Monday, October 26, 2020
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Reader’s Comment of the Day: Russian bear deserves zero sympathy

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In reply to Paul T Horgan: Putin thinks the West is out to get him. History lends weight to his paranoia, S&A wrote:

Let’s pick these points out in turn.

Firstly, there is the idea that Russia ‘has only really struck westward when poked and poked well’. Really? Tell that to the Poles who had their country partitioned between 1774 and 1795. Tell that to the Hungarians who had a Russian Army invade in 1849 when they tried to break free of the Habsburg Empire. Tell that to the Poles in 1920 (and the Ukrainians in the same year, when they tried to struggle for independence). Tell that to the Estonians, Latvians and Lithuanians in 1939-1940, or the Finns for that matter.

Horgan appears not to have heard of the Nazi-Soviet Pact (as per the annexation of the Baltic States in 1939-40), or for that matter the fourth partition of Poland when the Nazis invaded. Why was the USSR in a position to be invaded in June 1941? Might have had something to do with the fact that Stalin signed a deal with Hitler bringing the Wehrmacht to his borders, don’t you think?

Secondly, there is this implicit idea that somehow Eastern Europe’s role is to be some sort of ‘buffer’ for Ivan. Oh right. They’re not supposed to have independence and sovereignty at all. The Poles, Czechs, Romanians et al don’t have rights to self-determination, to decide who their allies should be, and to determine their own policies. No. They’ve got to give way and roll over to their historical oppressors. Nice one. Because that worked really well in the past.

Thirdly, Horgan repeats the Putinite propaganda line about what the nasty West has done to Russia. Let’s look now at what Russia has done to Russians (or Soviets and post-Soviets), from the Tsar to now. Pogroms, the Okhrana, the Cheka and the Red Terror, the Holodomor, the Gulags and the purges, the North Caucasus deportations … It’s pretty damn bloody if you do some background reading, Paul.

And here’s the problem. Putin has not repudiated this tradition of unrestrained and lawless state power over the helpless masses. In fact, he has inherited it. Why else do Russian school text books now praise the Stalinist era, and why else is there an official cult of personality that praises Koba as the builder of the great USSR, rather than damning him as the butcher of millions? Could it possibly be because the current President was in the KGB, as are the majority of his coterie? Do you not think it’s in his interest to have Russians fixated on an external enemy, rather than wondering why they’re being misgoverned by the same guys who bullied and murdered them back in the day? Have you thought about that at all?

And finally, there’s the idea that the nasty West has been bullying the poor bear since 1991. Yes, because we bullied them by letting them join the G8 and the WTO. We bullied them by turning a blind eye to Chechnya, and letting them wage their wars against Georgia and Moldova. We bullied them by fawning on Yeltsin, and praising Putin as the next big thing. We also bullied them by treating it as a minor inconvenience when they poisoned Litvinenko, and gave in to the Russian plan to save Bashar al-Assad when he gassed all those children in 2013. How evil we were.

Let’s get back to Planet Earth here. New Labour fawned over Putin. Germany has had a policy of Ostpolitik and of making Russia a business partner since the 1970s. The French were going to sell the Russian Navy Mistral. Bush looked into Putin’s eyes and thought he saw God. Obama declared a ‘reset’ in 2009 as if it was Uncle Sam’s fault that Russo-American relations had run into the ditch. You think this is partner to a pattern of aggressive behaviour that ‘provokes’ Putin? There’s a guest slot on Russia Today for you. I’m sure you can negotiate your fee, Paul.

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