Evolution of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine and its influence on nostalgia for USSR. IPN debate

The Russian military invasion of Ukraine influenced the views of many people, from different corners of the world, not only about their present and future and the present and future of the world, but also about their past, including the view shared by the people who are nostalgic for the USSR. Why the war exerts this influence, to what extent it exerts it and what effects the given metamorphism generates were among the issues discussed in IPN’s public debate “Evolution of Russo-Ukrainian war and its influence on the phenomenon of nostalgia for the USSR”.

According to the permanent expert of IPN’s project Igor Boțan, in the morning of February 24, 2022, Russia invaded Ukraine. On this occasion, an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council was called to discuss the situation. The same day, the United Nations Security Council demanded that Russia should stop the hostilities in Ukraine and should withdraw it troops. In the session of the Security Council held the next day, it was proposed adopting a resolution to condemn Russia’s actions and a new call was made to Russia to immediately stop the military aggression against Ukraine. But the Russian Federation, as a permanent member of the Council, rejected the adoption of that resolution. Therefore, in the next meeting of the Security Council, by another resolution, the examination of the resolution to condemn Russia was moved to the 11th emergency special session convoked by the UN General Assembly, where no country has the right of veto. The resolution was adopted by an absolute majority of votes, with one vote against, of Russia, and tree abstentions.

On March 2, in the emergency session of the UN General Assembly, there was adopted a resolution entitled “Aggression against Ukraine” that was carried by 141 votes out of 193 counties in favor, five votes against and 35 abstentions. Later, on March 24, 2022, in the same emergency session, the UN adopted a resolution entitled “Humanitarian consequences of the aggression against Ukraine” that criticized Russia for shelling cities, destroying civil infrastructure and many other things that accompany this aggression.

On November 14, 2022, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution recommending the creation of a register to document damages caused by Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. The Assembly further recognized the need for the establishment of an international mechanism for reparation for damage, loss or injury arising from the Russian Federation’s internationally wrongful acts. Ninety-four states voted in favor of this document titled “Furtherance of remedy and reparation for aggression against Ukraine”. Only 14 countries voted against, while 73 abstained, stated Igor Boțan.

Valentin Dolganiuc, a member of Moldova’s first Parliament and a signatory of the Declaration of Independence, said that imperial Russia in time waged over 30 wars of aggression in different locations across the globe. In particular, these military abuses were staged close to Russia. “I cannot speak about nostalgia today, in 30 years of the disappearance of the Soviet Union. For example, I don’t see nostalgia existing at the basis of the decision to restore the Soviet Union as those who should have such nostalgia are mostly no longer alive. We see these wishes, not yet nostalgia, of the young people who were born in 1990 or in 1985, who cannot know how was life really like in the USSR,” stated Valentin Dolganiuc.

According to him, the solid support enjoyed by Putin in the Republic of Moldova is the result of the Russian propaganda in the Moldovan space. “Today imperial Russia has three basic instruments of exerting influence on the people’s minds and education is one of them. The history textbooks depict particular historic events, but others, such as the deportations, are avoided or are depicted very vaguely. This instrument, which is education, is something very important for the change of collective mentality and telling of the truth. Television is the second instrument of the Russian empire. Today they don’t need to send Russian tanks to this area as there are Russian TV channels that disseminate this Russian propaganda here on every square centimeter, 24 hours of 24,” said Valentin Dolganiuc.

He noted that the Russian church is another instrument used in Moldova. This blesses tanks and armament with which peaceful people of Ukraine are killed. “To eliminate nostalgia that actually represents asserting of the Russian Empire on the territory of the Republic of Moldova, we should: 1 – review the textbooks so that the young people leave school with a correct perception of the developments, of our existence and origin, of our course; 2 – ban all the Russian TV channels, as they did in Ukraine, and 3 – ban the Russian church on our territory as, if this is not done, we will further see this so-called nostalgia,” said Valentin Dolganiuc.

Arcadie Barbăroșie, director of the Institute for Public Policy that commissions the Public Opinion Barometers, said that when the Soviet Union occupied Bessarabia and that part of Romania, there were people who went out with flowers and bread to meet the Russians. And a part of those people sincerely believed that the liberators came. “Why were these people enthusiastic when they went out? What feelings did they have and where did these feelings derive from? I think a large part of them were excited at the recollection of the Russian state that existed in Bessarabia. It was a recollection that was idealized in their mind, transformed,” stated the IPP director.

According to him, nostalgia exists as a historical phenomenon that has lasted for hundreds of years and appears when a state comes to “liberate” by force a part of the world. “I consider this nostalgia exists. I don’t know if it’s important or not. Let’s look at other states, like Italy, for example. How many Russian TV channels are there? What programs does Italy transmit now? I cannot say exactly but the people who are excited by the feeling of nostalgia in Italy watch programs through the Internet, including Russian ones, and they extract only what they consider true from these televisions. That truth was built by them and stimulates them in their activities. So, that part of people who support Russia in Italy are also excited by nostalgia,” stated Arcadie Barbăroșie.

He noted that even if some of the citizens in Bessarabia welcomed the Russians with flowers, after they saw what these did, they said that they no longer needed it, but it was too late. “However, the nostalgic and nostalgia are a very important phenomenon that models the behavior of a group of citizens towards the military, towards another state or other powers. I think nostalgia is a think about which the military thinks and act correspondingly,” noted Arcadie Barbăroșie. According to him, Russia’s aggression has particular historical, political, geopolitical and economic roots. “I believe that in 10-15 years, depending on how this war ends, the historians, when they try to analyze this war, will say that yes, Russia was given particular lessons and there were political, historical, geopolitical reasons that forced Russia to resort to this aggression.”

The public debate entitled “Evolution of Russo-Ukrainian war and its influence on the phenomenon of nostalgia for the USSR” was the ninth installment of IPN’s project “100 years of USSR and 31 years without USSR: Nostalgia for Chimeras”, which is supported by the Hanns Seidel Foundation.

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