“There is no Ukraine. There is Ukrainian-ness. That is, a specific disorder of the mind. A passion for ethnography that has surprisingly been driven to extremes. Such local lore full of blood. A mess instead of statehood. Borshch, Bandera and bandura. But there is no nation. There is the brochure titled ‘Independent Ukraine,’ but there is no Ukraine. The only question is whether Ukraine doesn’t exist any longer or doesn’t yet exist.”
Those were the words of Vladislav Surkov, the Kremlin ideologue and former aide to Russian President Vladimir Putin, in an interview for a Russian media outlet called Actual Comments. Significantly, this man who was often called the “grey cardinal of the Kremlin,” was Mr. Putin’s point man on Ukraine until he was dismissed on February 18. The seven-year period during which he oversaw policy regarding Ukraine was marked by Russia’s occupation of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula and its invasion of the eastern Ukrainian regions of Donetsk and Luhansk – Russia’s war on Ukraine that has killed 13,000, wounded and maimed untold numbers of Ukraine’s people, and displaced 1.5 million.