Like most people I am very disturbed by what it happening in these countries. To try and gain some perspective I have been looking back at their shared history and the disputing claims each country has made. What I have discovered hasn't really put my mind at rest but it has given me a wider understanding. It all reaches back to the Vikings and the disputes today have their sources in what happened back then.
Oleg of Novgorod’s campaign against Constantinople. Source: The Radziwiłł Letopis, also known as the Königsberg Chronicle. Source: Wikipedia
It is hard to imagine that historical events would have such a long reach into our times but that seems to be the case. For Putin it would appear to be an almost religious quest to put forward his version of medieval happenings.
This article by Karen Schousboe gives a brief overview of the arguments. It poses the fact that "history would progress through conflict", not a happy proposition.
The closing paragraph states that:
A keynote in Putin’s web of historical and medieval reenactment is this Ivan Ilyin, who has been named a Russian Christian Fascist. In 1917, he finished his thesis on God’s worldly failure decrying the presence of “motion” in history. While Lenin accepted with Hegel that history would progress through conflict, Ilyin thought that the liberation of humanity would only take place at the point of the elimination of history. One day, Ilyin thought, this eradication would come about through the effort of a saintly hero, who larger than life would abolish the “Middle Class” and its morally depraved idea of “progress”. Based on this idea, Ilyin fashioned the fascist seizure of power as “an act of salvation”. In the aftermath of WW2, Ilyin began to imagine the “Unsoiled” Russia as the spiritual redeemer of the world or the recycler of native virtue. Part of this idea was the tenacious adoption of the Orthodox, positive attitude towards war and physical opposition.
Today, Ilyin’s ideas are used to foment the Russian position on “spiritual threats”, portraying Ukraine, Europe, and the United States as not just political but existential and spiritual dangers to “Mother Russia”.
Who knows where this will take us all.
(There is a good lecture about the Russian- Ukraine Crisis on You tube It is 5 years old but still applies today.)