Friday, 22 April 2022

Russian culture of contempt for Ukraine

A while back before the fighting started, I related some first hand experiences that convinced me there was enough resentment amongst Ukrainians of the arrogant, nay racist, Russian attitude towards them that their resistance would be of the 1939 Finnish variety, as opposed to the French 1940 vintage.  In this context I mentioned an incident at a business dinner in Moscow where a Ukrainian was present and a Russian told a joke, the punchline of which was to compare Ukrainians unfavourably with those of African descent, (which in Russian parlance is seriously insulting). 

And here we are!  A recent Russian cartoon.

The caption is in cod-Ukrainian, which any Russian would understand.   The two Ukrainian cavemen, dwelling amidst the bombed-out ruins, have walked past a desecrated statue of Lenin that someone has replaced with a little sign saying 'glory to Ukraine'.   I'm having trouble translating one word - СОВОК **- but anyhow, one says to the other, That's how we smash up the entire Moscow "СОВОК" - now, back to the cave to celebrate the "victory"!  The twofold suggestion is clear:  they are sub-human neanderthals; and if they think they've done any serious damage to Russian plans, they've a surprise coming.

Q.E.D.  Not a recipe for taking the other side seriously.  And of course the surprises have mostly been coming from the opposite direction ...

ND

____________________

** СОВОК, google tells me, means the same in both languages, namely "a scoop", in the wholly literal sense of a low-grade implement (- including, e.g., a pooperscoop) - with no indication it has a journalistic usage as in English.  In the cartoon, it's in inverted commas, either suggesting a colloquial meaning or, as with the other word in inverted commas, ПЕРЕМОГУ (victory), suggesting a gross misappreciation of something on the part of the cavemen.  

I'm assuming it's meant to imply the Ukrainians might have managed to destroy some modest piece of Russian military equipment that's of no consequence.  Or maybe it's the statue?  Or that they don't realise they've destroyed something much more valuable than they know?   But if one of our, *ahem*, many new Russian readers would like to put us onto a better rendering of the term in this context, we'd be happy to hear from them.

UPDATE:  a reader has kindly cleared this up for us - see BTL comments: it seems to be a slighting term for someone that hankers after the old Soviet days.  Makes perfect sense (it's relating to the defacement of the statue after all, then) - thanks!

29 comments:

Anonymous said...

Any context or provenance here? Is this cartoon from a Russian Reddit equivalent where pretty much anyone (maybe even non-Russians) can post anything, or from the main Moscow daily paper?




Anonymous said...

There is a some interesting reading about Russia and its history by Kamil Kazani such as this.


"Cultural uniformity - that's the real goal of Z-war. It is all about directing vernacular bifurcation of the ancient sacred community towards everyone becoming Russian. The problem with Ukraine is that it exists. That's a view deeply embedded in the Russian culture."

deBréauté said...

совок is "homo sovieticus", a person with a Soviet mentality, also can mean a favourable memory of the Soviet Union, or can even the USSR itself.

Bill Quango MP said...

The Finland War turned out to be a good call, ND.

Nick Drew said...

deBréauté - you have done us a service there: many thanks! Update made. It's the statue after all, in a sense.

Anonymous said...

ND - provenance? Who's the cartoonist?

(If I wanted to encourage Ukrainians to fight/hate that's EXACTLY the sort of cartoon I'd try and give big publicity to, which is why I'm so interested in the source. Call me sceptical, but there is after all a big propaganda war being waged, at least one one side and for all I know on both. The other side's propaganda, if it exists, presumably doesn't get shown over here)

Anonymous said...

Kamil Kazani - isn't he the guy who writes that Russians can't do anything big unless they get outside help? Interesting thread below.

"Why Russia can't win against the West. Russia is often portrayed as the invincible military power. And yet, this reputation is based on two wars - Napoleonic and WWII. In both cases Russia won only thanks to the alliance allied with *the* leading economic powerhouse of that era"

https://twitter.com/kamilkazani/status/1505247886908424195

Nick Drew said...

Anon @ 3:04

If I wanted to encourage Ukrainians to fight/hate that's EXACTLY the sort of cartoon I'd try

(a) my thesis stems from personal, first-hand experiences (one related here, others in previous posts) dating back more than 20years, before the www info-wars was a thing: you may not choose to believe me but it's true for all that

(b) this cartoon isn't even inflammatory - it's low-grade "Irish-joke" stuff, not "rape-of-belgian-nuns / crucifixion-of-canadians" - & merely illustrates a long-pre-existing phenomenon that didn't need to be confected by anyone out of a subtle info-wars shop

(c) before you regale us with your full CIA /false-flag thesis, I'd say the Ukrainians have, errrr, one or two even better reasons to be fighting the way they are doing just now - wouldn't you?

E-K said...

I'm sure in Ukrainian parlance it's seriously insulting to be referred to as of African descent too. Such 'jokes' are meant to be heard by the subject of them.

G'ah !

I'm not trying spoil a great anecdote.

E-K said...

It was only six months ago that the West was being torn apart by BLM actions.

Don Cox said...

Can you please define "the West"? For instance, does it include Japan and Taiwan ?

Nothing was being torn apart where I live (in the North-East of England). There were I think some riots in London, but these have been a regular thing through the centuries. They give the media something to exaggerate.

Don Cox

Anonymous said...

Hi ND - I don't doubt your account, I was more interested in whether the cartoon represented in any form the "official" Russian attitude - which is why I asked the unanswered provenance question.

"this cartoon isn't even inflammatory - it's low-grade "Irish-joke" stuff"

Now you know attitudes in that neck of the woods better than I - all I can say is that an English publication, or maybe even an individual, portraying the Irish like that would be VERY fortunate not to appear in court - I don't think even a prison term would be off the table.

Yes, many Ukrainians (presumably not the Russian-speakers in Donbas) have reason to fight, but a bit of encouragement never hurts. You must have heard of this from your military days. My emboldening.

"Full-spectrum dominance also known as full-spectrum superiority, is a military entity's achievement of control over all dimensions of the battlespace, effectively possessing an overwhelming diversity of resources in such areas as terrestrial, aerial, maritime, subterranean, extraterrestrial, psychological, and bio- or cyber-technological warfare."

Bill Quango MP said...

If you don’t know much about the Russia Finland war, this video is a good overall.

The person presenting is a historic weapons expert. Has hundreds of YouTube’s about various small arms from history. Pistols and sub machine guns and such. Here, he is just making a similarity and dissimilarity between Ukraine/ Finland wars. Pretty good.
https://youtu.be/-sbmgOiQWjc

Nick Drew said...

Indeed - thanks, BQ

E-K said...

DC - Oh. It must have all been in my fevered imagination. Statues being torn down, war memorials being defaced, riots, a cultural revolution while all we could do was watch from our Covid dugouts.

BLM was the big thing until Ukraine knocked it off the top slot. Don't you remember it ? I'm sure it was on the BBC on every single news bulletin (after the Whitty droning on tractor... I mean... Covid stats.)

It had a big impact on me, for sure. I could have sworn we were in the middle of a Leftist putsch. Thank heavens. All an unpleasant dream.

Phew !

All I'm hoping is that the Russians don't use the African insult as their highest form of insult because they think that Ukrainians take it that way.

In view of the forgoing that would be one thing too many for the Liberal West to be ignoring on the path to war. Swastikas first. Blacks abused on the Polish border. Now this ???

I'm making a serious point.

And as of "What is the West" ? Don't bother asking the Americans. Not even Putin can get an honest answer from them - it seems to me that the West can be anyone America wants it to be... a bit like the trans issue but without wigs and ladies' toilets.






BlokeInBrum said...

It seems to me that the Russians are bending over backwards in order not to target/kill Ukrainian citizens wherever possible.
In fact I've seen plenty of videos with ordinary Ukrainians condemning the AFU for using them as human shields and praising the Russian soldiers for freeing them and treating them well/supplying them with food and necessities.
It looks like the Russians are trying hard with the old 'Hearts and Minds' tactics amongst the population. Something the British Army used to be good at, before it became nothing more than an arm of American foreign policy. We may as well just hire it out to Blackwater so it can pay it's own keep, because I fail to see how it's being used to benefit Britain and British interests.
Now this may of course be discounted as Russian propaganda, but as we have seen, they have been steam-rollered on that front by the true experts in the West, who have mobilised every arm within the government and their pets in the mainstream media/online media to do their bidding at arm's length.
If Russia is so hated in the Ukraine, why is it planning to hold referendums in the disputed regions about whom the people should be governed by?
Don't forget that Zelensky and the men who are behind him are not exactly choir-boys.
They are massively corrupt Neo-Nazis that were waging a war of extermination against the Russian speakers in the East.
Here I have to make the obligatory point that I'm not pro-Putin, but I think you need to recalibrate your moral-compass if you believe that Zelensky and his CIA backed Neo-Nazis are the 'Good Guys'.

E-K said...

Ditto here, not pro Putin (but I've learned from "RAAACIST Brexit voter" not to bother anymore.)

We - the British - are at war with Russia.

We are deploying hugely expensive ordnance which was intended for the defence of our own territory and which cannot be replaced because we don't have the money.

Those are real losses to our country. Minus the coffins - very real military losses. For what gain ?

Does anyone truly think that Putin's undermanned expedition was the start of a new empire ?

Matt said...

@ BQ

I watch a lot of the Gun Jesus videos but hadn't seen that one before.

E-K said...

Cooking oil being rationed.

Alas, you need food to cook in it !

Gee fanks, Ms Nuland !!!

Anonymous said...

E-K: "Those are real losses to our country. Minus the coffins - very real military losses. For what gain ?"

Why, Britian is supporting a long established ally. 'coz doncha know, we have a mutual defence treaty with the Ukranians, or Ukraine was in NATO, you know, article three. sotto voce, let's ignore article one. Or Ukraine wanted to join NATO.

Even the US is admitting that the West has shipped so much military hardware to Ukraine it is impossible to keep track of it.

Basically, admitting that this stuff is going to be used against us over the next decade.

Well done fuckwits!

andrew said...


The UK is happy to supply troops, unlike Germany who, acc. to the Economist, is not shipping any heavy weapons to Ukraine.
I think a lot will depend on what the Germans do next.

BQ, good video. His assessment that it may well end like Finland, losing (another) 10% of their territory to Russia sounds (sadly) realistic.

EK, not the start of a new empire, just the next step in the reconstruction of the old one. They have been eating bits of other small countries / installing friendly regimes for some time.
Putin clearly believed that Ukraine would collapse v. quickly and by the time 'the west' got itself together it would all be over - it has not turned out like that.

E-K said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
E-K said...

Andrew. Never, at any point, could Russia have attacked or invaded a NATO country. Putin decided to invade Ukraine BEFORE it became a member and has done so before his military was ready and probably against all his expert advisers.

It was Russia that wasn't ready.

It is, however, VERY clear that the West was geared up for this confrontation and we know for a fact that the CIA and British forces have been preparing and equipping Ukrainians for years.

E-K said...

It doesn't mitigate the fact that the greatest insult to a Ukrainian, apparently, is to be called a descendant of an African.

Black Lives Matter is supposed to be the #1 issue in the west right now.

Why are NATO countries and the EU so keen to have Ukraine as members ?

Is it OK for me to wear a swastika in the UK ? No. I can be sent to prison for it and rightly so.

An army and a government cannot be a 'little bit Nazi" as Ukrainian supporters are trying to have it. The fact is that war time Germany was only a little bit Nazi going by the relatively few Germans convicted at the Nuremberg Trials. It only took a tiny minority of bad apples.

Ukraine is best left neutral, for the sake of the West, for the sake of Russians and for the sake of Ukrainians.

What would we - the British - have done if the Irish Republic had started shelling Loyalist enclaves in Ulster ?

We could barely stand aside and sent our military in when they were only sponsoring IEDs and handgun assassinations.



BlokeInBrum said...

I find it barely credible the assertions that Putin et al. have expansionist tendencies or are seeking to reconstitute the old USSR.

Russia is already by far the biggest country on the planet - do people really think Putin is short of land or something? His problem is keeping together what he already has.
I've said this before; with a population just twice the size of the UK and a GDP half as much, he simply cannot afford to occupy foreign disputed territory.

After the fall of the USSR over 30 years ago, the US has pursued a policy of marginalising Russia and preventing it from recovering any of its former military and economic power. Hence why NATO is still around decades after it's raison d'etre ceased to exist.

Which is why of course the Americans and NATO has prepared the ground and lured Putin into a war in Ukraine with the deliberate intention of bleeding him dry. There are Nato strategy documents freely dowloadable which outline the intention of over-extending Russia in a war of attrition such as we see today, and doing unto them, what a previous generation of Americans did to the USSR.

I'm pretty sure Putin is aware of this and got dragged into this unwillingly, after getting wind of the planned attack by the Ukrainians on the breakaway Eastern regions. His intention was probably to negotiate his way to what he wanted using the threat of military intervention. Putins modus operandi has almost always been cautious and risk-averse. Thats probably one of the reasons why they have made such a hash of things up to now, they were caught unprepared with the timing, and had underestimated the depth and extent of Western (ie British and American) support, both materially and strategically.

Zelensky has probably aged 20 years in the meantime. He's caught between a rock and a hard place. He can't negotiate for peace because his hard line neo-nazi backers would rather shoot him first, and his NATO 'allies' have absolutely no intention of coming to the negotiating table, they intend to draw this out for as long as possible.

Russia is not being given the room to de-escalate, so that means that after a slow start that they are in this to the bitter end, come hell or high water.

Given the extent of modern media coverage and the ubiquity of mobile phones, it's kind of strange* that there is so little coverage of whats actually going on in Ukraine.
There's probably a lot of stuff happening that us ordinary plebs will never know about.

*I say strange, but in reality, those of us in the West are being fed exactly what our leaders want us to see, no more-no less.

visc said...

BiB: You may have already listened, but well worth listening to Scott Ritter's analysis on tactics.

Although as an ex-US marine I am sure he must be a Putin disinfomatation agent because he doesn't sounds like the BBC.

BlokeInBrum said...

Visc, one of the many sources I've read to try and get a better picture of what's going on.

Sadly, it's no longer possible to get honest coverage from any of the traditional media outlets.

They are so obviously beclowning themselves that it's become embarrasing.

I've had to spread my net a lot wider to gather more even coverage of the situation, and it's tricky to know whom to trust and what weight to give various sources, given that there is an avalanche of disinformation flowing around.

Lest anyone think that I'm some sort of obsessive on this subject, I don't really care that much about it at all - I think that we have all sorts of other real issues to worry about; the energy crisis, Brexit, inflation, the fall out from Covid and so on.

It's just I hate to be so obviously lied to and manipulated.

I fail to see how this is in any way a strategic issue for British interests. They are involving themselves on our behalf into a situation that is open to massive, unintended escalation.

If our leaders were in any way competent and not utterly self-serving, then I might have extended them the benefit of the doubt, that they know what they're doing.

But honestly, does anyone here trust Boris, Starmer, or any of them farther than you could throw them?

andrew said...


"But honestly, does anyone here trust Boris, Starmer, or any of them farther than you could throw them?"

As Johnson is pretty chunky & Starmer is quite tall, I doubt I could throw either of them more than 18-24 inches.
In the case of Johnson, that is a _lot_ further than I trust him.

On trustable sources : the-blindspot.com

Anonymous said...

Any of the Ukraine's-perfect-right-to-join-NATO crowd care to comment on this story?

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/apr/26/us-wont-rule-out-military-action-if-china-establishes-base-in-solomon-islands

One of the most senior US officials in the Pacific has refused to rule out military action against Solomon Islands if it were to allow China to establish a military base there, saying that the security deal between the countries presented “potential regional security implications” for the US and other allies.


“Of course, we have respect for the Solomon Islands sovereignty, but we also wanted to let them know that if steps were taken to establish a de facto permanent military presence, power projection capabilities, or a military installation, then we would have significant concerns, and we would very naturally respond to those concerns,” he said. When asked what that response could involve, he said: “Look, I’m not going to speculate and I’m not in a position to talk about what the United States may or may not do in such a situation.”

Pressed on whether he would rule out the prospect of the US taking military action against Solomon Islands were a naval base to be established, and, if not, whether he was comfortable with Australian prime minister Scott Morrison’s talk of the base being a “red line” for Australia, he said: “I don’t have a lot to add beyond what I’ve already stated.” ... The rhetoric escalated in the wake of the statement, with the Australian prime minister, Scott Morrison, saying Australia had “the same red line” as the US when it came to China’s involvement in Solomon Islands, and defence minister Peter Dutton using his Anzac Day address on Monday to declare: “Australia should prepare for war”, claiming that China was “on a very deliberate course at the moment”.

Hmm. Red lines being drawn, with threats of military action should those lines be crossed. I'm sure I've heard that somewhere before in the last few months. But is it OK if it's "our lot" doing it?