What would you think of a crew in a bar shouting that they are going to destroy the place, beat up all the guests and staff, but only two get up to do it? Wouldn’t you look with disgust at that crew breaking plates and throwing food because the service is bad, while at the same time picking through their wallets because they know they will have to pay for everything, then keeping quiet when the waiter comes with the bill?
You’ve got a picture of today’s Russian society.
They would raze Kyiv to the ground, but only one in four would respond to the mobilization. Everyone supports the invasion of Ukraine, but everyone fears the consequences of that invasion – human casualties (90 percent), economic problems (80 percent) and international isolation (70 percent). Almost half call for more missile attacks on Kyiv, but even more call for peace talks. And, of course, almost everyone thinks that the Ukrainian government is occupied by Nazis, that the Ukrainians are responsible for the destruction of their people, and that everything the Kremlin says is true.
We didn’t ask them what they thought. For five months now, a research team from Princeton University, one of the most respected in the world, has been conducting a survey using cutting-edge techniques and methods of sociological research. How would you treat such people? Would you find them likable, or would you at least be sympathetic to the general confusion they find themselves in, mixed with murderous aggression and cowardice at the same time?
Missile strikes on the center of Kyiv, including boulevards and children’s playgrounds, was the Russian response to the attack on the Kerch Bridge. Russian President Vladimir Putin confirmed this. The missile revenge was celebrated in Moscow and throughout Russia, despite the attacks not bringing them any military advantage.
On state TV channels (others do not exist), analysts and politicians competed in showing enthusiasm, but also threatened further revenge. Kremlin analyst Bogdan Bezpalko called for the strikes to continue without interruption for the next two to five weeks, to plunge Ukraine “into cold and darkness.” Deputy in the Duma Alexander Kazakov complained because the action stopped.
These people and their audience, as in the analogy at the beginning of the text, would like to destroy Ukraine but also stay at home, and would like to go to war, but also keep their refrigerators full and their families together. They look forward to revenge on the innocent, which simply masks defeats on the battlefield.
Exposing Russian failures
According to Phillips Payson O’Brien, Professor of Strategic Studies at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, the Oct. 8 Kerch Bridge explosion in Crimea showed how Ukraine is winning its war against Russia. The action had strategic military significance – it targeted the supply line of the Russian occupying troops. However, Putin’s Oct. 10 missile revenge attack showed how Russia is losing. Its retaliation was pointless and served only to show Ukraine its anger and muscle to mollify nationalist hard-liners incensed over Russia’s recent defeats in Ukraine (O’Brien).
The joy in Russia after the missile retaliation against Ukraine was reminiscent of the celebrations in Afghanistan and Pakistan after the attacks on the New York Twin Towers and the Pentagon in 2001. Then and now, the killing of innocent people and the destruction of cities and their vital systems on which the existence of the population depends, was celebrated. By the way, all of the above are war crimes.
Both in 2001 and today, attacks on non-military targets represent a consolation prize for heavy defeats in real war – compensation for defeats in a man’s fight. They represent the short-lived joy of the depressed, whose dreams of power have been shattered. That is why many more missile attacks on civilians are being demanded in Russia, because that is the only way they know to restore the illusion of superiority and divert thoughts from heavy defeats on the real front. Only revenge against civilians makes them forget thousands of dead Russian soldiers and fear of mobilization and poverty.
Test of rational thinking
We might be able to understand this kind of escape from reality, even at the cost of celebrating innocent victims and destroying city centers, with the help of medical science. But even that could not help us understand the same behavior of those in Serbia who celebrate Russian “achievements” during the two days of destruction of Kyiv and other Ukrainian cities. There are many of them, on social media, even on national television. These should be people who personally experienced everything that Ukrainians experienced at the beginning of the week in the center of Kyiv, Lviv and Odesa, while going to work and taking their children to school.
For 23 years, they have been swearing at NATO and bombing Serbia, and there should be some understanding for them because those must have been the most difficult days in their lives. But how is it possible for them to change sides in just one morning and cheer enthusiastically for Putin and his missiles raining on Ukrainian cities and civilians. Is there a name in medical science for this kind of syndrome? Let the experts elsewhere judge it.
For Serbia and its people, Putin’s missile revenge is perhaps the final test not only of rational political thinking, but much more – a test of humanity and solidarity with the victim. The Russian war leader has shown more clearly than ever the barbaric nature of his action in Ukraine. He did it out of anger and helplessness, at a time when his occupying army was suffering defeat after defeat, and the hawks in the Kremlin were circling over his head.
Does such a man and such barbarism really deserve the support of a single person from Serbia if, for no other reason, because of the memory of 1999?
Every new day of support for Putin’s Russia deprives Serbia and the people who support Russia of the right to talk about 1999 – a time when they were victims. Today, only cowards and bullies support Putin, the greatest of them all.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s and not necessarily those of the Kyiv Post.
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