The Russian elites were so afraid to be defeated in the confrontation with the West that they launched it in advance mode.
A difficult confrontation implies the need to "read" the enemy. A complex, multidimensional modern war - all the more so.
If you "do not read" the enemy, if you look at the text of the news, messages, propaganda reservations, or significant speakers on the other side of the barrier as a vague code of the Matrix (and not from the role of Neo :)) - this is always a problem for you, not for him.
Of course, we can import "snaps" of the enemy's ideological positions and psychological attitudes from the outside. But with an excessive addiction to importing all intellectual-intensive Ukraine, it will be difficult to maintain real independence, for which the country is now stubbornly fighting.
I assume that when it comes to "reading" Russia, Ukrainian analysis has good chances. We lived with the Russians in the same empire, but Americans, for example, or British, French, Germans - not. Hence the inevitable "translation difficulties." And understanding, sometimes based on rough clichés (maybe not in the spirit of Hollywood, but still).
I'll add that the Western public (!) Assessments often do not include a complete picture due to ambiguous episodes in their history and politics or their unprevented interests (which is the same norm for current foreign policy as for Talleyrand or Machiavelli policy).
In this material, the author will look for (not exhaustive) answers to 3 interrelated questions.
- Why has Russia become the world's main exporter of fear?
- Why did the war begin?
- Why will the crisis for Russia only worsen when trying to protract the war?
Let's try panoramically. How, of course, it is really within the framework of the article. Even if it's an analytical long read for the leisurely, thoughtful reading.
1. Legitimising a window into a raunchy world. When borders are unthinkable, peace is unthinkable
The fact that Russia was substantively preparing for a new war is not news to anyone. Empires are always preparing for war (and continental empires are especially active on the territory of neighboring countries, which is seen in the example of the invasions of the Soviet Union), although they are not always ready for it.
The justifications may be different. For example, the notorious idea of "living space", whose narrowness allegedly "did not allow" pre-war Germans to live with dignity. And to which the pre-war thesis of the imperial ideologist Surkov looks like two drops of water that "it is unthinkable for Russia to remain within the boundaries of the bawdy (Brest) world."
So... If you don't think, it's unthinkable. If you think about it, the question, of course, is not within the boundaries. Because they are more than extensive. And they are less and less extensive for Russia in its current form.
What's the point?
To chop down the notorious windows to Europe, as in Peter's times, Russia was already unnecessarily. But it was possible to legalize them, due to unthinkably thoughtless hyperactivity, and Russia is now successfully successful. It is obvious that the legalization of western windows one by one will only lead to an even greater should "living space" and will not expand such space at a long interval. One day it can bring down or reset it.
2. War ahead against the ones ahead
I apologize to the reader for referring to the articles and the author, which seem to be heavily sprinkled with naphthalene at the beginning of the war. Surkov influenced the minds and processes in Russia for too long to hastily dismiss his words. And how may we know how many more will he influence?
So, noteworthy is another bizarre justification (the above-mentioned author): "Russia will expand not because it is good, and not because it is bad, but because it is physics."
A child already knows at the age of 5 - if you try to inflate the ball endlessly, it will burst. And although a child at the age of 5 is unlikely to study physics, the cause of the "cotton" will also be physics.
When elites fail to manage in a rapidly becoming more complex globalized world within the old borders, it is ridiculous to expand them. Thus, complicating the management task for yourself. Which is no longer physics. Just observational analytics, common sense - as you want.
It was the fear of aging elites not to cope with the complexity of the processes, with the management of the huge ones they got - in a fast, increasingly complex world - that pushed Russia to war.
For example, if you look at creative and high-quality feedback independent thought, control technologies, artificial intelligence, and supercomputers - in each of these key components of the information world the lag between the Russian Federation from the West is huge.
Russia's constant probing of the "borders" of the world order, and constant attacks on these "borders" become clearer if we take into account the fear of Russian elites of the invasion of this order inside the imperial borders. After all, there, in the spirit of Slepakov, "sense and moss." A clear inability to compete according to the rules of a highly developed world.
3. Battle for guarantees
"Transit" and everything else is important, but details. He will be them.
It is critical that Russia as a system was rapidly lagging behind the world's leading systems. At the same time, personally and in small groups, Russian elites in a quiet boot made their way for decades, and integrated into the big world (in contracts, accounts, villas, yachts, hospitals, universities, and kindergartens for grandchildren). In these conditions, it became a question of who exactly would become the guarantor of their status for Russian elites - the Russian authorities themselves or, say, the West. And with whom these (in a broad sense, not only "top") elites will agree on guarantees of well-being in today's difficult world - with Putin's "Politburo" (which, if he left, risked becoming a State Emergency Committee) or...
This explains why, according to Andrei Yermak, the Kremlin "does not want to become a junior partner" of the West.
In the described conditions, the "transit" of power could occur at some point spontaneously and in an unpredictable direction for domestic groups. And with him - an indispensable redistribution of everything: status, bread positions, property. And even, in real Russian conditions, more.
When you truly have a class society, many people "rightfully" can claim all of the above. An example is almost the entire medieval European (and Russian) history with its endless dynastic showdowns.
Therefore, Putin is not the only figure interested in the conflict, war, and the inevitable circumcision of contacts with the West.
By the way, Stalin, as the Russian "hawks periodically see", had no problems in the law-suffocated country. They could not interfere in the struggle for power and life from outside.
The economy belonged to the state, i.e. indirectly to Stalin. Later - Politburo. The elite sat in state apartments, and state dachas and flaunted what was allowed. Although they sat like Lilliputians in Gulliver's pocket and didn't stick out. And those who leaned out were carried away by flying chips. But others could also like Mikoyan - "from Ilyich to Ilyich."
Foreign contacts for top military, intelligence representatives, etc., etc., of course, ended with accusations of working on a hundred enemy intelligence services at once and known sentences. But from some point on, the system through "cleansing" was so large-scale "cleaned" (more precisely, "cleaned up") that it almost stopped devouring itself.
Someone felled the forest, someone dug canals, someone plowed for workdays. Writers glorified. Censors sculpted stamps on numbers with leaders about greatness. Everything seemed to spin and work.
And such a system provided control over even more "life space" than today's Russia. Moreover, sitting alone at the top of the "genius of everything" quite coped with the control of 1/6 of the land. True, in the world of 70-90 years ago, but why remember it "out of place"?
I.e. Stalin was a guarantor, not the West.
A script, the craving for which may seem strange - why be a total hostage of a dictator? But if we look closely at how stable Putin's entourage and the entourage of the entourage have been for many years, the picture becomes less simple and obvious.
Below I will quote Surkov more fully, here I use only one of his remarkable phrases - the Russian elites "have never been able to survive in other ways."
4. Russia is playing back. Not "come back," but "acting out"
So, the key question of the pre-war "Russian modernity" is who is the guarantor. Putin (at this stage) or an incomprehensible, unpredictable, unfriendly West towards Russian security forces and party bonds. Especially to the security forces. It's enough to remember how much (“bezlich!” (so many)) There were critical references in the Western press to the "chekist" past of Putin and his entourage.
And that's why there were so many appeals from the authorities to the West and there are so many Russian references to the global war (a regular argument of the security forces) with the West. Russia lost a global competition with him, not with Ukraine, it was perceived as a threat to the interests of an influential and significant part of the elites.
That's why there have been and are so many appeals to the United States. The lag behind the United States turned out to be the most egregious and was especially frightening.
Even the USSR, in which the current Russian elites grew and were formed, was perceived as an equal subject to the United States. Even the USSR tried to win a historic race against the United States. I tried, but I couldn't. And this led to the collapse of the USSR, the loss of positions by the majority of representatives of Soviet elites, and to the emergence of new, current Russian elites - who found themselves inside the old scenario.
"The historical genetics of camps, repression, the arbitrariness of the strong 1/6 of this world, and equalization did not allow the Soviet Union to reset what was wild and inappropriate in highly developed reality. And post-Soviet Russia, which was called upon to outgrow the USSR, never accepted this challenge," the author of this article wrote in January 2016.
But the composition of the Russian elites did not imply the necessary flexibility or compromises in this matter.
At the same time, without accepting the challenge, the Russian elites refused to break out of the "historical track" leading to a dead end. And, therefore, her "return" to the global game was an inadequate moment. Instead of returning to the first third of the XXI century, Russia rushed to the second third of the XX century. To a cruel but simple and understandable world. If a time traveler had done so in some blockbuster, it would be a very significant mistake.
As a result, Russian elites faced both traditional and aggravating new fears. To which there were no adequate answers. Tensions were growing.
In psychology, there is a protective mechanism - “acting out”. This is when they try to relieve strong tension, unconsciously launching a frightening scenario on their own. Which often leads to retraumatizing raking in almost Perpetuum mobile mode, an almost perpetual engine. Up to the most catastrophic consequences.
Russian elites were afraid to be defeated in a clash with the Western world. And they launched a large-scale scenario of such a collision.
5. Power-force polygons. Security forces as a support and a problem
The author does not share the broadcasts (for example, with Piotr Kulpa) and estimates that in the war unleashed against Ukraine Putin is interested in defeating his own army. Although such fears, even in the Russian information environment, are already beginning to slip. Moreover, the assaults of Azovstal - despite Putin's direct and public order not to do so - really actualize the question of how much the Russian emperor is really controlled and loyal to the army.
But personally, the situation seems more difficult to me. Like Stalin, Putin can be afraid of the army and its victories. This is the specificity of closed or semi-closed companies. The power unit plays a special role in them. And inside the power bloc, there are special services (the most obvious form the pillars of Putin's regime) and the army.
Stalin, real or mythical, conspiracy in the army was neutralized with the help of the NKVD. By the way, they often forget that the successor of the NKVD is not only the KGB but also the Ministry of Internal Affairs. Without this, Putin's repressive base is poorly understood and underestimated.
Beria's real or mythical coup failed, and its initiator was physically neutralized by the military.
Future Minister of Defense of the USSR Zhukov, who participated in the arrest of Beria, was accused of "conducting a line to ... eliminate the leadership and control over the army and Navy by the Party, its Central Committee and the Government."
This is one of the well-known but dusty facts of imperial reality. There are a lot of them.
Closer to the present, on the "eastern borders" of Russia - in the direction where it quickly shifts itself, Kim Jong-un shot his uncle Jang Song-taek, former Deputy Chairman of the State Defense Committee of the DPRK.
The article of the government CTAC claimed that Chan "tried to unleash discontent in the army." During interrogations, as the BBC reported then, the chief's uncle allegedly stated the following: "I was going to stage a coup with the help of high-ranking army officials who were in close ties with me or by mobilizing armed forces under the control of people loyal to me."
The nuance of mobilization is quite interesting in the current context. But that's not what it's about yet.
The "Gang of Four" in China found itself in the dock under similar circumstances of "struggle for the army". Never succeeding Mao, his last wife Jiang Qing lost many years of support from former state security head Kang Sheng. And Mao's successor was, also supported by the army, Minister of Public Security Hua Guofeng.
The current Chinese leader Xi Jinping went through several military posts. And in 2010, he became deputy chairman of the key (since the times of Deng Xiaoping, always headed by real leaders of China) Central Military Council of the People's Republic of China. When in 2012 Xi was officially elected party leader, and one of the key tests for him was the removal of the curator of the intelligence services from the party, former Minister of Public Security Zhou Yongkang.
But even after that, a great number of changes in the army and special services were required to ensure sufficient stability of power. Up to the complete reformatting of China's military districts in 2016 with the disappearance of old Beijing.
Everyone remembers the very recent history already at the "(south)eastern borders" of Russia with the transit of power in Kazakhstan. With the key role of two power actors-abbreviations of the KNB and the CSTO in this drama.
It may seem that the author in vain extracted from the shelves of history some, covered with a thick layer of dust, plots, and surnames of countries not close to Ukraine (in space and/or time). The thing is that each of these stories determined the choice at a key fork of history in the world or on the continent in the midst of which Ukraine lives.
In the light of the above, he will draw the attention of the thoughtful reader to another important nuance - and the very rise of Vladimir Putin was the result of the transit of power revolving around the figures of the security forces.
The desire of the Yeltsin family to limit the influence of Korzhakov's alliance and Prosecutor General Skuratov led Putin to the chair of the head of the FSB.
Then loyal to the family ex-director of the FGC, then the FSB, after the head of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and, finally, Prime Minister Sergei Stepashin failed to neutralize the rating of the former head of intelligence, former Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov (who created an alliance with the then strong mayor of Moscow Luzhkov). Sorry for this hard-to-read cascade of posts. They are important and eloquent.
Presidential elections were coming. And Stepashin "didn't work." This prompted Yeltsin's family to promote Vladimir Putin to the post of Prime Minister. As a springboard to the presidency, as stated directly.
Then there was the Second Chechen. When the actions of the army for the first time contributed a lot to the growth of Putin's rating. And there was the whole subsequent part of the growing "continuous series of conflicts in which Russia took part after the collapse of the USSR," which Andrei Yermak also writes about. She made a rating and created an image for Putin, she also created the image of the army. Back in 2001, the level of trust in it was a considerable 44%. "Twenty years later", in March this year, VTsIOM loyal to the Kremlin, allegedly recorded confidence in the military already at an off-scale level of 84%.
So now, like Stalin, Putin can be afraid of the army and its victories. But, just like Stalin, Putin cannot allow the defeat of his own army. Under no circumstances. The empire whose army is beginning to lose is under threat. The power of the emperor, whose army loses, is under even greater threat.
Hence the seeming paradox - Ukrainian intelligence reports on the awarding of Russian servicemen with the Zhukov Medal. Yes, the same Zhukov who, as we remember, directly arrested the "checist" Beria.
6. Fastening the army
In a world moving from power to economics, and further to information management, the role of special services is more complex and larger than before. Information is always their element.
Nevertheless, Russia's ruling representatives of the special services have the Achilles' Heel. Their huge problem is the weakness of their myth-making base. Both because of the "behind-the-scenes" specifics of the work, and because of the lack of the result necessary for the key myth.
The legacy of the Bolsheviks (i.e. the Chekists too) was previously rejected by the modern Russian elite, it is difficult to be proud of the great terror aloud, Beria "did not breakthrough", Andropov "did not last", Russia led by the Chekists has no post-Soviet large-scale, internationally recognized achievements.
It is impossible to abandon the backbone myth in principle, in modern Russian conditions. Therefore, elites are forced to resort to some other story.
And this is a world-class story on which the Russian army relies - about the Great Victory of the times of the USSR. The story of the Great Victory in World War II unites Russia with the largest players in the West, China, and most of the post-Soviet space. It seems to make Russia an equal subject worthy of remaining one of the leading pillars of the post-war world order.
The Great Victory is not only rejected by either the authorities or Russian society but is also the core of the myths systemically important for Russia about Russian military valor and the special mission of the Russian people.
The Russian army had a too obvious, too significant advantage over the special services.
Realizing this, we can get closer to solving several, enormously significant "mysteries" of the current war.
Riddle 1. "Bucha."
Riddle 2. "Mariupol."
I once read a brief but substantive analysis of Yuri Butusov's "Two months of war: Putin's goals and results and what will happen next?" Yuri analyzes the failed Russian victories point by point. After that, he concludes: "Strategically, Putin was unable to fully achieve any of his goals."
Yes, Russia has not achieved any of Putin's described purely military goals.
But in foreign policy, the interests of countries and the interests of elites/rulers always coexist in parallel. And they don't always coincide.
What if Putin himself set himself slightly different goals at the 1st stage?
Here it is quite appropriate to recall Clausewitz, who wrote about the constant secondary nature of military goals concerning political ones.
What I'll write below is the version. But it's not a conspiracy from scratch. The author tried to expand the picture wide enough so that the proposed version did not seem unfounded.
Let's start with Bucha, the other outskirts of Kyiv, and the occupied territories. The scale of war crimes here is difficult to consider the "case of the perpetrator", only as a consequence of the mess or social composition of the invasion forces. The obvious goal of the Russian army was to intimidate Ukrainians. But the author will allow the existence of another goal - implicit.
As a backstory, I will offer an attentive reader to remember the last pre-war "loyalty review" to the emperor - the Russian Security Council. It sounded far from as well-coordinated as Vladimir Putin would like. The close ones hesitated so obviously that the Russian dictator had to himself - clearly, cold, with pressure, and unequivocally - to make it clear "where" to whom to decide and talk.
A dictator is a person sitting on top of a huge pyramid, in millions, tens of millions, hundreds of millions of people. And on it, huge streams of people tirelessly climb up. Many of them are armed and even organized. It's not difficult to imagine how dumb it is to play such a "king of the mountain". This demonic archetypal picture is worthy of the pen and talent of Dante Alighieri. And it generates not only impressive images but also serious passions, intentions, and plans.
Turning back to the repeatedly mentioned times of World War II, it makes sense to recall a significant divergence in the spirit, role, and historical assessment of the two key power actors of the Reich - the SS and the Wehrmacht (army).
Part of the Wehrmacht command staff, which is well known, did not share many of Hitler's plans and approaches. It also became the source of several major and dangerous conspiracies against the Fuhrer.
The author will allow himself to assume that large-scale war crimes in Ukraine, which "for some reason" did not even bother to hide in any way before a hasty retreat from the northeast, should have been tightly linked by one fate to the political and military leadership of Russia.
The army should have ceased to be considered outside as a possible partner in the game against the Kremlin.
But the army inside should have ceased to be considered as a possible alternative to the Kremlin. Hence the "case" of Donbas and Mariupol.
In the 2019 parliamentary elections, almost 50% of voters in the unoccupied part of the Luhansk region voted for the pro-Kremlin OPZH. In the Donetsk region, about 43.4%.
In the local elections in Mariupol, 9/10 citizens voted for the former member of the 5th "Oppoblok" Boychenko and OPZH candidate Klimenko (in total). In the elections to the City Council, if you add to the results of the "Vadim Boychenko Bloc" and OPZH at least the "Party Sharia", 8 out of 10 citizens made a similar choice.
But it is these regions that are now ruthlessly equal to the land in the process of the so-called "liberation" by the Russian army. And it's hard to talk about the fate of Mariupol without shuddering.
When the Russian army helped Assad destroy Aleppo, it was a story about people completely alien to Russians. About the city that is not attached to the Russian space itself.
In the case of Mariupol, everything is wrong - there is neither Assad, Iranian proxies, nor alien civilians. And plans to annex Mariupol was initially advertised. But the city has been turned into such Hell that it can't become a city of "Russian glory". And no matter what losses are caused here to the Ukrainian army, the suffering and losses of the civilian population are huge.
That is, in fact, the army was originally destined for the role of the one responsible for the biggest terror against its own (with TK Russians) civilian population in modern Russian history.
This "equalizes" two stories, two great terror, two power pillars of Russian power.
On the pediment of the Bolshoi Theater of Russian politics, 4 horses carry a chariot of the leader: Special Services, Army, Bureaucracy, and Raw Materials Companies. Everyone should stay in a sled, but somehow separately, and not get too far ahead. Everyone should be ruled only by a driver.
To be continued