On January 7, the top leader of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill, said on state TV that Russians and Ukrainians are a single people, suggesting there is no separate Ukrainian national identity:
"This is one nation that came out of the Kyiv Baptismal font, but it is a very big nation. From the White to the Black Sea. And this vastness – it has always caused fears, envy among others, and therefore, since ancient times, external forces have been working to divide, pull apart this nation, or even push one part against another."
Kirill is a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, who to justify his war of aggression on Ukraine has falsely claimed that Russians and Ukrainians are “one people.” Prior to the war, Putin published a disputed 5,000-word essay, “On the historical unity of Russians and Ukrainians.”
In fact, the historical relationship of Russia and Ukraine is complex, and while there are cultural and ethnic commonalities and periods of shared governance, there is a broad consensus that Ukraine has been a separate nation state since the breakup of the Soviet Union.
Most Ukrainians take pride in their independence and democracy. In the face of Russia’s invasion and brutal attacks on civilian targets, they have been willing to sacrifice their lives for Ukraine.
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