I was born and live in a country neighboring Russia. Every day I hear about how good life was in Soviet times. Mostly I hear from people of retirement age. Young people like me no longer remember those years, we grew up on European values. We grew up with Harry Potter and Marvel heroes and believe in democracy, not socialism.
And now our faith in these values is undergoing dark days. Before my eyes, the sovereign right and the rights of an entire people are being trampled underfoot.
On the night of February 24, Vladimir Putin declared war on Ukraine, calling it "a special military operation in the Donbas to protect the inhabitants of the region from genocide." He and representatives of the separatists appealed to Ukrainian servicemen to lay down their arms. As of morning, eyewitnesses report explosions in Kyiv, Kharkiv, Odesa, Kramatorsk, Berdyansk, and other cities, the use of cruise missiles, mass shelling of military units, warehouses, and military airfields. The State Border Service of Ukraine also reported that Russian military equipment entered Ukraine from Crimea, Belarus, Russia, and territories controlled by pro-Russian separatists, and that military installations throughout Ukraine were attacked. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has declared martial law throughout Ukraine.
This, of course, is a fantastic example of a reversal of concepts, where peace is called a war, where aggression is called "an operation for denazification and demilitarization." How can something be demilitarized by direct military aggression?
The justification for what Putin did is, of course, very weak. But, I think, a significant part of the Russian population will take it for granted and will persuade themselves that this is a temporary operation, a very short one, that "adversaries must be punished." Putin has become very verbose. And the argument that he gives, does not stand up, of course, no criticism.
But the important thing is that he follows in the footsteps of Stalin, intuitively or consciously. Rather intuitively, since he is a poorly educated person. An open provocation, after which the war begins. This is the end of November 1939 - the beginning of the Finnish war. The Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation with the fake governments of the "DPR" and "LPR", which they themselves created, is an agreement of friendship and cooperation with the government of Kuusinen, which is very similar to the agreement with Pushilin and Pasechnik. The logic of this operation is the liberation of Ukraine from a "foreign" power for it. And this logic is also Stalinist. In September 1939, at the beginning of World War II, Molotov also made an appeal that "we are going to liberate our half-brothers."
The notion that someone can decide whose power is legal and whose power is illegal is absolute fantasy. In Ukraine, its own government is legally elected as a result of non-fake democratic processes. What right does a neighboring power have (to intervene) on the grounds that the pique vest in power in Russia decided that the Soviet totalitarian government, as he said, had incorrectly defined the borders? And he now decided to correct these borders? This is an invasion of history, an invasion of world processes.
It is not enough for Putin that he has suppressed all life in his country, he now needs the world to live according to his rules. Of course, it won't. But what he is doing now is a very emotional behavior, there are no rational goals and motives in it.
This is a fundamental question - what is the purpose of the invasion of Ukraine? The goal is purely military. What do "demilitarization" and "denazification" of Ukraine mean? What "peace enforcement" of Georgia meant at one time is more or less clear, the operation there was relatively short. And now what is happening? How can a ground operation "denazify Ukraine"?
Therefore, now it is impossible to somehow evaluate it, but it is quite obvious that if an attack is launched from Belarus, it turns out that this is a full-fledged invasion and not a temporary operation. And all this is probably still a long time. Probably, some kind of occupation of some other territories of Ukraine and the continuation of an endless war.
Apparently, this is more serious than the Georgian scenario. This, of course, does not look like the Crimean one, where something supposedly happened without a single shot being fired (according to Russia). This is similar to the fighting that took place in the Donbas in 2014-2015. But it's even worse, because it's really westward, it's really aggression. This is a war of a state against another state, and not the image that "we are not there," as Putin said. Now it is no longer "miners and tractor drivers" who are fighting. Now it's time for the regular military. And this is a military disaster, this is a real war.
Russia is now synonymous with Putin. Russian public opinion is now going to fluctuate greatly, of course. The elites are completely subordinate to Putin, and all his decisions are being implemented. This is a completely lethargic, impotent elite that does not have its own opinion, its quality is extremely low. So what's going on in Putin's head will happen.
As for the reaction of Europe, there will probably be another wave of sanctions that will no longer hit the elites, as it was before, but will probably hit the daily life of Russians. I don't know what sanctions may be possible in relation to Sberbank and some life-supporting structures. The fact that the level and quality of life of Russians will drop sharply due to the war, and there can be no other way, is absolutely obvious.
This morning, trading on the stock exchange stopped because the fall was a landslide. The ruble, of course, rushes up against the euro and the dollar.
So after the military catastrophe, there will, of course, be an economic catastrophe in Russia. The Russians are also taken hostage by Putin, as well as the residents of Donbas, and perhaps some of the residents of Ukraine.
Russia is moving towards self-isolation. Of course, this is also a socio-economic catastrophe for its people. They did not realize this, they believe that the operation will be short, it will end in peace, general rejoicing, and victories, as was the case with Crimea. It is common for the population as a whole to experience illusions - I mean the majority, not the entire population of the Russian Federation.
Nothing can tie Putin's hands anymore. The world is dealing with a very difficult psychological case. Putin had negotiations with world leaders so that he would not start a war - Macron, Scholz - these are quite serious characters, these are the leaders of the strongest European powers. Biden spoke to him. It would seem that the intermediate goal was achieved: they are talking to him, they are trying to somehow agree with him (again, according to Russia).
But then, obviously, something broke in the Russian president's mind, and he decided to act. This is exactly what many did not take into account in their forecasts - the emotional component of Putin. The decision about Crimea had no rational grounds – it was emotional. The continuation and support of this tension had no rational grounds. Putin showed no goodwill in anything. He didn't actually negotiate - he pretended to negotiate. He enjoyed having world leaders talking to him around the clock.
What happened now is an emotion, an emotional and irrational decision. Therefore, his hands are untied, he can do anything. He doesn't know what he will do in the next minute. Of course, we see that all this was being prepared, what is happening now. But it was also prepared on the knee anyway, very quickly, very emotionally, in great psychological stress. So Putin's unpredictability is the main threat to peace now in general on the planet. We are dealing with nuclear power.
Is there any now universal recipe for how to stop Putin? Or is this recipe no longer available? All methods - diplomatic, political, all this did not work, and, I am afraid, now conversations with Putin are already impossible. It was not just diplomacy: Macron talked to him for five hours, this is already political pressure. There was an attempt to really prevent the war - Zelensky tried to get through to him and could not do it. He doesn't want to talk to anyone - he doesn't need to. He considers himself within his rights. Again, there is a lot of psychology here, to put it mildly. If this, of course, is psychology, and not something more serious.
I sincerely sympathize with and support the Ukrainian people, I have many friends there who are now depressed. They are afraid, they are uncertain about the future and they hate Russia with all their heart.
But I, sitting in my comfortable chair and listening to the measured fraction of rain outside the window, still hope that the world will not abandon Ukraine. That the aggressor will be punished, and that the justice of democracy still exists.