Monday, May 29, 2023

Strength of Russian Regime Overrated while Passivity of Russian People Underestimated, Ginzburg Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, May 27 – The coercive power of the Russian state is often invoked by commentators to explain the servility of the Russian people, Vitaly Ginzburg observes; but the relationship between state power and popular attitudes and behavior may in fact be quite different.

            There is increasing evidence that the state is in fact weak but remains in power becaue of the servility of the Russian people and that if any of the latter do rise up against it as in Belgorod Oblast, the state’s weakness is revealed, according to the Prague-based Russian commentator (

            The Belgorod action by a well-armed and motivated group against Russian forces must be assessed “both militarily and politically,” Ginzburg says. Militarily, a small unit was able to “freely enter the territory of Russia, engage in battle Russian border guards, destroy border checkpoints, seize trophies, and show success in the rear of the Russian army.”

            Moreover, the commentator continues, it forces Moscow to shift two brigades from elsewhere to expel the invaders, who weren’t trying to occupy territory but to highlight Russian weakness. But “the main effect and consequences of this raid go from beyond the military,” he argues.

            “This raid of a single company demonstrated not only the absolute incapacity of the Russian authorities to organize the defense of Russian territory,” but more than that, it highlighted the fact that the local population was unprepared to do anything to help Russian forces or defend their own country.

            None of the local people “rushed to defend the government” or displayed any particular enthusiasm for the actions of the Russian troops, Ginzburg says. And that provided the most important lesson of this action: It showed that “the powers in Russia really rest not on force which they don’t have but on a servile population which they have in excess.”

            And that means this: “Any organized attempt by any active part of the people in the current situation to open a second front for the liberation of Tatarstan, Bashkortostan, Chechnya or any other region of Russia will not be successfully opposed for long by Moscow but instead will lead to the transformation of Russia into a set of normal states.”

            At the same time, the Belgorod action demonstrates that the West must finally recognize that “in Russia there is neither power or people and that the population will support the winners” regardless of where they come from. That means the West must ensure Ukraine’s successful attack on Russia. “Everything else is a waste of time.”

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