There is a new, i.e. a well-forgotten, trend In Russian propaganda media. The idea of “Novorossiya”, which was discussed during the active phase of events in the Donbas back in 2015, has been revived.
Today, the idea of “Novorossiya” serves to justify the second phase of the Russian “special operation’ in Ukraine, a kind of “cultural and historical cover” for barbaric actions on the territory of Ukraine. Recently, Colonel-General Sergiy Rudskoy, First Deputy Chief of the Russian Armed Forces General Staff, said that, in general, the main tasks of the first stage of the “special operation” had been completed. Russia announced that the main efforts would be focused on the Donbas, where active hostilities are now taking place.
An indirect confirmation of the reorientation of the Russian “special operation” goals is the revival of the idea of “Novorossiya” in the public and media space. The focuses of Russian propaganda are shifting, first of all, towards the historical justification of Russia’s claims to these territories in order to create the impression of “Russia’s ancestral lands since the beginning of time.”
The idea of the Northern Black Sea region “conquest” marked with a red line in propaganda materials. Obviously, the Russian leadership decided to “repeat” the events of 200-300 years ago and in the 21st century, with the help of brute military force, solve their geopolitical tasks. At the same time, neither the changed world as a whole, nor the interests of other countries in the region are taken into account.
Northern Black Sea region – Mykolaiv, Kherson, Mariupol, and other cities of the region are declared vital for Russia and its history. The idea is being promoted that “Russia comes for its own, for the cities, which it also founded.”
It is difficult for the pragmatic West to understand how one can think in patterns of 300-500 years ago, but for the Russian leadership, historical precedents give an impulse to action. Unfortunately, it is precisely this aspect that is often underestimated by analysts in the West, who believe that the Russian elite has a rational approach to the development of the country and the world order as a whole.
A well-reading of some historical journey that now use the Russian propaganda gives us a varying interpretations of Russia’s intentions in the region.
The Northern Black Sea region (actually “Novorossiya”) was conquered by the Russian Empire through bloody military campaigns. We risk suggesting that it is the revenge of imperial thinking that is now driving the Kremlin leaders. Obviously, the current Russian government dreams of restoring the Russian Empire, and not the Soviet Union, as its down-sized version.
Russia founded the regional cities. Isn’t this the reason for the stubborn desire to wipe out a present-day Mariupol and the propaganda media’s statement about the possibility of completely restoring the city. Obviously, in Kharkiv, where more than 80 % of the housing stock has been destroyed, it is also planned to implement the same idea. Cities must be destroyed in order to be re-founded/rebuilt, but already according to the “new Russian empire” model.
Regional propaganda activity of the Russian Federation pursued the “great mission” – the sacred duty of returning to the state the lands that once belonged to the first Rurik princes. There are many questions about the realization of this, frankly speaking, controversial, mission in the modern technological world. But given President Putin’s interest in historical parallels, we may end up with a version of a war comparable in fanaticism to medieval religious wars. Obviously, Russia, clearly losing in mobility on the battlefield, seeks to give a gloomy fanatical color to its actions.
To put it bluntly, the historical screen and stories about the “great mission” are needed to cover up frankly predatory actions, which Russian propaganda channels openly declare, noting that “Novorossiya turned out to be an exceptionally rich and fertile land, which has turned into the main granary of Russia.” It is this, and not the desire to avenge “for the Ruriks”, that explains the banal theft of several thousand tons of grain in the port of Berdyansk, which the “Russian liberators” tried to take out.
Similar, purely mercantile interests underlie the desire to seize the industrial centers of the region – sources of coal, metal and other diverse products. Obviously, Russia views the region from the point of view of replenishing the industrial losses inflicted by Western sanctions.
And a little tidbits – Odesa and Mariupol ports. Propagandists directly call them “the main sea gates of Russia on the Black Sea and sources of ever-growing income from the export of grain and coal.” We would add stolen grain and coal.