Today is St. Vladimir’s Day. The Christians in Ukraine, Belarus and Russia celebrate it as the day of Baptism. In the year of 988 Grand Duke of Kiev whose patrimony extended from the Baltic to the Black Sea accepted Christianity in its Byzantine Orthodox form. This happened after his trip to Khersones in the Crimea where he met Anna, the sister of Byzantine Emperors.
According to a legend, he wanted to marry Anna so much that accepted the baptism as a condition. The Baptism of the whole of Kievan Rus followed, laying the foundation for the predominant cultural identity of Russian, Belorussian and Ukrainian peoples as co-equal descendants of the Kievan Rus. Later, parts of Ukraine and Belarus came under sway of the Pope of Rome and Western influence, which partially explains their distinctiveness from Russia.
Those historical events are still relevant today. In the USSR, whose state-mandated ideology was avowedly atheist, those religious distinctions in the identity of the three nations were downplayed and distorted, while the Catholics were singled out for greater persecution on the pretext that they retained loyalty to the Pope of Rome. But, like in Yugoslavia during the 1990s, they came to the fore in Ukraine in 2005 and now again.
Jack Matlock, former US ambassador to Moscow, is right saying that the conflict in Ukraine is an essentially internal conflict among Ukrainians who have different cultural leanings. And so was George Kennan, the architect of a successful Cold War strategy of containment, who argued, after the downfall of Communism, that Russia should be left alone and NATO should not be used to pressure her.
In stead, the Neocon-dictated US policy of unilateral global domination was adopted in the Balkans, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria and, now, Ukraine. After a dubious success in the Balkans, it failed miserably elsewhere and unlikely to succeed in Ukraine. The main obstacle is a New Russia under President Vladimir Putin.