Staunton, Jan. 8 – Viktor Yerofeyev, a prominent Russian writer who fled to Germany because of his opposition to the war in Ukraine, says that everyone must remember that “Russia is more radical than the Russians; the creation is stronger than its creators; and while you can somehow still deal with Russians, you will never reach an agreement with Russia.”
Russian leaders count on Western ones to forget this reality, Moscow commentator Vitaly Ginzburg says, because it helps them to conceal the fact that there is a deep difference in the cultural code of Russia from that of Western countries, a difference that Western leaders are unable or at least unwilling to acknowledge (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=63BABC5C2F812).
Western leaders also display two other “serious misconceptions” about Russia, he continues. On the one hand, many of them still accept “the old Russian myth” about the existence of a single people. And on the other, they are prisoners to the idea that in dealing with the Putin regime they can act as they do with regard to other governments.
These failures in understanding lead many both in Russia and abroad to mistakenly assert that the aggression in Ukraine is “Putin’s war, not Russia.” But that is not the case. Putin knows his people well, and “the hatred and meanness of the majority of Russians is his main weapon to this day.”
Hundreds of educated people are involved in launching missiles and drones against Ukrainian targets. Each could make sure these weapons don’t reach their target, but “that isn’t happening.” The Russian people are willing co-conspirators with Putin; they must not be viewed simply as captives.
Moreover, Ginzburg says, when Russia visits cold and suffering on Ukrainians, Russians “aren’t able to full comprehend it” because such cold and suffering is regularly visited upon them by their own regime. The population therefore “doesn’t perceive this as a disaster … People simply don’t know any other life” – and as a result, there can be no empathy.
“Like any war,” the conflict in Ukraine is “a war of cultural codes, one between the code of civilization and the code of barbarism,” Ginzburg says. And just how much at odds these two are is increasingly obvious, especially since some Putin propagandists say that “the value of human life is greatly overestimated.”
Russians may believe that, but Ukrainians don’t. And that is what this war is about.