What You Need To Know:
✓ Ukraine is central to devolution of Soviet Union;
✓ "It was clear to me since 1991 that there were unsolved (border) issues in Crimea and Donbas and these unsolved issues put at risk Ukrainian state building for 20 years";
✓ Large number of Russian specialists and very few on Ukraine;
✓ Berlusconi's pro-Russian stance pushed Italian elites to closer ties with Putin "one way or another".
"It was clear to me since 1991 that there were unsolved issues in Crimea and Donbas and these unsolved issues put at risk Ukrainian state building for 20 years," Dr. Andrea Graziosi, a professor at University of Naples told Hromadske. These were issues of interests and unconsolidated borders, rather than identities, said Dr. Graziosi.
Dr. Graziosi told Hromadske that with the famine of 1932-33 came a very crucial effort to 'Russify' Ukraine. The dictionaries were changed and intellectuals were deported. It was a process of nation ‘unbuilding’, popularly termed de-Ukraininization, which started with Stalin. According to Dr. Graziosi, it was not that Russians re-populated Ukraine after the famine but that Ukraine’s course was forcefully and systematically moved towards Russia.
If you look at Ukraine’s history it shows that Ukraine is a really a central point, said Dr. Graziosi Not only because it’s a large country but because it was so central in the devolution of Soviet ideology and that’s also why it’s now so important for Putin.
Part of the issue of explaining what is happening in Ukraine at the moment, according to Dr. Graziosi, is that there is a huge preponderance of Russian specialists in the West and Ukraine is not very well known. In Italy, for example, it is very difficult for people to understand that the Soviet Union was not just Russia, said Graziosi.
Dr. Graziosi explained why Italy has been viewed as having a more pro-Putin stance than some of the other EU countries. According to him, traditionally in Italy, said Dr. Graziosi, the left has been pro-Russia, pro-Soviet and it was a basic ignorance. Moreover Berluscioni’s friendship with Putin has made the elite pro-Russian “one way or another” which is in part also to do with Russia’s money and influence in Italy.
Hromadske International's Nataliya Gumenyuk and Ian Bateson spoke with Dr. Andrea Graziosi on May 31, 2015.