Angela Merkel believes the Russian President has lost any connection with reality and is currently living in his own world of grandeur delusions. He aspires to ascend to a historical figure of such proportion that would warrant a burial alongside Russian Tsars in a tomb similar to that of Napoleon. Marble, bronze, a raised pedestal, and an annual military parade to commemorate his birthday.
To my readers from Ukraine: I am sorry I won’t go campaigning against the atrocity of Russia’s invading Ukraine. Russia is a state where freedom of expressing opinion does not exist. That is, one can whisper what one thinks but please refrain from shouting out loud. The borders are open (yet), but I happen to live on the inside. So, I have to respect the prison rules, or emigrate and enjoy civil rights. I have obligations towards a lot of people to live and work in Russia for now.
Were I living elsewhere, I’d be in front of the Russian Embassy protesting against the invasion.
For the time being, I’ll have to keep feeling sorry and carry on.
The above does not mean I see Ukraine all white and fluffy in this conflict. Nationalistic frenzy of the first few days with complete disregard of the fear that some of the Ukraine’s East felt about nationalists “occupying” the Parliament (Rada) and invading executive branches is responsible for much of the unrest.
And of course the nationalism card has been played by the Russian propaganda machine, which still remembers how to make Goebbels go green with envy.
This is what I’ve taken from a Russian news site a moment ago.
Women complained that as soon as a group of citizens started collecting signatures in support of Victor Yanukovich, they began receiving threats. Representatives of the new powers in Ukraine are also engaged in extortion.
“Odessa citizens (a town in the South of Ukraine) are crying! The city is flooded with proclamations saying that the new commandant (appointed from Kiev) requests people to list all their property and give 50% of it to him. He also requested people to make duplicates of their house keys, for their flats would be given over to fighters with Russia (coming over from the Western Ukraine) to use for living, storing ammunition, and hospitals. The flyers claim those people who support Russia will be prosecuted.”
It is amazing how much this kind of propaganda resembles North Korea: this poster shows what American imperialists were doing to communist fighters during the war:
I am sure Mr Putin encourages and uses this propaganda, but he doesn’t believe it. Unfortunately, a lot of people seem to trust it unconditionally.
Having said that, it is important to remember that even a passing reference to Ukrainian nationalism scares Russian Ukrainians into action: whenever a nationalist force came to power, it was massacring Russians, Jews, or Polish with equal pleasure. One of the new leaders of Ukraine (and the leading nationalist) is famous for using exactly the same lexicon as Hitler’s media about Jews and Russians, so it is really awkward to say Ukrainian nationalism poses no threat to the Russian-speaking population.
I’ve spent a lot of time in Kyiv (Kiev) in the last few years. My encounters with people with nationalist mindset were always reminding me of the fact my granddad was a Jew. My encounters with people brandishing their Russian imperialistic banners were just as horrid.
So it was stupid to put these people on the front page of New Ukraine (revised edition) without balancing it off with an equal measure of respect towards the needs and wants of Eastern Ukrainians. It was even more stupid in a position of weakness: their new state was just emerging from the ruin!
Mr Putin is never the one to pass an unconscious beautiful woman without taking her with all his judoistic might. The fact that her barely conscious husband is lying beside her does not even begin to represent a moral dilemma.
He is certain that if he doesn’t take the woman, the US will. And they will beget children who one day would descent onto Russia and make it a slave resource supplier for American capitalists.
It may sound a bit bizarre, but that’s his mindset. You may joke about it, support it, hate it – BUT IT IS SUICIDAL NOT TO TAKE INTO CONSIDERATION THE MINDSET OF A POWERFUL BRUTE WHO OWNS THE NEIGHBOURING FLAT WHEN YOU DECIDE TO COMPLETELY REBUILD YOUR OWN.
It is not clever, isn’t it? Not practical, not strategic, not politically wise: there are many things it is not. Suicidal, is the only thing it is.
The clash of a band of unarmed idiots (with at least one known nazi in their group) with a fully armed Mr Putin is very likely to lead to a war.
My only hope is that Ukrainians and Russians are so much more clever and so much less trigger-happy than their leaders, respectively. Against all odds.
P.S. Good news: Russia’s leading (and Kremlin-affiliated) public opinion agency reports ca.75% of Russians don’t want their army to go into Ukraine.
It’s called “Mein Führer” and not “Mein Fürher”. The small typo is forgiven. (;-)) However, it is really necessary to draw a bow to hit Nazi Germany? I was born in 1961, in a divided country. Today it is united, it was a long way up there. I understand that what happened a few years ago in the Balkans, and that what is happening in Ukraine, as “estate” of the WWII is to be provided. Europe is once again going to rearrange themselves to redraw boundaries. A process that since the 30-year war proceeds under more or less great sacrifice. But I think for the politics of today, not the mistakes of yesterday are responsible. This would be too easy. Because people have learned. Today, another solution would be possible. Excuse the long comment.
The analogy between Putin and 1938/39 is, perhaps, simplistic and, in fact, not true as there is no race-superiority ideology behind his actions. Yet, his actions and rhetoric are very similar to what Hitler used to say at the time. The world is puzzled what is then the idea behind it all.
Very good analysis of the situation. It is very interesting that Kiev was one of the most important cities in early Rus history, and that some of the best writers in the Russian canon (Gogol, Akhmatova, Bulgakov) were actually Ukrainian.
Kiev was the single most important town in the early years of Russia )
It’s rather tragic how much the two nations have drifted apart. Of course its not as bad as the situation between the Serbs and Croats, who are divided by different churches and dialects but very little else; yet have a very long history of mutual hatred.
The problem is that the major drift is between the Western and Eastern parts of Ukraine. There are two nations within Ukraine and Putin is just using this drift for his advantage, or at least what he believes to be his advantage.