September 01, 2014

Language of War

The drawn out conflict in Ukraine has seen as much fighting on the pages of magazines and internet forums as on the ground in the east of the country, where the Ukrainian army is trying to drive out pro-Russian militants who support independence.

The linguistic sparring that pits “vatnik” pro-Russians against “Banderites” (supporters of the revolution in Kiev) has been going on since Moscow took the Crimean peninsula this spring, and the lexicon of antagonism only continues to grow.

Vatnik – the name of a quilted jacket worn by Russian prisoners in winter. “Vatnik” and “vata” (cotton) have come to be used by those opposing Putin in Russia and by Ukrainians as a name for the silent masses who have passively supported Russia’s policies in Crimea and Ukraine.

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