How exactly at the decisive historical fork in the late 1990s and early 2000s, Russia turned the wrong way, without thinking what would come of it

Part 2. Read the first part here - Russia playing back

7. The fate of the Russian ship. About archetypal, historical, modern, mental and momentary

There are many risks in the analysis. Two of them are related to the extremes of the popular presentation of significant events and phenomena that enslave analysts.

Risk first. Sometimes the analyzers, like the domestic voter, frankly have a “short memory” . Setting such a format is convenient for politicians (few politicians want their past to be remembered and discussed in detail). Wider, for everyone who really holds the "television" frame.

It doesn't work in analysis. When the motive of a person or team that generates actions or intentions lies beyond the time horizon that covers our analysis, these actions or intentions are “unreadable” for us . No matter how real they are, they will seem unreal.

For example, if the analysis does not reach the moment of formation of the current Russian elites in time depth, such an analysis of their actions may turn out to be ineffective. It 's like completely rejecting the "pseudo-science" of genetics.

In such a case, any number of known facts does not turn into understanding .

The second risk, the second extreme. Lengthy appeals to old times where it is not quite appropriate already. Here, as if to do the opposite - to discard all influencing factors, except for genetics.

This point of view is convenient for substantiating "deep differences" between peoples. It is extremely convenient ideologically (and analysis should never allow itself to be subordinated to propaganda - it has a different function!), but, for example, it explains very poorly the fact why so many Ukrainian politicians, representatives of big business, etc. quite normally found common language with Russian counterparts. And not only Ukrainian, but German, French, Austrian, etc.

When we talk about the so-called Russian "deep people", about the mentality, even the features of management arising from it, references to the "centuries-old history" are more or less correct. But they are almost unproductive when it comes to the motives that drive the current Russian elites . And Russia, almost exclusively, is ruled by the elites (who, in practice, look back at the “deep” or some other people subject to them in very special, infrequent, exceptional circumstances).

The author, of course, will be objected to by V. Surkov, temporarily or untimely dismissed.

“The ability to hear and understand the people, to see them through and through, to their full depth and to act accordingly is the unique and main advantage of Putin’s state. It is adequate to the people, incidental to them, and therefore not subject to destructive overloads from the oncoming currents of history. Therefore, it is effective and durable , ” he exclaims, chanting extolling “Putin’s Long State.”

Well... We believed that and will not even be interested in the way how they itoxicate themselves in Russia. The wooden toilets of the “deep people” mired in centuries-old shit “to the full depth” are certainly associated with elite superyachts carried away by the “current of Russian history” to distant azure harbors.

Although no. Actually, we don't believe. The wooden toilet of the "deep people" is inescapable and immovable. Like a lighthouse. Like an epic navel of Russian reality. From the darkness of ignorance, fear and dull despair, it still beacons the opposite. But it will never be seen by the mist-wreathed elites, languidly anointing each other with fragrant Surkov, Dugin and others, supremely approved for use.

That is why the Russian ship has huge problems with the trajectory. A hybrid of an unheated toilet and a luxury yacht does not fit well with "efficiency" and "durability" . With a "counter current" and "in conditions of stormy waves" Aurora's shot metaphorically sinks the Kremlin's cruiser (Glory to Neptune! :)). The design stupidly does not pass the stress test.

But... Despite all the archetypal or historical plots and similarities... The current inhabitants of the "elite superstructures" of the Russian ship are not some abstract, "archetypal" or "historical" people .

These are (more or less from the generation point of view) our contemporaries, who of course are carriers of a certain mentality, but a mentality reflected in a very specific relevance. They are very different from the people of the times of Ivan the Terrible, Peter I, Nicholas II, Stalin and even Brezhnev. Russia of our time is different from itself in other periods. How different is Ukraine. How we ourselves differ from our grandfathers, great-grandfathers or great-great-grandfathers.

The same country (even the same city named after the unsuccessful cruiser) gave birth to Nikita Mikhalkov and Dmitry Bykov. Yes, there are many other people who are very different. All these diametrically different people lived in the same country for decades. How to explain it? And is it necessary to go into too much detail? Sometimes it is enough to take into account the fact itself.

Despite the "archetypal" similarity of the plots, the corridor of political decisions always runs along specific fields. According to a specific landscape of quite specific events, interests, individual personalities, coalitions, etc.

Without taking into account this obvious fact, it is difficult to appreciate or even mentally admit many events that had no precedent in history .

So Singapore has never been the same as it became under Lee Kuan Yew. In general, South Korea has never been the same as it is. Israel has never been what it is. And there were times when the colonists existed, but the United States did not exist. No matter how much the current USA is rooted in the mentality of the colonists, in reality it is a completely different scale of knowledge about the world, claims, interests, a radically updated set of tools, groups, personalities, attitudes, etc.

Of course, the mentality of the current Russian elites did not arise from scratch, but the real motives for decisions and actions are dictated by plus or minus modernity .

So let's try to pass between the aforementioned Scylla and Charybdis.

8. The struggle of worlds and the magic of numbers. Mystery 1997.

The Ukrainian network is often ironic about the craving of the Russian power and ideological machine for symbolism. The author will try to show how in some cases the symbolic can be quite interesting and informative .

One of the significant episodes of Russia's pre-war bargaining with the West that needed to be explained was the constant references of the former to 1997. Nominally to the founding act of Russia and NATO on mutual relations, cooperation and security . In fact... "The map is not the territory." What is said is not always what is meant.

If the reader remembers, Lavrov constantly exaggerated the thesis of the indivisible and equal security of all participating states. We say "participating states", we mean "ruling elites" . And in the first part of the article, the author already wrote, suggested that the key question in “Russian modernity” is the question of who is the guarantor.

The author professionally analyzed the dynamics in the triangle Ukraine-Russia-West, directly or indirectly influencing events, back in 1995. Therefore, most of the mentioned processes unfolded, figuratively speaking, in front of the author.

1997, from my moderately modest point of view, is remarkable in that it is the year between two large-scale upheavals for Russian society and elites - the failure in the First Chechen War and the crisis around Kosovo, followed by the NATO operation in Yugoslavia. But it is also significant for Putin.

Recall that in 1996 the Khasavyurt agreements were signed, which led to the withdrawal of Russian troops from the territory of the insurgent republic.

A little earlier in the same year, the mayor of St. Petersburg, Anatoly Sobchak , in the second round, quite suddenly, is defeated in the elections. For many of Putin's subsequent long-term associates who were part of Sobchak's team, this comes as a shock.

Putin himself described the situation as follows: “What to do? In fact, there was nowhere to work. To be honest, I even thought about what to do, maybe earn extra money in a taxi. I'm not kidding, seriously. Well, where to go?

But the crisis turns into a "new hope" . Putin is picked up and transported to Moscow by Yeltsin's manager "Pal Palych" Borodin (after the victory of the former ward, he was moved for a long time to the nominal post of state secretary of the Union State of Russia-Belarus).

In 1997, Putin soared into the chair of the deputy head of the Presidential Administration of Russia . And Russia itself - after the catastrophe in Chechnya, which showed its amazing weakness - receives a respite and unexpected "compensation" in the form of the aforementioned founding Russia-NATO act .

The act was signed with an equal party , contained references to the "principle of the indivisibility of security" , building relations on the basis of "equal partnership" .

It also spoke of "renunciation of the use of force or the threat of force against each other or against any other state , its sovereignty, territorial integrity or political independence in any way contrary to the UN Charter" .

This is, practically, a moment, as if suggesting a “second birth” . For Vladimir Putin, and for Russia. But after him, Putin's career will rapidly go up, but Russia's relations with the West will go down.

In July 1998, Putin moved to the chair of the head of the FSB . With him, iconic figures of his future security team are moving to the top chairs of the FSB.

At the same time, Chubais left the leading positions in the government, and then in politics. August 17, 1998 the government and the Central Bank of Russia declare default. Deputy Prime Minister Nemtsov, who had “promised” succession, is also resigning.

The position of the liberals is very seriously undermined. After this fork in Russia, it is already difficult to imagine attempts at systemic but risky reforms to modernize the decrepit post-Soviet system. Later, they will try to replace them by flooding the country with oil and gas dollars, conserving "stability" as backwardness.

Yevgeny Primakov becomes prime minister . Which already portends a future cooling of Russia's relations with the West. And, paradoxically, subsequently leads to a sharp rise of Putin (see the first part of the article).

And in the same 1998, an armed conflict between Serbs and Albanians in the then region of Yugoslavia, Kosovo , begins, then rapidly grows . This leads to hostilities between NATO and Yugoslavia in March-June 1999.

Those dramatic events are preceded by the "4th wave" of NATO expansion with the entry into the alliance of Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic.

The operation in Kosovo is carried out outside the territory of the NATO countries and without the sanction of the UN Security Council, due to the opposition of Russia and China. The actions of the Alliance, from the point of view of Russia, are not consistent, incl. with the Russia-NATO founding act.

On March 24, Russian Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov, who is on his way to visit the United States, instructs to turn the plane over the Atlantic and return .

In the new war that has broken out in the Balkans, Russian society almost totally sympathizes with the Serbs . Arguments about the Vukovar massacre, the Srebrenica genocide or the mass persecution in Kosovo do not work for him. The country did not give any adequate assessment even of its own Great Terror (it has not given it to this day, which explains a lot and has large-scale psychological consequences).

So, in June, Yugoslavia is defeated. Almost immediately, after the end of hostilities, a battalion of Russian paratroopers makes an adventurous forced march on Pristina . At the Slatina airfield, they find themselves surrounded by heavily armed British. Without support and supplies. Only the iron restraint of the British General Michael Jackson avoids a conflict, the outcome of which was obvious.

Like Yugoslavia, Russia in Pristina clearly faced the complete organizational, information technology and logistical superiority of the West . But she refused to notice, understand and draw conclusions.

As a result, almost a quarter of a century later, we will see in Ukraine the equally adventurous use of Russian paratroopers and the thoughtless advance of Russian columns . Just as bad organization and poorly thought out logistics. Equally unrealistic political goals, ignoring the lag behind the West, which took the side of Ukraine.

And all this against the backdrop of Rogozin’s amusing threats that Musk will respond “in an adult way” for supplying Starlink to Ukraine. Causing, at least, a question - I wonder who will be responsible for the lack of an analogue of Starlink in Russia? Why did it happen that Russia has no analogues? And if they were, then, probably, there would be no current war. Because Russian society would be qualitatively different - it would see the world differently and interact with the world differently.

By the way, Ukraine's alliance with the West gives hope that from the point of view of the listed key components, our country will be able to learn from invaluable experience. And, perhaps, we shall subsequently gain access to significant technologies. Not as a user, but as a production partner.

It is a pity that there is no Israel on the side of Ukraine now. You can learn from him another valuable component. Respect for every human life. The ability to organize an army in such a way that each fighter does what he is physically good, intellectually able to do and well able to do. Without dumping people in a heap, as they did in the Soviet army or they do with those mobilized in ORDLO. Not throwing into battle without a long, serious preparation.

Stalin's norms in the spirit of the film "Father of a Soldier" about mobilization up to 60 years should also be a thing of the past. We do not have a Stalinist regime, when the nomenklature did not care how many and whom they sent to die for themselves. And not a static trench warfare of the First World War, but a mobile war in the age of drones, here a slow senior person (not all aged people are like that, but the vast majority) is an easy target. As well as the load on the unit. If the truth is told (and its analyst is obliged to speak not only about the enemy, although it is more convenient), it can be a shame to look at the footage dispersed by Russian military propaganda. But in order to see and know the real situation in volume, at the time of all-consuming propaganda in the media, this has to be done.

More... I'm not a professional military expert, I just served and have been doing analysis for a very long time (in qualitative analysis, everything is interconnected with everything). But I will assume that it would be much cheaper for the country to pay money to 100-150 thousand reservists regularly collected, trained and paid than to rely on paper (at the beginning of the war) territorial defense or lock the border and deprive a huge number of people of the opportunity to feed their families and themselves. And how to bear significant unnecessary losses, which are calculated not only in money.

Moreover, this task will be solved. Because very many countries are beginning to realize that it is cheaper for themselves to provide assistance to Ukraine for several billion or even tens of billions of dollars. It is orders of magnitude cheaper than getting a Russian strike on its own territory and a lot of consequences, including extremely expensive purely economic ones: an unbalanced economy, destroyed supply chains, a blockade, industries, transport, warehouses, etc. destroyed by bombing and shelling.

Returning to Russia during the Yugoslav crisis, which was significant for her .

Russian elite estates, incl. very many security officials, are very worried with Yugoslavian example. They see the collapse of federal Yugoslavia as a prototype of the possible collapse of the Russian Federation. In the actions of Milosevic and his entourage - their own. From their point of view, Belgrade's actions to "pacify" Kosovo were not much different from Moscow's attempts to "pacify" Chechnya and were legitimate.

But Moscow cannot afford anything more than a rush to Pristina. Recall that in this pre- and post-default moment, Russia is an economic dwarf. Its military spending is also at a historically minimal, meager level. The spirit of failure hovers over the army in the First Chechen War.

2 months after the end of hostilities in Kosovo, hostilities resume in the Caucasus. And Putin turns out to be acting prime minister and becomes Yeltsin's de facto successor. Then acting President, then, in March 2000, is elected president.

In 2000, Vladimir Gusinsky sold the Media-Most holding (which included the NTV channel) to Gazprom and left Russia. Boris Berezovsky sells 49% of the ORT TV channel and also leaves Russia etc. The new government is rapidly and harshly concentrating media resources.

By the way, in the United States at this time, the “dot -com bubble” is bursting , which announces a difficult, but beginning of the maturation of the era of information management. What a different agendas...

In the same 2000, Milosevic loses in the first round of elections and the outbreak of unrest forced him to leave power. In 2001, he was arrested and handed over to the International War Crimes Tribunal in the former Yugoslavia (on March 11, 2006, Milosevic will die in the prison of the Hague Tribunal).

The ICTY will bring accusations against almost the entire power and part of the party-bureaucratic elite of the then Yugoslavia (not only against the Serbs, but in Russia, the abundance of accused Serbs resonated).

The fear of such a plot will now relentlessly pursue the Russian power elites and intensify with each fall of the dictatorial regime. Of particular concern in this regard will be the processes in the near abroad (primarily in Ukraine), which can spread to Russia. It will lead, at some point, to ever-increasing repression against the opposition. It will push for war. The world is becoming too complicated for the static-estate Russian elites who avoid adequate reforms. But in 2000, Russia's resources are too limited, the country is still going through a transition of power, and the elites are divided.

In January 2001, an event not so significant, but quite significant for the Russian elites, takes place. Pavel Borodin, who led Putin into the corridors of power in Moscow, is flying to the United States for the inauguration of George W. Bush as Secretary of State of the Union State of Russia and Belarus. In New York, he is arrested in connection with a Swiss money laundering charge. Then he was kept in an American prison for two months.

In October 2001, in response to the September 11 attacks, the US and allied operation in Afghanistan began. Thus, the game is escalating in Central Asia, where before that Russia tried to maintain the role of the main player.

In March 2003, the US and its allies began to actively rid Iraq of Hussein. Armed with mostly Soviet weapons, Saddam's huge army was quickly and crushingly defeated.

In Russia, meanwhile, Putin comes into conflict with Khodorkovsky. The Yukos case is launched. The “semi-liberal” Alexander Voloshin , a nominee of the Yeltsin family, is leaving the post of head of the presidential administration. Then, at the beginning of 2004, Mikhail Kasyanov loses the post of prime minister etc.

All internal struggle already in this period is interpreted as an irreconcilable clash with the Anglo-Saxons. The author won't even deny it. The collision happened.

But the author will allow himself to wonder about the two Koreas. One of them followed the path of many decades of struggle with the Anglo-Saxons, the other - along the path of cooperation (it was not dismembered by the Anglo-Saxons, did not crumble). They got different results. And they have different perspectives in the new world and the emerging world order. Unless, of course, you dream of quickly ending the world through nuclear Armageddon...

In September-October 2003, a conflict flared up between Russia and Ukraine around the island of Tuzla.

In March 2004 Eastern Europe is covered by the 5th wave of NATO expansion. For the first time, former Soviet republics join the Alliance. The same republics and 7 more countries participate in the powerful expansion to the East of the European Union on May 1, 2004.

In November 2004, Putin, Lukashenko and some other post-Soviet presidents congratulate Yanukovych on his victory in the presidential elections in Ukraine. But "compensation" does not occur. In January 2005, Yushchenko becomes the winner. The Kremlin reacts to this without enthusiasm, but rather indifferently.

Putin's Russia of this period is still too busy with itself. Oil and gas prices are still modest and far from future. Accordingly, military spending is just beginning, although quite confidently, to climb up.

But in subsequent years, Russia will finally lose modernization. The country will become even more outdated. Soft power, in practice, Russia will decide to neglect. And it will finally be tempted by the simplest, oldest and least effective of the administrations - the military, including the "last argument of the kings", an attempt at revenge using brute force. And Russia's ally, which is always on its mind, will be China, which is seeking to revise the world order (in the 1990s and early 2000s, it was rather seen as the main threat to Russia). Seeking revision in its favor, not in Russia's ...

In the meantime, two years remain before Putin's Munich speech. Before the “guarantor” cut off the elites from the “pernicious influence of the West” and demanded that the United States roll back to the serene and “equal” 1997 (to which there was no response from the United States, since Russia achieved too little to remain an equal partner) - many wars and a decade and a half of feeding militarism. And there, the current war is not far off, which showed the catastrophic nature of the lack of modernization and materialized all the fears of the Russian elites and rulers.