The “Russian world” poses a threat not only to countries with a Russian-speaking population but also to Russia itself. A corresponding statement was made by participants in an expert discussion on the topic of “Russian world” as a threat to Ukraine’s national security.
“The so-called Russian world poses a threat not only to the state security of Ukraine but Russian security itself. It also poses a threat to the security of any country where the Russian-speaking population lives,” said Larysa Yakubova, Doctor of Historical Sciences, corresponding member of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, researcher.
Russian leadership uses the term “Russian world” for three categories of consumers of the Russian information product – the outside world, the population of Russia, and the population of territories that are in the zone of desired influence of Russia. For international partners, the Russian government conveys the idea that it has the right to rule its priority territories. These are territories where the Russian language, culture, and Orthodox church are present. The Russian Federation demonstrates in every possible way its continuity of the USSR and that it can do whatever it wants in the territories of the former USSR. For the domestic population of the country, the authorities explain that if a person is a citizen of Russia and speaks Russian, this is a superhuman for those people who speak the same language in other countries. As for the population of the priority territories for the Russian Federation, the Russian authorities demonstrate that when they come there, it will be necessary to support the occupation or simply not to resist.
Ihor Rushchenko, Doctor of Social Science, Candidate of Philosophical Sciences, professor, notes that “Russian world” is a multifunctional concept that penetrates and is used by the Russian authorities in all spheres of life. He emphasises that it is possible to combat the influence of “Russian world” in Ukraine by passing new legislation in response to the promotion of hostile ideology and extending the ban on “Russian world” alongside Nazi and communist ideologies. “This is an ideologeme that aims to fill the vacuum after the devaluation of Marxism-Leninism, and Russia cannot exist without ideology. It is also a geopolitical strategy that should show the world the right to rule the territories around the perimeter of Russia, etc. This concept is hostile to Ukraine because it does not presuppose the existence of Ukraine on the map of the world,” he said.
Serhiy Savchenko, adviser to the chief of the Security Service of Ukraine in 2016-2019, says that for the Russian authorities, the boundaries of “Russian world” are not delineated only by the territories of the former USSR or the Russian Empire. According to Vladimir Putin, “Russian world” is not only Russians, emigrants, people from Russia, and their descendants, but also foreigners, if they are sincerely interested in Russia. Signs of belonging to “Russian world” are civic, linguistic, ethnic, religious, historical, cultural, and geographical ones. Russia will protect you regardless of whether you want it or not, which means the transition to an aggressive policy, he said.
Oleksandr Slobozhan, executive director of the Association of Ukrainian Cities, adds that the threats of expansion of “Russian world” at the regional level are expressed in the tendency of local authorities to separate, intensify, and unite small local groups that root for Russia when pro-Ukrainian policy of the government weakens. “At the regional level, there are many movements and NGOs whose activities pose separatist threats that decentralisation is designed to combat. Border regions have problems with the consumption of Ukrainian information products,” he said. Participants in the discussion note that the concept of “Russian world” needs further study to counter the Russian hybrid threat and misinformation more efficiently.