Françoise Thom teaches Soviet history and international relations at the Sorbonne University in Paris, France. In September 2023 she wrote an article entitled “The Second Front.” The annotation reads as follows:

“According to historian Françoise Thom, Russia has not renounced its original plan to install a pro-Russian government in Kyiv. In pursuit of this goal, not only Ukrainian people are the target of an operation of psychological war, but decision-makers circles in Washington and European capitals are being infiltrated and manipulated. Convincing the Ukrainians that Western support for Ukraine is shaky, discouraging Ukrainians from fighting to victory is now a priority for the Kremlin.”

Thus the “ride” offered to President Zelensky at the beginning of Russia’s full scale “special military operation” should be viewed as something less than a benevolent gesture. Further back, in February 2014, the Obama White House’s admonition for Ukraine to not confront the “little green men” in Crimea should be reconsidered as less than genuine concern for Ukrainian lives.

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Perhaps most importantly, the current cooperation between American and Ukrainian intelligence should be a cause for alarm. America is not an honest broker. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov is said to communicate with CIA Director William Burns or his surrogates on a regular basis.

Humanizing the Enemy: In Pursuit of ‘Good’ Russians
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Humanizing the Enemy: In Pursuit of ‘Good’ Russians

It’s easy to relegate Moscow’s aggression against Ukraine to the ambitions of a single evil man. Too easy. But evil, in this case, is less top-down than ground-up.

Françoise e Thom writes:

“We now understand why Putin chose the term ‘special military operation’ to designate the war of annihilation of the Ukrainian nation that he planned to wage in that country. The idea was to fool not only the Russians, but also the Americans. It is also clear why Putin literally grew wings after this meeting, to the point of issuing the infamous ultimatum to NATO. Burns had practically given him ‘carte blanche’ to attack Ukraine, provided he did not attack NATO countries. This disgraceful episode did not prevent the Americans from relaunching ‘back-channel diplomacy.’ Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov met for several hours in April [2023] in New York with Richard Haas, a former diplomat and outgoing president of the Council on Foreign Relations, European expert Charles Kupchan and Russian expert Thomas Graham, both former White House and State Department officials and members of the Council on Foreign Relations.”

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There is a rationale behind this maneuvering – if Russia does not win the war In Ukraine, Putin’s regime will collapse and there will be chaos in Russia, a country with the second largest nuclear arsenal. America does not want this.

According to Professor Thom, “This theme had already worked admirably in 1991, when the West [President George H.W. Bush] fearful of chaos, did everything in its power to keep Gorbachev’s head above water and dissuade the nations of the USSR from proclaiming their independence.”

This is known as “blackmailing with chaos.” The fall of the Putin regime may lead to the demise of the Russian Federation and the inherent aspirations to freedom by the constituent nations currently enslaved. This equation has to be neutralized by a renewed tale of the good Russians. This, despite the fact that historically “good Russians” such as Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn were, despite their dissent, Russian chauvinists. A deeper analysis of the Russian soul is never addressed. Putin’s election, while certainly neither democratic nor free, was certainly an expression of the will of the Russian people.

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“Lately, the theme of Russia’s apocalyptic collapse in the event of military defeat has become the obligatory commonplace of all experts. Russians from the establishment, theoretically anti-Putin Russians from the diaspora, and Western observers with a propensity to be influenced by Russian analyses, even when these observers are critical of Putin’s policies.”

The notion of the good Russians prevails with American intelligence and such institutions dominated by American intelligence as the Council on Foreign Relations. There are Ukrainian-Americans affiliated with the Council and directly with American intelligence. Some have prominent roles in the Ukrainian-American diaspora.

Professor Thom concludes:

“The plan is to demonstrate the power of the pro-Russian lobby and the party of Western appeasers mobilized by the Kremlin for this purpose in the West... In this vein Pope Francis tops the list. He did not know better than to praise Russian imperialism before the young believers of Saint Petersburg: ‘You are the heirs of Great Russia, never forget this heritage.’ Such is the gigantic psychological war machine deployed in Russia that Westerners and Ukrainians alike must be aware of this. Once the Kremlin’s objectives and modus operandi are understood, the game can be won. On the battlefield too.”

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We have been warned!

The views expressed in this opinion article are the author’s and not necessarily those of Kyiv Post.

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