Russia and Ukraine: A Lesson on Language and Culture

After World War II and the defeat of the Nazis, the Soviet Union took control of most of the countries in Eastern Europe and created an “Iron Curtain” to seal them off from Western Europe and America. The Soviets then sent ethnic Russians into these countries to proliferate the Russian language, culture, and communism. Ukraine was one of these Soviet ruled countries that experienced an influx of ethnic Russians into their country. Currently, 65% of the population speaks Ukrainian and 33% of the people speak Russian. The remaining 2% comprise some 40 lesser languages. In the disputed Crimea, 77% speak Russian. This is important because language and the culture that followed played a huge role in the development of mankind. Language united small bands of our ancestors, who spoke the same dialect, into tribes and later villages. A common language provided people the mechanism to communicate with each other and gave them a sense of belonging and security. As these tribes and small communities advanced over time, they developed their own cultures centered upon their respective languages, religions, laws, forms of government, and so forth. As communities expanded into kingdoms and empires, borders and rulers shifted many times over the course of history. The justification for many wars was to regain and protect the ethnic countrymen that lived outside the established borders. Hitler gave the same justification when the Nazis marched into Austria and Czechoslovakia to reclaim Germans in these countries for the “Fatherland.” What we are seeing in Russia and Ukraine today is the result of the old Soviet leaders’ intentional efforts to establish large numbers of ethnic Russians and Russian speaking peoples in many of the countries once governed by the Soviets. Russia is now laying claim to these ethnic Russians in Ukraine and the land they occupy, with the intent to reclaim them for “Mother Russia.” The Crimea takeover by Russia may well be just the latest attempt to claim the right to absorb Russians and the land they occupy into a greater Russia that rivals the old Soviet Union.
Paul Okum has 40 years’ experience with the Federal Government in the Departments of Transportation, Interior, Army, and Defense in leadership positions, including being a US Army officer. Okum has written “Leadership DNA,” a guide book about identifying, selecting, and developing natural born leaders.
For more information about Paul Okum and “Leadership DNA,” visit

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