“Worldview factors”

Paul Goble has summarized a piece by the Ukrainian journalist Bogdan Butkevich, 10 Reasons Why the Donbass Will Not Become Ulster. I’ve been saying some of these things here and elsewhere but a Ukrainian perspective is more valuable.

Some quotes – first, on the recency of settlement:

Until the mid-19th century, “this territory was practically empty.” It acquired importance because of industrial development, something that attracted people from throughout the Russian Empire and USSR regardless of ethnicity and who were mixed together once they got there…

The majority of the people of the Donbass have been there no more than two or three generations…

Second, there is no religious divide in Donbas(s), “despite efforts by Russian propagandists to spark one,” and ethnic differences are not the driving force of the conflict:

Ukrainians and Russians “are fighting on both sides,” and “the chief role in the conflict is played not by nationality [Butkevich probably meant ethnicity] but by worldview factors,” with those supporting a liberal democratic order being for Ukraine and those supporting “national conservatism” backing Russia.

And the worst of the difference:

The Number of Victims. Over almost 40 years of conflict in Northern Ireland, an estimated 3,000 to 8,000 people were killed or less than 250 per year on average at most. In the Donbas, the number of killed is more than 5,000 and may be as much as 10,000 – and that in one year, not 40.

[Added retroactively] Also see the UN casualty count as of December 2015: 9,009 dead, about 20,000 injured.


  1. Very interesting, although this sentence is a bit odd:

    “Over almost 40 years of conflict in Northern Ireland, an estimated 3,000 to 8,000 were killed…”

    I presume he is referring to the Troubles from the late 60s onwards. In which case, the consensus on the death toll is pretty solidly “around 3,500”, although a few people might add another couple of hundred to that depending on how it is calculated. So I don’t know where “8,000” comes from. The 3,500 statistic means that less than 90 people were killed on average yearly in the Troubles, which strengthens Butkevich’s point even more.

    • The Sutton database (at the University of Ulster: http://www.cain.ulst.ac.uk/index.html) lists about 3,500 victims over 33 years, peaking in 1972 with 480 and getting close to 300 in the next four years, but less than 110 a year on average. About 3 million lived in the separatist areas before the war, twice as many as in NI in 1980, but the UN says over 6,100 were killed in just one year, from April 14 to April 15, so the Donbas conflict is far more deadly on a per capita per year basis.

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