Six dangerous illusions about Russia

16 January, 03:50 PM

What Ukraine's great friend Andrius Kubilius say about "democratic" Russia and "good Russians," and what I think 

I would say and even bet that there are no Ukrainians who are interested in politics who do not know the outstanding Lithuanian Andrius Kubilius. We know and respect him for his uncompromisingness, for his unyielding position, and for his Europeanness. He knows how to set priorities and apply effective political methods to achieve his goals.

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And we sincerely respect Kubilius for his "Ukrainian sentiment," for which we never cease to thank him heartily. He is a true and constant advocate of Ukraine in the West. Kubilius is a visionary and tries to see certain prospects, going beyond the usual framework of political short-sightedness, which is usually limited to fussing around the trivial topics of the next parliamentary elections.

His understanding of the main threat to European and world security is clear and unchanging. That threat is Russia. He was not afraid to speak about it publicly five, ten, and fifteen years ago, when such statements were clearly not in fashion.

In an interview with Hromadske on February 27, 2015, he argued "…The West must finally understand that there is no way to believe Russia's words."

Do you really want to step on the same rake again?

In an interview with the publication Argument on Feburary 26 of that year, he stated ... in 2007, when our party was still in opposition, (we) wrote a very clear strategy, which we loudly called our Strategy to Contain Russia.” We already saw the danger posed by the Russian Federation…".

One can only applaud his foresight.

However, in Kubilius’ article from January 2 of this year, Our "Russian" Psychological Complexes), published in the Lithuania Tribune, we read, in particular, the following: "... our loud statements about disbelief in the democratic and universal perspective of Russia, about the fact that it would be best for Russia to collapse, are dangerous ...".

Of course, when a situation changes, new circumstances force one to treat the object of one's attention in a different way. And there isn't a politician in the world who wouldn't react to such a thing without running the risk of finding himself behind the times.

And what has actually changed in Russia? The government, the people, their mentality, finally?

It is important, it seems to me, in our cruel and cynical world not to live by illusions, and even more so not to base our calculations on them. The the consequences of doing so are known, and they are usually sad.

So what illusions do I think this article has?

Illusion #1: The Russian opposition must understand its own problems; we, that is, the civilized world, do not need to tell them what and how to do things. They say they will solve everything themselves.

It would be possible to agree with this if there was an opposition in Russia. It has long been gone inside the country (assuming that it was ever there). And what escaped to the West is split into parts not only organizationally, but also ideologically. Against the backdrop of a small handful of individuals with truly liberal views, the vast majority of this opposition remains imperialist and chauvinist. They continue to think in categories of "greatness", only "trying it on" for themselves and their loved ones. The question "whom does Crimea belong to?" which, according to one of the main "opponents" of the current Russian regime, is "not a sandwich,” is an insurmountable barrier for self-styled "democrats." Even Russia's outright genocidal war has done little to change their approach.

So should we remain silent, or should we give a clear assessment of their ideas and actions? Will we continue to "liberally" ignore anything so as not to offend anyone? At least for us Ukrainians, this doesn't work. We gave birth to this empire, and we will see it off.

Illusion #2: The Russian opposition has influence in society, so it should be supported, counting on the fact that it can, under favorable circumstances, change Russia.

What the Russian opposition really is and who it can rely on, in particular, is shown by the results of a survey conducted in August 2022 by the state polling organization VTsIOM. Russians were asked what they thought of Western values – those very values that the Russian opposition defends with such fervor. Almost 60% of Russians did not see any benefit from Western civilization and democracy, and 26% of them called Western values ​​"destructive." How many Russians supported Western values? A measly 2 percent!

A simple question: will these 2 percent be able to build a "beautiful Russia of the future" if the majority of Russians have no use for it? And doesn't this naive belief in the strength of the powerless opposition resemble another "Potemkin village?"

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Do you really want to step on the same rake again?

From this follows…

Illusion #3: Russia is capable of being liberal

In addition to the above, it is worth noting another important aspect — the mental one. After all, historical practice plays a significant role in the life of a society. Although the consciousness of the German people was clouded by fascist propaganda, the experience of the democratic Weimar Republic was still very fresh in the public consciousness of the Germans.

And what is the "democratic" experience of Russia? Perhaps it is possible to include the savage Andrei Bogolyubsky or the despot Ivan the Terrible, the psychopathic tsar Peter I or the prostitute empress Catherine II, the tyranny of General Arakcheyev and his military colonies or the gallows on Senate Square, slavery in the form of serfdom or the demoralizing helplessness of the last Romanovs? Or the "democracy" of Soviet times, with its mass executions, genocidal famines, and continuous repressions?

The truth is that Russians have never lived under any liberal system during their history of more than half a thousand years. Democracy is not something that can be given and simply put on to wear. It is a way of thinking, mentality, and historical experience. It cannot be imposed by law. It must mature over generations.

Therefore, the Russian political scientist Vladimir Pastukhov is right when he notes that “...Putin's regime does not have any liberalism in its genesis, and never, even after Putin, will Russia return to this path on its own. You can't go back to where you haven't been.”

Illusion #4: Russia can be "cured" by democracy

Moreover, the denial of this thesis of Russian liberalism is treated almost as racism. Let's try to figure out where racism actually is, and whether it is just racism.

More than 80% of Russians strongly supported the annexation of Crimea and the start of the war in Donbas in 2014. We observe the same thing after the full-scale invasion on February 24, 2022. Let me remind you, it began with Putin's statement that it was time to "solve the Ukrainian issue." And didn't Hitler say the same thing about "solving the Jewish question?" What is the difference? It doesn't really exist.

This formula was deciphered by a deputy of the State Duma of the Russian Federation Oleg Matveichev, who publicly stated that "[t]wo million Ukrainians must be denazified, that is, destroyed." His colleague, Alexei Zhuravlev went even further, declaring that the concepts of Ukraineand Ukrainianshould not exist in the future.”

Some might object, saying that these examples come from representatives of the regime. Unfortunately, they are not alone. Numerous calls from ordinary Russians to "beat the Khokhls to save Russia," to rape women, and to torture children have long been commonplace. This is what the "army of liberators'' does, as the Nazis once did: killing civilians, destroying infrastructure, and burning entire cities. The only thing they haven't done yet is full scale concentration camps, although mini-concentration camps in the form of death cellars have been set up by the Russians in every temporarily occupied settlement in Ukraine. Mass graves of innocent victims are found there after these places are liberated,.

It is also important to understand that Russian aggression is not "Putin's war." With this deceptive and insidious argument, they want to separate Putin from those who carry out his orders. However, they are one. This is a genocidal war of Russians against the Ukrainian people. A war of national extermination of Ukrainians. And it is led by ordinary Russians who protest not against the war itself, but against the fact that it is poorly organized.

Therefore, all those who live or associate themselves with this country must atone for the responsibility for this war.

You can't disagree with the entirely objective conclusion of another analyst — Andrii Piontkovskyi: «The Russian man, in his rendezvous with history, is humiliated when he cannot trample and dismember his former brothers in the construction of а Foundation Pit [a reference to the book Foundation Pit by Soviet author Andrei Platonov — ed] with impunity».

So, we have refined racism as Russian fascism...

So who should be called the racists?

But Russians can and should be "cured". Only the medicine will be very bitter for a certain part of the population of Russia. For others, though, this treatment will help start the path to the desired freedom.

Thus we come to…

Illusion #5: Russia is immutable within its current borders and must remain so forever. Moreover, it also needs to be helped with the development of a new Marshall Plan.

In this matter, it is worth recalling that more than one and a half hundred different ethnic groups with their own history, language, and culture live on the territory of modern Russia. All of them at different times were colonized by Muscovy, often treacherously, bloodily, and criminally.

Some people, for some reason, believe that they do not have the right to self-determination, like, for example, the Portuguese, Austrians, or Estonians. Why?

Who, apart from these peoples who have been under Moscow's yoke for many centuries, has the right to decide their fate? In 1990-1991, did Lithuanians or Ukrainians ask someone for permission for their freedom?

No, we fought for it in all available ways, helped each other, and cheered for each other's successes. That is why Lithuanians and Ukrainians, figuratively speaking, do not need translators, because the basis of the philosophy of existence of our peoples is the desire to be free and to decide their own destiny.

Therefore, we have no moral grounds to take away this right from others. Therefore, it is probably not worth developing plans to help the formation [of a liberal Russia], the prospects of which are rather murky. After the putsch attempt, no one seriously negotiated anything with Gorbachev, even though some important figures in the West really wanted everything to remain as it was.

Illusion #6: There are or will be those in current or post-Putin Moscow with whom it is still possible to negotiate the future of Russia.

It is possible to assume this, but only for a very short transition period, because it is difficult to reconcile with history. History goes her own way and leaves behind those who do not understand where she is going. Therefore, we will have to negotiate with many: the Caucasus, the Volga region, Siberia, the Far East, and many other regions, and not only and exclusively with Moscow.

We should already be thinking about how to establish contacts there, what to offer, and how to transform the post-Russian space into a nuclear-free zone, into a territory of progressive economic development, and into a civilized coexistence with the rest of the world. That, in my opinion, is now the most important task for the West’s intellectual elite. It is important not to live in illusions, so as not to be late and not to make another fatal mistake. Unfortunately, there are still more than enough of these dreamer politicians in the West, and more than enough of their illusions.

On the other hand, perhaps those who talk about democracy in Russia are right, because they know that it is the shortest way to its disintegration?

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