On depiction of Ukraine (I)
Truth- it has been said- is the first casualty of war. A regrettable truth lies in this often overused statement. War, however, does have also a quality of revealing. As A. J. P. Taylor put it- it makes dictatorial state more dictatorial, democratic- more democratic and a rotten state- more rotten*.
Tourette syndrome: “They are Nazis” edition
As current crisis in Ukraine remains mostly a war of words (except the ill fated actions of Yanukovych’s forces during the final days of his presidency) and the words of Moscow is successful so much that Timothy Snyder and Bernard-Henri Levy (among others) felt a need to point out that Maidan movement are, in fact, not Nazis.
Nationalists- including some genuine ultra-nationalist radicals- was in Maidan. Bu so does everyone else (with only two noticeable exceptions- Yanukovych led Party of Regions and Communists, who clearly have more pressing matters to attend to). It is genuinely massive movement akin to Polish Solidarność in 1980′s or Popular Fronts in Latvia and Estonia and Sąjudis in Lithuania decade latter.
On the same grounds Maidan can be accused of being not only nationalistic but also Islamic, social democratic, Jewish or just plain eccentric.
All this elements are there and with selective reporting one can get wondrous results. And maybe we even should not be very hard on pro-Russian media about this misreports- pluralism is a concept Kremlin folk have a hard time to comprehend.
Many other things can be mentioned further: that only significant nationalistic party (Svoboda) rose to prominence by putting down they radical rhetoric and shows good signs of evolving in to moderate national democrat organization and Ukrainian Jews- while expressing reasonable concern over past incidents- see Svoboda as not-Nazi enough to work with them.
Most surprisingly, new government shows no interest in organizing pogroms or oppression of minorities in general, thus strongly undermining its credibility as truly fascist regime. One have better chances to find violent neonazi in Sweden than in Kiev.
It’s quite a twist compared to previous president, who relied on Russian-speaking chauvinists to be the supporting base of his regime- Yanukovych provided his strategic partner** with legislature discriminating Ukrainians and recruited his stormtroopers from people that are one stupid mustache away from being an actual Nazis.
The term “fascist” itself have little meaning by this point, as Kremlin is more than happy to apply it to everyone and everything. At this point its much more easy to count things that were not labeled as such.
Therefore, with great pleasure, I present:
I can understand, that making shit up to justify Moscow policies is not an easy job. There is finitive number of things you can come up with. But ze fascist is to-go label since the days the original fascist movement and by this point it become less believable that lizardmens from the outer space plotting to take over the Earth by posing as queen of the Great Britain.
Especially, then the source have some perks, like…
Party like it’s 1999
Invade like it’s 1940
I don’t want to point fingers, but said former president of Ukraine was- and still is- backed by neighboring dictatorship that excels at heating ethical conflicts to the boiling point, to use fallout as justification for invasion. Such tactics prove itself rather effective many times before.
The same dictatorship- the one, I’m not pointing at- runs multiethnic state by oppression of minorities and considers hostility to the Western democracies as the cornerstone of foreign policy. I kinda remember something like that from history lessons- once lived an utter psychopath, who started his career serving to the aggressive empire and turned to politics, then empire fell. He made first steps with the help of his former colleagues and was rocketed in to dictatorial position by economic and political crisis & some shady dealings. First years in power he spend by consolidating his position and eliminating peoples that help him to reach the top, while building military machine and indoctrinating general population in to the jingoistic mindset.
Current situation is very deja vu: troops of the Glorious Motherland, entering the country to counter the threat of fascism, are welcomed by jubilant crowds of local population. The joy of being liberated is so great, that over 100% of votes are given to the pro-Kremlin list in the fallow-up elections to the parliament, whose first move is to vote for joining USSR.
In Crimea, however, elections are replaced with referendum to approve parliaments decision, which begs the question- is this is Putin’s idea of innovative foreign policy or he simply misplaced Stalin’s notebook and now is forced to improvise?
The analogy goes even further, then you consider Russian-China relations and Eurasian Union project- which is basically bunch of dictatorships with conflicting interest allying themselves under the banner of anti-westernism.
The only way to make this even more cliché, is to put out a claim, that the snipers at Maidan were fascists provocation to legitimize coup.
Paradoxically, despite such analogies, Putin’s invasion does achieved something positive. Ukraine is indeed greatly divided ethnically and culturally, with different segments of population holding a very different opinion about most issues, including history (that often becomes a very divisive factor in post-Soviet states) etc. This dividing factors was exploited by Putin and his lackeys and not only in Ukraine.
The ongoing invasion, however, forced population of Ukraine to make decision and choose- Ukraine (with all its mingled past, unstable present and unclear future) or Russia. Putin made an ultimatum with only two possible options and Ukrainians decision was not what he expected. Most surprising here is position of Ukrainian Russians. Up until now Russian speaking population in post-Soviet states was mostly considered as harborers of Soviet nostalgia and supporters of Russia’s policy- sometimes very active supporters. The amount of support Ukrainians Russians demonstrated to the Ukraine in current crisis can be described as unprecedented. While there is a number of peoples who supports invasion and publicly demonstrates allegiance to invader, generic assumption, that ethnic Russian population will support Russia’s actions no questions asked falls flat in Crimea.
The best part is, that Putin just destroyed even most theoretical chances to rebuild empire. Stalin took more than a decade to brake the resistance of ethnic Ukrainians alone. And Putin, despite his best efforts, barely fits to be considered crude caricature of his predecessor.
He put himself in situation with no good outcome for him- with every moment “Crimean self defense” troops stays on Ukraine’s soil, Ukrainians becomes more and more determinate and unified, while Russia’s economy tries to cope with the backlash of foreign policies and opposition gains momentum. And Russia does not have muscles for real war with Ukraine. Despite Kremlin propaganda, current state of Russian military leaves a lot to be desired. It will not be a blickrieg against the minor Caucasian country and current regime have no chance to survive the spill out of big and long conflict.
And pulling Russian troops out is also not an option. Well, technically it is, but for out of control psycho who smiles while stating to journalist, that his troops will use women and children as live shields**** it’s not. He is too deep in his schizophrenic dreams to notice reality and hundreds and thousands of deaths for him (and peoples like him) is little price for pursuing… whatever the hell voices in his head tells him to do.
* Taylor A. J. P. The Habsburg Monarchy 1809–1918- p. 232.
** During his I have not fled from Kiev press conference in Rostov, Yanukovych stated, among other things, that he “considers Ukraine to be our strategic partner”. That puts serious doubts on Putin’s capability to restore USSR. Proofreading speeches, you give to your puppets, is like Evil Dictatorship 101- such incompetence can not be tolerated, if Putin wants to do some serious imperialism.
***This is exactly the same explanation, Soviet officials gave to the events in Vilnius, January 1991.
****I wish, I was exaggerating. Also I wish none of this to be happening.