Between hammer and anvil. Op-Ed by Victor Pelin

“From the aforementioned, we can deduce that after the failure of the talks on Russia’s ultimatum, we should expect the response reactions announced in advance – military and technical-military measures – to materialize . Why?…”

Failed talks and their consequences

At the start of 2022, the post-Soviet states, including the Republic of Moldova, found themselves between the hammer and anvil. Finding themselves in the gray zone – between the European Union (EU), respectively, NATO, on the one side and the Russian Federation on the other side, the aforementioned states face major security risks. The EU and NATO ask for reforms and democratic standards for being able to help them, while Russia claims that the gray zone should remain its exclusive sphere of influence, separated by a buffer zone within the borders of 1997 from the NATO infrastructure. The given pretensions of Russia were stated in an ultimatum-like way. 

The negotiations held on the given ultimatum failed and the U.S. and NATO had to argue their positions unequivocally:

In such circumstances, Russian’s pretensions based on ultimatums are considered absolutely inappropriate. Respectively, the U.S. officials announced the preparation of 18 response scenarios in the eventuality of Russian’s aggression against Ukraine. For their part, the Russian officials threaten with the deployment of nuclear weapons near the borders with the U.S. and with the restoration of Russia’s borders within the limits of the tsarist empire. This reminds us of irredentism and revanchism. No more no less, this is how the prospects are depicted by the Russian officials alongside the propagandists.

What is Russia’s goal? 

The mentioned dangers are not fables, but real things based also on statements of sources from inside official Russian sources. Russia’s pretensions towards the West that were made public recently were actually thought up two years ago and run as follows:

  • Russia’s administration reached the conclusion that there are no reasons to bank on an eventual agreement in the relations with the West, in general, and with the U.S., in particular;
  • Russia decided to behave on the international arena according to its military potential that it considers impressive, in contract to the economic one;
  • during the last two years, Russia’s foreign and military policy evolved up to its current state under the influence of its confidence that it is powerful and therefore can insist on the solving of problems by using force, etc.

Such a bellicose approach was also ideologically substantiated exactly two years ago by the ex-adviser to President Vladimir Putin, the same famous ideologist Vladislav Surkov, in an article entitled Putin’s Lasting State where he explained that Russia restores its grandeur for confronting the West. The epoch of Putin is nothing else but the fourth edition of the Russian Empire after:

  • the gathering of the Russian lands by Ivan III and his followers;
  • 300 year-domination of the empire of the Romanov dynasty that earned the reputation of Gendarme of Europe;
  • instigation of the world revolution in the 20th century by the Soviet empire that contented itself with the division of the spheres of influence and later collapsed under the burden of its incapacity to make the mankind happy.

So, Vladimir Putin has the task of continuing this tradition of influencing the fates of the world by restoring the imperial grandeur of Russia. A difficult task that reminds us of the attempts to build the Third Reich. Surely, the aforementioned arguments of the Russian statesmen look similar to those used for the Anschluss of Austria and then for claiming the Sudetenland etc. It is very important to realize that it is no place for joke here.

Who actually threatens Russia’s security?

From the aforementioned, we can deduce that after the failure of the talks on Russia’s ultimatum, we should expect the response reactions announced in advance – military and technical-military measures – to materialize. Why? Because President Vladimir Putin cannot allow his ultimatum-like approaches not to be satisfied. Or no one will take him seriously and he will be simply ignored in the future. In such circumstances, there is a danger that the Russian citizens will wonder what’s the use of the authoritarian regime of Putin whose beneficiaries are persons close to him who became multibillionaires?

The point is Russia during Putin’s over 20-year rule became the country with the most pronounced social inequity, outstripping in this regard the U.S., Europe and China. This way, 10% of the Russian citizens control 83% of the national wealth, while 1% of those who are superrich, primarily Putin’s friends, control almost 60% of all the tangible and financial assets. In this regard, the assertion “the St. Petersburg sambo school where Putin and his friends trained when they were young gave more billionaires to the world than Silicon Valley” became meme. What does this show? That Vladimir Putin has the qualities of a very good friend, contributing with all his unlimited power to the fabulous enrichment of his martial arts mates. It’s true that friendship is based on reciprocity and the Russian President is rewarded similarly. The story about Putin’s palace in Ghelendjik, which is estimated at ~$1 billion and which his friend assumed as a beneficiary, saving Putin and riding him of the necessity of providing explanations to the public, is a relevant example.

From the aforementioned, it is evident who really threatens Russia and its security. It seems that the oligarchic clan of Vladimir Putin can have the same fate as the oligarchic clan that until recently ruled Kazakhstan. However, there is a big difference between the oligarchy of Elbasy Nazarbayev and Putin’s lasting state, even if the oligarchic and authoritarian regimes of the two states that founded the Eurasians Economic Union (EEU) are alike, like twins. Russia, unlike Kazakhstan, is a great military power. That’s why the Russian President can behave authoritatively at international level, resorting to ultimatums, destabilizing the neighboring countries and threatening the whole world. In such circumstances, the Russian elites, together with the propagandists, have to take on the task of persuading the citizens to agree that for the sake of the restoration of Russian’s grandeur within the borders of the tsarist empire, they should renounce the individual freedoms and should accept the ruling of the authoritarian and oligarchic regime of Vladimir Putin and his friends.

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