Tim - interesting as always. You may want to find out a little more about a fine group of young Ukrainian communicators, the Ukrainian PR Army, who are campaigning specifically on the issue of forcible deportations, highlighting precisely the issue you are. While there is general awareness that it is happening, its scale and significance as emblematic of Russia's overall approach, is underplayed. They believe the issue needs to be much higher on the radar of the international community as one of the reasons to sustain international support for Ukraine but also that the return of these stolen people needs to be a condition for the conflict ending. It is already one of the 10 points that Zelensky made in his G7 speech. The PR Army's campaign is called 'Where are our people?' and although it is still in its early stages it is already gaining attention.



Expand full comment

I shuddered slightly when I read Professor Snyder's words, " An anxiety Putin shares with his far-right admirers is that of demography: soon there will not be enough of us, and there will be too many of them." I couldn't help but think of the fascists in our country, and yes, I'll use that word, who fervently espouse the 'great replacement theory'. Tragically, Putin has allies and enablers, who for their own reasons, embrace and promote this anxiety. It seems, although I'm no expert, that a majority of Russians at least tacitly accept this view, but for how long?

Expand full comment

There are times when new thinking comes in "out of left field" and might seem a bit too far.

But then you look more closely and see that the "new thinking" is shedding new light on murky ideas. Aha! That makes sense! I'll keep an eye on that.

Thank you, Prof. Snyder, for the serious work you do.

Expand full comment

Demographic insecurity...fear of being “replaced” or simply “overshadowed”. But this does not answer the fundamental question of what being Russian means. As you know, but most Americans are completely unaware of, the idea of “Rus” dates back to Kievan Rus, but ethnically the first Rus came from the north from Scandinavian and Baltic regions as I recall my first course in Russian History with Marvin Entner nearly 35 years ago. But what we normally think of “Russia” really comes from Muscovy which emerged hundreds of years after Kiev/Kyiv, and only then with the Romanov dynasty starting in 1619, a geographically smaller and more “ethnically homogenous” until empire extended mostly east and south. Under the Tsars Russia was a feudal, agrarian society and economy up to and including WW I. The Soviet’s did not do much better.

With all that as background, an inherently Russian trait is insecurity about being Russian, as a society, as an economic power, and as a military power, and wanting to forget its own “backwardness” up to 100 years ago relative to what it deems are its neighbors and those it considers rivals. Every accusation made by Putin is projection and a confession. State TV as followed by Julia Davis is so over the top is trying to hide its insecurity that it screams insecurity (see the New Year clips as a prime example).

Expand full comment

This indeed is what is so puzzling. What IT'S 'Russia'? Even before Putin, I wondered what on earth any young Russian was to make of his country's history? What was there that he could grasp, that wasn't covered in blood? And Putin hardly solves that problem. He glorifies Stalin. But he isn't a Communist. He reveres Lenin, but is certainly no Leninist. He isn't a Czarist either. He is backed by the Church but he is hardly an orthodox ( or Orthodox) Christian. He speaks mystically of 'Russia' but which Russia? Hitler, Mussolini had a national, racial myth to sustain their totalitarian, war-loving regines. But for Putin there seems an emptiness at the heart of it. I wonder if that is why he and his acolytes speak so longingly of the prospect, not of Russia's victory, but it's annihilation?

Expand full comment

Peace terms should include the repatriation of every last kidnapped Ukrainian. I hope the big genetic testing companies like 23andMe are prepared to step up and help reunite stolen children with their Ukrainian families

Expand full comment

If...Ukrainians must be exterminated, then does it not follow that to exterminate a people, by definition, proves Ukrainians exist? Nothing exists until we give it a name. Even "us" and "not us" still admits there exists a "not us."

If...Russia is sending ethnic "non-Russians," and prisoners to die, unprepared as they are for battle, so as to not risk the lives of "true Russians," at the cost of losing the war, this is internal genocide. And not so bright.

At least the Nazis believed in their racial superiority in action, sending Nazis to fight, while using other Nazis to systematically exterminate Jews, Socialists, Communists, Gays, etc...through other means.

This is Fascism and Folly.

Thank you, truly, Professor Snyder for making sense of non-sense.

Expand full comment
Jan 8·edited Jan 8

Since the war started, I have learnt from my close Ukrainian friend about a woman and a family that left for Russia from a small town near Kupyansk (Kivsharivka). The young woman left when the Ukrainian army started to liberate the region and the Russians offered free transport and accommodation as well as the chance of getting employed in Russia. She was clearly panicking. My friend (whose best friend this woman was) says her friend has never been pro-Russian. Now my friend's boyfriend (a true love story amid all the chaos and destruction) had his teenage son taken to Russia by his ex-wife and her new husband. Apparently, they have family in Russia. This made me think about all the Ukrainians who have been living in Russia for decades. What are their feelings and how are they coping? I know that some of them do not believe their relatives who describe what has been happening in Ukraine. What could be their numbers? Millions or a couple of hundred thousand? Do they constitute a separate group or are they dispersed? I haven't seen this issue treated much in any of the talks or lectures by Professor Snyder or other social historians...

Expand full comment

Reading this deeply insightful piece, one is drawn to the notion that what Putin is doing is clothed in terms of "Russian Exceptionalism", whereby Russia is exempt from the rules that bind civilized nations to a moral and ethical mode of behavior. As we in the US rise to condemn Putin's barbarism, we should simultaneously use his example to reflect on our own recent past, on "American Exceptionalism". How can we honestly demand that Putin be brought before the ICJ or a special war crimes tribunal when we as a nation do not recognize the authority of any such organization, and when we ourselves have conducted not one but three wars of aggression since the end of World War II? Are we moral enough to hand over Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama (along with their secretaries of state and defense, among others) to stand trial for the war crimes they committed? I would hope that we are, but realize the chances are vanishingly small.

If the United States is to occupy the moral high ground in the matter of Russian war crimes in Ukraine, it should do whatever is necessary militarily to ensure a Ukrainian victory, while supporting the efforts of other nations, nations accepting the authority of international tribunals, to bring the criminals to justice.

Expand full comment

Well... first I felt queasy... but then I thought, "this is so great, so important, to break it down this way, simply and easily understood. Step by step."

I'm hoping to go to Ukraine in the Spring to help them rebuild... or at least to volunteer to help alleviate the massive suffering.

The way I see it is, Ukraine is fighting for every democracy on the planet in these fraught and perilous days.

Can you recommend any orgs I can get in touch with to see how I can help when I get there? I'm not highly skilled (I was a just teacher and a tv producer, not a doctor or a builder) but I can hold a paintbrush, or a baby (I'm a grandmother). I need to go... but not sure where to begin to make the arrangements.

Thank you again for this explanation, Dr. Snyder. I understand the situation this much more.🙏🏽

Expand full comment

This connects the dots making a strong case at the very least defacto if not stated policy for what is happening. Eugenics puts a label on a lot that adds up to that. Call it what it is. So genocide and eugenics. The exceptionalism and racial superiority and cleansing is blatant. So too the comparison to Nazi Germany must not be brushed away.

How does Ukraine get its women and children back?

I am afraid that with the incoming GOP Congress vital aid will be cut to Ukraine at a time when we need to keep it up.

I just read Roger Cohen's eye-opening report in the NYT from a couple of weeks ago "Putin Finds Allegiance in Africa". about Russia's Wagner mercenaries in the Central African Republic. Russia is well into making it a vassal state, first providing violent protection services and delivering order thereby against rebels and then taking mined resources, including gold and diamonds as well as timber. The country's leaders, pro-Russian, one of the "global south" countries that voted against the UN Resolutions condemning Russia's invasion of Ukraine and annexations.


Putin Wants Fealty, and He’s Found It in Africa

"As Moscow wages war in Ukraine, its mercenaries have already established control in the Central African Republic — with scant Western reaction."

Expand full comment

I wish that more people here in America would take heed of Professor Snyder’s warnings. I’ve listened to all of your Yale lectures on Kyiv and Rus from origins to current day. I’ve studied WWII since fourth grade after reading, “The Story of a Young Girl”, now known as “The Diary of Anne Frank. I thought we said, “Never again”. Sadly we are not unified in that regard. Thank you for the education and explanation that you have made available to the public at large.

Expand full comment

Putin argues for "survival of the fittest". But is Russia or any other group really fit without any moral compass? They are really "reversalists", moving backward toward eliminating all human development.

This trend is evident worldwide with those without purpose or identity other than destruction, including US Republicans as evidenced by opposing all "others" and dismissing platforms, policies, public investment in every facility that they and their supporters rely on to survive and prosper. God will eventually turn them all to compost all with their billions of victims.

Expand full comment

Putin must not win just like Hitler cannot win. He must be totally and conclusively defeated. Russians must learn their lesson. You cannot support your own government when it has become a monster.

Expand full comment

Hi Dr. Snyder (and any of the educated readership here who might know), I am curious, after reading this essay is anyone else comparing not just the actions of Putin and Hitler's regimes (kidnapping Polish and Ukrainian children, respectively, to be inculcated into the new "volk" the dictator wants to strengthen) but the ideology of racial anxiety motivating those actions? It's been a while and my memory may be failing me, but I recall in Brendan Simms' Hitler: A Global Biography, he attributes Hitler's fear of the German so-called master race being weakened and thus out-competed as a driving force behind their abduction of Polish (and other) children who seemed "racially useful," and even a few other drives such as attempts to lure Germans from other countries like the U.S to come back to Germany. Does anyone else think that in both abducting Ukrainians and forcing non-Russians to suffer disproportionately in the war, Putin is being driven by a similar sort of anxiety: The Russian people, despite his stated belief in their cultural-racial superiority, withering away unless revitalized by an influx of "racially healthy blood" in the form of Ukrainian abductees and the ruthless purgation of non-Russian ethnicities?

Expand full comment

This sounds really nuts!

Expand full comment