Simple symbolic markings or, on the contrary, often too real barriers, borders delimit the perimeter of the exercise of sovereignty. “They are time inscribed in space”writes the geographer and diplomat Michel Foucher in his book The obsession with limits (Perrin, 2007) and points out“They remain hilltop witnesses of the past or living fronts, depending on local conditions, always places of remembrance and sometimes of resentment”. As a mental representation, the map emanates from the territory as much as it precedes it.
To justify the annexation of Crimea, announced a month earlier, and his military support for the pro-Russian rebels in Donbass, Vladimir Putin on the 17th passed Novorossia – New Russia – administrative area of the Russian Empire from 1721 to 1917. Since then, this topic has been worked out more and more insistently in Kremlin propaganda“Special Ops” launched in Ukraine on February 24, 2022.
That “New Russia” Mentioned by the Russian President in 2014, the area extends to the east and south of modern-day Ukraine, including Donbass, and encompasses the entire Ukrainian coast from Mariupol on the Sea of Azov to the borders of Moldova, including Odessa, the cosmopolitan major Black Sea port. “These areas did not belong to Ukraine during the Tsarist period, they were handed over to Kyiv by the Soviet government in the 1920s. Why did they do this? God only knows”, In his speech, the Russian president was outraged and posed as the heir to Peter the Great (Tsar, then Emperor of Russia from 1682 to 1725) and Catherine II (Empress of Russia from 1762 to 1796). The latter snatched these lands from the Tatars and Ottomans before they resettled them, mainly with Russian settlers. In the Putinian narrative, what justifies their ties to Russia at the expense of a Ukraine that, in the eyes of the head of state, does not exist outside of its ties with Russia’s big sister, as he explained in a long text from July 2021 on “The Historical Unity of Russians and Ukrainians”.
striving for greatness
“With this intervention, and by shifting from Moscow’s policy of influence towards ‘near abroad’ to a much tighter will to control, Vladimir Putin is shifting the tectonics of the plates of international relations and disrupting the structures of the world. “after the cold war”notes the historian Georges-Henri Soutou, author in particular of The Cold War. 1943-1990 (Pluriel, 2011) and numerous reference works on the subject. This supposed search for greatness and power poses the question of borders in Europe in radically new terms, beginning with those created by the collapse of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR).
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