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It“s been eight years already since Russia has been waging a war against Ukraine. This spring”s 24th of February saw the shelling of peaceful cities far behind frontlines. It was the beginning of a new invasion — the war was then full-scale.
Russia has been committing genocide since the onset of the invasion. It has systematically approved and used tortures and rape of civilians [1,2,3]. Russia operates the network of filtration camps, forcibly deports ukrainians deep into Russian territory and takes their children away for “russification”. Russian government forcibly mobilize ukrainians and use them as cannon fodder against their own people.
The non-selective shelling of civil objects committed by Russia is an inherent part of its strategy and such cases are not some coincidental excesses. More than 10 million people are refugees now and whole cities have been wiped from the face of the earth. Tens of thousands of civilians have died.
The cause of the invasion lies in political and ideological dimensions. [1,2] Not just the elites, but majority of Russian society has been supporting revanchist ideas of making Russia great again and reclaiming “lost” territories.
All the military interventions of the latest 20 years (Chechnya, Georgia, Ukraine, Siriya, Libya, CAR, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan) haven’t met any significant public condemnation or backlash, quite the opposite is true — these acts have improved the ratings of approval of Putin and his government.
Russian state ideology is built upon the idea of confrontation with the West and imaginary superiority over periphery countries and it is shared by the majority of population. Russian political influence in the neighbouring regions and beyond adds up to the support of particular dictators and autocrats, far-right movements and convictions: patriarchal attitudes and misogyny, homophobia, the nationalism of “state-constituting nations” and autocracy. [1,2,3,4,5,6,7]
Besides direct military interventions, Russia supports simmering conflicts and fuels new ones to its benefit. [1,2,3,4,5]. This influence does not only cause countless victims, it directs whole societies towards nationalisms, autocracies and militarisation. Positive social and often economical changes are less and less possible under such circumstances .
All this “splendor” was supported by Western countries and capital for many years. The very basis of Russian economy is trading hydrocarbons to Western Europe. From the onset of contemporary Russia cheap natural gas was much more important than the motto about “European values”. NATO and conservative politicians found it comfortable to have a bogeyman that helped to mobilize electorate and raise funds for military projects.
Leftists have been supporting the anti-imperialist (aka “anti-USA”) agenda, while right-wing parties were directly nurtured by Kremlin. Businesses were busy cultivating new markets and scaling up their profits. Those were Western companies who’ve been filling the gaps in the decaying post-Soviet infrastructure. Key spheres of the economy were thus provided with lacking technologies and equipment. [1,2,3,4,5]
It was not only Russian propaganda which was developing the myth of Russia as a strong and dangerous player, who should not to be confronted. Western media also hepled to maintain it. Regardless of this well-spread misconception, Russia is a weak and economically dependent state. Despite its huge amounts of natural resources, without economic ties with Western world Russia is unable to keep its head above the water.
For many years Russian military were considered the second power in the world. But real full-scale military actions proved that its potential was largely overestimated.
Russian Armed Forces simply do not have enough precision weapons and trained fighters to conduct complex operations. The “creeping barrage” tactics, which entails massive casualties and destruction, remains the main means of advance. Soldiers and officers will commit war crimes not just to sow fear among ukrainians, but also just because they are unable to fight any other way. There is all the more reason for this as the majority of Russian society is either passive or supportive of genocide of ukrainians.
The whole Russian political system is closed in upon Putin and his clique. The big capital is spread among loyal elites, who do not possess their own political relevance and have to look up to Kremlin on all significant matters. Speaking about officials and siloviki (army, police, security service etc.), the natural selection among them for a long time have been carried out on the basis of loyalty and lack of initiative. One shouldn’t expect that within the present system there are some forces than could organize an upheaval or even less stop the war in the near future.
The Russian society was living a normal life up until the mobilization announcement. Even such extremities didn’t cause serious public protest, and the following surge of sabotage actions was also not significant.
Even if the established opposition is now verbally against the war, they share a widespread mindset of state power restoration. Even now they are concerned with power struggle more than with antiwar activity.
The grassroots antiwar movement is not to be ignored and should be supported by all means, but sadly one cannot count on its potential to stop the war in the foreseeable future.
A political system that evolved in Russia is founded on ressentiment and revanchism. This system implies a neverending pursuit of military expansion. There“s no hope that this system will soon change from within. That”s why if we want to stop this war and prevent new ones, we need to support Ukraine and consequently deprive Russia of ability to wage future wars.
The direct military confrontation between Russia and NATO countries could cause a nuclear war with unpredictable consequences. But one does not need to bomb Russia to deprive it of military potential — supporting Ukrainian resistance and economic sanctions is enough while complete embargo would be even better.
Unfortunately, the sanctions cannot have immediate effect, but they bear results. The Russian military-industrial complex is a direct successor to a Soviet one and mostly maintains and upgrades equipment, which was produced way back in the USSR era. It is unable to produce new armament en masse. Even maintenance is critically dependent on Western component supply, although for a while some work could still be done via previously accumulated resources.
The Russia army already experiences lack of shells and shortage of long-range missiles. They use 50-60's equipment and proved unable to put any really modern heavy equipment design (like SU-57 plane or Armata tank) into operation. Now they are frantically trying to buy any weapons from countries like Iran and Northern Corea. [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]
Those were 2014 sanctions that did not make it completely impossible, but significantly more difficult to cooperate with the RF in the area of military production. As we may see, after six months of war and from testimonies of direct participants of the events, the 2008-initiated modernisation of Russian army has failed. This fail was caused by sanctions, corruption and management inefficiency.
These are the factors that currently allow Ukraine to withhold Russian invasion and prevent more victims among civilian population.
If Russia had been seriously sanctioned back in 2014 or even 2008, and if societies and governments of EU had been less “pacifist” (that is to say pro-Russian) — this war could have probably been avoided altogether.
This reminds us that neither sanctions, nor embargo can reach effective scale without pressure from below. That is why we need to have public actions and the campaign for complete economic isolation of Russia.
Russia endorses conservative values, authoritarism and restrains any positive change wherever it reaches. Besides Caucasus, Middle East and Central Asia, Russia is broadening it’s presence in Nothern and Central Africa. And in doing so it relies primarily on military presence and aiding murderous regimes. Of course Russia is not alone in such activities, but the less military force would be behind the one of proponents of militarism and imperialism, the more possibilities for positive social change will open all over the world.
Defeat and demilitarisation of Russia will stop the war not only in Ukraine. Without support of Russia lots of far-right forces and movements in the world will weaken. Autocratic regimes will be forced to review their policies towards democratisation or cease to exist at all.
All resources poured into Russia support status quo i.e. war. This flow should be terminated. All economic links with Russia should be broken, whatever benefits they may provide.
We urge you to:
— find and spread the data regarding cooperation of your local businesses with Russian military-industrial complex (MIC). We’ll gather and publish information about such connections in every country and on transnational level
— make the presence of Russian capital and officials visible in your country. Squat the houses of Russian rich, attack their property, interfere with public speeches of persons affiliated with Russian state and capital. Don’t forget that RT (Russia Today) is a Russian state media
— stop ignoring the fact that there are enough of Putin' supporters not only among the right-wing forces, but also among the left. The discussion of these attitudes is long overdue, and now there is a chance to finally secede from this red-brown mold
— support Ukrainian resistance and refugees directly and/or via donations
The information is collected and analyzed by Media Resistance Group.