Russia's decoupling

Image: Dmitry Trepolsky


It is not easy to express the way in which Russia's “absolute” victory in Ukraine is confused with the feeling of the ongoing rise of a renewed sense of “self” in the country.

Relations between the United States and Russia have reached rock bottom. It's even worse than anyone imagined. It became clear, in the American speech addressed to high-ranking Russian authorities, that the former clearly treat the latter as enemies. To illustrate, it is as if a high-ranking Russian official asked “what do you want from me?”, and the answer came in the form “I wish for your death”.

The implicit tension and lack of genuine exchange are worse than during the Cold War, when channels of communication remained open. This empty space is aggravated by the lack of practical sense among European political leaders, with whom a reasoned debate has proven impossible.

Russian authorities recognize the risks of this situation. They, however, don't know how to fix it. The tenor of the speech also changed from outright hostility to pettiness. For example, the United States could be willing to prevent workers from entering the Russian UN mission simply to repair broken windows. Moscow then reluctantly finds itself faced with few alternatives but to respond in an equally mean-spirited way. And so, relationships spiral worse.

It is recognized everywhere that the deliberately insulting “information war” is dominated entirely by the mainstream Western media, which further sours the atmosphere. And although the scattered Western alternative media exist and are gaining a certain scale and importance, they are not easily incorporated into the debate – they are, at the same time, diverse and individualized. The “Putin apologist” tag remains toxic to any independent news provider, and can destroy your credibility in one simple swipe.

In Russia, it is understood that the West is currently experiencing a “false normality”, an interlude within its own cultural war, in the period leading up to 2024. Russians perceive this through an evident parallel with their own experience of polarization radical civil: when the nomenklatura The Soviet Union demanded that everyone conform to the party “line”, under penalty of sanctions.

Moscow is open to dialogue with the West, but so far the interlocutors represent nothing more than themselves, and have no mandate.[I] This experience leads to the conclusion that it does not make much sense to “bang your head” against the brick wall of an ideologically pre-oriented Western leadership. Russian values ​​are just like a red rag for the Western ideological bull. And it is not clear when the time might come or even if then a credible interlocutor (capable of commitment) will be present in Washington to answer the phone.

Nevertheless, Russians see the enmity projected by the West towards Russia as carrying both positive aspects and serious risks – for example, the absence of treaties on the use and mobilization of weapons. The Russians emphasize how Western disdain for them – plus explicit enmity – finally allowed Russia to go beyond Peter the Great's horizon of Europeanization. This last episode is now beginning to be seen as a deviation from Russia's true destiny, even though it is recognized in the context of the rise of the post-Westphalian European nation.

The hostility shown by Europeans towards the Russian people (and not just towards their government) has led Russia to “be itself” again, which is to its great benefit. Still, the change generates a certain tension: it is clear that Western “hawks” will always be scrutinizing the Russian scene, with a view to locating, within its body politic, a host in which they can inoculate the spores of their armed New Moral Order. . Its purpose: to penetrate and fragment Russian society.

Inevitably, therefore, any explicit cultural attachment to the West raises awareness of the now dominant “patriotic current”. Russians who lean toward European culture, especially in Moscow and St. Petersburg, feel this tension. They are neither fish nor birds. Russia is moving towards a new way of being, leaving pro-Europeans to see their benchmarks retreat. In general, the change is seen as both inevitable and bringing about a true Russian renaissance and a new sense of confidence.

Our Russian interlocutors reported to us that the religious revival underwent a spontaneous self-ignition as churches reopened after the end of communism. Many new temples were built, and today approximately 75% of Russians claim to be Orthodox Christians. There is a perception that the “orthodox revival” has a certain eschatological touch, caused, in part, by what one of the interlocutors called “eschatology antagonistic to the order of things”.

Remarkably, few interlocutors “mourned the death” of the secular “Russian liberals” (who had left Russia): it’s too late! (Although some are now returning). There seems to be an element of purging society here from the Westernization of previous centuries, even if the ambivalence is inevitable: European culture – at least in terms of philosophy and art – was, and is, an incorporated component of Russian intellectual life, and of There was no way it was about to disappear.

The political scope

It is not easy to express the way in which Russia's “absolute” victory in Ukraine is intertwined with the sense of the country's ongoing rise of a renewed sense of “self”. The victory in Ukraine seems to have been assimilated as a metaphysical destiny, as something safe and revealing. The Russian military leadership understandably remains laconic regarding the likely structural/institutional outcome of the conflict. The debate on television programs, on the other hand, seems more focused on the feuds and schisms that plague Kiev than on the details of the results on the battlefield.

It is understood that NATO was largely defeated in Ukraine. The extent and depth of this failure of the Alliance appears to have been a surprise in Russia, although recognized, to a certain extent, as testimony to Russia's capacity for adaptation and technological innovation for the integration and communication of all military resources. “Absolute victory” can be understood as: in no way Moscow will allow Ukraine to once again become a threat to Russian security.

Russian authorities consider that both the war in Ukraine and that in Israel/Middle East combine to segment the West into separate and controversial spheres, with their consequent fragmentation and possible instability. The United States faces setbacks and challenges that will sharply reveal its loss of deterrence capabilities, further exacerbating its security anxieties.

Moscow is aware of how much the Zeitgeist Politics in Israel has changed as a result of a radical government installed after the last elections, and therefore the consequent limitations on political initiatives by Western governments. He is also closely watching Israel's plans for southern Lebanon. Russia is coordinating with other states to prevent the situation from slipping into a major war. Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi's visit to Moscow last week reportedly focused on seeking a comprehensive strategic agreement and (allegedly also) would include the signing of a pact to combat Western sanctions imposed on both states.

Under the terms of an emerging global order, Moscow assumes the presidency of the BRICS in January 2024. It is, at the same time, a huge opportunity to advance the multipolar world of the BRICS at a time of broad geopolitical consensus in the Global South, as well as a great challenge . Moscow realizes the window of opportunity offered by its presidency of the bloc, but is aware that the states that make it up are far from having a homogeneous position. As far as Israel's wars are concerned, Russia has both a LOBBY influential Jew such as a Russian diaspora in Israel who impose certain constitutional duties on the president. Russia will likely act cautiously regarding the Israel-Palestine conflict in order to maintain BRICS cohesion. But important forms of economic and financial innovation will certainly emerge from the Russian presidency of the bloc.

On the other hand, in terms of a “European Union problem” for Russia – as opposed to the so-called “Russian problem” for Europe – it was the European Union and NATO that, after the coup d'état in Kiev (EuroMaidan), they designed a Ukrainian army like that which was supposed to be one of the largest and best equipped armies of the Atlantic Alliance on the continent. After the proposal for a Russian-Ukrainian peace agreement in March 2022 was vetoed by Boris Johnson and Anthony Blinken – at which point a longer and more intense war became inevitable – Russia mobilized and prepared its own chains of logistical supply.

With this, European Union leaders are now “closing the circle” of their projective delusion of Russian military expansion (itself no more than a reaction to the intensification of NATO action in Ukraine). The Russian effort then becomes proof of a plan to invade continental Europe. In what appears to be an orchestration, the main Western media outlets are on the lookout for anything that could even remotely resemble evidence of Russia's supposed “designs” against Europe.

The specter of Russian imperialism is being raised to instill fear in the European population and to justify Europe diverting resources to logistical preparation for an upcoming war with Russia. This represents yet another turn in this vicious circle of threat of war that portends bad things for Europe. There was never, for Europe, any “Russian problem”, until the neoconservatives took advantage of the EuroMaidan “opportunity” to weaken Russia.

*Alastair Crooke, former British diplomat, founder and director of the Conflicts Forum.

Translation: Ricardo Cavalcanti-Schiel.

Originally published on the website of Strategic Culture Foundation.

Translator's note

[I] The author of the article is visiting Moscow for cultural exchange.

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