In case you are wondering why Putin is so hell-bent on capturing Kyiv, here is a very, very short summary for you.

Kyiv is not only the capital of the current Ukraine. That in itself would still make it a very important military target, but still not worth the fervor with which it is being attacked.

I grew up as a child with Slavic fairytales and Slavic mythology. And many of those fairytales and myths are centered around Kievan Rus’. A lot of literature that young Slavic people, especially East Slavic, read during their formational years are thus centered around this city. It is, in a very real sense, the cradle of East Slavic culture.

None of that of course excuses current atrocities being perpetrated by Путiн хуйло, but it does explain why he is throwing so many other people’s lives away in order to capture the city asap. If he succeeds – and I fear that is only a matter of time, alas – his propaganda could – and would – play it up way beyond and above its strategic importance.


  1. says

    Excuse me for sounding “me, me, me” but that detail mirrors one about Taiwan and China. During the “cultural revolution” of 1960, Mao and the CCP destroyed everything -- art, literature, history, etc. They threw away their culture, and now they want it back.

    Part of why Xi and the CCP are desperate to get their hands on Taiwan is the National Palace Museum, where everything that wad rescued from China’s past is curated and protected.

    The CCP calls Taiwan “treasure island” because of it.

  2. Tethys says

    I am familiar with some of those mythic story’s, but only the fairytales as told to children about giants and gnomes who live up in the mountains.

    Rubezahl is the German name of one. Krakanos in Czech? I still can’t punctuate either one correctly, but I’m getting better at reading Cyrilic script.

    I’ve also read about the amazing badass woman St. Olga of Kyiv. I don’t know how much of her military exploits have been mythologized, but her life is epically medieval, bloody and dramatic.

    On YouTube there is a new video on the Kyivan Rus made by an Old Norse Professor, and another professor who specializes in Slavic/Uralic. There are 1200 years of history of Kyiv because of it’s geographical location. It is the perfect trading hub.


  3. says

    @Tethys, Rüberzahl / Krakonoš. That is a mythical creature tied specifically to the Giant Mountains in North Bohemia.
    I do not remember reading about St. Olga of Kyiv, but I did read various stories about bogatyrs. They were some of my most beloved stories. We did not have comic book superheroes -- we had these.

  4. Tethys says

    I too very much enjoy the stories of the bogatyrs, but I discovered them accidentally. I was looking for stories about Valkyries, and found the three bogatyrs and their wives. Rübezahl were just stories my Great-Grandparents told me. He was a giant, with antlers and a tail. I did not question this, as their version of Santa Klaus also has antlers and is clearly a pagan tradition just like tannenbaum.

    The story where a giant (Svantipolk?)puts Ilya in his pocket has exact parallels with Norse sagas, and Thor also being stuck in a giants pocket.

    They are excellent stories.

  5. lorn says

    Nothing shows deep and profound respect and reverence for a shared culture and mythology like airstrikes, columns of armored vehicles and thermobaric weapons. Must be a Russian thing.

  6. says

    @lorn, it is a Russian thing. The Russian government in general and Putin, in particular, do not see the Ukrainians as a separate nation with a right to self-determination. They see them as a disobedient vassal who needs to be brought to heel. From their point of view, the shared culture means that Ukrainians should obey Kreml.
    In this regard, they do not see Kyiv as a Ukrainian city. To them, it is a Russian city and needs to be controlled by its rightful ruler, which is of course Russia, because they say so.
    Further, you must differentiate between the people and the government. The Russian and Ukrainian people would probably have no quarrel with each other if it were not for Putin manufacturing and fostering conflict in order to further his agenda.

  7. lumipuna says

    From their point of view, the shared culture means that Ukrainians should obey Kreml.

    I was wondering how exactly the historical importance of Kyiv relates whatever is the purported goal of this war. I guess there doesn’t need to be any actual logic in it.

    One thing I could come up with is that Kyiv apparently has a very strongly “established” role as the Ukrainian capital. Therefore, if Putin seizes the city, he could claim (in the eyes of Russians and perhaps also Ukrainians) that he has “conquered Ukraine, aside from some pockets of resistance in the countryside”. He could install a puppet government in Kyiv (and only in Kyiv) with a relatively high perceived legitimacy.

    I speculated in a recent thread that while Putin perhaps plans to annex Ukraine into Russia in the long term, his public and realistic short-term goal seems to be to control Ukraine as a nominally independent nation. In any case, it seems that in Russian (and not only Putin’s) perception Kyiv would be relegated as a “spiritual” capital of Russia regardless of whether modern Ukraine is regarded as a legitimate nation. Meanwhile, Moscow has been for centuries established as the rightful “actual” capital of Russia, detour to Petersburg notwithstanding.

  8. René says

    I see you do not transliterate the мягкий знак in ” Kievan Rus “. I usually see it included: ” Kievan Rus’ “. Wikipedia also has the apostrophe added.

  9. says

    @René, well spotted. I must have accidentally deleted it when inserting the link and deleting from it the empty space behind it.

  10. Tethys says

    Is it actually an apostrophe, or is literally how you spell it? English doesn’t use it as anything but an apostrophe, but in other languages it’s a part of speech. T’zar. T’schwartzwald

    English lost that particular letter, but tz was part of its runic alphabet as a grammatical ending in the same way that Cyrillic has the ь. In the Scandinavian languages it becomes an r but English merged genitive s and plural s so that our spelling requires an apostrophe to distinguish them.

  11. says

    @Tethys, I literally do not know what is correct. When it comes to English spelling, I rely on Wikipedia because there are no useful rules to speak of. Correct spelling of Slavic words is dependent on that particular language and on the used alphabet, so there is no unity to be found there too.

  12. Tethys says

    There are plenty of native English speakers who cannot spell or punctuate correctly. The abuse of the apostrophe is just one example.

    English spelling only makes sense if you start with it’s native alphabet, three genders, four cases, and a few relic cases such as the instrumental or the dual. Then shove it all into Latin and voilà, spelling is the only way to differentiate to, too, and two.

    I still cannot wrap my head around verbs that require dative case if the subject is moving. I suspect that you simply have to memorize it, much like the rules for spelling English. There is no consistency in a language that originally had seven sets of rules for its verbs.

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