Western negative perceptions of Russia: “the cold war mentality” over five hundred years
Michael C Paul
In a recent CNN interview, former National Security Advisor and professor of American Foreign Policy at Johns Hopkins University’s School for Advanced International Studies, Zbigniew Brzezinski, compared the Russian military’s indiscriminate bombing of the Chechen capital, Grozny, in late 1999 and early 2000 to Stalin’s murder of 15,000 Polish officers at Katyn in 1940. He called the Russian war in Chechnya “genocide” and Russia’s then acting-president Vladimir Putin “a brute … a form of a political gangster.” (1) In an article in the New York Times published three months earlier, Brzezinski argued that Russia’s ruling elite “is still driven by imperial nostalgia” and its generals “thirst for revenge for the defeat they suffered in Chechnya four years ago.” (2) Likewise, U.S. Senator John McCain, during his campaign for the Republican party’s nomination for president in early 2000, warned on ABC’s “Meet the Press” that Putin “is from the KGB. He could use the military to reassemble the Soviet Union. The U.S. President should speak far more harshly about what is happening in Chechnya.” (3) Sheila Heslin, a former director for Russian, Ukrainian and Eurasian Affairs at the National Security Council, voiced similar concerns, arguing that Russia had not yet become a “normal” power. She asserted that “unconstrained, Russia tends toward heavy-handedness because it underestimates popular commitment to independence [in the former republics of the Soviet Union as well as in its own break-away regions] while overestimating its ability to impose order. Armed to the teeth Russia gets itself in trouble, fomenting instability in the Southern Caucasus and increasingly in its own Caucasian provinces.” (4)
Others wary of Russia hearken back to the imperialism of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, seeing Russia’s moves as part of a zero-sum game between Russia and the West. William Satire wrote in a recent New York Times column that “The newly emboldened Russian military has now embarked on a modern version of what Rudyard Kipling in 1901 called `the Great Game’–that struggle against the West for economic and political power in the Caucasus and the Middle East.” Satire went on to call the war in Chechnya, a “systematic massacre of the dark-skinned Muslin trouble-makers” carried out to win votes for Russian politicians running for office in parliamentary elections. He further pointed to Russia’s meddling in the affairs of other nations such as Georgia, whose president Eduard Shevardnadze “has survived three assassination attempts that many think were KGB-inspired,” (5) as yet more examples of Russia’s quest to maintain or reestablish its empire. Many foreign policy experts in the West see efforts to unify the former Soviet space, such as the CIS and the various treaties designed to bring Russia and Belarus into closer union, including efforts to create a customs union and a single currency, as further proof that Russia is attempting to expand. (6)
Why are such negative views of Russia, often attributed to the “Cold War Mentality,” still being voiced and heard more than a decade after the end of the Cold War? Why did such negative views of Russia reappear so soon after the break-up of the USSR (assuming they ever disappeared)? (7) It may seem strange that in 1996, Henry Kissinger would still speak of Russia as being driven by “ancient imperial drives” and “relentless expansionism,” while journalist and political commentator George Will would still argue that “expansionism is in Russia’s national DNA: the populace has a `expansionist gene.'” (8) The fact is, that such negative views of Russia predate the Cold War by several centuries, and therefore, since they are not products of the Cold War, they are not likely to go away simply because the Cold War has ended.
An understanding of the origination of these negative views long before the Cold War is important since these negative views will affect how we deal with Russia and the Russians in the future. Russia remains and will remain an important player in international affairs, and thus the United States and other Western powers have to interact with it and come to terms with negative views of Russia. Russia still has the largest armed forces on earth, and Putin’s efforts to streamline these forces are being resisted by officers in the Russian military. Russia likewise still has more than 3,000 nuclear warheads, making it one of the two largest nuclear powers on earth. Russia has a permanent seat at the United Nations and can veto initiatives it disagrees with. It has voiced concern over the United States’ efforts to establish a national missile defense, as well as NATO’s efforts to expand into Eastern Europe, particularly the Baltic States. It has the ability to oppose the U.S. and Western European nations. Therefore, it is important to understand that the negative views of Russia are not merely the negative views of Communism or of the Soviet Union during the Cold War, but are negative views of Russia and the Russian people stretching back half a millennium and continuing after the demise of the Soviet Union. As such, they must be faced today in the West’s dealing with Russia. And these views will affect future relations with Russia.
Relations between Russia and the West quickly cooled after a warmer relationship in the early 1990s following high hopes for democratization and capitalism in Russia following the demise of the Soviet Union. The most recent down-turn in relations may have immediate causes in such incidents as spying or accusations of spying by both Russia and the United States, Russian brutality in Chechnya, money scandals involving Russians at the Bank of New York, and uneasiness over the pervasiveness of corruption and lawlessness in Russia, as well as Russian disapproval of NATO action in Kosovo, and of American efforts to modify the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty. (9) However, on closer examination, a less than warm relationship with Russia and perceptions that Russian is a less than civilized and imperialistic state arose long before the Yeltsin presidency with George Kennan’s famous “Long Telegram” in 1947, and Stalin’s success at gaining de jure control of Eastern Europe at the Yalta and Potsdam Conferences in 1945. In fact, negative views of Russia can be traced back some five hundred years to the very beginning of Russian expansion into lands that were ethnically non-Russian, (10) specifically Muscovy’s campaigns aimed at Europe, that is, against Poland-Lithuania, (11) the German cities in Livonia, and Swedish-held Finland when Russia emerged from beneath the Tatar Yoke during the reign of Ivan III (r. 1462-1505).
For much of these five centuries, many in Western Europe have proclaimed Russia to be the “Evil Empire,” and “Enemy of Christendom.” It has been painted as a nation hell-bent on world conquest, or, at the very least, it has been seen as a backward, ignorant land, and “a rude and barbarous kingdom.” (12) Furthermore, the Russians themselves have been described as uncivilized, ignorant, superstitious, and readily accepting of slavery and tyranny. Even in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries when Muscovy became a serious contender with the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and the Livonian Order for control over the western Russian lands and the eastern Baltic coast, Poland-Lithuania and the Livonian Germans sought to impose an embargo against Muscovy and gain allies against the Russians by painting them as barbaric, un-Christian, and imperialistic. (13) While such views are typical against an enemy in time of war, negative views of Russia have persisted for centuries, even in times of peace. The Japanese and Germans (or more specifically the Nazis), were seen as evil and uncivilized in their conquests during the 1930s and 40s in Asia and Europe respectively, but these negative views of Japan and Germany are usually not found today. Japanese and Germans are seen as hard workers, and Japan and Germany are recognized as our allies. (14) The Russians, even when they were allies during the Napoleonic Wars and the First and Second World Wars, were still viewed with wariness and were not seen as equal to the West in terms of civilization or civility.
It could be argued that the crusades against Novgorod and Pskov in 1217-18 and 1238-42 were part of this anti-Russian mentality that extended back some seven hundred years. (15) Papal legate William of Modena convinced bishops and knights in Demark and the Baltic to join in a crusade against Novgorod, in spite of the fact that this had been a Christian city since the late tenth century. The Livonian Rhymed Chronicle, written in the last decade of the thirteen hundreds to glorify the crusading orders’ activities in that region, describes an episode in the late twelfth century when the “evil” Russians–who at that time held loose dominion over the non-Christian and non-Slavic tribes along the lower WeStern Dvina river–were driven out of Livonia and Lettland by the Crusaders “never again to oppress those people.” (16) The chronicler likewise differentiated between the Russians and “the Christians” (by which he meant Latin Christianity as opposed to Orthodox Christianity). (17) When the Russians launched an attack making inroads into Livonia, they are said to have “ravaged fearfully, hungry for glory … [and] took great booty from the poor Christians.” (18) The crusader’ campaigns, on the other hand, “were blessed with honor” when booty was taken (19) and their “glorious band robbed and burned and ravaged freely up and down the land.” (20) In describing the crusaders’ storming of the castle at Gerzike, held by the Russians, the chronicler wrote that “There they [the crusaders] struck many old men, causing them to cry out in anguish, and awoke many sleepers by bashing their heads. That was a knightly exploit. [daz was ein ritterliche vart].” (21) He went on to call the Pskovians “extremely evil,” though it is not clear if he has in mind a particular instance, or whether they were evil because, in his view, they were not Christian, or because they were Russian. (22) And he described the Russians’ cowardly flight from battle: “their king shouted out with fear when his horse failed to run fast enough. With cries of terror they fled from that place.” (23)
The Chronicle of Novgorod also mentioned the crusade in Livonia that spilled over into northwestern Russia, stating the Prince Aleksandr Nevsky and his brother Andrei fought and defeated the Germans in 1242 so that the Germans “might not boast `We will humble the Slavic race under us.'” (24) The crusade, however, continued, and King Magnus of Norway and Sweden crusaded against Novgorod in the mid fourteenth century, even offering to send “philosophers” to debate religion with the Novgorodian archbishop, Vasilii, on the condition that the losers would accept the faith of the victors. Archbishop Vasilii, in consultation with the posadniks (mayors) of Novgorod, replied, perhaps wisely, that since the Russians had received the Eastern Orthodox faith from Constantinople, the king should send men there if he wished to debate. (25) While it is not clear if Magnus ever sent his “philosophers” to debate with the Greeks, his behavior would seem to indicate that he thought little of the Russians’ faith or of their debating skills.
While these sources indicate that negative views of Russia stretched back into the thirteenth century, and were due mainly to religious differences, most evidence of anti-Russian sentiments are found from the late fifteenth century onward. These fears were likewise based on the religious differences between the Catholic and Orthodox Europe, but also were due to a new factor: it was from the fifteenth century that Russia began to grow in power and threatened western nations such as Poland-Lithuania, and the Germans in the Eastern Baltic. Fears of Russia’s westward expansion led the German cites in the eastern Baltic to prohibit the shipment of weapons to Russia. Such prohibitions are known to have existed in the German towns of Livonia as early as the late fifteenth century. A list drawn up in 1499 name such goods as copper, lead, armor, guns, crossbows, saltpeter, and sulfur as forbidden for trade to Russia. The city of Revel (Tallinn, Estonia) considered salt and herring to be war supplies. Later, Livonia declared that all direct trade with Russia should be stopped and further declared that any goods on ships trading directly with Russia would be considered war supplies. (26) Skilled personnel were also forbidden to be sent to Russia. In 1547, Hans Schlitte was commissioned by Tsar Ivan IV “The Terrible” (he claimed to be Ivan IV’s ambassador) to recruit Western specialists to come to Russia. He received permission from Holy Roman Emperor Charles V the following year to take the specialists to Russia, provided they did not pass on to Turkey, Tartary, or any non-Christian land. Most of the 123 specialists assembled at Lubeck were arrested and dispersed after the city received a request from the city of Revel (Tallinn) to detain them. One who attempted to continue on to Russia was apprehended two miles from the Russian border and executed. (27)
During the Livonian War (1558-83), there are many indications that the Baltic powers of Poland-Lithuania and the Livonian German cities were frightened by the specter of the “barbarous and un-Christian Russians” getting modern weapons from Europe, and using them to attack Livonia. Thus these states sought to embargo “war supplies,” a vague term encompassing many non-strategic goods. (28) Though it is uncertain whether Russia was in fact receiving military supplies from nations such as England via the Hanseatic ports, many in Western Europe felt that Russia, as “a barbaric, Asiatic power,” could not manufacture its own armaments, even with the aid of Western gunsmiths in the service of the Tsar. (29) Therefore, so the argument went, Russia must have been receiving its weapons, especially the heavy cannons used in sieges in Livonia, from Western sources. England’s Queen Elizabeth, however, repeatedly denied accusations by Poland-Lithuania and Sweden–all rivals of the Hanseatic ports for Baltic trade–that England was engaged in trade in military goods with Russia. (30)
What may in fact have begun as legitimate fears of Russian military strength in the eastern Baltic had changed by the second half of the sixteenth century. Not only were Western visitors to Russia penning derisive commentary about the Tsar’s subjects, but the embargo against Russia was shown to be due to baser concerns than military security. Statements by the Hansatag (the assembly of the Hanseatic cities in Lubeck) in 1564 showed that people understood the attempts to embargo Russia were based on crass commercial interests and not on the salvation of Christendom from barbary. (31) A letter from the city of Dorpat (Derpt, modern-day Tartu, in Estonia) to Riga written in 1557 showed that at least some in the West (and even some among those cities allegedly most threatened by Russia) knew that that country was not as backward in terms of military technology as they acclaimed. The letter argued that if Riga, Dorpat, and other Livonian towns sold arms to Russia, it would appease Ivan IV and he would not attack Livonia, adding that arms sales to Russia would make little difference since “so much armor and so many guns were produced by the Russians in their own land that the results of the concession could scarcely be damaging.” (32)
Yet, the embargo continued, and such calls for embargoes, according to Esper, stretched back even to “the first years of German supremacy in Livonia,” (33) through the sixteenth century and involved the Pope, as is shown by a reminder to the merchants of Livonia in 1513 that there was a papal ban on weapons trade with Russia. (34) Letters from Western observers of the period continued to see Russia as outside the bounds of Christendom and civilization, despite the fact that the Russians had accepted Christianity at around the same time as the Swedes and Norwegians who had crusaded against them. Furthermore, the Russians had accepted Christianity more than two centuries before the indigenous tribes of Livonia, or the founding of Riga by Bishop Albert von Buxenhovden which began the German presence in the Eastern Baltic (1201), and more than four centuries before the Lithuanians accepted Christianity. (35)
Despite all these facts, the city of Revel wrote a missive between 1558 and 1559 to Grand Master Furstenberg of the Livonian Order, referring to Russia as “the barbaric enemy of Christendom” and “the enemy of all Christians.” The Grand Master sent his own letter to the Emperor Frederich II, in which he voiced his belief that English arms shipments to Russia were not only “damaging to Livonia,” but also to “all Christendom.” Furstenberg’s successor, Grand Master Gotthard Kettler, issued a privateer’s patent in which he called Russia “Christianity’s archenemy.” (36) Likewise, the Polish King Sigismund Augustus wrote in a 1560 letter to Queen Elizabeth of England that trade with Russia threatened not only Poland “but also the religion and all Christian states [sed etiam religionis et reipublicae totius christianae] and was leading to “the open destruction of all Christians and liberal [free] nations,” calling Ivan IV the Terrible “a most barbarous and cruel enemy.” He went on to write that “the Muscovite [would be] puffed up with pride with those things that he bought in Narva [and would be] made more perfect in warlike affairs [and] with engines of war and ships, will make assault this way on Christendom.” (37) The king threatened to attack merchant ships that continued to trade with the Russians at Narva. (38) Some two centuries later, an Italian soldier-of-fortune, Francesco Locatelli, imprisoned in Russia (and thus of questionable objectivity) wrote in a similar fashion in a letter that “the Muscovites are sworn enemies to the rest of mankind.” (39)
At roughly the same time the German cities of the Baltic sought to embargo Russia, Western travelers to Russia returned to Europe with a bleak and insulting view of Russia and its people. Austrian Ambassador Sigismund yon Herberstein, who visited Russia in the early 1500s, published a description of Muscovy in 1557. While it was not as negative as later writers, nor did he write of Russia’s imperialist ambitions, he did contend that “these people … vaunt their bondage more than their freedom,” stating that manumitted slaves would almost immediately sell themselves back into slavery rather than be free. (40) He also noted that they went to extremes with drink, and that they were “cunning and deceitful in their trade.” (41) He also told the story of a Russian woman married to a German who thought her husband did not love her because he never beat her, adding that after the man began beating her, she loved him more than ever. Herberstein noted finally, that the man beat her to death one day. (42)
Some years later, during an audience with English Ambassador Giles Fletcher’s embassy to Moscow, Tsar Ivan IV the Terrible (r. 1530-84) warned a goldsmith attached to the embassy that “My Russes are thieves all.” Then it was pointed out to him that he too was a Russian, the Tsar responded “I am no Rus. My ancestors were German.” (43) According to the Stepennaia kniga, a genealogy compiled early in Ivan’s reign, the House of Riurik which had ruled Russia since the ninth century descended from a fictitious Prus, a “close brother” of “holy” Augustus, who governed the Roman provinces (sic) of Prussia in what is now northern Poland. The Tsars and Grand Princes of Russia, were thus, by this account, not Russian. (44) While the Tsar was, in fact, Russian, (especially in an age where the sovereign was, in some sense, the nation and an age which lacked nationalism in as developed a form as it had taken since the French Revolution) his remarks show that even among the Russians, the West was to be envied and emulated, while all things Russian were to be reviled and demeaned.
The Westerners who glimpsed Russia in their travels did as much. The English, when they first sailed around the northern cape of Norway and arrived at Arkhangelsk, spoke of “discovering” Russia, though the Russians had always known where they were, as had the Swedes, Livonians, Poles, Germans, and others. (45) Such perceptions of Russia as a “new” (and in some sense inferior) land are not unlike Western ethnocentric views of the Native Americans. The English did not stop there, but ventured on insult. George Tuberville, secretary to the English Ambassador Randolph, wrote a letter-in-verse during his participation in an embassy to Russia in 1568-69, also during the reign of Ivan IV. In the letter, he called, the Russians “vile” and compared them to England’s most despised enemies: “Wild Irish are as civil as the Russians in their kind/Hard choice which is the best of both, each boldly, rude and blind.” (46) Other Englishmen marveled at the ignorance of the Russians: After quizzing the Bishop of Vologda on his religious knowledge, ambassador Fletcher found that the prelate did not know how many Evangelists or Apostles there were. (47) On another occasion, a monk was seen begging for alms “in the name of the fourth member of the Holy Trinity … St. Nicholas.” (48)
Of the common people in Russia the Westerners were even more disparaging. Fletcher wrote that they were brought up “void of all good learning and civil behavior,” and that because of this “the whole country is filled with rapine and murder. They make no account of the life of a man … I will not speak of the strangeness of the murders and other cruelties committed among them that would scarcely be believed to be done, specialty such as profess themselves Christians,” adding that they were cruel toward strangers and doubly so to one another, and that “the whole country overfloweth with all sin … and no marvel, as having no law to restrain whoredoms, adulteries, and the like uncleanness of life.” (49) He went on to write (apparently of the whole society and not merely the common people), that “As for the truth of his word, the Russe for the most part maketh small regard of it so he may gain by a lie and breach his promise. And it may be said truly … that from the great to the small (except for some few that will scarcely be found) the Russe neither believeth anything that another man speaketh nor speaketh anything himself worthy to be believed.” (50)
Sentiments that Russia was imperialistic and uncivilized did not, of course, end with the sixteenth century. In the next century Adam Olearius observed and commented on the most negative attributes of the Russian, writing that “when you observe the spirit, the mores, and the wary of life to the Russians, you are bound to number them among the barbarians….” Knowing nothing of the liberal arts or the sciences, “they remain untutored and uncouth.” (51) He went on writing of their rudeness: “After a meal, they do not refrain, in the presence and hearing of all, from releasing what nature produces, fore and aft.” (52) The Russians were, he continued, “addicted to the vile depravity we call sodomy,” and given to “the lusts of the flesh and fornication”; (53) they likewise engaged in bestiality, shameless nudity in the public baths in mixed company, habitual swearing, public drunkenness (even by women), lewd and lascivious behavior in public, as well as the most “foul and shameful swearing.” (54) He wrote that “even the foremost Russians use crude and indiscrete speech in their letters to foreigners, but they are quite put out if we respond in kind.” (55) Once when Olearius was invited to dinner, “there began a bitter quarrel over precedence. Bledin syn, sukin syn, butzfui matir [son of a whore, son of a bitch, fuck your mother] and other vile words were the choice terms which they vehemently belabored each other.” (56) The swearing went on for half an hour. Even “children who do not yet know the name of God, or father, or mother, already have on their lips `fuck you’ and say it as well to their parents as their parents to them.” (57) Few Western observers were as graphic or negative in their assessment of the Russians.
In the next century, Captain John Perry, an English hydraulic engineer sent to help Peter the Great establish his navy, belittled the superstition of the Russians, who, he wrote “had a kind or religious respect and veneration of their beards.” (58) He went on to tell the story of one Russian who kept his beard in his pocket after being ordered by Peter to shave it off. (59) Perry also complained of the failure of the church to reach the Russians, writing that the Russian priests “never preach to the people, for it is a thing they have no skill in,” and found men admitted to the priesthood solely on the basis of their voices and their ability to “say over `Gospodi pomilui’ twelve or fifteen times in the same breath.” (60)
In fact, throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth century, western observers continued to note the same negative aspects of Russian society: superstition, drunkenness, and barbaric sexual practices. French traveler Jacques Margaret, visiting Russia in the beginning of the seventeenth century, found Russia interesting and spoke of it rather positively, though he said the Russians were fond of drink. (61) However, his countryman, Jean Struys, who visited Muscovy in 1668, found the Russians “ignorant, brutal, and vicious,” and decried their superstitious actions (such as covering up the icons or taking off their crosses before having sex), as well as their arranged marriages which were often unhappy and led to divorce. (62) A year later, the young philosopher Leibnitz wrote an essay in which he called the Russians “the Turks of the North,” though his view of them was overall quite ambivalent. (63) Perry, who visited Russia a generation later, noted that the Russians found it no scandal to be drunk, and wrote that when drunk the Russians committed all sorts of crimes, including robbery, murder, and “even the terrible sin of sodomy.” (64) Jean Chappe d’Auteroche, a priest and astronomer from the French Academy of Sciences sent to Russia in 1770, did not comment on their mores so much, but still saw Russia as less than civilized. He found Moscow and St. Petersburg to be pleasant enough, but saw the rural districts as a “barbarous region,” and felt that the nobles lived “under the yoke of the most dreadful slavery” and lashed out at their serfs, whom they sold “as cattle is sold in other parts of the world.” (65)
In a 1996 article, Robert Kagan warned against the return of a “Cold War mentality” writing that Russophobia (or Sovietophobia) was, in fact, nothing new in the political landscape. However, he only cited nineteenth and twentieth century incidents of Russophobia to make his case. For example, he noted remarks made by the American writer and historian Henry Adams and Alfred Thayer Mahan, famous in the late nineteenth century as the proponent of naval power. To Adams, Russia was “an inhuman, unstoppable force” and “a wall of archaic glacier,… fixed,… ancient,… eternal,… and more likely to advance.” (66) Mahan in turn wrote that there was neither intelligence nor reason behind Russian foreign policy, but it was rather based on “obedience to natural law and race instinct.” Kagan also quoted Theodore Roosevelt, who expressed fear that the Russians thought of themselves as “huge, powerful barbarians, cynically confident … that they will in the end inherit the fruits of our civilization … despising as effete all of Europe and especially America.” (67)
Kagan is not the only scholar to trace Russophobia only back to the nineteenth century. Others, citing Great Power politics and geostratigic concerns, date hatred of Russia only to the years following the Napoleonic Wars, when Russia and Great Britain came to class over interests in Asia, leading many in Britain’s foreign policy elite to revive the negative perceptions of Russia voiced by their ancestors almost three hundred years before. John Howes Gleason, in his book The Genesis of Russophobia in Great Britain, wrote that “within the United Kingdom there developed early in the nineteenth century an antipathy toward Russia which soon became the most pronounced and enduring element in the outlook on the world abroad.” (68) He saw this antipathy as “the contradictory sequel of nearly three centuries of consistently friendly relations,” (69) thus ignoring the negative views of Fletcher and others, though those were by no means part of Britain’s official policy toward Russia and were, instead, only the personal observation of certain Englishmen.
Gleason went on to argue that “serious Anglo-Russian hostilities began in 1791” with the support in Parliament for the Poles and William Pitt’s efforts to have the Russians return the fortress of Ochakov, guarding the Dniepr and Bug estuary, which the Russians had recently captured during a war with the Ottoman Turks. (70) Additionally, support in Parliament for the Poles during the Third Partition further soured relations with Russia. However, Gleason traces the foundation of Russophobia as a policy to the pamphlets of Sir Robert Wilson, particularly the pamphlet entitled “A Sketch of the Military and the Political Power of Russia in the Year 1817.” In this pamphlet, Wilson, who had been a British military observer in Russia during the Napoleonic invasion, argued that Russia had opportunistically used the gains of the Napoleonic War to gain ascendancy over her allies and that subsequently “she has been presented by her rivals with the scepter of universal dominion.” (71) Other scholars have also noted Wilson’s role in establishing and furthering Russophobia in Great Britain, (72) one scholar even calling him “the Father of Russophobia.” (73) Still others noted further instances of Russophobia in Britain at the time, most notably an editorial in the Morning Chronicle that same year, which declared that Russia believed that it was destined to rule the world. (74)
In fact, few nations, with the possible exception of Germany in the last century, have been seen as so insatiably or inherently imperialistic as Russia. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, any move by Russia was seen as a drive for Empire. A move in the Crimea or the Balkans was seen as a grab for Constantinople. In several instances it was. Catherine II’s “Greek Project,” in which she planned to place her grandson, Konstantin, on the throne of a revived Byzantine Empire after taking Constantinople from the Turks, is a prime example of Russian designs in the region. The Crimean War indicated French and British fears of Russian moves in the Crimea toward Constantinople almost a century after Catherine’s reign. (75) The Congress of Berlin in 1880 showed Western European fears of Russian influence in the Balkans after the Russian defeat of Turkey in 1878. During the decade of the Congress of Berlin, Lord Salisbury wrote that British foreign policy since the Crimean War turned on “the protection of Constantinople from Russian conquest.” (76) And yet, fears of Russian moves were not confined to the Black Sea region. Moves by Russia in Central Asia were seen as a grab for Persia, access to the Persian Gulf, and ultimately, India, and were likewise vigorously countered. (77)
Taras Hunczak, in Russian Imperialism from Ivan the Great to the Revolution, cited the views of other well-known figures of the nineteenth century concerning Russia. Karl Marx warned in 1867 that “the policy of Russia is changeless. Its methods, its tactics, its maneuvers may change, but the polar star of its policy–world domination–is a fixed star.” (78) Franz von Kuhn, the Austrian Minister of War in 1870, warned Europe about Russia, saying “We must weaken this giant and confine him to Asia, otherwise the earth will sooner or later be divided up among two powers, the North Americans and the Russians.” (79)
Hunczak goes on to discuss the Pan-Slavic or Pan-Russian movement of the nineteenth century showing that it was more the result of Western paranoia. (It was, in fact, a Czech invention, not a Russian one.) Russia was not, in fact, pushing to unite the world’s Slavs, nor did it simply move in and conquer other nations or peoples irrespective of geopolitical, strategic, or defensive consequences. Likewise, its moves were not always opposed by the newly incorporated nations, as in the case of the Treaty of Pereiaslavl of 1654 in which the Ukrainian Cossack hosts asked for protection against the Poles and Turks and various defensive agreements with Central Asian tribes against other tribes, or the Persians, the Tatars, etc. (80) In the case of Georgia, Empress Catherine II (r. 1762-96) actually rejected efforts by Irakhli II, King of Kakhetia and Kartlia (East-central Georgia) to ally with Russia in 1762 in the king’s effort to defend his nation against Persian and Turkish threats, though she later acquiesced and Kakhetia and Kartlia accepted Russian suzerainty in 1783. In 1801, Irakhli’s successor, Giorgi XII, petitioned that Kakhetia and Kartlia be made part of the Russian Empire due to a dispute he had with his brothers. The two regions were finally incorporated into the Russian Empire by Catherine’s son, the Emperor Paul (r. 1796-1801). (81)
While Hunczak and others readily admit that the Russians often took advantage of their role as protectors and moved in to Russify and enslave the people, or that the relationship between the Russians and their newly-subject peoples deteriorated over time, as it certainly did in the case of Georgia, the Ukraine, and elsewhere, the notion of the Russians as being insatiably driven to conquer their neighbors, is wholly inaccurate. Likewise, the idea of the Russian Empire as simply “a prison of peoples” is an oversimplification. Under Nicholas I (r. 1825-1855), there was much repression, but there was also a flourishing of artistic and literary culture as Russia experienced its Golden Age of Literature. Likewise, under Nicholas, the Russian government was concerned more with maintaining legitimate governments throughout Europe than it was in expanding its power. There were a number of instances, such as when Nicholas I sent troops into the Free City of Cracow and then invited the Austrians to annex it, or when the Russians crushed the 1848 uprisings in Wallachia and Moldavia in the name of the Ottoman empire and crushed the Hungarian uprising the following year in the name of the Austrian empire. (82) In both instances, according to Ian Roberts and Taras Hunczak, the Tsar may have actually acted counter to Russian interests, and certainly counter to the idea of Russia as an insatiably expansionistic power, always striving to expand the territories and peoples under its influence regardless of the consequences. (83)
Having considered these western European views of Russian foreign policy, and of the Russian people, over five centuries, more recent remarks by a reporter for the Manchester Guardian calling the Soviet Union “Sierra Leone with missiles” or an editorial in a recent edition of the British newspaper The Economist which called Russia “a strange country, perhaps a uniquely strange country,” (84) can be seen as part of a long-standing negative feeling toward Russia and not merely as vestiges of the Cold War. They are, in fact, a continuation of centuries of Russophobia or, perhaps more simply, of misunderstanding of Russia by a European or Western world which has for much of the past five hundred years (if not longer) seen itself as morally and culturally superior to Russia and has seen Russia not only as culturally inferior, but also as a barbaric and imperialistic state wishing to spread its “Asiatic barbarism” or “Oriental Despotism” (85) to the rest of the world. Such modern remarks are little differing in origin from Napoleon’s quip, “Scratch a Russian and you wound a Tartar.”
This is not to say that perceptions of Russia, particularly of the danger it poses to its neighbors, have no basis in fact. One can illustrate this point readily enough with a review of current events in Russia and the former USSR. It is hard to call a nation a “normal” power or a “civilized” state when it has in the past six years launched two full-scale wars on one of its own regions. The most recent conflict has pitted some 100,000 troops (including highly trained naval infantry and airborne troops, as well as interior ministry forces) against about 10,000 Chechen fighters, and has included the alleged looting and the murder of civilians, and the rape and torture of civilians in detention camps. The Russian armed forces at the height of the offensive flew some 60-70 bombing sorties a day against whole cities and villages (that is, not against “terrorist bases”). (86) All of this was carried out in a thinly veiled effort to maintain Russia’s territorial integrity and national pride under the guise of an anti-terrorist action against “bandits and murderers.” (87) While it may be understandable that Russia is trying to maintain what remains of its status as a superpower, such heavy-handed behavior is shocking to a West that feels, rightly or wrongly, that it has moved beyond such brutal behavior. Former President Yeltsin’s remarks during a visit to Jerusalem soon after his resignation that “In another month we will finish off the terrorists … This is the path that the Chechen people have chosen, and then there will be complete peace” seem to be either a callous write-off of thousands of innocent civilians (lumping them in with the small number of terrorists who carried out raids into Dagestan and allegedly bombed several apartment buildings in Moscow and Volgodonsk in the late summer of 1999) (88) or else is cynical disregard for the self-determination of the Chechen people who wish for independence from Russia, not conquest by the Russian Army. The Chechen War of 1994-1996, though involving perhaps a tenth as many Russian troops and less intensive artillery barrages and air strikes, is thought to have cost 80,000 lives and left the region in rains. (89)
In addition to the uncivilized actions of the Russian armed forces in Chechnya, Russia’s recent interference in the internal affairs of its neighbors, such as Moldova and Georgia, has led many in the West to argue that negative perceptions of Russia have a basis in fact. Russia has supported the breakaway regions of Transdniestria (in Moldova) and Abkhazia (in Georgia) with armed force (including carrying out air strikes in Georgia). In the case of Armenia and Azerbaijan, Russia supported the Armenians against the Azeris. (90) After Moldova and Georgia caved in to such pressures and joined the Russian-led Commonwealth of Independent States, the breakaway regions ceased their efforts (or significantly scaled back their separatist activities) and became more conciliatory toward the elected governments of Moldova and Georgia. During the recent war in Chechnya, the Russian government put pressure on the Georgian government to close its border with Chechnya, and Russian generals voiced the opinion that it was in their fight to use bases in Georgia to attack the Chechens without having to ask Georgian permission. More recently, it has cut off natural gas supplies to Georgia in the dead of winter in an effort to get Georgia to extend the lease on four Russian bases in Georgia. (91) Russia’s behavior in Eastern Europe over the past few centuries shows similar heavy-handedness and disregard for the national aspirations of others. The Russians (in cooperation with Prussia and Austria) crushed Polish independence in the late eighteenth century, and Russia brutally crushed Polish uprisings in 1831 and 1863, as well as invading Eastern Poland in 1939 as part of the Ribbentrop-Molotov agreement. The following year, 15,000 Polish officers were slaughtered in Western Russia. In this century, the Soviet Union’s invasions of Hungary in 1956 and Czechoslovakia in 1968 are further examples of the Russian activities that would justify negative views of that country.
While Russia in some ways has only itself to blame for its less than civilized behavior and the negative views this behavior causes, it must be admitted that the United States, Great Britain, and other Great Powers have carried out violent and, indeed, barbaric acts as well, yet are not seen as inherently imperialistic, nor are their peoples seen as inherently uncivilized or barbaric. The British, French, Germans, and others carved out colonial empires in North and South American, Asia, and Africa in the nineteenth century, killing or enslaving the native peoples in the process, destroying native industry and culture, and imposing their own systems on the natives. The British, while doing this in India, looked across the border into Central Asia and cast aspersions at the Russians who were doing the same thing there. During the Cold War, the United States carded out or supported sometimes brutal coups in Guatemala, Chile, and elsewhere in Latin America, and carded out a campaign to destabilize the Castro regime in Cuba; millions died in a long war the U.S. fought in Vietnam, though most Americans only remember the 58,000 Americans who were killed. While this was going on, the U.S. and Western nations saw Soviet actions in Africa or Eastern Europe, or its war in Afghanistan as brutal, imperialistic, and unacceptable behavior for a civilized nation.
Yet the U.S. and other Western nations have been able to successfully argue that most negative activities carried out by Western Powers were done in the name of civilization or freedom, and were carded out only as a last resort. (92) The killings of civilians by American soldiers at My Lai or No Gun Ri were carded out by individual soldiers and were not policy. The U.S. and its post-war allies never had a Gulag, a Katyn massacre, or a Berlin Wall. More recently, Western nations have argued that the goals behind negative behavior were good, that the nature of such actions was not comparable to Russian atrocities, or that the degree of such negative behavior has been far less severe than Russia’s behavior over the years. And while the natives who suffered from Western colonial or military activities were understandably unhappy with the policies of the Western Powers, there are few who would call the American, French, British, or German people uncivilized or barbaric in spite of these negative episodes in the past. Furthermore, the United States has been able to convince many that while it carded out unpleasant policies, it often did so in an effort to fight barbaric and evil enemies and establish freedom and democracy in the world. (93) Russia, on the other hand, has not only been seen as an evil government when it carries out similar policies, but its people are seen as uncivilized or barbaric as well. When Russia destabilizes a foreign regime, it is seen to be doing so merely to gain power and territory, and not to protect itself from foreign invasion, militant Islam, or other real or imagined threats, and certainly not as an effort to establish freedom or democracy.
In conclusion, it is apparent that negative views held in the West of Russia are nothing new. They extend back at least five centuries, if not farther. While some views are extremist in nature, they are not always baseless, and Russia to some degree deserves the negative image it has, since its behavior has, at times, been reprehensible, though certainly no nation has a monopoly on virtue. This, of course, is not to say that there were not those who wrote positive accounts of their travels to Russia, as did, just to name two examples, Jacques Margaret, who visited Russia in the late seventeenth century, and Freiherr von Haxhausen, who visited Russia in the mid nineteenth century and went out of his way to correct those who saw Russians as barbaric and ignorant. (94) Nor is it even to suggest that most people in Western Europe or America thought badly of the Russians, (in fact most probably did not think much about Russia at all.) This is merely meant to show that European and American perceptions of Russia as an evil or uncivilized country have a long history and are not merely creations of the twentieth century or products of the Cold War.
While Russia has at times behaved in a manner that justifies at least some of the negative views of it, many of these views simply stem from geopolitical considerations that arose at the time Russia began to expand beyond the areas occupied by the Eastern Slavs. These geopolitical considerations, in which Britain and later the United States saw Russia as a menace to their global interests, led the West to vilify Russia and its people. In addition, such negative views may be due to an unfamiliarity with Russian culture–for example, an unfamiliarity with Russian Orthodoxy during the Middle Ages led the Norwegians, Swedes, the Livonian cities, and the Teutonic Knights and the Swordbrothers to wage “crusades” against a Christian nation, albeit a non-Catholic one. This unfamiliarity also led the Poles, Lithuanians, and Germans in the early modern period to label Russia as an enemy of Christendom.
A case in point of this unfamiliarity is the arguments that the Russians were ignorant of Christianity, that its monks and bishops were ignorant of basic tenets of the faith, and its peasantry superstitious. While the Russian peasantry was, indeed, a superstitious lot, as observed by many Westerners, it was probably no more so than the English peasantry at the time, or the English mariners who sailed with Fletcher, Randolph, or Perry to Russia. Furthermore, the Russian Church, and Orthodoxy in general, emphasized ritual over doctrine or Scripture, and thus were seen as superstitious (and wrong) by the Protestant English who emphasized an understanding of Scripture. (95) The premise behind monasticism in the Russian Orthodox Church (and the broader Orthodox Church) was likewise different in Russia than in the West. Monks in the Orthodox world were to withdraw from society and pray for it, or offer up their Spartan lives for the salvation of the souls of those still in society, therefore it would not be uncommon for them to be less versed in scripture than educated Westerners, or even Western monks, who were trained as teachers and theologians. (96) Such descriptions of Russian religious ignorance by Western travelers were therefore most likely due to differences between Western Christianity (particularly Protestantism) and Russian Orthodoxy. Orthodoxy was thought of so poorly probably because it was poorly understood. While Western attitudes of Russia were not merely based on a different religious experience, the lack of understanding in the religious sphere perhaps serves as an example of a greater misunderstanding of Russia. Perhaps such negative remarks were also attributable to a bit of poor translation between the monk praying to St. Nicholas, or between the bishop of Vologda and the English ambassador.
Negative views of Russia arose centuries before the Cold War and are thus not likely to disappear any time soon. The geopolitical causes of these negative views of Russia might decline as Russian power wanes. Should Russian power grow again, geopolitical considerations would, most likely, lead to the further expression of negative views of Russia and, unfortunately, its people. It is important to understand where these negative views of Russia come from, as Russia remains a significant player in international affairs and cannot be dismissed or ignored by Western Powers. As for the negative perceptions of Russia that arise from ignorance, a greater familiarity with Russian culture, including its literary and artistic brilliance, to name just two areas where Russia has excelled in recent centuries, might lead to an end to some of these negative views of Russia. Perhaps too, Russia has something to learn from the West and can, in the future, act in a way that would make such negative perceptions of Russia fully anachronistic.
(1) Cable News Network, Text of Interview with Zbigniew Brzezinski, Transcript #000226002V27 (February 26, 2000).
(2) Zbigniew Brzezinski, “Russia Would Gain By Losing Chechnya” The New York Times (November 19, 1999), p. A31.
(3) Seamus Martin, “Primakov Pull-out Clears Way for Putin Presidency,” The Irish Times (February 5, 2000), p. 17.
(4) Sheila N. Heslin, “Danger at the Crossroads,” The New York Times (November 3, 1999), p. A29; Radek Sikorski, “A `Normal’ Nation?” National Review (January 23, 1995), 54.
(5) William Satire, “Great Game’s Victims,” The New York Times (December 9, 1999), p. A31. While The Federal Security Service (the FSB) and the Internal Intelligence Service (the VSR) maintain many of the same personnel as their predecessors the KGB, Satire is technically incorrect in using that term for the Russian intelligence services since the KGB was disbanded in 1992.
(6) Michael Wines, “Russia and Belarus Agree to Join in a Confederation,” The New York Times (December 9, 1999), p. A8.
(7) By this I mean mainstream or moderate perceptions of Russia among the foreign-policy elite. Right-wing elements in the U.S. have, since 1992, claimed that the break-up of the Soviet Union was and still is part of an intricate KGB-plot by the USSR to get the U.S. to lower its defenses so that the Soviet Union can conquer the world.
(8) Robert Kagan, “The New Russophobes Are Here,” The Weekly Standard, (New York), Vol. 1, No. 41 (July 1, 1996), 25.
(9) David Johnston and James Risen, “Russian Diplomat in Washington Held in Spy Case,” The New York Times (December 9, 1999), pp. A1, A8; “Putin stanet geroi Chechni, esli provedet referendum,” Ogonek, (14 fevralia, 2000 g.), pp. 8-11 (interview with Abdul-Khakim Sultygoi, director of the Avtorkhanov Institute of Humanitarian Political Technology). The official newspaper of the Russian government showed the level of tension between the two governments when it ran an article recently in which it called America’s efforts to develop anti-ballistic missile defenses (which would require modification of the ABM Treaty) “a revolution in military affairs as epoch-making as that perfected by the Hitlerite soldiers (voiaki, literally “warriors”) of the 1930s with their strategy of blitzkrieg.” While not necessarily equating American policy-makers with the Nazis, the parallel they have drawn is somewhat disturbing. See Aelita Baychurina, Vladimir Kucherenko, and Boris Talov, “`Istrebitel’ sputnikov’ protiv zvesdnykh voyn,” Rossisskaia gazeta (3 marta, 2000 g.).
(10) From the earliest years of political organization among the Eastern Slavs, Russia has held territories on which non-Slavic populations have lived, including Baits, Finno-Ugrians, Turks, and Iranians. (Indeed one of the chronicles refers to Turkic tribes to the south of Kiev as “those pagans of ours.”) However, these populations lived interspersed with the Slavs and it was only in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries that the Russians began moving into areas on which few or no Slavs lived. On the multi-ethnic nature of Russia, see Geoffrey Hoskings and Robert Service, Russian Nationalism Past and Present (London: MacMillan, 1998), 8. On specific examples of early medieval interaction between Slavs and non-Slavs in Kievan Russia, see George Vernadsky, Kievan Russia (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1976, 1948), 162, 193; John Fennell, The Crisis of Medieval Russia, 1200-1304 (New York: Longman, 1983), 83; Henry Howarth, History of the Mongols, Vol. 2, The So-Called Tartars of Russia and Central Asia (New York: Burt Franklin, 1965), 5.
(11) The dynasties of Poland and Lithuania united in the Union of Krewo (1386) with the marriage of Queen Jadwiga of Poland with Grand Prince Jagaillo of Lithuania (who became King Ladislaw II of Poland), but the two states maintained their own constitutional systems until the Union of Lublin (1569) when the states united under one constitutional system. For the sake of convenience, I will refer to the states as Poland-Lithuania for the medieval and Early Modern periods up to the Three Partitions.
(12) Lloyd E. Berry and Robert O. Crummey, Rude and Barbarous Kingdom: Russia in the Accounts of Sixteenth Century English Voyagers (Madison, University of Wisconsin Press, 1968).
(13) Thomas Esper, “A Sixteenth Century Anti-Russian Arms Embargo,” Jahrbucher fur Geschicte Osteuropas, Vol. 15, No. 6 (June, 1967), 180-96.
(14) Though admittedly there are some with racist views of the Japanese who view them as inferior to Europeans. The foreign policy elite, however, do not usually hold this opinion.
(15) Henricus Lettus, Chronicon Livoniae (Darmstadt: Wissencschaftliche Buchgesellshcaft, 1959), 220-224; Nasanov, A.N. (Arsenii Nikolaevich), ed., Novgorodskaia pervaia letopis’: starshego i mladshego isvodov, [hereafter NPL] (Moscow, Arkheograficheskie kommissiia, Vostochina Literatura, Nauka, 1846-1995), 57, 77-78, 258, 294-96; Robert Michell and Nevill Forbes, trans., The Chronicle of Novgorod 1016-1471 (New York: AMS Press, 1970), 61, 86; William Urban, The Baltic Crusade (DeKalb, IL, Northern Illinois University Press, 1975), 91-92, 102-3, 161-63, 167-69; Eric Christensen, Northern Crusade: The Baltic and the Catholic Frontier, 1100-1525 (Minneapolis, University of Minnesota Press, 1980).
(16) Leo Meyer, ed., Livlandische Reimchronik (Patterborn: Ferdinand Schoningh, 1876), 15-16, lines 640-659; Jerry C. Smith and William L. Urban, eds. and trans., The Livonian Rhymed Chronicle (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1977), 10.
(17) Meyer, 36, lines 1553-60; Smith and Urban, 22. The Russians are likewise seen as instruments of the Devil: “Then it came to pass as often happens: when something good happens to a poor man, then the evil one becomes jealous and discontented. The Russians learned how Christianity was growing in the land and wanted to prevent this.” See also Meyer, 48, lines 2070-74; Smith and Urban, 29.
(18) Meyer, 36, lines 1560-64; Smith and Urban, 22.
(19) Meyer, 16, lines 680-86, 30, lines 1267-8; Smith and Urban, 11,19.
(20) Meyer, 44, lines 1900-04; Smith and Urban, 27.
(21) Meyer, 16, lines 674-6; Smith and Urban, 11.
(22) Meyer, 49, lines 2099-2104; Smith and Urban, 30.
(23) Meyer, 37, lines 1605-6; Smith and Urban, 23.
(24) NPL, 295, s. a. 1242; Michell and Forbes, 86.
(25) NPL, 359, s. a. 1348; Michell and Forbes, 141.
(26) Esper, 187, 188, 190.
(27) Ibid., 182-3.
(28) Ibid., 180.
(29) Ibid., 180-82.
(30) George Tolstoy, The First Forty Years of Intercourse Between England and Russia, 1553-1593 (New York: Butt Franklin, 1964), 29-31, No. 9.
(31) Esper, 192.
(32) Ibid., 187, 196.
(33) Ibid., 187. German colonization of Livonia began around the time of the founding of Riga in 1201, through German control of the region was not firm until the 1260s.
(34) Ibid., 1.87-8.
(35) Urban, 41-43; Christensen. Danish King Harald Klak was baptized in 826, but was driven into exile a year later. Harald Bluetooth, who finally converted the Danes, was baptized in 965, only thirty-three years before Prince Vladimir converted Russia. Norwegian King Hakon the Good is thought to have been baptized in England in the mid-tenth century, and King Olav Tryggvason was confirmed in England in 995, though St. Olaf (King Olav Haraldson) (r. 1015-28) is traditionally seen as having brought Christianity to Norway. Swedish King Olof Skotkonung is said to have converted to Christianity in 1008, but coins with Christian symbols were minted by him at Sigtuna as early as 995, again around the same time Christianity came to Russia. On the coming of Christianity to Scandinavia, see Birgit and Peter Sawyer, Medieval Scandinavia: From Conversion to Reformation, circa 800-1500 (Minneapolis, University of Minnesota Press, 1993), 103-4.
(36) Esper, 188.
(37) Ibid., 191; Tolstoy, 29, 31.
(38) Tolstoy, 31.
(39) Anthony Cross, ed., Russia Under Western Eyes: 1517-1825 (London: Elek Books, 1971), 176. Such remarks, seeing Russia as outside the territorial and psychological boundaries of Christendom, are quite similar to remarks during the Cold War which saw the Soviet Union as being outside the bounds of civilized nations and that, in the words of the Doolittle Report submitted to President Eisenhower in 1954, the Soviet Union was “an implacable enemy whose avowed objective is world domination by whatever means and at whatever cost…. If the United States is to survive, long-standing American concepts of `fair play’ must be reconsidered. We must … learn to subvert, sabotage, and destroy our enemies by more clever, more sophisticated, and more effective methods than those used against us.” The Report on the Covert Activities of the Central Intelligence Agency, September 30, 1954, Appendix A, pp. 6-7, also known as the Doolittle Report.
(40) Sigismund von Herberstein, Description of Moscow and Muscovy, 1557, edited by Bertold Picard, translated [from the German] by J. B. C. Grundy (London: Dent, 1969), 39.
(41) Ibid., 84.
(42) Ibid., 41.
(43) Ivan used the word nemtsy–from the word nemoi–“mute,” since they spoke a lan guage unintelligible to the Russians. The term now means German, but in earlier times it meant any non-Slavic Western European. On the episode between Ivan IV and Fletcher’s embassy see Ann M. Kleimola, “Genealogy and Identity Among the Russian Elite,” in Ann M. Kleimola and Gail Lenhoff, Culture and Identity in Moscow: 1354-1584, 284.
(44) Polnoe Sobranie Russkikh Letopisei, Vol. 21, Pt. 1, p. 60. See also pp. 1, 37, 235; cf. David B. Miller, “The Velikie Minei and the Stepennaia Kniga of Metropolitan Makarii and the Origins of Russian National Consciousness,” Forschungen zur osteuropaischen Geschichte (1979), 318. For the standard account of the calling of Riurik in the late ninth century from the Russian Primary Chronicle, see D. S. Likhachev and V. P. Adrianova-Peretts, eds., Povest’ Vremennikh Let, 2 Volumes (Moscow and Leningrad, 1950), 18.
(45) The English had indirectly traded with Russia for hundreds of years via Hanseatic League, and one of their kings, prior to his accession to the throne, had crusaded in Livonia. Harald Hardraada, the King of Norway who was killed at the Battle of Stamford Bridge in 1066, had fought in the retinue of Iaroslav the Wise for several years, and was married to Iaroslav’s daughter, Elizaveta. Iaroslav’s son, Sviatoslav, was married to the daughter of the Bishop of Trier. Vladimir Monomakh was married to Gyda, the niece of Harold II Godwinson, the King of England killed at Hastings in 1066 (who had defeated Hardraada earlier that year). Anna, daughter of Iaroslav the Wise, married King Henry I of France, while her niece, Evpraksia married Holy Roman Emperor Henry IV. With all this interaction between Russia and Western Europe, it is hard to know what the English meant by their “discovery” of Russia. Janet Martin, Medieval Russia 980-1584 (Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1995), 43-44; Vernadsky, 336, 340-42.
(46) Francesca Wilson, Muscovy: Russia Through Foreign Eyes: 1553-1900 (New York: Praeger Books, 1970), 58; Berry and Crummey, 83-83.
(47) Giles Fletcher, Of the Russe Commonwealth, Richard Pipes and John V. A. Fine, Jr., eds. (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1966), 89; Berry and Crummey, 218; Richard Pipes, Russia Under the Old Regime (New York: Charles Schribner and Sons, 1974), 228. Fletcher also wrote that the clergy were “void of all manner of learning,” and “men utterly unlearned.” Fletcher, 85, 86.
(48) Pipes, 228.
(49) Fletcher, 116, 117; Berry and Crummey, 245.
(50) Fletcher, 117; Berry and Crummey, 245.
(51) Adam Olearius, The Travels of Olearius in Seventeenth Century Russia (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1967), 131; Cross, 90.
(52) Olearius, 141; Cross, 95.
(53) Olearius, 142.
(54) Ibid., 139-45.
(55) Ibid., 138.
(57) Olearius, 139; Cross, 94, 96-98.
(58) Cross, 151.
(59) Ibid.; Wilson, 107. The beard was kept, according to Perry, to be buried with him and shown to St. Nicholas at the gates of heaven, where he could explain that he had shaved his beard by order of the Tsar, and not out of any disrespect to God. Russians apparently thought at such an adornment was gift of God and it was thus sinful to cut off. This is why Russian clergy, to this day, do not shave their beards. Fletcher, 106.
(60) Wilson, 104-105. “Gospodi pomilui” means “Lord have mercy” but during the Divine Liturgy it is spoken by the people, not the priest. However, it is spoken by the priest during the Great After Supper Prayer on Christmas and in other ceremonies, and Perry may be referring to this.
(61) Jacques Margaret, The Russian Empire and Grand Duchy of Muscovy: A 17th Century French Account, Chester S. L. Dunning, ed. and trans. (Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1983).
(62) Wilson, 86.
(63) Cited in Benz, The Eastern Orthodox Church: Its Thought and Life, Nicholas and Clara Winston, trans. (Garden City, NY: Anchor Books, 1963), 186.
(64) Wilson, 104.
(65) Ibid., 139, 143.
(66) Kagan, 25.
(68) John Howes Gleason, The Genesis of Russophobia in Great Britain: A Study of the Interaction of Policy and Opinion (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1950), 1.
(70) Ibid., 9-12.
(71) Sir Robert Wilson, “A Sketch of the Military and Political Power of Russia in the Year 1817” (London, 1817), vii, xi, cited in Gleason, 50-51.
(72) John P. LeDonne, The Russian Empire and the World, 1700-1917 (New York, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997), 309.
(73) Peter Hopkirk, The Great Game: The Struggle for Empire in Central Asia (Tokyo and New York: Kodansha International, 1992).
(74) LeDonne, 309.
(75) It also showed Western Europe’s views of Russian culture, as when the Archbishop of Paris wrote of the war as a crusade against the “heresy of Photius,” referring to a ninth century patriarch of Constantinople who had broken with the pope over a jurisdictional and theological dispute. Benz, 191. On English views of Russian policy involving the Straits, see Vernon John Puryear, England, Russia, and the Straits Question, 1844-1856 (Hamden, CT: Archon Books, 1965).
(76) On Western, particularly English views of Russian policy in Central Asia, see Margaret M. Jefferson, “Lord Salisbury and the Eastern Question 1890-1898,” Slavonic and East European Review 39, No. 92 (December, 1960), 44-60. Salisbury, upon speaking with Tsar Nicholas II, who made a visit to his grandmother, Queen Victoria, at Balmoral Castle in Scotland in late September, 1896, noted that the Tsar “was, of course, purely Russian in his views, but subject to that qualification, his language was conciliatory, straightforward, and honest.” Margaret M. Jefferson, “Lord Salisbury’s Conversation with the Tsar at Balmoral, 27 and 29 September, 1896,” Slavonic and East European Review 39, No. 92 (December, 1960), 216.
(77) Tsar Paul I actually planned an expedition through Central Asia to attack British India and thus aid Russia’s new French allies and was assassinated by a clique of officers in 1801 partly because they opposed the planned Indian expedition. On Russian and British imperialism in Persia, see Firuz Kazemzadeh, Russia and Britain in Persia, 1864-1914, A Study in Imperialism (New Haven, CT and London: Yale University Press, 1968).
(78) Taras Hunczak, ed., Russian Imperialism from Ivan the Great to the Revolution, ix.
(79) Ibid. Alexis de Tocqueville wrote similarly that the world would be divided between the Russians and the Americans: “the principle instrument of [the Americans] is freedom; of [the Russians] servitude.” Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, Philip Bradley, ed., Vol. 1 (New York, 1956), 452.
(80) For material on the Treaty of Pereiaslavl, the negations leading up to it, and Russian non-compliance with agreements to allow autonomy in Ukraine, see A Source Book for Russian History from Early Times to 1917, Sergei Pushkarev, George Vernadsky, and Ralph Fisher, eds. (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1972), Volume 1. Ukrainian historians deny that Khmelnetskii willingly joined Russia, but the information from the time would seem to refute this claim.
(81) Ronald Grigor Suny, The Making of the Georgian Nation (Indianapolis and Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1988), 57-59; see also W. E. D. Allen, A History of the Georgian People (New York: Barnes and Noble, 1971), 206-18.
(82) The Russians were generally sympathetic to their Hungarian opponents during their operations in Hungary and after they put down the Hungarians, they asked the Austrian authorities to be lenient. The Russian treatment of their Hungarian captives (which the Austrians thought too merciful), and Austria’s execution of several of the Hungarian leaders, led to tensions between the two countries and was one reason for Austria’s abandonment of Russia during the Crimean War. See Ian W. Roberts, Nicholas I and the Russian Intervention in Hungary (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1991).
(83) Hunczak, 54; Roberts.
(84) The Economist, “Bleak and Bloody Russia” (December 18, 1999), 15. President Boris Yeltsin’s recent remarks that Russia deserved respect as a superpower because it had “a full arsenal of nuclear weapons” draws a certain parallel to these remarks, though it ignores the immense poverty that many in Russia suffer. See Thomas Graham, “A U.S. Role in Chechnya,” The New York Times (December 10, 1999), p. A31; “Boris Yeltsin’s Outburst,” (editorial), The New York Times (December 10, 1999), p. A30.
(85) On the concept of “Oriental Despotism” see Karl Wittfogel, “Russia and the East: A Comparison and Contrast” Slavic Review 22 (1963), 627-43. On the West’s negative views of Asia and the East, particularly the Middle East, see Edward W. Said, Orientalism (New York: Vintage Books, 1994).
(86) Celestine Bohlen, “Putin Asserts National Pride is at Stake in Chechnya War,” The New York Times (December 31, 1999), p. A8; Michael Wines, “Rebels Hit Russian Troops Hard in Battle in the Chechen Capital,” The New York Times (December 16, 1999), p. A12; Michael Wines, Chechens Tell of Torture in Russian Camp,” The New York Times (February 18, 2000), p. A12; Michael Wines, “Chechens Tell of Murderous Rampage by Russians” The New York Times (February 22, 2000), pp. A1, A11; Michael Gordon, “Chechen Captive Tells of Beating” The New York Times (March 1, 2000), p. A10; Patrick E. Tyler, “At Russian Camp, 2 Views of Chechen Prisoners,” The New York Times (March 1, 2000), p. A 10.
(87) Michael R. Gordon, “Yeltsin and West Clash at Summit Over Chechen War,” The New York Times (November 19, 1999), p. A1; Bohlen; Aleksandr Gol’ts, “Sturm gornykh i kar’ernykh vershin,” Itogi (15 fevralia, 2000g.), pp. 18-20; BBC, “Putin’s Open Letter to Voters Pledges `Fitting Life,’ Law and Order.” The official website of the Russian government carries a speech by Putin in which he states that Russia is going through one of the most trying times in its history and is in danger, for the first time in two or three hundred years, of slipping into the second or third tier of nation-states. See “Russia at the Turn of the Millennium,” Russian government website: http://www.russia.gov.
(88) Michael R. Gordon, “Troops in Chechnya Facing Rebel Raids Behind the Lines,” The New York Times (January 7, 2000), p. A12. Italics mine. There are some who argue the bombings were carried out by the Russian security services as an excuse to re-conquer Chechnya. A raid by Russian authorities in December, 1999 on an alleged Chechen bomb factory in Riazan, near Moscow, was later revealed to have been staged by the F. S. B., which later claimed it had been a training exercise. William Satire, “There’s A War On,” The New York Times (January 17, 2000), p. A21; Michael Wines, “Russia Offers Clues Linking Chechens to Apartment Bombings,” The New York Times (January 13, 2000), p. A8.
(89) Michel Wines, “Scores Die as Bombs Ravage Chechen Capital,” The New York Times (October 22, 1999), p. A3.
(90) Thomas Goltz, “Letters from Eurasia: the Hidden Russian Hand,” Foreign Policy (Fall, 1993), 92-116.
(91) Douglas Frantz, “Russia’s Firm Hand on Heating Gas Worries its Neighbors,” The New York Times (January 8, 2001), p. A3.
(92) The Holocaust and the Nazi period in Germany, of course, cannot be excused or explained in this manner. However, the Nazi period is seen as an aberration, and not part of the German “national psyche.” In comparison, the imperialism or barbarism of the Russians is often seen as part of the Russian “national psyche.”
(93) The United States’ treatment of Native Americans in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, as well as other peoples, such as the Filipinos, Nicaraguans, and others in the early twentieth century cannot be justified in terms of America fighting an uncivilized or barbaric enemy.
(94) August von Haxhausen, The Russian Empire: Its People, Institutions, and Resources (London: Cass, 1968).
(95) Though the English Church maintained many ritualistic elements from Catholicism up to the rise of Puritanism in the seventeenth century, and today still has many Catholic elements; the English Church has never emphasized scripture to the degree of other Protestant and later Fundamentalist denominations.
(96) Such as the Dominicans or the Franciscans in the Roman Catholic Church. The English, after the Protestant Reformation, had no monasticism.
MICHAEL C. PAUL is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Miami.
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