Russia State Media: Russians See Crimea as ‘First Step in the Reunification of Russia’

YEKATERINBURG, RUSSIA - AUGUST 22, 2017: People rally to mark National Flag Day annually celebrated in Russia on August 22, the date of the failure of the 1991 August Coup. Donat Sorokin/TASS (Photo by Donat Sorokin\TASS via Getty Images)
Donat Sorokin\TASS via Getty Images

Russia’s RIA Novosti, a state-run Russian-language outlet, published a story on the occasion of Ukraine’s Independence Day to celebrate the annexation of Crimea as “the first step in the reunification of Russia.”

A handy translation of the relevant passage is provided by creator Julia Davis:

The article from which Davis quotes is a lengthy op-ed from Anatoly Wasserman which celebrates the high degree of trust placed by Russian citizens in President Vladimir Putin and his top ministers, even though the Russian economy hasn’t been so hot lately — a problem Wasserman blames largely on U.S. sanctions against Russia.

The thrust of the editorial is that Russians feel unified for the first time in years because Russia is strong again, standing tall against adversaries like the horrible people who took over in Ukraine after Moscow’s man Viktor Yanukovych was ousted. Wasserman gingerly admits Yanukovych had his blemishes but insists he was better than his replacement, President Petro Poroshenko. Interpol was much less ginger about describing Yanukovych’s shortcomings.

Wasserman denounces sanctions against Russia as a plot to prevent the “undoubtedly beneficial reunification of the country” and bully it into following the “‘Ukrainian way’ of massive self-destruction.” He can scarcely believe anyone in Russia still thinks the future of their nation lies with the European Union and the United States.

Wednesday also happened to be Black Ribbon Day, the European day of remembrance for the victims of Nazism and Stalinism. Russia has been working hard to rehabilitate Stalin’s image over the past few years, in order to boost Vladimir Putin’s profile as a strongman and conqueror, so they don’t think Stalin’s millions of victims are in need of commemoration:

Perhaps unaware that Russians harbor fond dreams of getting the old hammer-and-sickle band back together, Poroshenko proposed a ceasefire in eastern Ukraine, where government forces have been fighting militant separatists, plus an assortment of vacationing Russians who randomly showed up for no particular reason and started shooting at the “fascists and Nazis” who took over Kiev.

He backed it up with a vow to “give a tough military response to the aggressor if he goes on the offensive,” by which he evidently meant both the separatists and Vladimir Putin.

Poroshenko’s ceasefire idea reportedly received “decisive” support from Russian leaders, along with the governments of France and Germany.

Defense Secretary James Mattis, the first U.S. Defense Secretary to visit Ukraine in a decade, declared from Kiev on Thursday that the United States “won’t accept” Russia’s annexation of Crimea, accused Russia of seeking to “redraw international borders by force,” and he said the Trump administration is “actively reviewing” the idea of supplying Ukraine with defensive weapons.

“Have no doubt: the United States stands with Ukraine,” Mattis said at a joint press conference with Poroshenko. President Donald Trump expressed similar sentiments in a letter to Poroshenko that promised American support for Ukraine’s “sovereignty and identity.”


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