Putin is willing to destroy anything that contradicts his interpretation of history. It includes the denial of Ukraine’s very existence. However, his ideology is not new and dates back to the Russian Empire. As early as the second half of the 19th century, Russian elites viewed the Ukrainian identity as “an invention of the West.” Particularly an invention of Austria-Hungary and later Germany in an attempt to destroy the “Greater Russian unity.”
The empire had reasons to fear Ukraine’s separation from it. Ironically, two centuries earlier, the Kyiv priests claimed the unity of “all Rus.” They introduced European ideas of the time to Russia. The priests also became the Russian Empire’s theorists. However, the empire was doomed, and its founding ideology was destroyed when Ukrainians began to view the alliance with Russia in the 17th century as a monumental blunder.