The Great Friendship: Soviet Historians on the Non- Russian Nationalities

By Lowell Tillett | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 14.
RUSSIAN MILITARY AID

"In the long and burdensome struggle with German enslavers they [the Baltic peoples in the late Middle Ages] always pinned their hopes on help from their great Eastern neighbor. To the Russian people history has repeatedly assigned the role of saving other peoples from extinction or enslavement by foreign conquerors". V. I. Savchenko, Istoricheskie sviazi latyshskogo i russkogo, narodov [ The Historic Ties of the Latvian and Russian Peoples ] ( Riga, 1959), pp. 15-16.

The new histories of the non-Russian peoples present a picture of the Russians as the most consistent good neighbors in history. Not only did they never initiate aggressive wars, but they heroically offered help to their weaker neighbors when they were threatened by aggression. Russian military aid is one of the constants in the history of the Soviet family and is an important source of the friendship of peoples. Such aid is as old as the established Russian state. The princes of Kiev, Novgorod, and Moscow, one gathers from the recent histories, were as concerned for the safety of their non-Russian neighbors against the threats of aggressors as the Soviet leadership ever was in the depths of the Cold War. If all the recorded instances in which these princes rode off in the performance of selfless heroic rescue for their neighbors be toted up, one might wonder how they found time to concern themselves with the more immediate threats from the Bulgars, Pechenegs and Tatars.

In order to sustain this version of history, the Soviet historian has had to employ vague and ambivalent terminology and to create a military history full of anachronism. The military phase of the

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