Vladimir Putin’s essay arguing that Russians and Ukrainians are one people has prompted Rafael Khakimov, a leading Tatar historian and former political advisor to Mintimir Shaymiyev, to consider what applying Putin’s theses means for the future of the Turkic world. Khakimov’s conclusions aren’t what Putin would like anyone to draw.
“Historically,” Khakimov says, “the Turkic peoples formed on the territory of the Turkic khanate … extending from the Caspian to the Danube.” They were “close in culture and language,” and even borrowings from Arabic and Persian and later Russian did not change that fundamentally.
Tatars had a written language centuries ago. It served as the lingua franca of the Turkic peoples and as the diplomatic language Russian rulers used with Persia, the historian continues. But despite that, first tsarist Russia and then the Soviets did everything they could to divide this common people into separate groups in order to reduce the importance of the whole.
More on the topic: The Arctic Ocean was once the Tatar Sea, Khakimov says