We Were Too Gullible*

*Editor’s note: On March 4, 2022, Russia enacted a law that criminalizes public opposition to, or independent news reporting about, the war in Ukraine. The law makes it a crime to call the war a “war” rather than a “special military operation” on social media or in a news article or broadcast. The law is understood to penalize any language that “discredits” Russia’s use of its military in Ukraine, calls for sanctions or protests Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. It punishes anyone found to spread “false information” about the invasion with up to 15 years in prison.

Dmitry Drize — about the public dialogue between Russia and the West

Vladimir Putin, speaking at the collegium of the Ministry of Defense, sharply criticized the West once more. According to the Russian president, the U.S. and Europe used the Minsk agreements as a “smokescreen” to build up the modern armed forces of Ukraine. And now Moscow has to take measures to ensure its security. That said, the Kremlin is not threatening NATO countries or their allies. Kommersant’s political analyst Dmitry Drize believes that Putin is ready to restart dialogue with our former Western partners.

The main narrative broadcast by the Russian authorities lately consists of the following: We’re not planning to fight NATO (meaning the entire collective West), we have nothing to do with you. According to Putin, the West has always scared itself with Russia, but we, the Russian Federation, don’t plan to wage war against Europe. Another well-known argument is that Poland dreams about the return of certain western Ukrainian territories.

The president’s remarks about how mistaken we were to be nice with the “fifth column,” that we were too gullible, are also notable. But now, as we can see, conclusions have been drawn. This doesn’t require any comment, particularly because these remarks were directed to a domestic audience. In principle, this is clear by itself.

President Joe Biden’s main message is that Ukraine needs help because otherwise, Russia will go further. Kyiv says the same thing. Accordingly, if this attack doesn’t happen, what’s the point in wasting billions to support Ukraine? It would be better for the U.S. to use such funds for its own direct these funds to satisfy its own Western needs, of which it has plenty.

Yes, indeed, everything is quite simple. Although, of course, one can ask what guarantees are there that Russia won’t attack? It’s easy to answer that we also have no certainty that the United States won’t commit an act of aggression against us. What does that mean? That’s right, we need to meet and settle these guarantees between us. But we have conditions, including conditions with regard to Eastern Ukraine — that is historically Russian territory although we understand that’s debatable. It’s also questionable whether or not Ukraine is still a country.

This brings us to the Polish question. Poland wants, or rather dreams about regaining its former city of Lviv, which, shall we say, left Poland in 1939. Polish officials haven’t said anything about this, by the way.

However, a very interesting issue has surfaced in the press: the formation of, or, simply put, revival of Austria-Hungary. Perhaps not as an empire but as a political union. Then what stands in the way of reviving the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth? And that entity now can make territorial claims. Or we can go as far back as the khans of the Golden Horde.

Everyone believes they were someone great in the past, and now there’s an opportunity to regain this greatness. If that happens, it means a real world war to reshape the world. Or, perhaps it’s already underway.

But let’s not get distracted by conspiracy theories. Our world, of course, is far from perfect; let it stay the way it is. But, as is our tradition, we seriously doubt that our former partners are listening to Moscow’s reasoning and can return to a constructive course of action. Yet it is a good sign that discussion of the facts is now taking place and there is an exchange of public opinion. Maybe it will lead to something this way. Of course, that may be hard to believe. But many possible changes are imminent nevertheless.

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About Artem Belov 83 Articles
Artem Belov is a TESOL-certified English teacher and a freelance translator (Russian>English and English>Russian) based in Australia but currently traveling abroad. He is working on a number of projects, including game localization. You can reach him at belov.g.artem@gmail.com

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