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Archive for July 2017

PUTIN’S FOREIGN POLICY THROUGH RUSSIAN LENS

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“Voronezh bombed again” – that’s what I thought when I realized, thanks to Ambassador McFaul, that many of US embassy personnel who will suffer from Putin’s counter-sanctions are actually Russian citizens and that the main immediate effect of that measure will be long delays in the issuance of US visas in Moscow and other consulates across the country.

Voronezh is a city in southern Russia. It features in a super-popular meme used to describe any event in which the Kremlin retaliates against the West by punishing Russian citizens. This meme emerged at the end of 2012, when Russia prohibited US parents from adopting Russian children, thus denying a happy and dignified life to hundreds of orphans, many of them with serious disabilities. Syria was another hot topic at the time, so a cartoon emerged which depicted Putin saying: “If NATO invades Syria, we will start bombing Voronezh”.

The war in Ukraine, in which Russian artillery pounded the houses of people, whom official Kremlin propaganda dubbed as “brothers” and “our kin”, is a typical “bomb Voronezh” story, only the bombing was literal.

The Russians who suffered in the latest “bombing” are no collateral damage. Putin’s entire foreign policy boils down to his desire to externalise the simmering internal conflict and fight it outside the country. This is why he invaded Ukraine – to show Russians, many of whom joined Bolotnaya protests in preceding years, what will happen to them if they choose to revolt, the way the Ukrainians did.

This time, the Kremlin is punishing those Russians who travel to America and who – how dare they! – work for the enemy in the enemy’s embassy. Well, Russians are used to be punished – either by their own government, a proud descendant of an international terrorist network that occupied and subjugated Russia a hundred years ago, or by the unsympathetic and ignorant or – more often than not – openly Russophobe West. They know that punishment will always come – if not from this side, then from the other – no matter how hard they try and what they do.

This life between the rock and the hard place produces conformism, deep cynicism, lack of mutual trust and psychotic communication habits. But internal observes can also see a vibrant discussion and positive cultural tectonic shifts under way beneath the ugly crust of Kremlin politics. Russians are gradually learning to talk to each other, overcoming the deep psychological trauma inflicted on them by the horrible 20th century. They may still be pushed back into the suicidal mode, but they’ll be very strong if they survive the brutal political experiment generations of them have had no choice but to live through.

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Written by fullofbias

July 31, 2017 at 10:59 am

Posted in Uncategorized