Putin saves the West and Zelensky kills the Jews – uh – no, wait …

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Recently, I had an opportunity to listen to a presentation by Ms. Krone Schmalz, a German Putin enthusiast, who attempted to defend Putin’s war against Ukraine. Ms. Schmalz, as do many Pro-Russia people in Europe and the USA, did not say that she condoned Putin’s war of aggression. She did say, however, that we must “understand” where Putin is coming from and what his psychological and political motives are that motivated him to attack Ukraine. I have heard this from many people who listen to Russian TV and TicToc. Goebbels said that for propaganda to be credible, one must mix lies with truth and make the mixture sound plausible and reasonable. The way Ms. Schmalz sounded, she could be a Russian disinformation propagandist. But let me assume for the moment that she is not and that she really means what she says.

Her analysis of Russian motives is very lucid and credible. Russia is a country in decline. Its fertility rate used to be 7 children per woman in 1843. In 2016, the fertility rate was down to 1.7 and in 2021 is was down to 1.5, lower than that of Germany, which was 1.607 in 2021. Russian women are leaving the country in large numbers. As a result, the Russian population is shrinking by approximately 12.5% from generation to generation. In 1997, Russia had 147,915,000 inhabitants. In 2021, it had 145,864,296 inhabitants. That is down by over 2 million. In 2021, Russia’s GDP was 1.7 trillion dollars. For comparison: Italy’s 2021 GDP was 2.1 trillion dollars and Italy has only about 40% of Russia’s population. Germany’s 2021 GDP was approx. 3.6 trillion dollars with only 55% of the population compared to Russia. Russia is not very productive. Its main source of revenue are crude oil and gas, not agricultural produce or industrial products. With the demise of the Soviet Union, Russia lost its superpower status and developed some sort of inferiority complex. Putin, argues Ms. Schmalz, is trying to restore Russian pride and reestablish its role as a major international player.

She goes on to argue that Ukraine has harassed Russian nationals that live in Ukraine and that Ukraine is an increasingly “Nazi-ist” or Fascist country and anti-Jewish to boot. Putin had to intervene to stop the rising Ukrainian Fascism and protect the Russians in Ukraine. She further argues that expanding NATO to the East was a psychological mistake and that the Eastern European countries that dread the Russians as their former slave masters have been allowed to determine the attitude of NATO toward Russia. This attitude is predicated on the view of Russia as an antidemocratic imperialistic state that cannot be trusted.

It is certainly reasonable to try to understand Putin’s and Russia’s psychology and historic biases when trying to understand why they behave the way they do. But it would be equally reasonable to try to understand where the Eastern Europeans are coming from and in particular the Ukrainians.

Long before England and other European countries embarked on an imperialist policy of annexation and colonization, Russia had implemented a land-based imperialist strategy. Piece by piece, the Czars conquered eastern and southern Eurasia and stitched together the largest land empire ever, sauf perhaps the short-lived Khanates of the Mongols. Dozens of nations and ethnic groups ended up “under the Russian whip”. The strategy and politics of the Soviet Union were not really much different from those of the Czars. The Russians still remained the dominant ethnic group in Eurasia and the secret police of the Czars, the Okhrana, was replaced by the secret police of the Bolsheviks, the CHEKA, which was followed by the GPU, the NKVD, and the KGB, in which Putin was a high ranking officer. After the 2nd WW, the Soviet Russians extended their oppressive rule over most Eastern European countries, which then also got a taste of the Russian whip.

When I travelled to Russia in 1958, the train stopped in Brest Litovsk, where the European narrower rail ended, and the wider Russian rail began. We had to wait several hours. Out of boredom, I tried to start a conversation with a Polish railroad worker – in Russian. The man would not answer and his face darkened. I kept at it and finally he opened his mouth and said in bumpy German: “Russisch Sprach Scheisssprach”, which means “The Russian language is a shitlanguage”. Later, in Moscow, I was walking in a street with my German friend speaking German. A one-legged old man approached us and recognized that we were speaking German. He attacked me with his crutch and tried to beat me screaming and yelling how much he hated the Germans and that this was his chance in a lifetime to beat up a German.

The instances illustrate how much the Poles hate the Russians and how much the Russian hate the Germans. It was deep-rooted hate grown out of traumatic personal experiences. Ms. Schmalz argued that we must take such deep-rooted biases into consideration when we judge Putin and his war of aggression against Ukraine.

I agree, but should we not also consider similar emotional problems and psychological roadblocks when it comes to judging the Ukrainians?

First off, the principle of self-determination is well established in international law and is part of the UN Charter. True, the Ukrainians have found relatively late to a national organization and a sense of ethnic togetherness. But so have e.g. the Germans. Germany was a helter-skelter mix of petty fiefdoms until 1871, when Bismarck proclaimed the Prussian King Emperor of Germany in the mirror hall of Versailles. And not everybody agreed.

When the Soviet Union fell apart, Ukraine gave up its nuclear weapons against Russian and US guarantees of its national independence and sovereignty. Smart move, right?

The Soviet Union, mainly under Stalin, had implemented a systematic policy of “Russification” of Ukraine. Russians were sent off to settle in Ukraine in order to form a Russian population segment that could work pushing Ukraine toward unification with Russia and call for help from mother Russia to save them from alleged oppression by the Ukrainians – much like Hitler used the Sudetenland Germans: the Germans in Czechoslovakia needed to be protected and liberated.

But the Ukrainians are Nazis and Anti-Semites and Putin’s war against these racist Fascists is actually in support of democracy and liberty. If we look at it the right way, Putin is actually the defender of national independence against globalism and socialist authoritarianism. Right?

Wrong. That the Ukrainians are nationalists, does not make them Nazis or Fascists. Nationalism, national pride, and national awareness or pride are not the same as Nazi-ism. Zelensky is a Jew. His family was nearly wiped out by the German Nazis during WWII. And yes, there are Fascists or even Nazis in Ukraine, but not many, unless you count every proud Ukrainian nationalist as a Nazi. There are Nazis in the USA, in Germany, and in many other countries. That does not make these countries Nazi-regimes.

Here (on the left) is the flag of Alexander Dugin’s “National Bolshevist Party”. Dugin is one of Putin’s closest ideologists. Looks pretty much like the real Nazi flag, doesn’t it?

Dugin / Putin

Dugin preaches a religiously underpinned great-Russian nationalism and imperialism. Russia must be the top dog or not exist at all. This must be “understood” against the backdrop of hundreds of years of Russian czarist and Soviet imperialism.

During the war, many Ukrainians collaborated with the German Nazis, as was the case in many other countries that were occupied by the Germans. These Ukrainian Nazi collaborators helped the Germans to destroy the Ukrainian Jews. But anti-Judaism is not a special Ukrainian characteristic. Jews were hated and persecuted all over Europe for many centuries and let us not forget that the word “pogrom” is Russian and means as much as ‘destruction’ and ‘riot’. It later assumed the special meaning of “hunting down and killing Jews”.

Russia has always considered Ukraine its “breadbasket” and used it as such. In 1929, Stalin decided to collectivize Russian farmers and agriculture. The farmers were expropriated and forced to join “Kolkhozes”, agricultural collectives. The result was one of the worst famines Europe has ever experienced. Ukraine at the time was a Soviet Republic and part of the Soviet Union. Stalin ordered the entire grain harvest of 1932 and 1933 confiscated and transported to Russia.

Some historians maintain that the famine was planned and exacerbated by Joseph Stalin in order to eliminate the Ukrainian independence movement. In any event, the net result of the Russian confiscation of all the Ukrainian grain resulted mass starvation of Ukrainians.

Estimates of the death toll by scholars and government officials vary greatly. But a joint statement to the United Nations signed by 25 countries in 2003 declared that 7–10 million Ukrainians died. This historic event is called “Holodomor” (Death by starvation). If we have understanding of and for Putin’s psychological problems and biases, we will surely also understand that the Holodomor remains a traumatic experience and memory for the Ukrainian people that will hardly make them more friendly inclined toward the Russians. Emotion influences motivation and motivation influences political behavior.

All things pro and contra Putin and Ukraine considered, we can surely all agree that none of the issues discussed above constitute a justification for a war of aggression. If the Ukrainians want to form and live as an independent nation, albeit they are half-Russian, nobody has a right to deny them their national independence. The Austrians are all Germans, yet they have their own sovereign national state. Switzerland is part German, French and Italian, yet nobody demands that the country be split and divided between Germany, France and Italy.

There are also several not so psychological or emotional reasons (based on CIA analysis) why Russia wants to annex Ukraine. Ukraine is one of the Eurasian countries that produces food surpluses. Russia, despite her enormous size, has always had problems feeding her people. Ukraine also owns some of the largest natural reserves in the world. The country is ranked 4th in the world for highest total dollar value of natural resources, and has 25% of the world’s black soil, which is considered the most fertile soil type.

Ukraine is the world’s largest exporter of sunflower seeds and sunflower oil. It is the number one producer of honey in Europe with approximately 700,000 employed in the honey industry. Ukraine is ranked number 2 in the world for the production of barley, and 3rd in the world for the farming of corn. It is the 5th largest rye producer in the world, the 9th largest for chicken eggs, and 4th largest in the world for potatoes. Ukraine feeds 600 million people each year, most of whom reside in Northern Africa, Southern Asia and China. Ukraine is sitting on a staggering 500,000 tons of untapped lithium reserves, which is considered one of largest stashes in the world. The demand for lithium (batteries, electric vehicles!) is expected to leap 130% by 2025 from its 2020 level. Ukraine is home to 30 billion tons of commercial grade iron ore, the largest reserves in the world, and one-fifth of the global supply. Ukraine also has considerable reserves of uranium, titanium, mercury, coal, and shale gas.

Russia has essentially only its oil and gas industry. As John McCain said: “Russia is a gas station masquerading as a country.” These considerations make it rather plausible that Putin’s motives for his war of aggression against Ukraine are not so much rooted in paranoid fear, inferiority complexes, or a perceived need to protect his fellow Russians in Ukraine. Putin wants these unique resources. And he annexed Crimea in 2014 because it has good harbors for the Russian Navy, not because he likes to drink Grusinskoye. It’s all power politics.

At this point, the Russian war against Ukraine is nearly eight years old and the Russian invasion of Ukraine is eight months old. Russian troops are losing. Russian soldiers seem demotivated and are found destroying their own equipment defecting in large numbers. NATO has supplied the Ukrainians with effective defensive weapons and the Ukrainian soldiers seem to be highly motivated and effective. Sweden and Finland want to join NATO and the Russians do not seem to get any closer to their goal of annexing Ukraine.

Yet, it is unlikely that Ukraine can win this war and there is always the possibility of a nuclear catastrophe. So, how do we get out of this mess?

The way out is via oil. Unfortunately, our demented President has blocked that way by destroying our oil and gas industry. We are sitting on the world’s largest oil and gas reserves and our government sabotages their use. What we should do is to flood the world market with oil and gas and push down the prices. This would make it increasingly difficult for Putin to wage war, as Russia’s revenues from the sale of oil and gas would drop dramatically. Then, when Russia faces national bankruptcy, we should stretch out a helping hand, like the Allies did this with defeated Germany, and assist Russia in developing a sound industrial basis that could replace its current industrial monoculture.

We need to develop our own fossil fuel industry and reserves so we can help Europe to become independent from Russian Energy, force Russia to end the war against Ukraine, and help the Russians to reduce Russia’s dependence on their own fossil fuels. But our current government has made this solution impossible. For this to happen, we need sane purpose-rational government that makes the pursuit of our true national interests and international safety its prime concern, not the delusional protection of “the” climate.

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