The last Russian mobilization

The last Russian mobilization

Russia lacks the ability to properly assess the course and outcome of major historical events, even those initiated by itself, writes Orhan Dragas.

Orhan Dragaš is the founder and director of the Belgrade-based Institute for International Security.

Eighty-three years ago, the Soviet Union attacked Poland and the dismemberment of this country in the alliance with Hitler’s Reich began. The fact that the Soviet Union actively participated in the outbreak of World War II, alongside Germany, only 16 days later, weighs heavily on the anti-fascist legacy that Russia carefully nurtures.

It is a blot in a nation’s biography, unpleasant matter concealed and “buried” with subsequent interpretations and tales for decades.

It was only an assessment that the imperial goals of Russia and the USSR could be achieved with the help of Hitler, which posed no ideological and moral problems for Moscow.

This assessment was wrong, which will be exhibited two years later when Germany attacked the USSR. Yet, had this not happened, and had Hitler’s enterprise succeeded by some accident, Russia would have been, even then, on the side of the victor with whom she would have divided and tyrannically ruled Europe.

Russia lacks the ability to properly assess the course and outcome of major historical events, even those initiated by itself. Seven months ago, Russia attacked Ukraine, creating hopes among its people that they would simply show up in Ukraine, remove the “Nazis” from the Kyiv government, liberate the Ukrainian people and send them back to their homeland in a few seconds.

One of Putin’s influential propagandists said at the beginning of the aggression that the greatest danger for the Russian army, which would enter Odessa, would be, for example, that one of the citizens hugged them too tightly fraternal as a sign of enthusiasm and welcome.

Putin and Russia attacked Ukraine on February 24, convinced that they were only attacking Ukraine. Since the glorious victory did not take place after five days or five months, a plausible excuse had to be found for the absence of triumph. This excuse was always there at hand; it has even been used occasionally, in passing, to convincingly describe that on the way to a final and inescapable victory, there are still things that make it difficult and slow it down.

But it wasn’t until the collapse of the Russian invasion in the Kharkiv region that the Kremlin came up with a casual apology, a definition of war, and even some sort of war goal. The war is not against Ukraine but against the whole West – this slogan has been reinforced and has come to the fore in the Kremlin’s propaganda discourse since the defeat of its army in the Kharkiv region.

In the preparations for the invasion, which he carried out in an unacceptably small circle of collaborators, Putin and his strategists ignored the possibility that the entire western liberal world, with resources that Russia cannot even approach, stand in solidarity with the Ukrainian defence. This error in judgment stems from a long-standing delusion that Europe, NATO and the West are so divided internally that they would not be able to arrange a meeting regarding Ukraine, let alone unless you send him help.

Russia worked persistently on these divisions and for a long time invested huge sums of money in corrupting Western leaders, businessmen and the media. Unfortunately, with great success.

They underestimated Western unity and solidarity until the last moment; they relied on the fact that there would be no response from the West, lying until the very invasion that there would be none. Blinded by their greatness and power, about which they created a myth and an illusion decades ago, they also ignored clear signs that the West would stand with Ukraine, for example, the fact that Great Britain sent certain quantities of modern weapons to Ukraine even before the beginning of the aggression.

The so-called “special military operation” against the drugged rulers (to use Putin’s term) in Kyiv turned, over time and defeats, into a real war, then into a war against Ukraine and its people, and finally in a struggle against the whole West. The enemy must come forward as a bigger force when things go wrong in war. And for Russia, things started to go wrong even before its army crossed the Ukrainian border.

From day one, Russian aggression was opposed “only” by Ukraine, its army and its people. The problem with Russia and Putin’s perception of the war is that they underestimated Ukraine’s determination to defend its country and its independence. They entered the fight with the deep conviction that neither Ukraine nor Ukrainians exist, that their identity has been “forcibly altered”, as Putin wrote a year ago in his author text “On the historical unity of Russians and Ukrainians”.

An even more serious problem is that they did not understand the modern world that was taking shape before their eyes. They didn’t want to accept it, blinded by the arrogance of their “Russian world” as a superior alternative.

Ukraine was looking for a place in this world because it wanted to participate as a free nation, which was unacceptable to Russia.

Therefore, the declaration of the West as the main adversary in the war in Ukraine has a double function for Russia. First of all, to justify shocking defeats on the front, thousands of victims, the loss of conquered territories and the daily collapse of its reputation as the “second best army in the world”, as they proclaimed for decades . Another function is to mobilize what remains of imperial sentiment.

How to convince the Russians that they must not stop until they have built a “Russian world” and rediscovered their “historical Russia” if the whole enterprise fails at the first step, that of Ukraine?

Alexander Dugin, the shaman of the “Russian world”, is working hard on this mobilization. After the defeat at Kharkiv, he called on his compatriots to wage a decisive and all-out battle against the West. “This time too we will be victorious, if only in the war against the West, and this time it will be a people’s war. Culture, information, education, enlightenment, politics, social sphere: everything must work unanimously for war, that is, for victory,” reads Dugin’s call to mobilize the Russian people. and all its resources.

If they listen to Dugin in the Kremlin, it will be another in a series of disastrous historical assessments. And given what is at stake, it may be the last.

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