The Ukraine-Russia crisis can spark ethnic hatred across Europe

by , under Enrique Tessieri

The crisis and standoff between the Ukraine and Russia is worrying for many reasons. One of these, which isn’t being covered enough by the European media, is how the crisis is fueling xenophobia and age-old diehard ethnic hatred. 

There has been, however, a lot of coverage of the ethnic crisis between the Ukrainians and Russians.

Kuvankaappaus 2014-3-7 kello 23.30.24

The 2009 EU-MIDIS’r survey on European Union minorities and discrimination shows that intolerance is a big issue in the region.  Why do these problems still exist in Europe? Read full report here.

In Finland, where anti-Russian sentiment has always been strong, two MPs warned this week that the crisis in the Ukraine could fuel anti-Russian sentiment and target individual Russians in the country. While Finland is one case, what could happen in countries like Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, where there live large Russian-speaking minorites?

If the crisis in the Ukraine escalates, it’s pretty certain it will not only have a negative knock-on effect on ethnic Russians in other countries, but on migrants and visible minorities as well.

Apart from the rise of neo-Nazi groups and anti-Semitism, there is concern that 150,000 ethnic Hungarians living in the Ukraine could be targeted by far-right nationalistic groups, according to AFP.

Extremist and right-wing populist parties, which can take the far-right path in the snap of a finger, could use the present crisis to boost their anti-immigration and anti-minority message as European MEP elections near on May 25.

In Finland, however, the crisis in the Ukraine has hit the anti-EU and anti-immigration Perussuomalaiset (PS) party. In a recent poll, support for the populist party fell below 17%, according to YLE in English. The last time support for the party dipped below 17% was in 2012.

Some analysts believe that the crisis in the Ukraine may have scared some of PS’ supporters due to its anti-EU stance. Possibly being a part of the EU is not such a bad idea after all when it comes to Finland’s national security.

Meanwhile, it’s clear that a country that passes anti-gay laws like Russia isn’t very credible when it criticizes human rights violations in the European Union.

In an official annual human rights report on Europe, Russia highlighted the problems that were taking place in Finland. It cited, among other violations, that Finland hadn’t ratified Convention No. 169, which deals specifically with the rights of indigenous and tribal peoples, and discrimination against the Romany minority, Somalis and Russians.

While all the above should concern us, the question is why is Europe such a tinderbox when it comes to ethnicity? Wasn’t anti-Semitism, ethnic hatred and hocuspocus ethnic myths laid to rest after the fall of Nazi Germany in 1945?

Apparently not.

  1. PS voter

    I really don’t think that the most significant and urgent problem here is the possible negative feelings, but the invasion itself. And who is the one to blame if the crisis in Ukraine makes other countries to take more distance towards Russia?

    I am not that sure about your analysis about this situation towards other ethnic groups either. When cold war ended to the collapse of Soviet Union, NATO countries and especially the USA, found themselves in a situation where they could no longer justify the quite high military spending. Quite soon, a new main enemy was “invented” — and it was terrorism and Muslim countries, although neither of those posed the kind of existential threats to western countries, unlike Soviet Union. It was quite unfair situation for Muslims as they got targeted by quite extreme measures and with little justification (eg. the number of deaths in Iraq war with made up justification for the attack), mainly because the military complex needed a new enemy.

    If the current actions of Russia starts a new cold war, I wouldn’t be surprised if the pressure towards Muslims and Muslim countries by western countries would drop back to similar level as it was during cold war.