Jump to content

Russia


Sentience
 Share

Recommended Posts

1 hour ago, code99 said:

Thank you for posting this interesting opinion piece published in The Guardian – I tend to devour the Guardian’s articles. However, on this occasion, I disagree with some of the conclusions.

Such as:

The Warsaw Pact was not ‘disbanded’ – it disintegrated when the erstwhile Soviet satellites left the orbit and chose to move to the West. It was the various populations who consciously decided to align themselves with western democracies, and away from Russia. NATO did not ‘add’ the Baltic states by force; the Baltics applied for the NATO membership, eagerly and willingly. Unlike Ukraine, Russia has never let go of its nukes, in fact, it has modernised and diversified them, so now some of them are ‘battlefield ready’. Unsurprisingly, Russia’s neighbours feel the need to protect themselves. The unfolding human tragedy in Ukraine has proven that they were right to be concerned about Russia’s growing military might.

Yes, and thank you for a very thoughtful response at least. Your point about the Warsaw Pact was one uppermost in my mind when I referred to rewriting of history in the Guardian article. I would also state clearly that I am a firm believer in the NATO military alliance which actually has kept the peace in Europe for over 70 years, despite the claims of other organisations to the same accolade.

However, to believe that we couldn't politically have encouraged and nurtured a better outcome in Russia from the demise of the Soviet Union is a curious myopia that seems rife on here. That the West played a shocking hand is quite obvious in hindsight. It was clear at the time to some. It's not even controversial now. Numerous posters somehow seem to have formed the view that I am excusing or acting as apologist for what Putin's Russia is doing in Ukraine, although I posted nothing of the kind. Not a bit of it. For the avoidance of doubt, I abhor Putin and his adventure, and this really is the whole crux of the matter. We sleepwalked into this.

I am relating to a time when the future nature of the government of Russia was entirely up for grabs. It was a bright dawn for the country emerging from long dark decades of communist repression, and a new generation was looking West for a lead. The canvas was blank and Russian democrats were eager for help from outside in shaping and colouring it to build their new state. They didn't get it.

And once again, this was at a time well before Putin's rise - the early to mid 1990s. Nobody was threatening anybody then. So if we had managed to encourage a different, better Russia, then Putin would not be president and all powerful today. Perhaps someone more like Navalny would be there instead leading a true democracy, and maybe even now, nobody would be threatening anybody. NATO could have maintained its 1997 borders. All would be calm.

Maybe it's utopian, and perhaps it could not have been achieved, but it would have been nice to TRY, at least.

Anyway, having made the point, that was all I wanted to contribute. I'm way past prolonged arguments on here.

 

  • Like 4
  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Putin invaded Ukraine to distract from his domestic troubles. He needs people to believe that his Tsarist / nationalist rule is superior to and stronger than democracy. Without people believing this he cannot keep stuffing his pockets with state funds. Recently, he has been challenged at home and abroad.

The corruption of Putin and his cronies and his investments in foreign football clubs,  politicians, media and tax-haven bank accounts and private palaces and estates in Russia were being questioned. The Paradise Papers, the Navalny campaign, the reports into voting collusion, etc., were feeding into his paranoia.

Putin's campaign against democracy was also going off the rails. He was able to curtail democracy at home and harming democracy abroad (by bank-rolling morons and sociopaths) quite well until recently. He's been able to push Russian nationalism (from wars to running a national athlete doping programme) at home, and he's been sponsoring racists, nationalists and crooks abroad. 

When Trump lost it was a bitter blow, despite winning brexit. Democratic Ukraine was looking increasingly better off, as were the Baltic and other East European states. Putin needs to show to his own people that democracies are inherently soft, self-doubting, dysfunctional and weak.

Pushing the bizarre notion that this war is somehow partly our fault for welcoming functioning democratic states into the fold is not just ludicrous, it is music to his ears, because it shows how weak we are. Likewise, the half-hearted response when he chooses to have opponents and bystanders poisoned slow and, until a couple of days ago, our can't-be-arsed response to his war. 

We really should be doing all we can to crush this dangerous madman. And afterwards, we have to help Ukraine rebuild, and help Russia de-Putinise - by which I mean - rebuild with stict protection of individual liberty, democracy and rule of law.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Woolley, you posted as I was writing. I agree with your 'with hindsight' comments. I spent almost a month in Vladivostok in 1995. At that time it was very dangerous, as in, you really had to carry a gun, especially if you went anywhere at night. Hospitals and schools had no heating in below freezing temps and nurses and patients wore thick coats. The local bureaucrats and politicians where unashamedly corrupt and in cahoots with violent gangs. The police, marines and navy were demoralised and frequently unpaid. Foreign currency was extremely powerful - you could buy any public asset for buttons, but you couldn't hold on to it without paying large bribes and hiring serous protection. Most Westerners I knew left even quicker than I did, because setting up a serious and useful business there seemed impossible. 

I will say as well, that although most people were very friendly, none of them wanted foreigners telling them how to run things. They were simultaneously afraid of a Chinese military takeover of the Russian Far East, or a humiliating capitalist takeover. 

Edited by Freggyragh
  • Like 3
  • Thanks 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

10 hours ago, Freggyragh said:

Woolley, you posted as I was writing. I agree with your 'with hindsight' comments. 

I will say as well, that although most people were very friendly, none of them wanted foreigners telling them how to run things. They were simultaneously afraid of a Chinese military takeover of the Russian Far East, or a humiliating capitalist takeover. 

The problem has always been that every time western governmental and non-governmental organisations have tried to provide support to foster democracies within countries like Russia they have been accused of meddling. Recently, activist individuals such as George Soros have been demonised both inside and outside of these countries.

Opposition to liberal democracy is deeply embedded in the culture and political structures of Russia. The Great Russian Revolution in 1917 and the subsequent civil war were brutal - millions perished. Stalin's repressions that followed were equally brutal. It is naïve to contemplate that somehow westerners could have enabled Russia to transition from this type of authoritarian past into a modern functioning liberal democracy. Only the Russian people can and could have determined what Russia was to become. Putin's actions have thrown them another opportunity to choose freedom over tyranny - this may be the last chance they have in their lifetimes to change the course of their history for the better.   

Edited by code99
  • Like 5
  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Initially, in the West, Gorbachev was enormously popular; so much so that some western parents were considering naming their babies 'perestroika' and 'glasnost'. The man was walking on international water. Then came the 'Palace coup' and an alcoholic Boris took the reins of power in Moscow. With the assistance of clever western bankers he promptly re-distributed mega-massive Soviet public assets into the hands of just 8 cronies. This was the beginning of the downfall of any nascent democracy in Russia - they robbed the Russian people of their collective wealth and dignity. Hungry people sought a solution to their sufferings and quickly dismissed the 'nice to have', like western democracy. Eventually, Boris Yeltsin was replaced by a 'strong man', someone who would take away their hunger pangs. After this, the West had no chance of 'bringing Russia in from the cold'.

All of the Kremlin wailings about NATO's unjust expansion on their eastern borders during the nineties were just red (propaganda) herrings, IMHO. Putin has always known that NATO never had an agenda to attack Russia. Over the years NATO's expenditure on its military declined, while Russia's grew. For decades, EU countries like Germany dined out merrily on the 'peace dividend' offered by the so-called USA nuclear umbrella. By spending its ever-increasing wealth on themselves, Germans lived a prosperous and peaceful life. How then was their peaceful lifestyle ever a growing (NATO) military threat to Russia? It wasn't, of course. But, Putin has always hated liberal democracy - both internally and externally to Russia. As he suppresses even the slightest whiff of dissent at home, he demands that other countries bow to his nuclear obsessions. His claims that Russia is being threatened by a Russia-phobic NATO Nazis is just another fabricated pretext to justify his grotesque assault on Ukraine, whose only crime is to want to be a free country that does not have to live under his fist. 

Edited by code99
typo
  • Like 2
  • Thanks 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

21 minutes ago, quilp said:

Should the world be worried about the lucidity of thinking in the Whitehouse? Old Joe, President Harris etc.?

In all seriousness...

 

Disturbing.  It wouldn't suprise me if one leading factor for the Ukraine situation is that Putin has realised how senile and impotent Biden is and thought this is his chance. 

I had high hopes for Harris.  I assumed Joe would either have keeled over or been diagnosed with dementia by now and tada, the US has a Black Female President by the back door.  However it seems she has been completely sidelined and tasked with solving Latam immigration problems and other similarly nebulous issues. 

 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

43 minutes ago, quilp said:

In all seriousness ... 

... you think there is any meaningful content in this at all???

Vacuousness rules ok. 

Why not instead try this. Start at 12 minutes and listen to Andrey Kortunov discussing a path to mediation in this conflict. 

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/m0014x0y

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yes, I think it's hilarious. Did you know that not everything is serious, or high-minded? Why intellectualise everything? The Ukrainians are gonna have a hard meditating over anything... 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

4 hours ago, quilp said:

Should the world be worried about the lucidity of thinking in the Whitehouse? Old Joe, President Harris etc.?

In all seriousness...

 

Biden’s admin has done a pretty decent job so far. One step ahead of Putin, announcing to the world all the steps Putin was likely to make (false flag attacks etc) to excuse the invasion, making it obvious to the sceptics. Most of the world is united in agreeing severe sanctions with Biden leading the way. But that won’t sway the “sleepy joe” idiots who think he’s senile because trump said so.

  • Like 2
  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

@quilp it is an interesting perspective and whilst I won't dismiss the arguments as being out of hand it does come across as a plea to let the Oligarch's retain their wealth rather than see it devalued with the collapse of the Russian economy or through the seizure of assets and money in Western Banks.

Maybe I am missing something but like most news outlets the ownership may hint towards a bias.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...