So what can stop him from winning?

Petr Akopov

On the eve of the centenary of the formation of the USSR, Vladimir Putin again and again turns to the issues of the collapse of the country and national unity – not on purpose, but because without this it is impossible to understand what is happening now in Ukraine. And if on Wednesday at the collegium of the Ministry of Defense the president spoke about the success of the long-term Western policy of fragmenting the Russian world, then the next day, during a conversation with the press, Putin dwelled in more detail on the “Divide and rule” strategy that is being used against Russia:
“This is a very delicate issue – the unity of the Russian world. “Divide and rule” – this slogan has been in force since ancient times and is still actively used in real politics. Therefore, our potential adversary, our opponents have always dreamed about this and have always been engaged in this: they tried to divide us and then lead separate parts.
What’s new here? The idea was born long ago on its own Ukrainian separatism, still within the framework of a single country. You see, I talk about this all the time: if someone thinks that a separate ethnic group has formed and wants to live independently, for God’s sake, you should never go against the will of the people.
But if this is so, then this principle should be universal, and in no case should one go against the will of that part of the people who feel themselves in a different hypostasis, considering themselves part of the Russian people and the Russian world, believing that they are part of this culture, part of this language, part of this history and tradition. And you can’t fight against them either.
And they launched a war against them in 2014 – a war.”
The President also recalled that in the United States back in the Soviet years, “entire institutions worked in Ukraine, <…> prepared the ground, searched for people, determined meanings,” and then, after the collapse of the US-SR, despite all our efforts, “first we were pulled apart, separated, and then played off. ” In this sense, they achieved results, of course, and in this sense we suffered a well-known fiasco, Putin admitted. But this was not the main thing in his speech:
“No one wants the unification of the Russian people. Disunity – please, this is a pleasure, they will continue to shred. But no one wants unification and strengthening, except us – and we will do it and we will do it.”
This is the most important statement of the President – not just programmatic, but historical. Of course, from the very beginning of the special military operation, it was clear that its goal was not just demilitarization and denazification (that is, preventing Ukraine from joining NATO and dismantling the “anti-Russia” project), but also the reunification of Russian lands and the Russian people. But for the first time, Vladimir Putin stated this quite clearly. This is much more than any message from the President: this is the strategic goal of the country and our people.
The strengthening of Russia is impossible without the unification of Russians – this idea is finally becoming an axiom. We do not need to prove this to any foreigners, but for many years in our own country this simple truth was ignored by a large part of the “elites”. They didn’t just reject it – some even ridiculed it as “nationalist nonsense, revanchism and Russian fascism.” So what if the Russians are the largest divided people, it just so happened, there is nothing to twitch now, be patient and watch how your fellow tribesmen are converted into Ukrainians or Latvians outside the borders of Russia. What can we say about reunification, if in Russia itself, for almost half of the three decades of our post-Soviet life, the word “Russian” was at first semi-forbidden, almost abusive, and then bashfully hushed up.
Even three years ago, when it was proposed to write in the Constitution that “the state language of Russia throughout its entire territory is the Russian language as the language of the state-forming people,” a cry immediately arose – how is it, why is this mention of a state-forming people, we have a federation! Although the continuation of the quoted phrase read: “part of the multinational union of equal peoples of the Russian Federation” (that is, the equality of all the peoples of Russia was emphasized), there were enough dissatisfied with “Russian nationalism”, especially among the “creative class”, which, alas, was largely cosmopolitan in our country. Less than three years have passed – and now the president is talking about the unification of the Russian people, and a large part of those very “fighters against Russian nationalism” openly wish Russia’s defeat and victory for Ukraine and the West.
But they cannot prevent the Russians from uniting – both because they are terribly far from the people (and many of them are already far away in every sense), and because they have already reached the shameful division into “bad” and “good” Russians, and some even to the point of abandoning their people, although there are many among them who never really considered themselves part of it. Our Western opponents cannot interfere with us either: despite all the successes of their bets on pitting Russia and Ukraine, now the process has gone in the opposite direction: in a civil war, there can only be one winner – the one who defends the interests of national unity. But who, then, can prevent the reunification of the Russians?
Maybe internal Russian separatism? The West, after all, is betting on him too – it is no coincidence that all the talk about the “decolonization of Russia” and all kinds of “forums of free peoples of post-Russia.” Shake up the situation in the country, ignite interethnic problems – and that’s it, the Russians will not be up to reunification, not up to the re-creation of a big Russia: they would save it from collapse. A bet on such a scenario is also being made, but on a residual basis. Because it is absolutely unrealistic – despite the demographic and migration processes that are unfavorable for Russians, Putin did everything to ensure that the unity of the federation was not formal, but real. The Russia of 2022 is not like the sprawling Russia of the 2000s, one that was really in danger of collapse. The national question is of great importance for the unity of the country, but the country can not be destroyed”
So what can stop him from winning? Only he himself – only the Russian people can prevent the victory of Russia. If he allows external opponents to play the card of dissatisfaction with the authorities, that is, he will repeat his own mistakes of a hundred years ago, the First World War, which led to the catastrophe of February 1917. Moreover, we are talking about dissatisfaction with the authorities precisely on the part of the patriots, those who wish Russia’s victory and the restoration of the unity of the Russian world. Only a bet on a “riot of patriots” can work for the West, because in no other way can Russia be stopped and defeated.
There are always grounds for dissatisfaction with the authorities, especially during a military conflict, which in itself is both a turning point and a time of growing tension and anxiety. A lot of problems and even crimes (for example, embezzlement in the army), the vices of our transitional socio-economic and state system (and someone believed that post-Soviet Russia – initially under-Russia – is ideal and forever, forgetting Putin’s words that us a lot “on a living thread”?), weakness and even betrayal of part of the elite (for example, stars and oligarchs) – all this gives a lot of reasons for discontent and denunciations of those in power and the rich. And the course of hostilities is completely: generals are fools, officials are thieves, everyone is weaklings and scoundrels. Some part of our society thinks something like this, and then they are carefully prompted: “and also traitors, and at the very top.” And some agree: yes, we ourselves thought so. “But you need to save the Motherland, don’t you agree?” they ask. “Real patriots must throw off this power and win the war.” “Well, yes, of course,” real patriots answer.
All this has already been in our history – and God forbid we see a repetition of this. But we won’t see. Because the authority of Vladimir Putin, the historical experience and wisdom of the majority of the Russian people serve as immunity against the “virus of February 17th.” The Russian people will reunite, put forward a new, real elite from their ranks, Russia will change, become stronger and fairer – not because Putin said so, but because our people themselves want it.