The elites of the European Union who are running the show seem to have a contemptuous view of their fellow citizens. Russian media must be banned from the air waves lest the poor simpletons who call themselves Europeans be led astray by the Kremlin!
I submit that the people could not care less about the entire fuss over Ukraine at the ideological level of democracy versus autocracy, or civilization over barbarism. They care about their fuel bills, about rising costs at the supermarket check-out. Full stop.
This indifference to the military and economic warfare being led from Brussels is sad, though it may yet be reversed and shift towards street protests in the coming months. Not because of Russian propaganda, which is surely now nipped in the bud, but because the pain being inflicted on the population by the economic kamikaze political leadership through sanctions on Russia becomes unbearable here.
Continue reading “Just Half a Functioning Brain Will Suffice To See Through Propaganda”
I have taken my time preparing a commentary on Putin’s speech to the Plenary Session of the St. Petersburg Economic Forum last Friday, and I am well satisfied that this was the right decision. Others have written about the content and delivery of the speech. Still others have written about the Forum itself in its twenty-fifth anniversary, with a particular emphasis placed on the absence of foreign government leaders and of high level contingents of Western businessmen.
What I intend to do here is to go beyond these narrow constraints and to put the event in the broader context of several other important international developments that have occurred in the past few days, many of which are interrelated. They have barely received the attention they deserve in global media and I intend to make amends here.
The slogan of this year’s Forum was “A New World. New Possibilities.” Put another way, in terms well familiar to the Western business community, the logic here is not to let a good crisis go to waste but to react in a constructive manner that takes the economy and standard of living to new heights previously unattainable through import substitution, which is just another name for reindustrialization.
Continue reading “Right Between the Eyes: Putin to the West at the St. Petersburg Economic Forum”
As noted in my essay a couple of days ago, I returned home to Brussels from St. Petersburg, in two steps: by bus to Tallinn, followed by a forty-eight hour stay there before resuming my trip by plane. For reasons unknown, the only bus service to Tallinn departs Petersburg at an ungodly 6.30 am and the only direct flight from Tallinn to Brussels departs at the same ungodly hour. Hence, we decided to break the trip and allow for some recovery in between. This also provided an excellent opportunity to explore further the questions that arose on our brief stop in Tallinn on our way East: namely how to reconcile the country’s Russophobic notoriety at the national government level with the omnipresent Russian speakers on the streets of the Old Town and among all the personnel of the hospitality industry whom we encountered.
The New York Times regularly features Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas’ anti-Putin pronouncements as she vies with her colleagues in Latvia and Lithuania for leadership in the sanctions crusade. For its part, Russian state television airs footage of Estonians removing Soviet war memorials as proof of the hostile intentions of their neighbors.
The reality of relations between Estonia and the Russian World is more complex, as my little two days of exploration showed. But then again, as I knew well before this, though all three Baltic States are lumped together by Western media as a bloc in the EU that is and has long been pressing for anti-Russian policies, their domestic treatment of their Russian speakers differs greatly.
Continue reading “Estonia and the Russian World”
It has been my rule not to join the vast majority of my fellow political commentators at the scrimmage line in sterile debates of the one subject of the day, week, month that has attracted their full attention. Their debates are sterile because they ignore all but a few parameters of reality in Russia, in Ukraine. For them, ignorance is bliss. They do not stir from their armchairs nor do they switch channels to get information from the other side of the barricades, meaning from Russia.
I will violate this overriding rule and just this once join the debate over how Russia’s "special military operation" will end. Nearly all of my peers in Western media and academia give you read-outs based on their shared certainty over Russia’s military and political ambition from the start of the "operation," how Russia failed by underestimating Ukrainian resilience and professionalism, how Putin must now save face by capturing and holding some part of Ukraine. The subject of disagreement is whether at the end of the campaign the borders will revert to the status quo before 24 February in exchange for Ukrainian neutrality or whether the Russians will have to entirely give up claims on Donbas and possibly even on Crimea.
Continue reading “Gilbert Doctorow: How the War Will End”
In Volume II of my Memoirs of a Russianist: Russia in the Roaring 1990s, the diary entries which constitute three quarters of the book describe in considerable detail the musical and literary life of the country that I saw firsthand and in which I participated as sponsor in the name of my employers. Notwithstanding an economic collapse that was deeper than America’s Great Depression of the 1930s, Russia experienced a cultural renaissance, moving in new directions and bringing out great new talent that won over discerning cultural consumers the world over. My conclusion was that High Culture was, is and forever will be a distinguishing feature of Russia come what may in world affairs and in the domestic economy.
In this essay, I propose to examine how Russian culture is faring in the face of the new and dramatic challenges posed by Western sanctions and by the “cancel culture,” “cancel Russia” movements that are being fanned by Western media. They have resulted in the cutting of cultural ties at the intergovernmental level and also at the level of individual artists and individual symphony halls and opera-ballet theaters from both Russia and the Collective West.
Continue reading “The Impact of Western Sanctions on Russian Musical Life”
In my report on “Day Sixteen” of the Ukraine-Russia war a couple of days ago, I provided a brief summary of the opening segment of the 9 March edition of the Russian political talk show “Evening with Vladimir Solovyov.” I directed special attention to the words of Mosfilm Director Karen Shakhnazarov, who set the tone for an unusually grave discussion of war prospects and political stability within Russia.
However, I saved for separate discussion and did not mention one key point made by Shakhnazarov that was picked up by other panelists and became a general topic for discussion: that the Americans are doing everything in their power for this to be a long war and Russia must avoid at all costs following their playbook.
Continue reading “The Americans Want a Long War”