By Ellie Goldner
To understand the current Russian-Ukrainian crisis, you should bear in mind Winston Churchill’s attempt to define Russia as “a riddle, wrapped in mystery, inside an enigma.” To the vast majority of Americans, those words still ring true today, as very few of our countrymen know much about Russian culture or history other than czars, Cossacks, and caviar.
Until I enlisted in the Army as a Russian linguist, I had little clue about Russia, other than Moscow was cold in the winter. I spent over two years learning Russian and working as a voice intercept operator at two different duty stations. Later in my career I earned a master’s degree in Russian Area Studies from the National Intelligence University. To this day, I support government projects requiring that I survey Russian media to determine Moscow’s views on various world events. Given this background, I know a lot more about Russia than the average bear, and given our sad state of education, even the average bear knows more about Russia than the average American.
The first thing to grasp about Russia, Ukraine, and most of eastern Europe is that civilization came relatively late to that part of the continent, as the Romans never made it permanently past the Rhine River in Germany. This meant that for eastern Europeans there was no written language, no law, and no advanced technology, with western Europe enjoying a 1,000 year head start. When civilization did come to the various Slavic tribes, it arrived with Viking raiders, slavers, and traders, some of whom established the first Russian state in Kiev. In the early 13th century Kiev and the entire Russian plain was conquered and ruled by Mongols for well over two hundred years. Shortly thereafter, Ottoman Turks raided deep into present day Russia capturing several million slaves over the course of three centuries and burning cities to the ground, to include Moscow in 1571.
But most of the invasions of Russia came from the West, courtesy of Swedes, Germans, French, and Poles. The last such invasion, by the Third Reich and its allies, resulted in over 20 million dead, the vast majority Russian, Ukrainian, and Belarusian. Given its history of frequent invasions from the West, and the indescribable devastation wreaked by Hitler’s army, one can perhaps understand why Russian leaders take no chances when it comes to having potential invaders on its doorstep. We Americans have been blessed with no such history of repeated invasions and fail to grasp the seriousness of Russian security concerns.
To understand the Russian security mindset, one must understand two things. First, it was not only Germany that invaded Russia in 1941, but a coalition of willing partners eager to share in the spoils of a defeated Russia – Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, Finland, Italy, along with thousands of volunteers from western Europe. Second, the United States Secretary of State James Baker promised the Russians in 1990, although not as part of a formal treaty, that there would be no NATO eastward expansion if the Russians would allow German re-unification. Unfortunately, we did not keep that promise, and now NATO has expanded to the very border of Russia, recreating a similar alignment of forces as in 1941 and a feeling of betrayal by Moscow.
Why this intentional waving a stick by the West in the face of the Russian bear? The globalist financial oligarchy that rules the West view Russia as one of the few remaining obstacles in their quest for total domination of the non-communist industrialized world. While smaller countries such as Poland and Hungary may refuse to go along with the globalist woke agenda, they are for the most part inconsequential and easily ignored. On the other hand, Russia presents a totally different challenge. First, the Russian population is well over 100 million, most of whom have not been duped by the woke ideology currently infesting our institutions. The country stretches over 11 time zones and Moscow still maintains control of over 6,000 nuclear weapons. In a very strange turn of events, given the West’s abandonment of its history and Judeo-Christian heritage, the Russian people, having recovered from three generations of Communist ideology, now view themselves as the torch bearers of Christendom and European civilization. And are they wrong to do so?
While Russia may have recovered from its communist past, it has not quite come to grips with its imperial legacy, stretching back from the czars to the Soviet Politburo – which is why many Russians view Ukraine as “theirs” – an integral part of greater Russia. But in this case, they are wrong to do so, as the Ukrainians over the course of centuries developed into their own nation, although often under Russian control. Today the country is deeply and evenly divided. Those who live in western Ukraine (an area that had been under Polish domination on and off for centuries) are more focused in aligning with western Europe than they are with Moscow. While the western portion of Ukraine yearns for EU and NATO membership, the eastern portion of the country does not. Ukrainian membership in NATO, with the airbases, missile sites, and long-range artillery it would bring to Russia’s doorsteps, is a non-starter as far as Moscow is concerned.
This crisis offers a long-awaited opportunity for the globalist elites to weaken the Russian state and more importantly, its nationalist leader, Vladimir Putin. During the Boris Yeltsin years of the 1990s when Russia was enduring the aftermath of the breakup of the Soviet Union, the globalist leaders were set to pounce upon and divvy up the riches of Russia with the puppet Yeltsin presiding over the ruins. Their hopes were dashed with the ascendancy of Putin, who played the members of the Russian oligarchy off each other until he was the last man standing. Putin has remained firmly in power for over 20 years, but anything to weaken his position and assist in his removal from office is worth the price to the globalist oligarchy – even if it means risking confrontation with Russia.
If Russia manages to annex portions of Ukraine and secure a ceasefire in which Ukraine promises to no longer seek NATO membership, Putin will be viewed as an historic victor and savior. On the other hand, if Russia suffers a humiliating defeat, and somehow Ukraine manages to join NATO, then we in the US can expect some sort of payback from Russia, which feels betrayed by the West for breaking its promise on NATO expansion and for prodding Ukraine to do what Moscow views as totally unacceptable.
What form this would take is anyone’s guess, but Russia is a world class cyber actor and it has already demonstrated its ability in previous confrontation to shut down the power grid of its adversaries. To conduct such an attack on the US would cause an untold number of calamities that would paralyze sections of our country and cause civil emergencies on a massive scale.