What is behind Russia’s hatred (and why it needs a bigger enemy than Ukraine)

from Marco Imarisio

The phrases against the US, the EU and NATO serve to build a heroic narrative in which the war is not a local conflict but a battle against all the great powers

At the entrance, the few visitors were greeted in a dark room by the sinister noise of an approaching plane followed by that of falling bombs. Welcome to the Nato exhibition, chronicle of crueltywhich after being housed for over a month at the Muscovite Museum of Modern History, now becomes itinerant.

We’ve been there twice, and there really wasn’t much to see. A case that contained a black helmet with Nazi symbols and beside it the plaque of the Azov battalion, a unit of the Ukrainian army that uses the weapons supplied by the Atlantic Alliance against our soldiers, an American flag. On the walls the posters and photographs of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and moreover at the time NATO did not yet existthe more recent ones of some burning buildings in Belgrade and Kabulinterspersed with images of children crying in despair under the flag of the European Union.

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It seemed an impromptu initiative, an improvised piece of support for the Special Military Operation, which instead became a sign of the times, with the captions reworked each time in a pejorative sense, to the point of suggesting a simile between Hitler and the NATO symbol of the West. Now this exhibition will be replicated in every region of Russia, organizers said, explaining how the suggestion came from the authorities, until it became permanent.

It therefore matters little that Dmitry Medvedev has long been an embarrassment for the Kremlin. An anonymous channel Telegram who for months has been publishing credible news on Russian politics made it known on Monday, one day before his externalization about bastards and degenerates that the same Vladimir Putin is considering the final exit of his former protégé, despite the efforts made by the latter to regain lost positions by wearing the role of the extremist hawk. The next destination could be the embassy of a South East Asian country, not before having played the role of scapegoat for the decline in popularity of United Russia, Putin’s personal party of which Medvedev president, expected for the end of next autumn, when the economic crisis bites its strongest. A woman could go instead of him. Perhaps Putin’s youngest daughter, Katherina Tikhonova, is pawing for a political future.

What matters today are the words of hatred towards the West. Although disconnected, Medvedev’s phrases nonetheless give voice to an increasingly widespread sentiment, which by now has imbued the entire vertical of Putinian power with itself. So the question arises as to what could be the possible falling point of this Cold War climate. Deputy Duma spokesman Piotr Tolstoy, a deputy from United Russia, has no doubts. This time we will not go back. Our constituents are the first to ask us to create a Greater Russia with Ukraine, our Belarusian allies. Only in this way can we become the supporting beam of an alternative pole to the western one.

Alexei Fenenko, holder of the chair of International Security at the Lomonosov University of Moscow, proposes a more structured analysis. Every great military conflict changes, even if it does not necessarily destroy, the world order. The declarations hostile to the West concur to reshape the mass consciousness. Eventually, World War II will cease to be perceived by the Russians as their most extreme test. The Special Military Operation will be remembered not as a local conflict, but as the last war in which our Federation fought against all the other great powers. Alone, against the hostile world. Starting with Ukraine, presented as an appendage of the other powers, where the events of 2022 will in turn become a national myth on which entire generations will grow up who dream of a revenge against Russia. However it turns out for us, it will be a heroic narrative.

There is a method in this continuous raising of the bar of aversion towards the US, the EU and the UK. But it all comes from the awareness that every bridge was burned. Despite being in favor of the intervention last February 24, the three-star general Vladimir Shamanov, one of the highest commanders during the war in Chechnya, now a deputy in the Duma, has been greatly listened to by what little opposition is still possible. He argues that the only factor that still matters to him, time. It will take years to convince our people of the goodness of what we are doing. Ukraine is not such an enemy as to justify what is happening and it will take at least a decade to demilitarize Kiev. We need a bigger, more formidable one. That’s what the roar of those NATO planes is for.

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