), pp. 303-10, at pp. 307-8.

[86] Natsional’nyi Institut Razvitii sovremennoi ideologi,,, last accessed on 26 May 2023.

[87] V. R. Legoyda obaznchil mesto i rol’ nauki, obrazovaniya i kul’tury v protsesse integratsii Rossii i Donbassa,”, 28 June 2022, and

[88] G. P. Fedotov, Russkaya religioznost’, Chast’ 2: Srednyi veka – XIII-XV vv., in G. P. Fedotov, Odinnadtsatyi tom (Martis: Sam and Sam, 2004), p. 13,

[89] Belyakov, Ten’ Mazepy: Ukrainskaya natsiya v epokhu Gogolya, pp. 346-7.

[90] “His Holiness Patriarch Kirill has addressed religious figures and representatives of international organizations in connection with the situation around the Kiev Pechersk Lavra,”, 11 March 2023,

[91] Katkov, “Peredovitsa v ‘Moskovskikh vedomstvyakh’ za 15 yanvarya’ 1866 g.,” p. 128. Katkov makes the same point five months later in M. N. Katkov, “Peredovitsa v Moskovskikh vedomstvyakh za 7 maya 1866 g.,” p. 137.

[92] Katkov, “Peredovitsa v ‘Moskovskikh vedomstvyakh’ za 21 iyunya 1863 g.,” p. 98 and M. N. Katkov, “Peredovitsa v ‘Moskovskikh vedomostyakh’ za 2 sentyabrya 1864,” in Minakov, Ukrainskii vopros v Russkoi patrioticheskoi mysli, pp. 115-19, at p. 117.

[93] Tikhomirov, “Ukraintsy i Malorossy,” in Minakov, p. 268.

[94] Struve, “Obshcherusskaya kul’tura i ukrainskii partikularizm. Otvet Ukraintsu,” p. 383.

[95] See Minakov, Ukrainskii vopros v Russkoi politicheskoi mysli, pp. 53-6 (Vladimir I. Lamanskii); 77 (Andrei A. Ivanov); 208-10 (Ivan Aksakov); 222-27, 382-3, 393-5, 401 (Pyotr Struve).

[96] See Minakov, Ukrainskii vopros v Russkoi politicheskoi mysli, pp. 95-6, 98, 117 (Katkov); 204, 226-34 (Aksakov); 407-8, 410-12 (Pyotr Struve), 449 (Nikolai Losskii); and 455-7 (Nikolai I. Ulyanov).

[97] Aksakov, “Ob ukrainofil’skoi agitatsii gazety l’vovskoi gazety ‘Delo’,” pp. 227-30. See also Struve, “Obshcherusskaya kul’tura i ukrainskii partikularizm. Otvet Ukraintsu,” p. 383.

[98] Vladimir Putin, “Ob istoricheskom edinstve russkikh i ukraintsev,”, 12 July 2021,

[99] Lamanskii, “Natsional’naya bestaktnost’,” p. 47.

[100] M. N. Katkov, “peredovitsa v ‘Moskovoskikh vedomstvyakh’ za 3 sentyabrya 1863,” in Minakov, Ukrainskii vopros v Russkoi patrioticheskoi mysli, pp. 101-8, at p. 107.

[101] Tikhomirov, “Ukraintsy i Malorossy,” pp. 267-8.

[102] Trubetskoi, “K Ukrainskoi probleme,” pp. 430-44.

[103] Trubetskoi, “K Ukrainskoi probleme,” pp. 420-6.

[104] Dugin, Moya Voina: Geopoliticheskii dnevnik, p. 14.

[105] Putin, “Ob istoricheskom edinstve russkikh i ukraintsev”

[106] Putin, “Ob istoricheskom edinstve russkikh i ukraintsev”

[107] Gordon M. Hahn, “Working Paper: Russian Historical Tselostnost’,” Russian and Eurasian Politics, 13 April 2023,

[108] “Pis’mo Pushkina k Chaadaevy 19 Oktyabrya 1936 g.,”,

[109] A. S. Pushkin, “Poltava” (1828-29),,

[110] Katkov, “Peredovitsa v ‘Moskovskikh vedomstvyakh’ za 21 iyunya 1863 g., p. 93.

[111] Lamanskii, “Natsional’naya bestaktnost’,” p. 46.

[112] Struve, “Obshcherusskoi kul’tura o ukrainskii partikularizm. Otvet Ukraintsu,” p. 402.

[113] Berdyaev, “Rossiya i Velikorossiya,” p. 419.

[114] Aleksandr Blok, “Rus’,”,

[115] “Poslanie Prezidenta Federal’nomu Assembleyu,”, 1 December 2016.

[116] Nikolai Patrushev, “Nuzhny li Rossii ‘unversal’nyie’ tsennosti,” Rossiiskaya gazeta, 17 June 2020,, last accessed on 31 May 2021.

[117] See Hahn, Russian Tselostnost’: Wholeness in Russian Culture, Thought, History and Politics, Chs. 7, 10, 11, and 14.

[118] See Hahn, Russian Tselostnost’: Wholeness in Russian Culture, Thought, History and Politics, pp. 842-6.

[119] Dugin, Chetvertyi put’: Vvedenie v chetvertuyu politicheskuyu teoriyu, p. 40.

[120] Dugin, Chetvertyi put’: Vvedenie v chetvertuyu politicheskuyu teoriyu, p. 47.

[121] Dugin, Chetvertyi put’: Vvedienie v chetvertuyu politicheskuyu teoriyu, p. 65.

[122] Belyakov, Ten’ Mazepy: Ukrainskaya natsiya v epokhu Gogolya, p. 347.

[123] A good example of a thorough and convincing treatment tilting towards the traditionalist view is G. T. Chupin, Predistoriya i istoriya Kievskoi Rusi, Ukrainy, i Kryma (Kharkov: Litera Nova, 2010).  

[124] Alexander Kuz’menkov, “Tufta, grazhdanin nacal’nik…,” Literaturnaya gazeta, No. 32, 5 August 2015,, last accessed on 4 June 2021.

[125] Zakhar’ Prilepin, Obitel’ (Moscow: AST, 2014), p. 390.

[126] For the relevant quote from Prilepin (Prilepin, Obitel’, p. 379), see Hahn “Working Paper: Russian Historical Tselostnost’.”

[127] After the Ukrainian civil war Kiev began in Donbass in April 2014, Prilepin fought in the ranks of the Donbass rebels and supported them morally and financially, rasing money and propagandizing their cause. More recently, he has formed a political movement ‘For Truth’ (Za Pravdu) or ZP, which in February 2021 merged with the nationalist party ‘Patriots of Russia’ and the socialist-oriented ‘Just Russia’ led by Vladimir Mironov, which has positioned itself like the KPRF and LDPR in a tactical alliance with the Kremlin. Ideologically, Prilepin’s ZP bills itself as “patriotic leftist” and supports the recreation of the USSR but on a larger “Eurasian” scale of the kind Dugin and Panarin envison using the EES and SCO. See “Predvybornaya programma partii ‘Za pravdu’,”, 2020, p. 10,, last accessed on 5 June 2021 and “’Novaya Yevrazii’ mozhet stat’ osnovoi novogo ob”edineniya, bolee mashtabnee, chem SSSR,”, 27 April 2021,, last accessed on 6 June 2021. It is worth noting in regard to Russian pluralism that Prilepin’s publisher, AST, co-published a collection of literary criticism in which Prilepin is characterized as “literary skinhead.” Ol’ga Novikova, Vladimir Novikov, Liza Novikova, Semeinyi dnevnik: Literatura, kul’tura i…politika (Moscow: Zebra, AST, 2009), p. 121,, last accessed on 5 June 2021.

[128] “Predvybornaya programma partii ‘Za pravdu’,” pp. 5-6.

[129] Aksakov cited in Walicki, The Slavophile Controversy: A History of a Conservative Utopia in Nineteenth Century Russian Thought, p. 526.

[130] Aksakov cited in Walicki, The Slavophile Controversy: A History of a Conservative Utopia in Nineteenth Century Russian Thought, pp. 261-2.

[131] Aksakov cited in Walicki, The Slavophile Controversy: A History of a Conservative Utopia in Nineteenth Century Russian Thought, p. 262.

[132] It is worth noting as well that Aksakov wrote during his pre-Slavophile, Orthodox Christian Hegelian phase a detailed study of Ukrainian Nikolai Gogol’s Dead Souls and saw it as a testimony to Russian universalism and historical messianism, if in apophatic or contradictory form. See Walicki, The Slavophile Controversy: A History of a Conservative Utopia in Nineteenth Century Russian Thought, pp. 288-307.

[133] Alekseev and Nemina, “Istorii kul’tur v sotsial’nom izmerenii (O russko-ukrainskoi obshchnosti),” p. 307.

[134] N. A. Berdyaev, “Rossiya i Velikorossiya,” Nakanune, No. 3, April 1918 republished in Minakov, Ukrainskii Vopros: V russkoi patritiocheskoi mysli, pp. 413-19, at p. 413-14.

[135] Berdyaev, “Rossiya i Velikorossiya,” p. 416.

[136] Berdyaev, “Rossiya i Velikorossiya,” p. 414.

[137] Patr. Kirill (Gundyaev), “Slovo za Bozhestvennoi liturgiei v den’ pamyati svyatitelya Aleksiya, mitropolita Moskovskogo i vseya Rusi, chudotvortsa, v Bogoyavlenskom kafedral-nom sobore g. Moskvy, 25.o2.2009.”

[138] The compilation frequently cited here, Ukrainskii vopros in Russkoi patrioticheskii mysli, provides thoughts endorsing as extant and desirable all the forms of Russian-Ukrainian unity undergirded by forms of Russian tselostnost’ – as interpreted herein and in my book Russian Tselostnost’ – penned by nineteen of some of Russia’s greatest political thinkers and philosophers of the mid-to-late 19th century. They range from liberals to traditionalists, Slavophiles and Eurasianists (Nikolai Trubetskoi), symbolist and intuitivist philosophers (Losskii), Belinskii and Berdyaev. Minakov, Ukrainskii vopros in Russkoi patrioticheskii mysli. I have added the thoughts of many more.

[139] “Митрополит Киево-Печерской Лавры заявил, что апокалипсис начинается с Украины,”, 13 March 2023, and “Apokalipsis nachinaetsya s Ukrainy: kak Kiev ispolzuet veru dlya bor’by s sobstvennym narodom,”, 13 March 2023,

[140] Gordon M. Hahn, The Russian Dilemma: Security Vigilance and Relations with the West from Ivan III to Putin (Jefferson: McFarland Books, 2021), pp. 106-12 and 114-17 and Sergei Platonov, Lektsii po russkoi istorii (Moscow: Vyshyaya shkola, 1993), pp. 395 and 409.

[141] James H. Billington, The Icon and the Axe: An Interpretive History of Russian Culture (New York: Vintage, 1970), pp. 146-7 and 149.

[142] Belyakov, Ten’ Mazepa: Ukrainskaya natsiya v epokhu Gogolya, p. 674.










About the Author 

Gordon M. Hahn, Ph.D., is an Expert Analyst at Corr Analytics, Websites: Russian and Eurasian Politics, and

Dr. Hahn is the author of the new book: Russian Tselostnost’: Wholeness in Russian Thought, Culture, History, and Politics (Europe Books, 2022). He has authored five previous, well-received books: The Russian Dilemma: Security, Vigilance, and Relations with the West from Ivan III to Putin (McFarland, 2021); Ukraine Over the Edge: Russia, the West, and the “New Cold War” (McFarland, 2018); The Caucasus Emirate Mujahedin: Global Jihadism in Russia’s North Caucasus and Beyond (McFarland, 2014), Russia’s Islamic Threat (Yale University Press, 2007), and Russia’s Revolution From Above: Reform, Transition and Revolution in the Fall of the Soviet Communist Regime, 1985-2000 (Transaction, 2002). He also has published numerous think tank reports, academic articles, analyses, and commentaries in both English and Russian language media.

Dr. Hahn taught at Boston, American, Stanford, San Jose State, and San Francisco State Universities and as a Fulbright Scholar at Saint Petersburg State University, Russia and was a senior associate and visiting fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the Kennan Institute in Washington DC, the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, and the Center for Terrorism and Intelligence Studies (CETIS), Akribis Group.

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