On 14 March 2023, Timothy Snyder spoke at The United Nations Security Council session called by the Russian delegation to discuss “russophobia”.
Countering claims of Russia’s representatives about the prevailing hatred of Russians among Ukrainians, Snyder made several important points. The first point suggests that it is the Russian state that is to blame for the harm done to Russian people and culture. From the destruction of independent journalism to mass killings of Russian speakers in Ukraine, the Russian state deprived its own people of its cultural heritage. The second point is that the accusations of “Russophobia” is a well-known rhetorical strategy of imperial powers, which means to distract from the actual experience of war and violence. The language of hatred is being used to claim that it is not Ukraine that is a victim of a brutal imperialist aggression but Russia. This claim to victimhood, according to him, constitutes a crime in itself and should be considered within the broader context of Russia’s war crimes.
Snyder explains both of his claims in greater detail in his speech that can be accessed at the UN portal (starting at 28:12) and in his Substack blog.