The Cleft between Catholic West & Orthodox East

Samuel Huntington says Eastern Ukraine belongs to Orthodox Civilization & Russian Zone

This material is at

(1) Samuel Huntington says Eastern Ukraine belongs to Orthodox Civilization & Russian Zone

(2) Samuel Huntington on Ukraine as Cleft between Catholic West & Orthodox East


(1) Samuel Huntington says Eastern Ukraine belongs to Orthodox Civilization & Russian Zone

- by Peter Myers, February 10, 2015

Obama, pushed by McCain and the Neocons, seems to be about to militarily intervene to try to stop eastern Ukraine from seceding and joining Russia.

They are forgetting the lessons of Samuel Huntington on cleft countries - i.e. countries torn between two or more civilizations.

Yugoslavia was cleft between three - Catholic, Orthodox and Islamic. The US and Western Europe helped split it into the three zones.

Huntington said that Ukraine was cleft between the Catholic West and the Orthodox East. He thought that it might survive that way, but US and German leaders stoked the Maidan rebellion which wanted to win the whole of Ukraine for the West.

The eastern provinces would not have it, and US leaders are now trying to stop them from joining the Russian zone.

Their minds are on Brzezinsky's chessboard, rather than Huntington's cultural realism.

Poles, squeezed between Germany and Russia - enemies which have invaded them - have a characteristic animosity to both. Brzezinsky seems motivated by that Polish animosity to Russia.

It's clear now that the Cold War did not end in 1991. The Russian block stopped fighting, believing in a higher union of East and West, Gorbachev being an advocate of One World. But the US block kept on fighting, picking off one Soviet ally after another (Milosevic, Saddam, Gaddafi, Libya).

The Russian people now realize that they were conned; with their backs to the wall, they have drawn a line in Ukraine and said "No More". Obama, McCain and the Neocons don't like their plans being thwarted.

It's a dangerous showdown between nuclear powers. But Western leaders would stop their anti-Russia campaign if they took Samuel Huntington's advice on board.

With similar realism, Moldova has split into a pro-West western part and a pro-Russia eastern part (Transnistria).

(2) Samuel Huntington on Ukraine as Cleft between Catholic West & Orthodox East

The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order
Samuel P. Huntington

& Schuster, New York
, 1996

{p. 138} Ukraine is divided between the Uniate nationalist Ukrainian-speaking west and the Orthodox Russian-speaking east.

In a cleft country major groups from two or more civilizations say, in effect, ‘We are different peoples and belong in different places.’ The forces of repulsion drive them apart and they gravitate toward civilizational magnets in other societies.

{p. 158} The most compelling and pervasive answer to these questions is provided by the great historical line that has existed for centuries separating Western Christian peoples from Muslim and Orthodox peoples. This line dates back to the division of the Roman Empire in the fourth century and to the creation of the Holy Roman Empire in the tenth century. It has been in roughly its current place for at least five hundreds years. Beginning in the north, it runs along what are now the borders between Finland and Russia and the Baltic states (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania) and Russia, through western Belarus, through Ukraine separating the Uniate west from the Orthodox east, through Romania between Transylvania with its Catholic Hungarian population and the rest of the country, and through the former Yugoslavia along the border separating Slovenia and Croatia from the other republics. It is the cultural border of Europe, and in the post-Cold War world it is also the political and economic border of Europe and the West.

The civilizational paradigm thus provides a clear-cut and compelling answer to the question confronting West Europeans: Where does Europe end? Europe ends where Western Christianity ends and Islam and Orthodoxy begin.

{p. 163} The successor to the tsarist and communist empires is a civilizational bloc, paralleling in many respects that of the West in Europe. At the core, Russia, the equivalent of France and Germany, is closely linked to an inner circle including the two predominantly Slavic Orthodox republics of Belarus and Moldova, Kazakhstan, 40 percent of whose population is Russian, and Armenia, historically a close ally of Russia, In the mid-1990s all these countries had pro-Russian governments which had generally come to power through elections. Close but more tenuous relations exist between Russia and Georgia

{p. 164} (overwhelming Orthodox) and Ukraine (in large part Orthodox; but both of which also have strong sense of national identity and past independence. …

Overall Russia is creating a bloc with a Orthodox heartland under its leadership and a surrounding buffer of relatively weak Islamic states which it will in varying degrees dominate and from which it will attempt to exclude the influence of other powers. Russia also expects the world to accept and to approve this system. [...]

{p. 165} Apart from Russia the most populous and most important former Soviet republic is Ukraine. At various times in history Ukraine has been independent. Yet during most of the modern era it has been part of a political entity governed from Moscow. The decisive event occurred in 1654 when Bohdan Khmelnytsky, Cossack leader of an uprising against Polish rule, agreed to swear allegiance to the tsar in return for help against the Poles. From then until 1991, except for a briefly independent republic between 1917 and 1920, what is now Ukraine was controlled politically from Moscow. Ukraine, however, is a cleft country with two distinct cultures. The civilizational fault line between the West and Orthodoxy runs through its heart and has done so for centuries.  At times in the past, western Ukraine was part of Poland, Lithuania, and the Austro-Hungarian empire. A large portion of its population have been adherents of the Uniate Church which practices Orthodox rites but acknowledges

{p. 166} the authority of the Pope. Historically, western Ukrainians have spoken Ukrainian and have been strongly nationalist in their outlook. The people of eastern Ukraine, on the other hand, have been overwhelmingly Orthodox and have in large part spoken Russian. In the early 1990s Russians made up 22 percent and native Russian speakers 31 percent of the total Ukrainian population. A majority of the elementary and secondary school students were taught in Russian. The Crimea is overwhelmingly Russian and was part of the Russian Federation until 1954, when Khrushchev transferred it to Ukraine ostensibly in recognition of Khmelnytsky's decision 300 years earlier.

The differences between eastern and western Ukraine are manifest in the attitudes of their peoples. In late 1992, for instance, one-third of the Russians in western Ukraine as compared with only 10 percent in Kiev said they suffered from anti-Russian animosity. The east-west split was dramatically evident in the July 1994 presidential elections. The incumbent, Leonid Kravchuk, who despite working closely with Russia’s leaders identified himself as a nationalist, carried the thirteen provinces of the western Ukraine with majorities ranging up to over 90 percent. His opponent, Leonid Kuchma, who took Ukrainian speech lessons during the campaign, carried the thirteen eastern provinces by comparable majorities. Kuchma won with 52 percent of the vote. In effect, a slim majority of the Ukrainian public in 1994 confirmed Khmelnytsky’s choice in 1654. The election, as one American expert observed, ‘reflected, even crystallized, the split between Europeanized Slavs in western Ukraine and the Russo-Slav vision of what Ukraine should be. It’s not ethnic polarization so much as different cultures.

{p. 167} As a result of this division, the relations between Ukraine and Russia could develop in one of three ways. In the early 1990s, critically important issues existed between the two countries concerning nuclear weapons, Crimea, the rights of Russians in Ukraine, the Black Sea fleet, and economic relations. Many people thought armed conflict was likely, which led some Western analysts to argue that the West should support Ukraine’s having a nuclear arsenal to deter Russian aggression.

If civilization is what counts, however, violence between Ukrainians and Russians is unlikely. These are two Slavic, primarily Orthodox peoples who had close relationships for centuries and between whom intermarriage is common. Despite highly contentious issues and the pressure of extreme nationalists on both sides, the leaders of both countries worked hard and largely successfully to moderate these disputes. The election of an explicitly Russian-oriented president in Ukraine in mid-1994 further reduced the probability of exacerbated conflict between the two countries.

A second and somewhat more likely possibility is that Ukraine could split along its fault line into two separate entities, the eastern of which would merge with Russia. The issue of secession first came up with respect to Crimea. The Crimean public, which is 70 percent Russian, substantially supported Ukrainian independence from the Soviet Union in a referendum in December 1991. In May 1992 the Crimean parliament also voted to declare independence from Ukraine and then, under Ukrainian pressure, rescinded that vote. The Russian parliament, however, voted to cancel the 1954 cession of Crimea to Ukraine. In January 1994 Crimeans elected a president who had campaigned on a platform of ‘unity with Russia.’ This stimulated some people to raise the question: ‘Will Crimea Be the Next Nagorno-Karabakh or Abkhazia?’ The answer was a resounding ‘No!’ as the new Crimean president backed away from his commitment to hold a referendum on independence and instead negotiated with the Kiev government. In may 1994 the situation heated up again when the Crimean parliament voted to restore the 1992 constitution which made it virtually independent of Ukraine. Once again, however, the restraint of Russian and Ukrainian leaders prevented this issue from generating violence, and the election two months later of the pro-Russian Kuchma as Ukrainian president undermined the Crimean thrust for secession.

The Election did, however, raise the possibility of the western part of the country seceding from a Ukraine that was drawing closer and closer to Russia. Some Russians might welcome this. As one Russian general put it, ‘Ukraine or rather Eastern Ukraine will come back in five, ten or fifteen years. Western Ukraine can go to hell!‘ Such a rump Uniate and Western-oriented Ukraine, however, would only be viable if it had strong and effective Western support. Such support is, in turn, likely to be forthcoming only if relations between

{p. 168} the West and Russia deteriated seriously and came to resemble those of the Cold War.

The third and more likely scenario is that Ukraine will remain united, remain cleft, remain independent, and generally cooperate closely with Russia. Once the transition questions concerning nuclear weapons and military forces are resolved, the most serious longer term issues will be economic, the resolution of which will be facilitated by a partially shared culture and close personal ties. The Russian-Ukrainian relationship is to eastern Europe, John Morrison has pointed out, what the Franco-German relationship is to western Europe. Just as the latter provides the core of the European Union, the former is the core essential to unity in the Orthodox world.

{p. 242} [...] a consequence of the end of the Cold War and the need for a redefinition of the balance between Russia and the West and agreement by both sides on their basic equality and their respective spheres of influence. In practice this would mean:

1. Russian acceptance of the expansion of the European Union and NATO to include the Western Christian states of Central and Eastern Europe, and Western commitment not to expand NATO further, unless Ukraine splits into two countries;

2. a partnership treaty between Russia and NATO pledging nonaggression …

3. Western recognition of Russia as primarily responsible for the maintenance of security among Orthodox countries and in areas where Orthodoxy predominates 

4. Western acknowledgment of the security problems, actual and potential, which Russia faces from Muslim peoples to its south and willingness to revise the CFE treaty and to be favorably disposed toward other steps Russia might need to take to deal with such threats.

5. Agreement between Russia and the West to cooperate as equals in dealing with issues, such as Bosnia, involving both Western and Orthodox interests.

If an arrangement emerges along these or similar lines, neither Russia nor the West is likely to pose any longer-term security challenge to the other.