“We will bury you”
Leader of the Soviet Union Nikita Khrushchev threatening the West in a Moscow speech,
18 November 1956
“Don’t be under any illusion. We only look like you…Russians and Americans resemble each other physically. But inside we have very different values.”
President Vladimir Putin to
Vice President Joe Biden,
“Russia is not squeaky clean. Russia is what it is. And we are not ashamed of showing who we are.”
Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov,
BBC interview, 17 June 2022
“Russia has challenged the West as a civilization…This means that we must also go to the end.”
“Putin’s brain” Alexander Dugin,
20 August 2022
“President Vladimir Putin says Russia is fighting for its very existence in Ukraine, taking on a country that is conspiring with the West to destroy its nation. In talk shows on state television, the war is presented as a continuation of the Soviet Union’s fight for survival against Nazi Germany.”
New York Times, 1 September 2022
Sounding psychopathic, Putin denounced the West for “pure Satanism”, and portrayed the West as Russia’s “enemy” with which it is currently engaged in an “existential battle.”
Vladimir Putin, speech in Moscow “Together forever” on the “annexation” to Russia of partially occupied parts of Ukrainian territory, 30 September 2022
From Russian troops’ calls home from Ukraine:
Sergey to girlfriend: “They told us that where we’re going, there’s a lot of civilians walking around. And they gave us the order to kill everyone we see… kill any civilian and drag them into the forest…”.
Sergey to mother: ”There is a forest where the division headquarters is. I walked into it and saw a sea of corpses in civilian clothing. I’ve never seen so many corpses in my fu….g life…”
(New York Times, Friday,
30 September 2022, pp. A8-9)
Russian scorched-earth methods of conducting warfare against and occupation of “enemy” countries are deeply rooted in its history: blanket devastation, wholesale murder of civilians and prisoners of war, torture, rape, kidnapping, mass deportations and ethnic cleansing, plunder, looting, destruction of civilian infrastructure, lying, and spreading disinformation. This seems to point to Russia’s some innate inferiority complex (“catch up to, and overtake” the West), which is compensated by aggression, conquest, brutality, and destruction.
Just as critically important is Moscow’s vicious destruction of Ukraine’s ancient national heritage by targeting its historical and cultural monuments, churches, museums, libraries, archival collections, music and art institutions, and centers of learning.
What the entire world is now witnessing in real time as Moscow’s war on Ukraine unfolds is NOT “unprecedented”, “surprising”, “alleged”, “apparent”, “possible” “a dispute”, “a quarrel”, etc. as some pundits, politicians (including some world leaders), and certainly the ever-present Moscow’s “fellow-travelers” would have it. For Russia (former name Muscovy) Ukraine has ALWAYS been a historical enemy and the modus operandi (the “M.O”.) in its repeated campaigns to conquer, subjugate, to “erase”, to “resolve the Ukrainian problem”, has been the same for hundreds of years. Mass atrocities perpetrated on the civilian population and the obliteration of the civilian infrastructure have always been part of Moscow’s military doctrine, with the aim of terrorizing the enemy’s popular base into submission by the “power of the example.”
To witness in past and recent historical memory:
- As early as 1169 Andrey Bogoliubskiy – a ruler of a Kyivan Realm appanage principality of Vladimir-on-the-Kliazma in what is today Russia proper – waged war on Kyiv intending to replace it with his own principality as the seat of power of the Kyivan Realm. His forces plundered Kyiv ruthlessly.
- In 1708 when Cossack Ukraine’s sovereign (Hetman) Ivan Mazepa decided to enter into an alliance with Sweden’s king Charles XII to break Moscow’s increasing hegemony over Ukraine, Russia’s (then known as Muscovy) tsar Peter I attacked the capital city of Cossack Ukraine, Baturyn, located in the Chernihiv province in the northeastern region of the country. After Baturyn fell to the Russian onslaught, ALL surviving defenders and the remaining civilian population of up to 15,000 men, women and children were massacred, the city pillaged and razed to the ground.
An ongoing archeological project (also supported proactively by Canadian academic institutions and foundations) to dig up, uncover and reconstruct the historical area of the City of Baturyn that was destroyed in 1708, constantly reveal human remains – all of them bearing forensic evidence of violent death.
Mariupol, Bucha, Borodianka, Izium, Kupiansk, Kherson, etc. – are the current versions of Russia’s “M.O.” of centuries ago in the Kyiv Realm or in the City of Baturyn.
- In the 20th century, Ukraine’s first war to regain its independence from Russia was fought in 1917-1921. The fall of the capital Kyiv on 9 February 1918 to communist Russian troops was followed by orders for the execution of all supporters of Ukrainian independence and nationhood. Over 5,000 Ukrainian citizens were shot in Kyiv alone – many of them for merely communicating in public in the Ukrainian language. Mass executions of Ukrainians were carried out by the invading Russian troops and secret police in all occupied areas of Ukraine according to a preconceived plan.
- During the “Decade of Terror” of 1928-1938, Stalin’s Soviet Russia annihilated up to 8,000,000 Ukrainians in the Soviet Union by weaponizing food supply and turning it into a weapon of mass destruction known as the Holodomor (murder or killing by starvation); by wholesale executions (up to 800,000 people) and deadly mass deportations (up to 1,5 million people) to the Siberian wilderness. This campaign of terror was enforced in Soviet Ukraine with aircraft, tanks and artillery deployed by a 1.2 million-strong Red Army occupation force consisting of 85% ethnic Russian soldiers.
A repeat scenario (including a man-made famine) was implemented by the Kremlin in 1945-1946 as well in the newly re-occupied regions of western Ukraine. Moscow deployed 500,000 NKVD (Soviet security forces) troops to help “annex” to the USSR (also by staged “popular will”) that part of the country, and combat the resistance of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) already battle-hardened in its fight against the Nazi occupation in 1942-1944.
Moreover, the Moscow-made famines of 1921-1922 and 1946-1947, which took the lives of an additional 2.5 million Ukrainians, display exactly the same “M.O.” of Russian-style destruction as during the “Decade of Terror” as well as the current Russian onslaught on Ukraine. Moscow’s aim was, and is, to prevent – in Stalin’s words – “losing Ukraine”.
- Weaponizing food supply has always been one of Russia’s favorite methods of repression of perceived enemy populations. Already as far back as in 1921, during the first Moscow-made famine in Ukraine (and other non-Russian regions of the emerging Soviet Union), the first Deputy People’s Commissar of Foreign Affairs Maxim Litvinov ominously declared that “Food is a Weapon”. Now, over 100 years later, Putin has weaponized not only energy resources, but faithfully following Litvinov’s dictum, has also weaponized food supply by intermittently blocking the export of Ukrainian grain to needy countries and attacking Ukraine’s grain storage facilities.
- The Nazi German invasion of the USSR in June 1941 during WWII revealed again Moscow’s “M.O.” of destruction – this time during it’s first occupation of western Ukraine (September 1939-June 1941): scorched-earth tactics, mass deportations, at least 30,000 jailed civilians (“enemies of the people”) murdered by the retreating Russians.
All in all, Ukraine lost exceedingly more people in the so-called “peacetime” under the genocidal hegemony of the “Russkiy mir” (“Russian World”) in the 20th century (at least 10 million people in 1921-41, 1945-1950’s) than in ALL of its wars of liberation combined against Moscow’s relentless onslaughts from the mid-17th century to the present.
- On 5 September 1933 a renowned Ukrainian sociologist, political scientist and ethnologist Olgert I. Bochkowsky published an essay titled “Europa Invertebrata” (“Spineless Europe”) for ignoring Moscow’s genocidal famine in Ukraine – the Holodomor of 1932-1933.
Now, fast forward to 2014-2022 and Moscow’s armed assault on Ukraine. This historically repeat attempt by Russia to “resolve the Ukrainian problem” is currently based on Putin’s delusional premise that “Ukraine is not a country” and that “there are no Ukrainian people”. This is why O. Bochkowsky’s deeply felt disappointment with “spineless Europe” (read the West) became so timely nowadays.
In 2014 when Russia began its war of aggression against Ukraine in the Donbas, occupied the Crimea and shot down a Malaysian civilian aircraft full of passengers, the West simply failed to react adequately, and to this day has been reticent to grant Ukraine swift accession to membership at least in the European Union, not to mention NATO. It also failed then to provide Ukraine adequate military support, because it failed to grasp the perennial security threat to Europe and the free world stemming from Russia – regardless of the ruling regime in power at a given time, be it tsar Peter I, Lenin, Stalin, and now Stalin’s disciple –Putin. It then simply hoped that this “Russo-Ukrainian quarrel” would somehow “go away”.
In 2022 the West, again, was simply too slow to react to an already full-scale unprovoked invasion of Ukraine taking place in real time in the geographical center of Europe.
In either case – 2014 and 2022 – the initial stance of the West was “wait and see”, hiding behind a facade of platitudes, while hoping for the return of “business (literally!) as usual” with Russia. That is, until Ukraine with its blood, sacrifice and will to fight for its right to exist as a nation became the world epicenter of defense and struggle for civilizational values: nationhood, liberty, democracy, human dignity, and a basic modicum of decency and righteousness in international relations. As a result, the world has finally realized that Ukraine is not Russia.
The war also revealed to what extent the West, the free world, can “self-deter” and was/is beholden to Russia’s interests, and, therefore, subject to outright blackmail, subversion, sabotage, provocations, cyber-attacks, hybrid warfare – both economic and military.
Ukrainian-born U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel Alexander S. Vindman (Ret.) accurately assessed in 2021 the United States’ (and by the same token the West’s) chronic hesitancy to provide in a timely manner effective military assistance to Ukraine to repel Russian aggression:
“Nations can self-deter, as I’ve come to understand from studying U.S.-Russia relations, with unfortunate results. Russia, in an effort to hang on to great power status, assumes the role of a foil to the U.S. and takes aggressive actions that raise the stakes and create a destabilizing sense of high risk. The U.S., keenly aware of the risk – predictably, to the Russians – too often looks only at negative outcomes from action in response to Russian outrages. Thus the U.S. scares itself off, unwittingly accomplishing the Russian purpose. For the greater security of the world, our country shouldn’t do that – and individuals shouldn’t, either.”
(“Here, Rights Matter”, 2021 LIEUTENANT COLONEL ALEXANDER S. VINDMAN was most recently the director for European Affairs on the White House’s National Security Council. Prior to retiring from the U.S. Army in 2020, he served as a foreign area officer with assignments in U.S. embassies in Kyiv, Ukraine and Moscow, Russia, and for the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff as a Political-Military Affairs officer.)
Now we have reached a rubicon at which, regardless of how hard some world leaders of all stripes try to deny it, and/or try to “de-escalate” and “localize the conflict” to Ukraine, “appease” the Kremlin and find an “off-ramp” for Putin, “embark on a path of reconciliation” through “territorial concessions” on Ukraine’s part, etc., World War III against the free world has already begun with Moscow’s assault on Ukraine, upending in one way or another the interests of all nations and people and the security of planet Earth itself.
A telling example of such personal and political amorality displayed shamelessly by some national and even Catholic church leaders in the West by their support of Russia in its war on Ukraine hails from Italy and Vatican City according to media reports (ex.: The New York Times, 21 October 2022) on the recent general elections in that important NATO and EU member country:
Silvio Berlusconi: “I reconnected a little bit with President Putin”, whom he considers “among my five best friends”. In a meeting of Forza Italia party members he said that Putin sent him 20 bottles of vodka “and a very kind letter” for his 86th birthday in September. Berlusconi also said that he responded by sending bottles of Lambrusco wine and “an equally sweet letter”.
Matteo Salvini: The leader of the League Party used to wear T-shirts with Putin’s face on them, opposed sanctions on Russia, and even said he preferred Putin to his own Italian president.
Giuseppe Conte: The former Italian Prime Minister was to take part in a large demonstration on November 5 “demanding peace for Ukraine and an end to arms shipments,” basically advocating “Ukraine’s surrender”.
Cardinal Matteo Zuppi: The head of the Italian Church and close ally of Pope Francis was quoted by the Italian news agency ANSA as saying “better to lose a piece of sovereignty [i.e. – Ukrainian!] and resolve conflicts. Instead of taking up arms, let’s talk about it.”
Pope Francis’s reluctance to condemn – in accordance with one of the basic tenets of Christianity “Thou shall not kill” – Putin’s genocidal onslaught on Ukraine may be rooted in the Vatican’s vintage tradition of moral relativity, and the Pope’s own meeting with Putin on 4 July 2019 in the Vatican, after Moscow occupied by force Crimea and started in 2014 a murderous war in the Donbas region of Ukraine. Moreover, on that same day Pope Francis presented Putin – designated now a war criminal – with the “Guardian Angel of Peace Medal”…!
At this point the Russian Orthodox Church deserves a comment as well. This Church and its Moscow Patriarchate have always been subservient to and an arm of the Russian state at any period of its history – tsarist, communist, and now post-Soviet under the rule of “tsar-in-waiting” Vladimir Putin and his subordinate patriarch Kirill. Both of them are war criminals – Putin for starting the genocidal war on Ukraine, and Kirill for officially endorsing it with a “blessing” on behalf of the Church he is the head of.
There is no shortage, of course, of such public figures in different countries who advocate, for whatever reason, to stop support for Ukraine’s defense effort against Russia, and/or call for Ukraine’s outright “surrender” – including, unfortunately, even in the United States. Among such public figures are MAGA politicos in particular, such as former president Donald Trump, Kevin McCarthy and Marjorie Taylor Green on the Republican side, and the chairwoman of the liberal Congressional Progressive Caucus, Pramila Tayapal, on the Democratic side.
Simply futile are any and all attempts to appease a terrorist state like Russia, be it governed in the past by Lenin, Stalin, and now by Putin. All of them are criminal minds devoid of any scruples to kill and destroy en masse in order to achieve their imperialistic goals by imposing on as many nations as they can their particular version of the “Russian world”. In the case of Putin, the use for that purpose even of a tactical nuclear weapon on Ukrainians, as well as to intimidate and blackmail the West into submission so it would stop helping Ukraine’s war effort, cannot be excluded.
The free world must now, finally, try and comprehend that Moscow has always respected only force, and that “Moscow does not believe in tears” – as an old Russian adage goes – and that only a tangible show of force by the free world that includes Ukraine can stop the Kremlin from further aggression.
When, with continual effective assistance of the free world, Ukraine prevails – as it MUST – against Russia and the imposition of its so-called “Russia world”, then this will be Ukraine’s last war for the foreseeable future for its independence, nationhood, and its right to exist. It will also augur and clear the way to a much more free and peaceful world for all nations willing to partake in it without being subjected to existential threats from terrorist states like Russia with unsatiated imperialistic greed.
In lieu of an afterthought:
Back in 1769 the renown German philosopher Johann Gottfried Herder seems to have foreseen Ukraine’s future place and role in the world when he insightfully wrote:
“What а view from the West-North of these regions, when one day the spirit of civilization will visit them! Ukraine will become а new Greece; the beautiful heaven of this people, their merry existence, their musical nature, their fruitful land, and so on, will one day awaken; out of so many little wild peoples, as the Greeks were also once, а mannered nation will сome to bе; their borders will stretch out to the Black Sea and from there through the world. Hungary, these nations, and an area of Poland and Russia will bе participants in this new civilization; from the northwest, this spirit will go over Europe, which lies in sleep, and make it subservient to this spirit. This all lies ahead, and must one day happen; but how? When? Through whom?”
Johann Gottfried Herder,
Journal meiner Reise im Jahr 1769
In 1963 a young talented Ukrainian poet and dissident Vasyl Symonenko died in Ukraine at the age of 28 under suspicious circumstances. For his profoundly symbolic and insightful poetry about national and universal human values, he was consistently hounded by both the Soviet Russian KGB and state literary censors. Much of his poetry was either banned in the Ukrainian SSR or distorted by censors, but widely circulated clandestinely in its original version as “samvydav” (“self-publishing”) among the people — eventually reaching the West.
In one of his poems V. Symonenko wrote the following telling lines about his homeland in the still distant future:
“Ukraine — thou art a prayer to me,
Thou art my heartbreak everlasting…
A battle thunders now across the world
For thy life, thy right to be.”
Symonenko’s feelings, concerns and poetic vision about Ukraine’s historic struggle have already materialized, while the key questions posed by Herder are being answered. These portentous existential events taking place in Ukraine in real time are now witnessed and shared by ALL Ukrainians and, indeed, by the ENTIRE WORLD.
Oleh Romanyschyn, Ph.D.