21 February 2022
by Aleksandr Podrabinek
The question most frequently asked these days when meeting or talking on the phone with friends or acquaintances is: “Do you think there will be a war?” We are indeed a few steps away from war with Ukraine, so this is not an idle question. The answers people give usually depend on mood or temperament. Many pass off their hopes and wishes as predictions: ‘No, there will be no war, no one needs it, it will only cause problems and Putin is not such a fool as to fall foul of serious international sanctions.‘
Others, with the confidence of conspirators, try to convince everyone the current deterioration in the international situation is just a game in which leading Western politicians are involved as much as Putin.
There is no reliable data for Russia, but judging by the public mood, few people want war. The idea of a military invasion of Ukraine is not popular in Russia. There is no patriotic excitement and there is no willingness to give their lives for the triumph of the ‘Russian World’ abroad either.
The war, at least in its initial stage, will be sustained by the resources available to it: the regular army and volunteer mercenaries. But it’s the first step that counts. Once war starts, it will soon be time for those in the reserves to be called up and then for a general mobilisation. The grand nature of the national disaster in the name of this false idea of the supposed greatness of Russia is intended to hide the pettiness and vindictiveness of the Kremlin. Not for the first time will our country pay for the insane fantasies and vested interests of a bunch of scoundrels with millions of victims.
THE DATE FOR THE MILITARY INVASION HAS BEEN PUSHED BACK SEVERAL TIMES.
At least this is what intelligence reports say. This is a consequence of the obvious bargaining for the sake of which this military confrontation has been created: Putin is selling peace with Ukraine in exchange for NATO’s refusal to allow former Soviet republics to join.
Don’t ask why Putin needs this and why NATO is being labelled an enemy of Russia. There is nothing rational or politically justifiable about this. The Kremlin simply needs an enemy to maintain its power in the country and to assert itself in the world – preferably a long-term enemy that is peace-loving at the same time. So that there is no real military threat to Russia, but at the same time the Kremlin will appear a worthy contender on the world stage and a protector of national interests. This is a primitive schema developed back in Soviet times.
Understanding this schema provides a clear answer to the question of whether there will be war, and if so, when. War against a weak and unthreatening opponent has been planned for a long time, and not just once. It is the eternal trump card in the Kremlin’s deck, played whenever the Kremlin needs to get something from the West or strengthen its own domestic situation. This was the case in Georgia in 2008, when that country had to be ‘punished’ for escaping from Russian influence. So it was in 2015 in Syria, when the threat of a democratic transition loomed over a friendly dictatorship. It is now happening little by little in Africa, where Russian soldiers disguised as mercenaries are consolidating their positions in case a small risk-free war becomes necessary.
A WAY OF LIFE FOR AN AUTHORITARIAN REGIME
For a despotism, war is not an exceptional event, it is not a disaster. It is a way of life for an authoritarian regime, one of its means of existence. You should not expect a predator to behave like a vegetarian. So the question ‘Will there be war?’ makes no sense. If we are talking about an authoritarian system, war is inevitable. We can only guess as to where and when the next war will start. Right now it’s Ukraine’s turn, but if that country is lucky enough to beat off the attack, a new target will soon emerge.
Military confrontation is the last frontier of resistance against a despotic regime. If Western politicians were really smart, shrewd, committed to peace and at the same time acted responsibly with regard to the future, they would adopt emergency measures against despotisms not at the last moment before a military invasion, but when the authoritarian regime was still in the process of emerging – when violence was spreading through the country , destroying civil society and opening the way to aggressive militarism. But instead they buy Russian gas and Iranian oil and invest billions in the Chinese economy. They heedlessly breed a predator from whose actions a great many will suffer later. And possibly they themselves.
Translated by Simon Cosgrove