This is tragic in more then one way. Of course, this is tragic for the people of Novorussia, but it is no less tragic for the Ukrainian people how now are living under a Nazi regime with no foreseeable hope for change. This is also tragic for the Russian people who are suffering the economic consequences of the sanctions. And, of course, this is tragic for the people of Europe who are also suffering from these (self-defeating) sanctions. But there is something else happening which might have very long lasting consequences.
For three centuries the Russian elites were more or less split into two camps: pro-western and anti-western. Of course in those days, "West" meant western Europe, not the USA or central Europe.
Russia's European "friends" - a short reminder
The pro-European camp was formed by the new elites created by Czar Peter I to impose his reforms on the Russian people, and by the late 19th early 20th century, the pro-western camp was almost in total control of Russia. Then, the Soviet era more or less blurred these categories as ideology became central. While one could argue that the Trotskists were de-facto pro-western, they were such a small subset of the Bolshevik party which itself was such a tiny part of the Russian population that I don't think we can speak of pro-western factions inside the Bolshevik or Communist party. Not even Khrushchev, certainly the worst leader the USSR ever had, was really pro-western. I think that the first pro-western Soviet leader was also the last one, Gorbachev. But after 1991, the vast majority of Russians, tired of ideological tensions, tired of a Cold War they did not want, tired of being seen as the enemies of Europe sincerely desired to become part of the West and finally set aside the past.
We all know what happened then. For a full decade, the West maintained a degenerate regime of oligarchs, CIA puppets and thugs in power while NATO advanced on all fronts. Instead of the promised "democratic lovefest", Russia was plundered, humiliated, ridiculed, and fully colonized. In truth, from 1991 to 1996 Russia became Uncle Sam's "poodle", a thoroughly dysfunctional society run by freaks very similar to the ones sitting in Kiev today. By 1996 the situation became so bad as to be really explosive and Uncle Sam had to tread more carefully, with less visible arrogance, but it took the coming to power of Putin to really begin to reverse that trend. The period between 1991 and 1996 saw Russia suffer from human and material losses fully comparable to the kind of losses one would expect from nuclear war. During those years, the Russian society began noticing a strange lack of friendliness from the West: for all the back-slapping and lofty promises of partnership, the West (US and EU) gave a standing ovation the Chechen Wahabis even though they were at least as crazy and bloodthirsty as ISIS is today. Likewise, the US and EU broke all of their international obligations and jointly attacked both Yugoslavia and Serbia. Russians were aware of that, but they still held a general sympathy for Europeans who were mostly nice, polite, apparently well-intentioned people. Besides, one could always blame all these bizarre policies on the "legacy of the Cold War" cop-out. Finally, Eltsin and Milosevic were jerks, no doubt about that, and Russia was weak and, frankly, ugly. So most Russians kind of understood that the US and EU did not feel to kindly inclined towards Russia.
In a futile attempt to "behave", Russians tried hard to be "nice" and "hyper-democratic". They let the Latvians introduce apartheid, they agreed on sanctions against Iran, they saw NATO gradually encircle Russian with military bases and warships and they saw the US treat Russia with open contempt. In response, Russia made some rather vapid protests, participated in useless negotiations and let the USA spend 5 billions dollars in the Ukraine and even overturn elections.
In exchange for a total Russian submission, the West eventually "generously" agreed to stop supporting the Chechen Wahabis who had been defeated by the joint efforts of Vladimir Putin and Akhmad Hadji Kadyrov (and his son, Ramzan) anyway. Then, right when the hopelessly pro-western Dmitri Medvedev came to power and the hopes for the further subjugation of Russia were at an all time high, Saakashvili blew it all by listening to US Neocons and attacking South Ossetia. And here, for the very first time, Russia said "niet" and proceeded to smash the Georgian military even though the local force ratio were very much in the favor of Georgia and the Georgian forces better equipped. The US and NATO backed Georgian military, which some "experts" had referred to as a "tough nut to crack" for the "corrupt Russian military" but which was nevertheless destroyed in all of three days. And then, suddenly and for the first time, western politicians began to doubt their own propaganda: the quasi instantaneous defeat of Georgia, the lightening fast mobilization of the Black Sea fleet and the fact that the Russian Air Force achieved air superiority just 2 days after suffering some very humiliating initial losses, all that left a very bad taste in the mouths those who had believed in western military superiority myths.
Day after day, love turns gray, like the skin of a dying man (Roger Waters)
In Russia, however, this was also left a very bad taste. While the overwhelming majority of Russians had no hostility towards Georgia or the Georgian people, Russians simply could not understand two basic things:
a) How could the people in the West even seriously suggest that Russia was the aggressor when the Georgia attack was broadcast live TV?
b) How could the people in the West support such an obvious psychopath, scumbag and freak like Saakashvili?
Later we saw the West openly betray Russia at the UN over Libya only to immediately to turn to Syria with exactly the same intentions. At least the USA defended their own national interests (as their 1%er deep state understood it). But Europe? Why was France taking center stage in Libya and Syria? What was going on? What was wrong with these people?
The Ukraine from Napoleon to Adolf Hitler to Conchita Wurst
This latest crisis in the Ukraine really did "break" something in the Russian national awareness and now I think that the prevailing feeling in Russia about the West is simply disgust.
|The new Europe|
Disgust with an entire political system built on lies.
Disgust with a society which values homosexual "rights" to adopt children much more then the right of Novorussian children to live.
Disgust with the obscene whining of millions of "Charlies" combined the total heartless indifference towards thousands of killed civilians every day.
Disgust with an EU subservience to the USA even when it clearly goes against one own's national interest.
Disgust with a society which bans Nazi symbols or even an honest investigation of the so-called "Holocaust" but sends billions of dollars in support of Nazis in Kiev.
Disgust with a society which did not have the moral fiber to resist Hitler and which had to be freed from Hitler by Stalin.
Disgust for a society which now apparently "forgot" who freed it from Hitler.
Disgust for a society which is willing to commit economic seppuku just to please its imperial overlord, Uncle Sam.
Disgust with central Europeans for having nothing more to offer to their new masters then a competition of which country can be most hysterically anti-Russian (Poland and Latvia win) even though they all had it much better then Russia under Communist rule.
If Napoleon was hated and Hitler was feared, Conchita Wurst is simply despised. Even the Russian liberals, who still get plenty of time on Russian TV, now find nothing better to say than "our government is every bit as bad the those in the West" - hardly an enthusiastic response. The fact is that for all practical purposes, and for the first time in over 300 years, there really is no more truly pro-European or pro-Western camp in Russia, not in the elites, not amongst the common people. Oh sure, there are still plenty of 5th columnists in the top echelons of power (we have the West of 1980s and 1990s to thank for that too), but they cannot openly show their face and promote their ideas. Even they now have to pretend that they are disgusted with West and "patriotic". This process is made even deeper by another very important factor:
The Russians have changed too
Yes, the Russians have changed. There is an entire generation of Russians now which does not remember the Soviet Union and they don't have the kind of guilt/inferiority complex the older generation sometimes had.
Here is a joke I heard for the first time in 2008: "how do you recognize a foreigner on the Red Square? He is the one dressed like a pauper" - not very funny unless you remember the Soviet years when the only people wearing fashionable clothes were only foreigners. Now this has turned around - the youth feels totally free from any Soviet-related guilt or inferiority complex and, in fact, a lot of young Russians feel confident and often quite superior to their European neighbors whom they view maybe like a good suitcase: nice, comfortable, useful - but most definitely not inspiring in the least. In some circles I even detect a bigger respect for the WWII Soviet generation then for the modern Europeans. Oh sure, they are welcome to sell Russia their cars or ham, but if they stop, there are plenty of other good cars and ham producers in the rest of the world.
Even the USA make more sense
Russian laugh when their hear that US-Russian trade has gone up and that NASA still purchases Russian rocket engines. That, at least, makes sense. In fact, what are the USA *really* doing right now? They are:
- Trying to protect the dollar
- Trying to maintain their global hegemony
- Trying to subdue Europe
- Trying to crush Russia as a potential challenger
The consensus: just occupied territories
I was watching the famous "Sunday evening with Vladimir Soloviev" show (FortRuss has posted translated excerpts of it) and I was amazed to see that there was a quasi-consensus amongst most, if not quite all, guests: both the Ukraine and the EU are occupied territories and the war will last until the USA decide that they don't need it any more. This also means that there is nobody to negotiate with, not in Kiev and not in Brussels. And since the US musts have as much war and confrontation in the Ukraine and in Europe as possible, the only way to stop the war is to win it. That's the short version. The longer one goes something like that:
While negotiations with Kiev and Brussels cannot solve anything, it might be useful to participate in them just to break the West's momentum and let the economic crisis in the Ukraine and the EU begin to seriously erode the current US domination. So negotiate, just don't put any hope into that. And then there is interesting stuff happening in the EU, more and more countries, fractions, delegations and politicians are switching sides or, at least becoming uncomfortable with the situation. And we are not only taking about Greece here, even in Germany there is a lot of discontent. So "forget the EU" only applies to the current political EU, but this might change tomorrow. As for "winning the war", this does not mean Russian tanks in Lvov or even Kiev, this could mean a wholesale collapse of the junta and the Ukrainian military as a result of the defeat in the East (as this war is already absorbing every penny not sent info offshore accounts).
Finally, there is one difference that Russians make between the EU and the Ukraine. The vast majority of Russian sincerely feel sorry for the Ukrainian people from whom they feel no disgust at all (well, except for the Nazi freaks and their death squads, of course). Most Russians are heartbroken at the waste, the deaths, the mutilations, the poverty, the humiliation and all the evils which have, yet again, befallen this land. An entire lost generation of Ukrainians.
The most famous Russian author right now is probably Sergei Lukyanenko. Lukyanenko is the archetypical Russian: a mix of Russian, Ukrainian and Tatar families and he considers himself completely Russian, even a Russian patriot. Still, his last name is distinctly Ukrainian and he clearly was horrified by what took place in the Ukraine. In fact, Lukyanenko was so appalled and angry, that he personally banned any further translations of his books into the Ukrainian language. A couple of months after he made that announcement, Lukyanenko was invited to participate into one of the marathon Q&A sessions with Putin on Russian TV where people from all over Russia call in to ask questions. Lukyanenko was given the microphone and asked Putin a question about the Ukraine referring to it as "cursed land". Putin gently and respectfully corrected Lukyanenko saying that the Ukraine was not cursed, but long-suffering and martyred and then he asked Lukyanenko, as a personal favor, to lift the ban on the translations of his books into Ukrainian. Lukyanenko looked deeply moved for a few seconds, and then nodded his head and agreed (which got him and Putin an ovation from the entire audience).
This small incident shows the true face of Russia towards the Ukraine: one of immense sadness and sympathy, but never one of disgust.
The end of an era
But concerning the West (here as the US and the EU), I think that this last western invasion of the Ukraine will mark the end of a very long historic era which saw a long series of tragic, often bloody, and always unsuccessful attempts at somehow making Russia part of Europe or, more accurately, at submitting Russia and colonizing it for Europe. From the fanatic hatred of the Teutonic Knights to the lure of Napoleon's freemasonery, from Hitler's grim determination to conquer of what he believed was "his" Lebensraum to the imaginary "democratic lovefest" which never happened - Russia always zig-zagged between resistance and submission, between isolation and integration. I think that this process is now over: while the will to resist any invasion (military, economic or cultural) is still there, there is no more admiration and no more hope, only a sense of complete disgust.
Like all wars, the current one will end, but I think that the sense to complete disillusionment and disgust for the "West" and its "values" will remain a core reality of the Russian political future. Oh sure, diplomats will smile and past conflicts will be put to rest, but I don't think that there is any future in Russia for those who want Russia to become "like the West", at least no other than as a 5th columnist or the object of jokes.