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To End Ukraine War, Russia Must Confront Its Own Past

Posted on Saturday, October 15, 2022
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by Ben Solis
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AMAC Exclusive – By Ben Solis

As the war in Ukraine rages on, it is important for the West to understand that the seeds of this conflict were sown not just in the past few months or years, but in the last century, when a new world order was forged following the collapse of the Soviet Union.

The situation that the world finds itself in today bears many frightening similarities to the brinkmanship that defined the Cold War period. Last week, as Russian President Vladimir Putin threatened to escalate to the use of nuclear weapons in the Ukraine conflict, U.S. President Joe Biden said he saw “no reason” to meet with him, a sign that tensions are only likely to escalate in the coming weeks. In an opinion piece for the Washington Times, former U.S. Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich stated that he believes America is “in graver danger today of enduring a nuclear war than at any time in my lifetime.”

Other world leaders are concerned as well. Former Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte told the daily newspaper of Italian Bishops that the threat of nuclear war in Ukraine requires Europe and America to call for an international peace conference that would seek solutions to end the conflict. French President Emmanuel Macron has already bowed out in the face of the Russian threat, saying that France will not use nuclear weapons if Russia does.

Russian leaders, meanwhile, seem deadly serious about their willingness to deploy nuclear weapons on the battlefield. In a recent interview with Russia’s biggest newspaper, Komsomolskaya Pravda, Igor Nikulin, a former member of the United Nations Disarmament Committee, stated that nuclear attacks were justified because, although Ukraine is not a nuclear power, it is an “aggressor” against Russia. Retired Russian General Andrey Gurolyov, a member of the Duma’s Defense Committee, stated that the Kremlin believes Russia is not fighting against just Ukraine but against the West. Another Retired General, Anatoly Kulikov, the younger brother of the top Soviet military official involved in imposing Poland’s Martial Law in 1981, openly said that Russia’s existence depends on Moscow’s victory against Ukraine.

Renowned Russian politician and economist Grigory Yavlinsky, who under Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev was an architect of the economic alliance of post-Soviet states and is the founder of the opposition party Yabloko, has argued that this attitude on the part of Russian leaders – primarily Vladimir Putin – has deep roots in the years following the collapse of the Soviet Union and the subsequent failure of the new Russian state to emerge as a Western-aligned liberal democracy and free-market economy.

Yavlinsky points to three big mistakes that turned the short-lived optimism of the early 1990s into an enduring struggle for Russia.

First, Russia disrupted economic relations with former Soviet Republics, breaking decades of close bonds under the Soviet Union.

Second, counseled by Western economists, the Kremlin hurried its liberalization of the economy, boosting the annual inflation rate to as high as 2,600 percent in 1992. Yavlinsky refers to this as a “confiscation” of citizens’ savings, setting the country on a path to economic disaster and further straining relations with the West.

Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, the privatization of state-run enterprises resulted in the rise of immensely powerful oligarchies that remained loyal to the state. Impoverished by hyperinflation, ordinary Russians could not afford any property, whilst the Kremlin rewarded a few individuals for their unconditional support and loyalty, Yavlinsky explains.

This bizarre mix of relics of the Soviet-era command economy combined with bribes, fraud, and semi-feudal relationships with workers rooted in Russia’s pre-Soviet history created a new business culture antithetical to the ideals of free-market capitalism and democracy. Free and fair elections, an independent judiciary, and all the other hallmarks of a functioning democracy were threats to this system because they would challenge the existence of the state-aligned oligarchies.

Because of this, Russia failed to have a national conversation about what went wrong during the Soviet era and attempt to correct it. Instead of making, as a state, the judicial and political judgment that the 1917 Revolution was coup and acknowledging Bolshevism and Stalinism as a system of terror and evil, failed Soviet leaders – like Putin, a former KGB agent who has called the collapse of the U.S.S.R. the “greatest geopolitical tragedy of the 20th century” – began to re-consolidate power by stoking resentment against the West and whitewashing the long list of Soviet atrocities.

This lack of accountability for the Soviet era allowed Russian authorities to shape the public’s attitude toward that period, portraying it as a natural progression of Russian history worthy of continuity. In the early 2000s, Putin took power under the position that post-Soviet Russia is the successor of both the Russian Empire and the U.S.S.R.

After refusing to assess its political and legal past, Russia legalized the Communist Party, leaving a possibility for a neo-Stalinist regime to reemerge. The seizure of power via the falsification of elections, unconstitutional decisions, arrests of political opponents, political assassinations, and confrontation with Europe and the world followed.

Now, this political philosophy has translated into military action with the war in Ukraine. Alleging that Ukraine was a creation of the Russian state, Putin now says that Russia has the authority to determine the borders and independence of Ukraine.

It is unclear when the current conflict will end. Yavlinsky and a few other Russian opposition politicians are now openly calling for a cease fire and peace talks between the two countries. But unless Russia confronts the truth of its past and makes a commitment to real reform, not just a restructuring of old, failed systems, true, lasting peace will likely remain elusive.

Ben Solis is the pen name of an international affairs journalist, historian, and researcher.

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Esir
Esir
1 year ago

What ever happened to the great peace keepers of the demsocialist party?

PaulE
PaulE
1 year ago

So let me get this straight. The author somehow expected that after the Soviet Communist Party successfully spent several decades grinding the hearts, minds, bodies and souls of the Russian people into dust under the foot of totalitarian rule and the Soviet empire finally imploded upon itself, there was supposed to be some orderly, well thought out self reflection and accountability hearings / tribunals carried out by whatever little governance remained of the fallen Soviet Union and all the former slaves of the Soviet Union as to the myriad of crimes against humanity carried out by the Communist Party over those several decades? Seriously?

Russia and its former satellite slave nations were all badly broken after several decades of what amounted to despotic military rule under the Communist Party. Most people were just trying to cobble some semblance of a normal life together and the now liberated satellite countries, as well as Russia itself, were just trying to establish some sense of national order and relative stability once the Soviet Union fell apart. This is indeed the kind of academic pontification I would expect to hear from a tenured professor with no real world experience outside the classroom. Generally in the few times communism has completely collapsed after an extended period of time in a country and the people regain their freedom, there is the sort of scrambling for both survival and advantage as we’ve all seen from the fall of the Soviet Union. The type of national navel-gazing the author seems to demand in an exrremely chaotic environment is something that almost never occurs. People and newly freed countries are simply too consumed with how they are going to survive and prosper in the new environment they find themselves in.

The reality of the situation is Putin has long stated that he viewed the demise of the Soviet Union to be a tragic mistake. Something he intended to rectify one way or the other in his lifetime. What we have right now with regard to Russia and Ukraine is the result of one man’s desire, Putin’s, to try and start reconstructing the old borders of the Soviet Union. Putin saw his opening with a weak U.S. President in the White House and a weak and fractured EU. So he made a calculated gamble for a quick and decisive win in Ukraine and lost. Putin expected to largely annex all of Ukraine into Russia within a week or two. He under-estimated the will of the Ukrainian people to fight back, under-estimated the effectiveness of the weapons President Trump had provided Ukraine during his term in office and Putin over-estimated the quality and competency of his own conventional armed forces.

Now with the West providing some, but not all the required weapons to effectively repel the Russian troops (both Germany and Biden still refuse to supply any of the long range weaponry or aircraft that would make a decisive difference for different reasons), Putin find himself in a politically inconvenient situation. His future plans to reclaim other former Soviet satellite countries rests on a decisive win in Ukraine WITHOUT utterly destroying its value to him via either chemical or tactical nuclear weapons. Putin wanted Ukraine for its valuable agricultural and mineral deposits. Which would be worth trillions of dollars with the West’s push towards a green agenda. Both of which are badly needed to diversify the Russian economy that is solely dependent on oil.

So the off-ramp to all of this fighting is dependent on Putin. He made a bad strategic gamble for a quick win with no real resistence from Ukraine or the West and lost. Now he needs some political, face saving solution that allows him to claim victory, gives him something to show the rest of the world he didn’t gain nothing for all his efforts and still allows him to regroup and look for an easier target to attack next time. Of course the obvious solution for the world in all of this is simply for someone inside Russia to simply remove Putin from the equation altogether and that would solve all those other issues overnight. A new Russian leader could rightly claim that Putin acted against the will of the Russian people, that the new Russian government did NOT condone his actions and that all Russian troops would be withdrawn immediately. As a gesture to the West, Russia would promise to restart some natural gas deliveries to western Europe once its Nord Stream pipelines are repaired. That should convenice the EU leaders to NOT pursue damages against Russia, if they agree to this deal. The West will of course end up picking up the bill to rebuild and repair all the damages to Ukraine as part of any such deal. While it would make sense to demand Russia spend some of their massive oil revenues to aid in this rebuilding effort, most western political leaders are lousy negotiators. Anyway, this is far more than I initially intended to comment on this article. Enjoy the weekend.

Ron McGee
Ron McGee
1 year ago

Always believes that he is right and the world is wrong. This is typical socialistic thinking!  Vladimir Putin is just a madman, thinking that he is always right, and willing to go to any lengths to prove it. OK this is sad for Russia and sad for the world, huh

Michael Starr
Michael Starr
1 year ago

It’s really a simple matter. If you are not willing to learn from the past and move forward, then the past will repeat itself as with the issue happening in Ukraine now. The Soviet Union was created by multiple countries joining Russia either by force or submission. Once the Soviet Empire collapsed and the satellite countries became independent Russia lost control of the region. Now again by force Russia is attempting to reform the Soviet Union and refusing to accept independence from their neighbor countries.

Keith Oldknow
Keith Oldknow
1 year ago

The question of penalties of enforcement for marijuana possession is a function of the individual State’s judicial framework. To federally co-opt this function suggests less than noble motives for doing so before an election.

PatriotSieds
PatriotSieds
1 year ago

To see what people write and think shows a great deal on how ill informed the American people, and journalists truly are. Ukraine has never declared its borders as required to be a part of NATO. By failing to do so Zalenski forced Putins hand. Then the atrocities found there due to the Nazi regime perpetrated by the Bidens influence, left the man no room for anything but clean house. The Donbas region is so corrupt it is un explainable. The murdered children and biolabs funded by our tax dollars should make every American Citizen hold our politicians accountable. Why our media is silent is beyond me. The film footage from Ukraine is 50-70% fake clips from other wars spliced to make it look real. There is very few areas effected do to the precision strikes used. Biden is getting all of us into WW3 to line his pockets. That is all this is about. Wake up people before you get a nuclear suntan.

David Millikan
David Millikan
1 year ago

We have 3 Children in 3 countries…
USA, Russia, and China that want to BLOW UP the WORLD with
NUCLEAR WAR.
Haven’t you learned anything yet?
You put Leaders in by MERIT.
NOT popularity.
You VET your candidates.
Remember, YOU are giving them access to NUCLEAR, BIOLOGICAL, and CHEMICAL WEAPONS to
LAUNCH.
The 2 MOST SCARIEST people in the WORLD READY TO LAUNCH NUCLEAR WEAPONS right this moment are; DICTATOR Beijing biden and Puddin’.
And right at this moment is MORE SCARIER than it was exactly 60 years ago today on this date 10-15-1962.
Welcome to the world of Socialist/Communist.

Bill T
Bill T
1 year ago

With such a pathetic and foolish president leading the free world we’re all in big trouble, economically, socially, heath system destruction, out of control crime, lawlessness, and possibly a nuclear disaster, it is truly unbelievable what this Marxist fool we have as a leader has caused in just a few short years. And it isn’t getting any better. GOD HELP US ALL.

Jeane
Jeane
1 year ago

The most crucial is “the judicial and political judgment acknowledging Bolshevism and Stalinism as a system of terror and evil”. Unfortunately neither Bush nor Clinton understood it. First war in Chechnya turned Yeltsin into illegitimate president as he invaded that independent country. Putin rose on that wave and launched the second war against Chechnya.

David
David
1 year ago

It was probably 1995 or a year later when I heard Dr Yavlinsky speaking at the Thatcher-office sponsored conference on economic strategies for former Soviet block. He explained the mechanism of that systemic corruption which this article synthesized with dexterity. Unfortunately by the end of the 1990s our media stopped report on this noble Russian politician, a man of great talent and integrity.

A few years ago, I found out from the declassified transcriptions of Yeltsin-Clinton talks, that Clinton’s people discouraged Yeltsin to adopt Yavlinsky’s privitization strategy and instead follow advice of our IMF’s economists.
What he says now about Russia should be published with bold print in our media. I am glad that I got this article.

GTPatriot
GTPatriot
1 year ago

So now the USSR dimwit Putin is sending drones into Ukraine. I thought a year ago that Putin was a person who had a sense of international politics. Now its clear that mentally he is very limited and is a criminal. He does not understand the world and is only concerned with his own fantasies.
Sad really because the only way to end this is to take substantial property from these Communist
dimwits. Russia must be reduced in size and its best probably to take its petroleum lands which,
I think, is all they have. The Russkies really don’t have much to take that is worth having.

GTPatriot
GTPatriot
1 year ago

The problem in Russia , as in all terriorist run nations ( there must be 40 of them) is that the
citizenry does not have the will to overthrow their oppressors. Why should I care if they cannot’
help themselves ? The US ( not america. Do NOT call me an american. Venezuala is part of america) is about to become one of the 40 because I don’t think we have the capacity to overcome
our Communist oppressor.

GTPatriot
GTPatriot
1 year ago

This is now a prime time for a US occupation of Russia. Piece of cake. We need to put at least
10,000 troops there in order to establish and retain order. The best action this nation ever took was placing a dominant military base in Nazi Germany 76 years ago. The world sees the resultant
peace and order that occurred. We are a nation with the obligation to command peace everywhere.
It is our duty. The Chi-coms are next. How do we establish a peace force in China. Lets get it
done.

Mark
Mark
1 year ago

Thank you, Paul E and David, for your comment. I tried to reply directly to Paul E and David’s, but I failed. I enjoyed your comments as I did reading this article.

Until 1997 I lived between Vienna, Nurnberg, and later Chemnitz, and occasionally traveled to Sankt-Petersburg. I remember Central Europe’s and our economists’ debate on forms of privatization as a strategy to acquire funding for debt servicing. In such a scheme, one could purchase public assets (some of which were in sound shapes, like the Rare Earth Metal Companies or Oil Companies) for a proverbial one dollar. This privatization had a demoralizing effect on the majority of the population, which was pushed to poverty. Yes, IMF advised this strategy founded on the so-called Washington Consensus, the reforms package, which included a “neutral interest rate” that contributed later to Russia’s sovereign default.

At that time, that is, I think in 1996 or 1997, Dr. Yavlinsky, who opposed this reform opposed it since the beginning, proposed a compensatory tax that would prevent the mess of renewed socialization (confiscation by the state) and re-privatization, proposed by the Communist Party.
Unfortunately, IMF vetoed it, and Clinton’s Treasury recommended Yeltsin preserve the status quo. Professor Richard Pipes criticized Clinton in his essay in Foreign Affairs in 1998.

Kudos to Amac for publishing this article which delves much more in-depth than anything I read in media. I am glad my friend recommended it to me.

I wish President would deliver his address on his Russia strategy with clear objectives explaining how he would achieve them. The weapon transfer by itself, even with some intelligence, is not sufficient. We need a long-term strategy and eventually plan for approaching Russia. Perhaps, he should invite Dr Yavlinsky? As I understand, Putin talked to Yavlinsky (that is not to say he accepted his advice) at least by 2021.

Rhoda
Rhoda
1 year ago

I value the Comments section … Especially the two separate [informative] comments from PaulE.

Morbious
Morbious
1 year ago

I sure hope sniffys handlers dont fancy a shooting war with russia in order to influence the coming elections. They wouldnt do that, would they? Wouldn’t our military leaders refuse such orders?

Casey C Matt
Casey C Matt
1 year ago

My God………..AMAC has a semi decent road side service program but they really need to stop being another talking head for the American military industrial complex.
Note the Russian individuals quoted concerning nuclear weapons. Not a SINGLE person currently in power in Russia. The Russian President Putin has stated ONLY that nuclear weapons would be used solely in response to “the other side” using them…..a policy America at least used to follow until we got tainted with President Crap Pants.
I know the western world has been banned from viewing Russian news…..but if you go to Rumble or Telegram you can view info directly from Russia without the American propaganda filter.
And no…..in case it again becomes the “narrative of the day”, there is no “yellowcake” urainium in Russia so no, we dont’ have to go and murder another quarter million citizens as we did in Iraq and Afghanistan. Strange how the MIC always has to be at war with some country. Gotta keep Raytheon fat and healthy after all. Gotta keep Pelosis stock portfolio making 50% ROI

CassCowgirl
CassCowgirl
1 year ago

Or, we could confront our part in this mess. The CIA arranged the color revolution in 2014 under obama. The 4 areas in the west of Ukraine voted and asked to rejoin Russia at that point and Putin said no. But when VP kamela showed up in Ukraine publicly urging them to join NATO, something Putin has said is a red line, then Russia moved. Russia has been very clear for a long time what are considered red lines. Just like we wouldn’t appreciate China taking over Canada any more than they already have. Russia’s policy is to only use nukes defensively. There was a peace agreement between Russia and Ukraine a couple of months ago. Boris Johnson showed up and squashed it. Why would that be I wonder? Russia approached the Xiden regime back in Dec or so of last year about working out a treaty. The Xiden regime wouldn’t meet. We send money and weapons (between supporting Xiden’s illegal aliens and Ukraine there isn’t going to be a middle class in America) to Ukraine and we don’t think Russia will view us as enemy combatants?

Patriot Will
Patriot Will
1 year ago

Of course, Biden should meet with Putin to help end the slaughter of Ukrainians. However, Biden lives in a simple world of black and white, because his brain is barely functioning. Biden is seriously compromised — ethically, physically, emotionally, and mentally. It’s so sad that our country does not have more outrage against Biden’s incompetence and chronic telling of falsehoods. It’s so scary to have a fake president and fake person, fake leading our great country.

johnh
johnh
1 year ago

Ukraine is being hit with some of the worst crulity the world has ever seen. The murder of men,women,& children is wrong & now Russia is working at stopping energy sources so that these innocent Ukrainians will suffer worse when winter comes. Cannot believe any country can be so coldhearted in year 2022. The UN & NATO need to be relligned with a goal to total world peace by all nations. Pray with me for help from above.

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President Joe Biden departs after speaking at the NAACP Convention, Tuesday, July 16, 2024, in Las Vegas, Nevada.

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