1 February 2022
Lev Ponomarev, human rights defender, member of the Moscow Helsinki Group
THIS MESSAGE (MATERIAL) WAS CREATED AND (OR) DISTRIBUTED BY A FOREIGN MASS MEDIA OUTLET PERFORMING THE FUNCTIONS OF A FOREIGN AGENT, AND (OR) BY A RUSSIAN LEGAL ENTITY PERFORMING THE FUNCTIONS OF A FOREIGN AGENT
Amazing changes in the official rhetoric are taking place before our very eyes.
Russia does not want war in Ukraine. Allegations that Russia is supposedly threatening Ukraine are absolutely absurd.
This was said on 30 January not just by anybody, but by Security Council Secretary Nikolai Platonovich Patrushev, author of the concept of “restricted use of nuclear weapons in local conflicts,” and the ideologist who argued for its introduction into the military doctrine of the Russian Federation.
On the one hand, I should like to rejoice at these words, thanks to the fact that they are voiced at such a high level. On the other hand, the setting of these words “in metal” – that is, the redeployment of the troops and weaponry to their permanent bases – would be a much greater source of cautious optimism.
A dangerous impression is created by the relaxed confidence that this is all “just a game of nerves” and “negotiating from a position of strength,” and that “there will be no war, because there cannot be.” How long do you think you can play “this game”? How acceptable are such games, in your view? Is this a sort of epic Russian “maybe,” built up by eight years of real war with tens of thousands killed in eastern Ukraine?
I should like to believe that this time the Kremlin has really taken a step back from the abyss. But maybe it’s just in order to step into it tomorrow, or at some other more opportune moment? This can happen at any time, as long as military threats, nuclear intimidation and troop movements to neighbours’ borders remain an acceptable tool for the Kremlin.
NATO members are supplying Ukraine with weapons not only so that Ukraine can defend itself. First and foremost, this is intended as a means to convince a potential aggressor that war will come at a high cost to itself.
And we must (and this is within our power, within our capability) at least demonstrate that Russian society not only will not support the authorities in the event of war, but is ready to resist any attempts to create a bloody mess on the territory of our neighbours. This is necessary in order that the desire to play games in which our destinies are at stake is completely extinguished.
I am sure that a majority of Russians support peace, which is why I urge everyone to join the statement of the supporters of peace against the Party of War, and share it with friends and colleagues. The majority should have a vote. You must not be afraid. And you should not relax.
Translated by Elizabeth Teague