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This paper offers a multidisciplinary approach to the study of the current armed conflict in Eastern Ukraine as a way of understanding the dispute and the failure of the warring parties to broker a lasting peace. It examines the ideological background to the conflict by considering the most significant historical myths that inform both sides, especially the myths surrounding the medieval state of Kievan Rus’, and the religious, political and linguistic elements of those myths that contribute to mutual misunderstanding and heightened tensions. What is demonstrated is that the myths of each side are structurally very similar: one set is the mirror image of the other (with corresponding labels interchanged). This symmetry helps to intensify and maintain inflamed confrontation, so that there is a pressing need to move beyond these myths, if a lasting peace is to be achieved.
Paul Schiemann was one of the most significant ethnic Germans left outside the German state by the post-First World War peace settlement. As editor of Rigasche Rundschau and an active politician in the new Latvian state, he was well placed both to comment on developments in the political life of the Baltic region and to attempt to work towards responses to them. This article focuses specifically on his journalism during the critical years 1919-20. As the Latvian state was forming against a background of considerable on-going violence and instability, Schiemann disseminated consistently a call for reconciliation between Latvia’s mutually suspicious national groups. The paper examines the compelling arguments he used.