I have not been able to contact my parents, who have been under siege in Mariupol for three weeks now. The city lacks mobile communications, internet and electricity due to Russian bombings. I don’t know if my parents are alive. The only thing I know is that over 2,300 civilians in Mariupol have already been killed by Russian soldiers.
My great-grandfather, who died in the early days of the Nazi attack on the USSR, apparently turned in his grave when Russian troops with a swastika “Z” fired on maternity wards, theaters and tall buildings.
What’s worse is that this catastrophe can easily go beyond Ukraine. In the event of a victory over Ukraine or in the event of a “freezing” of the war with Ukraine, Russia’s next victims will be other neutral countries outside of NATO.
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Russia is a constant threat to the democratic world. With or without Poutine
The day before the Russian military invasion of Ukraine, my friend and I trained in a gymnasium in central kyiv. At that time, the Ukrainians were actively discussing “to be or not to be” a full-scale Russian attack, as warned by the United States, the British and other officials.
My friend asked me: “How do you imagine that rockets will pass, here, in front of the buildings?” Are you serious?”
The next day the same friend woke me up with a phone call at 5am with the words “It’s started”.
Since then, the world has witnessed the greatest European war since World War II. Some politicians say it’s Putin’s war; he alone is responsible for it.
However, in reality, it is not only about the personality of the dictator. This is the essence of the Russian state, the imperial ideology of the “Russian world”, the censorship and monopoly of state propaganda, the absence of fair and democratic elections, the invariability of power, repression and persecution.
Russia has never been able to coexist peacefully with other countries.
Expansion and aggression are natural states for the Russian Empire, the USSR, and its successor, the Russian Federation. It has always been a destructive country that did not respect the rights of others.
Overcoming devastation and famine after World War I, the Stalinist regime signed the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact with Nazi Germany over a new division of the world. The USSR occupied parts of Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and started a war against Finland.
After World War II, the Soviet Union occupied Eastern Europe suppressing the uprising in Hungary. In 1968, Soviet troops entered Czechoslovakia. In 1979, the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan.
After the collapse of the USSR, the West tried to “relaunch” relations with Russia. However, these attempts failed due to the militant character of Russia, which has not disappeared. Russia continued its current war policy.
First on its territory – the First Chechen War, then the Second Chechen War. Then, in 2008, Russia launched a war against Georgia.
Sensing impunity in Georgia, Russia attempted to annex Crimea in 2014 and unleashed a war in Donbass. After that, Russia launched an invasion of Syria.
Any attempt by the West to establish civilized relations was seen by Russia as a weakness because it only respects strength.
The culmination of these relations was the absurd decision to return the Russian delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in 2019. Russia was deprived of the right to vote in these organizations, due to the occupation of Crimea and Donbass, but that did not incite Russia to liberate these territories.
Moreover, acts of Russian banditry and violations of international law did not stop Nord Stream 2, which undermined Europe’s energy security – the project was almost complete.
The aggressor’s policy of appeasement has led Russia to start its next war in 2022.
The war in Ukraine could lead to the disintegration of Russia.
From Kamchatka in the west of Russia, almost to Moscow (Chuvashia, Mordovia, Tatarstan), and other regions are the territory of small nationalities, in which the Kremlin has taken away their respective identities. The Kremlin forbids them to teach children in their native language, trying to get rid of their culture and customs to create a “great Russian people”.
Of course, it is too early to speak of a “parade of sovereignties”, by analogy with the declaration of independence before the collapse of the Soviet Union. But we are already witnessing the parade of companies leaving Russia. Hundreds of businesses are closing in Russia.
Russia is the most sanctioned country in the world. In today’s globalized world, this means becoming a Fourth World country, like North Korea, Somalia and Zimbabwe. Rapid inflation, devaluation of the rouble, shortage of goods, unemployment, all this is already observed in Russia. And the economic crisis will only get worse.
Should we be afraid of the Russian collapse? In the early 1990s, American elites feared that the Soviet Union would fall apart peacefully. That is why, on July 30, 1991, in informal talks, George HW Bush told Mikhail Gorbachev that it was not in America’s interest for the Soviet Union to disintegrate. And on August 1, 1991, the President of the United States publicly called on Ukraine not to leave the Soviet Union in his famous “Chicken Kyiv” speech.
There was some logic. It was easier and more convenient to deal with one nuclear state than with four nuclear states and 11 other non-nuclear states.
However, as subsequent events showed, the agitation of the American establishment was in vain. Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Belarus have voluntarily given up their nuclear arsenals. The West has established friendly relations with the newly formed countries. Only Russia remained hostile because it was a fragment of the empire that did not collapse.
As a result, the West will also be able to establish peaceful relations with the new countries that will emerge after the collapse of Russia.
Worse than the collapse of Russia – the continuation of an inadequate, aggressive and cannibalistic state.
Can you imagine that in the 21st century in Europe, people drank water from puddles and fountains? That people’s corpses lay in the streets for weeks? All of these things are happening right now in my hometown of Mariupol, which is surrounded by Russian occupation forces.
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Moldova, Georgia, Armenia are smaller in area and population than Ukraine, and have a much lower military potential. It will be easier for Russia to capture them and win a “victorious little war”.
Even the NATO Baltic States (Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia) are also threatened. Because Russia cannot openly attack them, but carry out a hybrid special operation with “green men” without identification, as was the case during the attempted annexation of Crimea.
It is not certain that this will justify the application of Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty (an attack against one of the Allies is an attack against all the others). For example, some “pacifist” members of NATO may believe that sending troops to defend the Baltic States will be seen by Russia as a provocation that will only exacerbate the situation and thus insist on a diplomatic solution. In general, Article 5 has only been applied once in NATO’s history, following the events of September 11, 2001.
Moreover, Putin threatens strategic nuclear weapons. And we may soon be approaching a situation reminiscent of the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, when humanity was one step away from a nuclear apocalypse.
It’s no secret that Putin needs to be stopped. But not everyone understands that the fall of the Putin regime can only temporarily halt Russia’s active aggression.
Demilitarization will be necessary to avoid future Russian wars. This mission is to be carried out by a military tribunal with the further purification of Russian society, culture, education and politics from the imperial ideology of the “Russian world”. Russia must walk all the way that Germany has traveled since World War II.
And even then, it is possible that after Russia gets back on its feet thanks to an analogue of the “Marshall Plan”, it will begin to threaten the world again. Therefore, the disintegration of Russia may be the best option for human security.