12 May 2022
by Aleksandr Podrabinek
The representative of the occupation regime in Kherson has declared his intention to make this Ukrainian region a part of Russia. This comes as no surprise, since this regime was appointed by Moscow. Shortly before, Andrei Turchak, secretary of United Russia’s General Council, declared that Russia would remain in Kherson “forever.”
Naturally, declarations by the Kremlin’s serving staff and local henchmen don’t obligate anyone to anything, but more than likely they reflect reigning moods in the Kremlin. Again, no surprise. All despotic regimes and personal dictatorships suffer from delusions of grandeur. The Great October Socialist Revolution and the great Soviet people, the no less grand National Socialist revolution and the thousand-year Third Reich, the great Korean leaders from the Kim dynasty, the Great Helmsman in China, and the legion of more minor, but absolutely great, dictators — they all lost their minds over their own greatness and the superiority of their nations.
Only by cramming their peoples with this propagandistic poison and reinforcing the propaganda with harsh repressions can they retain their power without worrying about political competitors.
There have been some differences between them sometimes in exactly what they have understood by greatness. The Soviet empire’s greatness consisted in its vastness and battle-readiness. Soviet leaders always took pride in their one-sixth of the Earth’s land and their nuclear weapons. What else did they have to take pride in? Perhaps their mastery of nearby outer space, their ballet, and their victory in the Second World War.
SPACE HAS CAVED IN, THE BALLET HAS DULLED, AND THE GREAT VICTORY IS ALL THAT’S LEFT
A great deal has changed in the world since then, but little in the consciousness of the Soviet era’s heirs. The one-sixth is gone, outer space has caved in, the ballet has dulled, and all that’s left is the Great Victory, which they’ve overworked and vulgarized to the maximum. To this mania for victory they’ve decided to add a few military victories, which, as Kremlin thinkers understand it, should revive the people’s sense of greatness and pride in their country and its longtime leader. Not a very great leader yet, but without him, as we know, there is and can be no Russia.
One of the chronic misfortunes of the Russian state is its leaders’ primitive thinking. The greater they think they are, the more catastrophic their rule. The present Russian leadership led by Vladimir Putin is living by nineteenth-century political ideas. At that time, the state’s greatness and power were still directly connected to the extent of its territory and the number of people living on it.
The age of industrialization shook up these centuries-old notions, and the twenty-first century graphically demolished them. Neither Vladimir Putin nor his menials see all this. They’re trying hard to expand the country’s territory and put this forward as their achievement, in which the whole country should take pride. Anyone who refuses to take pride is looking at prison or emigration.
THE RATE OF EXPANSION HAS BEEN ABOUT 103 SQUARE KILOMETERS A DAY
Seizing territory is a maniacal idea held in past centuries by nearly all monarchs and has now been inherited by the unwisest of dictators. They can’t stop themselves. The Russian state, which formed as such in the second half of the fifteenth century, during the reign of Ivan III (in Russian historiography, also called Ivan the Great — what else), covered 2.5 million square kilometers.
By 1991, the Soviet Union occupied 22.4 million square kilometers. Look how Russia expanded. If we don’t count the territory Russia sometimes had to give back, then the rate of expansion works out to approximately 103 square kilometers a day. This is like the country annexing one Paris every day. How can that stop here? Especially since one has constantly ringing in one’s head either the Russian hymn “From the southern seas to the polar land/Our forests and fields have spread,” or “Broad is my native land,” which was popular in the Soviet era. Broad, great, and mighty — it has to be repeated!
It is in the sense of these notions of the country’s greatness that one should understand the Kremlin’s intention of taking another bite out of Ukraine’s territory. In their minds, Russia absolutely must be big and everyone must fear it. All the rest — including the disasters for its own people — means nothing. This is why Putin did not stop with Crimea, did not stop with Donbas, and more than likely will annex Kherson and after that everything the Russian army can lay its hands on.
Translated by Marian Schwartz