Olena Stadnik, ARC expert, culturologist
Colleagues, we need to talk seriously. It started from the Crimea. There is a possibility that It will end in the Crimea. When I collected expert comments, everyone asked a clarifying question: “What exactly is This?”.
What we have: Putin said that Moscow is ready to use nuclear weapons to protect the “territorial integrity” of Russia. He also talks criminally about the occupied Ukrainian lands.
The head of the German Federal Intelligence Service, Bruno Kahl, believes that the case may lead to the use of “sub-strategic nuclear weapons” on the territory of Ukraine. Kahl stressed that losing the war in Ukraine could “constitute an existential threat to Putin’s rule”. However, he noted that his service has no evidence that Russia plans to use strategic or tactical nuclear weapons.
“For the first time since the Cuban missile crisis, we have a direct threat of the use of nuclear weapons, if in fact everything continues to develop in the same direction”, Reuters quotes U.S. President Biden. There are rumors that bomb shelters are being checked in Moscow.
Comments on the “Dozhd” TV channel during one of Putin’s speeches: there is no more world architecture of law. And if there is no God, everything is allowed. The fictional world will not leave him. It seems that Putin will now declare war on the United States. Food, energy crisis, the collapse of all structures – the war will write everything off. At this time, Putin exclaims: “Do we want to have here, in our country, in Russia, instead of mom and dad, there was a parent No. 1, No. 2, No. 3 ??!”. But this is the rhetoric of Ugandian dictators of the 60s, the anti-colonial leader who unites around him third world countries that are fighting “liberal Satan”.
At the same time, Okhlobystin criminally acts as Putin’s holy fool on Red Square: “It is correct to call this a holy war! There is such an old Russian interjection: “Goyda!”, Meaning a call for immediate action. How we miss these battle cries now. Goida, brothers and sisters, goida! Fear, old world, devoid of true purity, true wisdom, ruled by madmen, perverts, satanists. Be afraid, we’re coming, goyda!”
Does anyone remember the oprichniki? The repressive guards of Ivan the Terrible. “Goida” is their call. The postmodernist Sorokin in 2006 in his story “The Oprichnik’s Day” described the year 2028 – a big Russian Wall, the state is completely isolated, the country is bogged down in repression and corruption, covered up by “patriotism”. In his book, guardsmen shout “Goyda” not only during massacres, but also, for example, during a homosexual orgy.
Ivan the Terrible also loved to listen to holy fools and to kill them personally, and therefore, in the event of some subsequent events in the fate of Okhlobystin, one should not be particularly surprised.
“In general, shouting “Goyda!” on Red Square – these are direct games with Satan,” Russian writer Dmitry Bykov reacted to this event.
They say that postmodernism is being replaced by metamodernism. Metamodernism is when we laughed so loudly that we choked. We cough, and it’s not funny anymore. When you are tired of being ironic, and it’s time to talk seriously.
In Kyiv, one of the most popular jokes since September is Schekavitsa Hill. This mountain of one of the three founding brothers of Kyiv – Schek. The main message is the existence of a secret chat in which people are planning an orgy on a mountain in the event of a nuclear strike. T-shirts are already on sale. “The orgy on Schekavitsa is the Ukrainian Burning Man,” they write on social networks.
I would say that we feel like we are sitting on top of Fukushima. And, “Gentlemen, you cannot fight here, because this is the Military Hall!”. Here, as in Kubrick’s film “Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb”, 1963, one mad general has already sent out a squadron of bombers with nuclear weapons. “We cannot recall the planes until we transmit a three-character code. It will take us two and a half days to go through 17,000 combinations, but the planes will enter the radar coverage area in 18 minutes.” As Stephen King once said, “God has a certain mercy on us. After all, only a couple of atomic bombs have fallen on the planet in the last 63 years.”
The ubiquitous irony is usually seen as a manifestation of depression. “Postmodern irony and cynicism have become an end in itself, a measure of sophistication and literary ingenuity. Irony no longer brings release, but enslaves. There is one cool essay where irony was compared to the song of a prisoner who fell in love with his cell, ”said David Foster Wallace. So, jokes aside. Let’s get back to this ..uking Ivan the Terrible.
Doctor of Cultural Studies Ruslana Demchuk: “I would talk about Putin’s imperial consciousness and build a semantic line: Ivan the Terrible – Peter I – Stalin – Putin. The imperial consciousness is primarily religious, because the ruler is equal to God. God can organize the Apocalypse, it is written in the Gospel.”
It is an imperial consciousness with a religious connotation. In the Russian version, Orthodoxy is tsarist worship, it is pseudo-religiosity. Joseph Volotsky wrote “The Tsar is like all people by nature, but by power he is like the Most High God.” This is the era of Ivan III, when ideas are born that will later form the official ideology of the Russian state. This is the fall of the more Eurocentric and free Novgorod, and the formation of a state centered in Moscow.
At the same time, the myth begins to form that Moscow is a “reborn Constantinople”, the idea of “continuity” of the grand ducal power from the Roman emperors, who called themselves the descendants of not “some Greeks”, but precisely of the once world Roman Empire, matures. In the “Paschalia” of 1492, that is, the Epistle to Easter, Metropolitan Zosima of Moscow, called Moscow the “New Constantinople”. In the 16th century, this worldview was finally formulated by Philotheus: “Two Romes have fallen, Moscow is the third Rome, and there will be no fourth one”.
Ivan IV the Terrible became the first Russian tsar. The royal title has a divine nature. The king acquires a special charisma. Before people – he is God, and only before God – he is a man. He emphasized in his correspondence – “the actions of the king are not subject to human judgment”. That “the wrath and punishment of the Tsar is the wrath and punishment of God, and autocracy is a fact revealed by God”.
“The king can shed as much blood as he wants – if he can” – this is their charisma. But if he can’t, the “Russian people” will ask the “God’s chosen” tsar for any slack, because “the person herself is sacred, and not the “position”. At the same time, an “opinion” is formed, which in 2015 will be pronounced aloud by the Russia’s minister of culture Vladimir Medinsky: “Ivan the Terrible is a direct descendant of the Roman emperor!”
Do you understand what megalomania we are talking about? Then comes Peter I – he did not “steam” at all, he abolished the patriarchate in 1721 and actually took over the functions of the head of the church. Writer Dmitry Bykov also notes that Putin, as an “ideal ruler,” at one time called Catherine II, then Peter I. According to Bykov, these are the rulers who showed “the doom of the thaws under totalitarian rule”. Stalinism was practically a quasi-religion in itself.
So, in the 16th century, no one will “slow down” Ivan the Terrible, so in 2022 we need to somehow hint to Putin that he is not God. As I understand it, in 2014 Merkel already tried, but came to the conclusion that he had lost touch with reality and was in a “different world”.
And, yes, according to Ruslana Demchuk, God can afford to arrange a nuclear apocalypse. “He`s God.” “Just read the Revelation of the Apostle John the Theologian, everything is written there,” she says.
I’m even afraid to open the book, but I think that when Putin looks at himself in the mirror, he says something like: “The great day of His wrath has come, and who can stand? .. and the first angel blew, and the second angel blew… I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the First and the Last.”
I once vacationed in Egypt and accidentally stumbled upon “Russia Today”, and so there, congratulating people on Christmas, Putin “softly hinted”: “Why do we need such a world if Russia is not there?”.
I’m not pushing, there is a good point. Residents of those countries where social networks are not banned will be able to admire the nuclear apocalypse online. Hiroshima and Nagasaki have been around for a long time. In Stanley Kramer’s 1959 film “On the Beach”, which was a reaction to the fear of nuclear war, there are poignant shots of the deserted streets of San Francisco viewed through a periscope by a submarine commander. But imagine these frames in color in our Telegram chats! Only if Kramer’s streets are clean, then we will have to watch the death of the world with pornographic hyperreality – seeing every convulsion in close-up.
And as for me, Sidney Lumet is completely in vain to criticize for his film “Fail Safe” in 1964. The plot is of course taken from Kubrick, but the beauty of the game!
“What will all this look like? Who will survive? It seems to me that prisoners and officials will survive. Moreover, the most dangerous prisoners from the most distant solitary cells and the most ordinary officials from the big insurance companies. Imagine what happens – a group of notorious bandits will start a war with an army of officials for access to vital resources. Violence is on the side of the criminals, but the officials have organization. Who do you think will win?” says Professor Groteschel, played by actor Walter Matthau.
To which one of the heroines replies: “You were joking about prisoners and officials, right? Because you know very well that no one will survive. Nobody! Absolutely. That’s the beauty. People are afraid to call her that, but that’s what they feel. We all know that we will die. But you make a game out of it, a great game that involves the whole world. And you make death fun.”
Let us remind the entertainment of Ivan the Terrible? One of his favorite types of execution is “sheathing a bear” – sewing up a convict in a bearskin and then bullying him by the dogs. Ruslana Demchuk also notes that Peter I did not adhere to the norms of Christian behavior, brutality, Dionysianism, and personal participation in torture were recorded. Stalin also “loved to joke”.
The Soviet leaders also tried to “joke” with the nuclear threat, who drove the people of Kiev to the “May Day demonstration” in 1986 near the burning reactor of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, and lied to the world that “everything is under control.” Children who waved red flags in May 1986 later, already in independent Ukraine, were treated for a long time in Crimean health resorts from the consequences of the Kremlin’s “nuclear jokes”.
“Nuclear jokers” built the Crimean nuclear power plant until 1990 in the Eastern Crimea, right on the seismic collapse, so that there would always be light in the rocky bunkers of the USSR’s Black Sea Fleet. Their successors are now pulling wires to the same bunkers from the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant, which was seized by the aggressor, putting the region on the brink of nuclear contamination.
And at this point, it is worth quoting Russian publicist Vladimir Pastukhov, his post of October 10 this year: “If this whole apocalypse in manual mode [we are talking about violence in Ukraine] does not give a tangible military result, Putin will find himself alone in a room with the only remaining patron in a revolver – nuclear. He will have a choice – to shoot and go to heaven with everyone else or not to shoot and go to heaven alone. Something tells me he’s inclined towards group travel. And then those last 24 hours will come, in which only everything will be decided.”
Khrushchev once shouted in the direction of Konrad Adenauer: “This is a man who has completely lost his mind. Not a single sane person can approve in our time of rocket and nuclear technology to violate the sovereignty of states, therefore, to provoke military conflicts that can break out into a catastrophe for peoples. A mentally handicapped person is capable of this. He should have been put in a straitjacket long ago and put in a lunatic asylum.”
To be honest, the standard suggestion of reprisal for the Soviet era is to shove someone into a psychiatric hospital. But in this case, it would be nice if someone forwarded the YouTube link of Khrushchev’s speech to Putin. Although the last deep nuclear crisis was just thanks to Nikita Sergeevich.
“We were hours, if not minutes away from a real war. It’s good that we didn’t realize it then. There would be panic,” said Vladimir Pozner in his film “The Caribbean Crisis. Approaching the truth”. According to him, it was an adventure of the USSR, which could end in disaster. And you can look for arguments in favor of certain decisions, arguments, but not justifications. Posner thinks this is a story about how when it comes to the very edge, people can agree. His film says that the people should control the government – this is the only way to avoid disaster. “If the power is uncontrolled, there is a Caribbean crisis.”
In 1962, Khrushchev began a meeting in the Kremlin with the words “We in the Central Committee decided to give America a hedgehog: to place our missiles in Cuba so that America could not swallow the island of Liberty. There is the consent of the Cuban side.” A total of 184 voyages were made by 85 ships of the merchant fleet from the USSR to Cuba. Khrushchev and Kennedy then agreed. Since then, all we have done is that we are afraid of nuclear war. I think Putin decided to take advantage of this fear of the end of the world.
Interestingly, in all American films there are reflections of the type: it is not known exactly which state started a nuclear war, that the enemy is “the present century, the nuclear age”, the Americans also have a lot of satire about the confrontation in power, in films there are people who are also in one way or another is given the right to speak. This is a discussion of culture and government, I have not seen anything like it in Russia.
In recent years, it has been customary to see the nuclear threat in states that unofficially possess nuclear weapons. In 2022, everything has changed. Russia, one of the signatories of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons since 1969, has itself become a terrorist country threatening nuclear weapons.
Novodvorskaya wrote that during the Yeltsin era, the cage was ajar, but society did not leave it. In 1991, a monument to Dzerzhinsky was dismantled in Moscow, and this year they celebrated the 145th anniversary of the birth of that Felix. And if in American films we see dialogue, discussion, we see officers who, out of a sense of duty, go against their generals, calling them Judas for the plan to start a nuclear war, then it is a very big question whether such officers remained in Russia.
According to Oleksiy Garan, a professor at the National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, there is a big difference between the Caribbean crisis and the current situation. “We don’t have a bipolar situation. Ukraine is not in NATO. That is, we are not under the Western umbrella. If an attack is carried out against a NATO member country, it is absolutely clear that there will be a response. If an attack is made on Ukraine, it is not clear what the answer should be. Until February 24, the Western world believed that dialogue with Putin was possible. But Putin himself has raised the stakes so much that it is not clear how he can retreat. How should he react to the cruiser Moskva, the liberation of cities, the blowing up of the Kerch bridge? This is a direct humiliation of Putin. And now the leaders of all states should take this into account when planning. Putin’s decisions are often irrational, impulsive. Note that his reaction to military defeat is the destruction of the civilian population. Western leaders now have a colossal responsibility – how to stop it?
Aleksey Garan also notes that Putin uses Soviet symbols and Soviet stereotypes, but he relies more on the “greatness” of the Russian empire. And his rhetoric is more aggressive than the Soviet one.
“I declare a fight to the death against Great Russian chauvinism,” is a quote from Lenin. At least formally, even Lenin recognized the existence of Ukraine. What Putin said, for example, that Lenin created Ukraine, is generally a genocidal denial of Ukraine’s right to exist. In Soviet times, the fifth column was “nationality” in passports. It was written in our passports that we were Ukrainians.
According to the Constitution of the USSR, Ukraine was an independent state that voluntarily joined the USSR. Of course, they tried to destroy Ukraine, to Russify, but not directly. Of course, Levko Lukyanenko was sentenced to death, commuted to a prison term, for discussing the independence of Ukraine! But formally, Ukraine’s right to exist was recognized. Putin is returning to the traditions of the Russian empire, which denied the existence of Ukrainians,” says Garan.
Vladimir Pastukhov also noticed this, who wrote on his Telegram channel about the Kremlin’s murderous propaganda: “The narrative of the liberation of the Ukrainian people from the Nazis has lost its propaganda value. The narrative of the liberation of Ukraine from Ukrainians is growing.”
In 2016, Putin erected a monument to Prince Vladimir of Kyiv, who baptized Rus’, near the Kremlin wall. Huge monument. Bronze sculpture with a pedestal – 17.5 meters.
Prince Vladimir was baptized in 988 in the Cathedral of St. Basil on the central square of the Roman city of Korsun, also known as Tauric Chersonese. This is Sevastopol today. From here he moved the relics to Kyiv. Already under Catherine II, Crimea becomes a metonymy of the Roman Empire – the Second Rome. In general, it was from the Crimea that Apostle Andrew decided to go north, where he later predicted the existence of a city on the hills – Kyiv.
Demchuk Ruslana writes in her article: “The forming core of the Eastern Christian civilization was Byzantium, which until the middle of the 15th century. was a single “pivot” state, the metropolis of the Orthodox world. The Byzantine context, which formed the topos “Moscow – III Rome”, determined the firm intention of the Russians to liberate/conquer Tsargrad. Since childhood, Catherine II prepared her grandson, Tsarevich Konstantin, to become emperor of Byzantium, restored after the expulsion of the Turks, for which he studied Greek … An important event of the “Greek project” was Catherine II’s trip to Crimea in 1787.
It is clear that the journey was primarily ideological and demonstrative in nature: the route “St. Petersburg – Crimea” through Moscow, Vladimir, Kyiv, Kherson. Thus, a new imperial geography was declared, when the ancient “Byzantine heritage” was added to the “new empire” of Peter I, prolonged by the “Novorossia” of Catherine II. In line with the policy of the “Russian Minerva”, the Turkic space of Crimea was recoded into Greek: Sevastopol (Akhtiyar), Simferopol (Ak-Mechet), Feodosia (Kafa), Evpatoria (Gezlev), Levkopol (Eski-Kyrym) and so on. Crimea was transformed into so-called “Russian Tauris”.
Russia is afraid of “losing Crimea”. They “threw out” Kyiv from the Eastern Christian context, and therefore the Russian empire seems to be trying to “reincarnate through the Crimea”. This is simulative Byzantinism. “Putin cannot live without Crimea, perhaps he himself does not even understand why. This may be an unconscious attraction to the Crimea, since he, as an emperor, feels this pattern – in order to be an earthly God, he needs to streamline his world, to restore the mythological discourse of the last kingdom,” comments Ruslana Demchuk on the current situation.
The situation of “loss” of the Crimea was extremely traumatic for the Russian state consciousness.
An article by Kotelnikov published in St. Petersburg in 2016 about German-Soviet cooperation after the First World War seemed interesting to me. He writes that the German elite and its population as a whole refused to accept the provisions of the Treaty of Versailles. The Treaty of Versailles was seen as a tragedy.
“The historical tragedy of defeat in the war, as the military representatives of the military and political circles believed, should be corrected. The war started in 1914 seemed unfinished to them… Almost immediately after the entry into force of the Treaty of Versailles, a search began for ways of its non-observance and revision. The Treaty of Versailles did not make Germany peaceful – the Germans were ready to fight,” Kotelnikov writes. According to him, there were strong ideas that the war was going on, just by other methods, and a new military clash was inevitable.
I write here about the mood in Germany before the Second World War, about the thirst for revenge, recognizing certain analogies. And I think it is no coincidence that Kotelnikov wrote an article about this in St. Petersburg in 2016.
Russia did not accept the collapse of the USSR, and did not believe in the death of the Moscow kingdom or the Russian empire. She did not seriously accept any international treaty that she signed. Russia has always been waiting for revenge.
Putin is now asking himself the same question as Rodion Raskolnikov: “Am I a trembling creature or do I have a right?” Remember his argument: “Understand me: maybe, following the same path, I would never repeat the murder again. I had to find out something else, something else pushed me under the arms: I had to find out then, and find out as soon as possible, whether I was a louse, like everyone else, or a man? Will I be able to cross or not! And it is likely that, while playing with the red button, Putin asks himself the same question “Will I be able to cross or not!”.
Back in 2016, at the Free Russia Forum in Vilnius, Andrei Piontkovsky noted: “Vladimir Putin is trying in the fourth Cold War to take revenge for the defeat of the USSR in the third war. This is the same revenge for the defeat in the third world war, as the Second World War was an attempt by Nazi Germany for the defeat in the First. This analogy is so obvious that, I emphasize once again, it is not hidden by propagandists. The ideology, plans, tools of the fourth world war were most clearly expressed in Putin’s famous “Crimean speech” on March 18, 2014. This is practically a remake of Hitler’s Sudeten speech about the accession of the Sudetenland to the Reich. All the main concepts of Hitler’s foreign policy were repeated: a divided nation, the gathering of primordial Russian lands.
At the same time, the regime suffered both an ideological and instrumental position, since the Russians in Ukraine rejected this concept and remained loyal to the state of Ukraine. As a result, this led to “literally by leaps and bounds of growing military hysteria” in Russia. Back in 2016, Piontkovsky outlined the most important problem for us – “On the agenda of the West today, a more urgent task is to drag the maniac away from the nuclear button. Putin is now rushing towards some kind of denouement, using his favorite tactic of “hold me, hold me, I am a seizure.”
The main problem with this situation is that a nuclear war must be won without the use of nuclear weapons. “Novaya Gazeta” editor-in-chief Kirill Martynov says all Putin’s speeches are no longer interesting, they are predictable and “simply boring”. The only interesting thing he can tell us is whether there will be a nuclear war.
So we get three months of nuclear intimidation. Expert Borys Babin also confirms this idea: “Russia no longer has a trump card. If this continues, then in a year there will be nuclear shelters all over Ukraine, in three years – business will adjust, and coaches will sell trainings, civil servants will take a test “how to behave in the event of a nuclear explosion”. Already in August, everyone understood that Russia cannot capture the southeast by the force of one conventional weapon, it’s no longer about Kyiv, they can’t take Bakhmut either” In general, it got to the point that Musk trolls Medvedev, “How is Bakhmut?” on Twitter.
“Traditionally, countries that officially have nuclear weapons and signatories to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons have been seen as counterbalances to each other. They had enough other tools to fight for influence. Russia, on the other hand, allowed itself to threaten with nuclear weapons and thus became at the level of countries that, apart from this threat, can offer nothing to the world – neither culture nor economy. That’s all, they have only one opportunity left to be noticed – this is nuclear terrorism, ”say experts in international law.
According to Vladimir Pastukhov, Putin and the military-political leadership believe that a limited nuclear war is possible, in which they can win: “There are three formats in which this decision can be implemented: the notorious strike on decision-making centers (like Kyiv) ; a strike on parts of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in order to ensure a turning point at the front; demonstration strike (explosion in the atmosphere or undermining the Zmiiny Island)”.
He also notes that for Putin to stop is to admit defeat “in this case, the Russian-Ukrainian war will take a place in the history of Russia of the 21st century, similar to that in Russian history of the 20th century, the Russo-Japanese war took. The revolution will put the regime on the counter and is unlikely to give it those 12 years that generously showered the autocratic regime a hundred years ago. Putin and his entourage are well aware of this, and therefore, with a high degree of probability, this option for solving the problem will be rejected. If this is so, then within the next six to eight months, in the absence of significant success of the Russian armed forces at the front, one single question will remain on the Kremlin’s agenda – to use or not to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine.”
In October 2022, Sullivan said that the use of nuclear weapons in Ukraine in the form of a tactical strike or in any other form would have a US response. “Any use of Russian nuclear weapons will have unprecedented consequences and, most likely, will provoke a physical response from many allies and potentially NATO itself,” said the Secretary General of the Alliance. A week later, in the north-west of Europe – in the airspace of Belgium and Great Britain, as well as over the North Sea, the air forces of NATO countries, with the participation of dozens of aircraft, began military exercises on nuclear deterrence “Steady Noon”.
“If Russia uses tactical nuclear weapons for demonstrative purposes, the West is unlikely to respond with a nuclear strike. They will use other levers, including military ones. But the West is afraid of a direct confrontation with Russia. We can talk about the complete isolation of Russia – this is the main deterrent. What will be the retaliatory strike, no one knows. Lack of clarity is strategic uncertainty, precisely so that the enemy cannot predict your next moves. This is a maneuver,” explains Aleksey Garan.
Actually, Stoltenberg says the same thing: “We will never give details of how exactly we will react, partly because it will depend very much on the type of attack, circumstances, context, but also because we will never give a potential adversary the privilege of knowing exactly how we will respond. They know that this will have serious consequences. And we have repeated this message several times in recent weeks.”
In a conversation with Borys Babin, we moved into the realm of conjectures and assumptions, trying to imagine what could happen if …
“In general, we understand the military potential of developed countries. But it is difficult to predict: it could be the destruction of the Black Sea Fleet in the Crimea. All vessels and all infrastructure serving them. It could be the destruction of the “Crimean bridge”. And, of course, the aggressor’s military installations in the Black Sea may be the first to be attacked. In 99%, Americans will respond with non-nuclear weapons. This minimizes the number of civilian deaths. Perhaps there will be massive pinpoint strikes on military infrastructure. Conditionally, of course, it would be better to leave Sevastopol.”
There is a nuclear institute in Sevastopol, which until 1992 trained specialists for nuclear submarines. And we can guess in what format, under the control of the aggressor, he is working now. Remember the attack on Iran, when the physicist Fakhrizadeh, who was considered the head of the nuclear program, was shot dead in Tehran.
There is an option to recognize the president of the Russian Federation as an international terrorist. Of course, this has never happened before in the history of mankind, but there is a first time for everything. With Bin Laden it was easier, he was not the head of state, but only a “public figure”, he was not even an official.
Since it is not excluded today that Putin and other leaders of countries will be held accountable for war crimes, one can count on prosecution for terrorism as well. Before the tribunal – why not.
Moreover, since the Russian Federation is conducting a military operation, Putin, as commander in chief, is a military target, like any other soldier. “The assassination of Putin, as the commander-in-chief of the army of the aggressor, combatant, is not prohibited by international law. This is a legitimate goal for the opposite side of the conflict,” Borys Babin briefly describes the situation.
Richard Haas wrote that the world order is not a guaranteed, predetermined, automatic entity that maintains itself. Neither the balance of power nor economic interdependence will keep us safe from conflict. There is a constant conflict of order and disorder in the world, and the balance between them determines the era. Society relies on rules, and members of society recognize these rules, because in this way we avoid the worst scenarios. “Any technology and weapons, including nuclear ones, can work both to strengthen and undermine stability and order. Nuclear weapons can be both a stabilization mechanism and a threat to the world order,” he notes.
And it is not for nothing that many worry today that the very system of international law has turned out to be shattered. “We are not isolated. Iran is watching us. And asks the question: “So it is possible?”. The task of the civilized world is to show that it is impossible to do this. North Korea will look at how far the Russians are allowed to go and plan their next steps based on that. North Korea “recognized” Russia’s criminal claims about annexation. For them, it is about revising the global legal order, which may have irreversible consequences,” Borys Babin believes.
Putin studied in Leningrad – you were supposed to disassemble Dostoevsky? The main message is not only to decide on a crime, but also to be punished. Although they say that Putin was a very mediocre KGB officer, and was already formed into something more or less decent only during the machinations with St. Petersburg bandits under Sobchak. Now there is also a certain confrontation within the power structures of the Russian Federation.
Dmitry Bykov described the situation as follows: “The military leadership is not monolithic, the situation has entered the stage of disintegration – “all against all”. Vladimir Putin is not in control of the situation. They tear into pieces the half-corpse of the Russian military special operation. Forces that imagine themselves more radical may well intercept the agenda. But Vladimir Putin decided to lead the transformation of the grays into blacks. Decided to initiate a war personally. So there was a hope that all the abscesses will open. Not only zig-bards are revealed, all fans of the special operation, not only all sorts of tools are done by supporters and propagandists, plunderers of state property. Today, the abscesses of the entire Russian resentment are being opened. People who only want to kill. They no longer want to denazify anyone, they do not even have the remnants of Putin’s former ideas and concepts. They just enjoy pure evil. There are people worse than Prigozhin and Kadyrov. People who don’t even have rudimentary and clan rules. There are no “frames” that can be confused, but only Hyde’s thirst to kill”.
Edward Hyde is a character in a story by Robert Stevenson, a kind of demonic man who inspires inexplicable disgust in everyone who communicates with him, committing a series of disgusting, cruel and senseless acts in London.
One of the professors in Kyiv refused to comment on the nuclear war. He answered rather wearily. Somehow simple. Not doomed, but muffled: “You know, I am a very specific and local person. There is someone I love and care about. Have your own basement. Experience teaches us to think in categories. Empathy is all. Stay strong and support each other. That’s all I’ve been saying for over half a year now.”
Part of society lives in this feeling that if we cannot stop a nuclear war, we cannot predict or cancel it, then we just need to love each other and stay close to the bomb shelter. In social networks, they joke about this: “On Mondays, missile strikes “arrive” in Kyiv. And on Wednesday everyone goes to work. If the nuclear war had happened on Monday, we would have already pulled ourselves up to the office on Wednesday. Everyone laughs, but I think these crazy people of Kiev are not joking, they live like that.” A good joke on this topic was made in the film “On the Beach”: “Almost 400 bottles of excellent port in the basement, and there are 5 months left, 5 months, you understand!? How can a club member drink 400 bottles in 5 months?” We are talking about 5 months before the spread of radioactive fog to Australia, when the rest of the world was already dead.
The looming cloud of threats from nuclear terrorists above us has kept us in incredible tension all these days. There were suicides even before the war. But during the war, it looks somehow especially scary. Journalist Andrey Loshak posted on Facebook a dying video of one of the Russian rappers: “We all became hostages of one maniac who gives us a choice: either prison, or the army, or the exit that I chose” The last video message from Krasnodar rapper “Walkie”. Threw myself out of a window today in protest against the war.” I also have a friend who shot herself in Ukraine.
True, there are optimists among us. “Nuclear war is possible, but so far unlikely,” historian Andrey Zubov briefly commented on what is happening. My philosopher friend Yegor Polyakov just sent me a series of neighing emoticons and asked me to consider this an official comment. “It seems to me that this is too much attention to Put..n intimidation,” he explained.
Francis Fukuyama predicted the end of a century of ideological confrontations, global revolutions and wars, and with them the end of art and philosophy. And where? It seems that humanity can die, but cannot end the confrontation. On the “Dozhd” TV channel, the presenter also recalls a quote from his book: “Authoritarianism is in crisis and will soon be forced to surrender.”
Yegor Polyakov tried to explain the situation like this: “Well, because daddy wrote shit. No end happened. Then something changes, global crises and challenges. He got the loot, said what humanity wanted to hear. That’s how I got the status. You mentioned Hegel, Spengler and Fukuyama in the context of the “end of history” question. With the first – the most difficult, because in terms of dialectics, with sufficient perseverance, you can bring everything under the majestic scheme of the ascent of the absolute spirit, realizing itself through humanity as a kind of super-essence. This does nothing to really explain the history of either the twenty-first or twentieth century. Spengler, who assumed the decline of democracy in Europe as a result of the degradation of its inhabitants, was also obviously mistaken. Fukuyama, who is closest to us in time, and who is actually associated primarily with the concept of “the end of history”, wrote his famous book simply under the influence of unreasonable optimism for the expansion of the democratic world, and rather expressed his vision of how he would like to see the world.”
Philosophers refuse to talk about nuclear war in a philosophical aspect, lowering its status to biological and political aspects: “Nuclear war is not something new in the world. We have been living with the awareness of the possibility of nuclear war for more than 70 years. Why hasn’t it happened yet? Because those who have the “red button” do not pursue the goal of simply destroying the world. They use her presence as leverage to get others to do their whims. In the context of Russia’s war against Ukraine, threats of nuclear strikes are empty: in the event of a real use of nuclear weapons by Russia, Western countries will be forced to intervene militarily, as they openly declare.
As a result, even the conditional chances of holding part of Ukrainian territory or capturing even more, which the Russians are counting on, will be reduced to zero. Therefore, they will continue to bluff, and their bluff will continue to be more believed by people whom the war has not touched and will not touch, ”says Yegor Polyakov.
In Fukuyama’s own opinion, what is happening today only emphasizes the correctness of his 1992 book. He says history is not linear and regression can happen. According to him, the Putin regime just emphasizes the correctness of the path outlined by the West towards democracy and a liberal society. A dictatorship is more likely to make mistakes. The attack on Ukraine, according to Fukuyama, was Putin’s biggest strategic mistake, which is possible only in an isolated dictatorship.
“I think in many ways the democratic world has already joined the fight, supporting Ukraine with arms supplies, sharing intelligence, providing economic and political support,” Fukuyama said. He said that it is important for Europe to remain in solidarity with Ukraine even in the winter, also because reducing dependence on Russian gas and oil means stopping the Kremlin regime.
“I don’t think Putin will escalate to the level of using nuclear weapons. The consequences for Russia and for him personally will be incredibly difficult. This will launch a direct conflict with the US and NATO countries. And it will not be limited to the supply of weapons. Look at Putin’s behavior – he is a very risky person, but there is a limit to everything. For example, he did not announce mobilization until September 21, although the need for replenishment of personnel was obvious. And until recently, he did not try to destroy the Ukrainian infrastructure. For me, this is an indicator of his caution. In addition, Russian tactical nuclear weapons are in storage. We did not observe any evidence of its transportation and placement in shells. And it is necessary to apply it. I think, yes, we should be seriously concerned about the use of nuclear weapons. But in reality, the threat of its use today is a form of blackmail to force Ukraine and its Western allies to start negotiations, to freeze the conflict, and this cannot be allowed,” Fukuyama says.
In his interview on “Dozhd” TV, Fukuyama also emphasized that history shows that military failures lead to further political shifts, as happened in 1905 and 1917. According to him, today Putin has shown the whole world what an “alternative for democracy” is, the West has seen this danger and will respond.
In his criminal “speech at Valdai”, Putin was very indignant that the civilized world is rushing about with its “liberal democracy” and rejecting all other forms of “democracy”. He said that the Western world has gone mad to the point of obscenity. And by the way, he hinted that the global conflict is a threat to humanity. “We do not need a nuclear strike on Ukraine, there is no point – neither political nor military,” he said. The main thing that he proposes to the world is to “change the world order”, that is, to allow tyrants to be tyrants, based on the far-fetched “traditional values” of different peoples, and to recognize “Western values” as an alleged “minority culture”.
Borys Babin helped to look at nuclear war from the other side. And I really like his analogy, because it reveals the gangster nature of the Russian government: “As a lawyer, I generally see it in a different way. From the moment of receipt of real threats, it is possible to open a criminal case on an attempted crime. There is no nuclear war, but we have the terrorist threat of the Kremlin and thus its attempted nuclear war.”
Pastukhov wrote on his Telegram channel: “In a sense, it is significant that Putin has convened an emergency Security Council in St. Petersburg. He refers to this war as a “shooter”, which must be waged according to the laws of gangster Petersburg. Now the meetings of the Council themselves are reminiscent of Gorbaty’s “gangway” from Soviet TV movie “The Meeting Place Cannot Be Changed”. Now, in his mind, the “shooter” has entered a decisive phase, when it’s time to send “boys” armed with fittings to “soak in the toilet” uncompromising neighbors. New “Surovikin times” are coming”.
Russia cannot be understood with the mind. This is not the USSR. This is an explosive fusion of former KGB men, bandits, corrupt cops, an absolute corrupt and frightened bureaucracy, of which Putin has become a symbol. This is all that Ukraine has been fighting for all thirty years. In order not to live like this, our teachers continued to teach, and our doctors continued to treat people.
Writer Boris Akunin reflected in September: “They attacked Ukraine hoping for an easy victory, suffered a crushing fiasco and are now uncovering the atomic bomb, because there is nothing else left for them. Medvedev expresses confidence (in fact, a timid hope) that the West will not get involved in a nuclear war because of Ukraine. All this is very similar to July 1914. Then such Medvedevs also bluffed and came to the point of no return, when the logic worked: if we do not start first, then they will start first. The difference is that the losing side is known in advance. Russia is all alone, without allies. And the third world war will be nuclear. The current civilization has approached the line of self-destruction. Something, of course, will remain. But not in the Eastern part of Europe.”
Blogger Rustem Adagamov commented: “What Medvedev is doing on Telegram is just crazy. Where does this vocabulary of yard punks come from, thieves’ expressions, wild rudeness in a person from a decent family, who once gave hope for the possibility of changes in the country – I can’t understand. Either he’s scared to death, or he’s gone crazy. Many people say that he drinks, but he does not look like an alcoholic at all.”
French President Emmanuel Macron made a little nervous in October: “Our doctrine is based on the fundamental interests of the nation, and they are very clearly defined. If a nuclear missile attack had been carried out on Ukraine, these interests would not have been called into question,” Macron said. To the journalist’s clarification that this would not lead to a nuclear response from France, Macron replied in the affirmative: “It is obvious.”
Mr. Macron, do you know how to talk to bandits? What will happen if a company approaches you in an alley and asks “Let me call”? Do you know why you should not give to gangsters your phone? What will happen if the district sees that you can behave like this? Do you know what to do if a gangman asks you to cut your hair? Do you know what will happen if you accept this offer? Have you watched “Peculiarities of National Fishing”, “Blind Man’s Buff”? As I understand it, “Brother”, “Brother 2” and the series “Brigada” also passed you by. Your words will be read in Putin’s office as direct incitement to war. They will translate it from French something like this: “They sank there, we can move.”
In “Peculiarities of National Fishing” there is a joke about accidentally launching missiles from a military boat. “Ivanych, how did you shoot back? Yes, ask him how he shot back. Buttons! I thought for water! There it is written: with gas and without gas. And the glass is worth it.” For filming, such a remote control was specially made, similar to a soda vending machine.
And this could be taken as a joke if the video of 2018 had not been circulating on the Internet, when the chief of staff of the Baltic Fleet, Vice Admiral Igor Mukhametshin, gave a speech to the sailors: “The notorious Immanuel Kant, everyone says Kant, Kant, and this is a man who betrayed his homeland, who humiliated himself and crawled on his knees so that they would give him a chair at the university, wrote some incomprehensible books that none of those standing here have read and will never read. So he explained to the military why the airport in Kaliningrad should not bear the name of Kant”. This is a philosophy of aggressive redneck devoid of any shamelessness. Now this approach has obviously become the key one for the Moscow nuclear terrorists.
The artist Ivan Semesyuk explained the concept of goon in the concept of “goon art” as follows: “this is a person, let’s say, with an ego swollen to a disgrace. This is a person who is so impressed by the fact of his own existence that he simply cannot calm down, and he begins to rake this very existence under himself and not to reckon with others.
To win the war, to understand whether these people will press the button or not, you need to understand the context of what is happening. Semesyuk successfully formulated it: “Cheburashka is such a wonderful image. First, Cheburashka appears, and then tanks drive in. First, Soviet cartoons, as it was cool, Gena the crocodile, and then some kind of rocket arrives and it all ends there. I am generally a supporter of the concept of terrorist cultures. Cheburashka is a cover for such a gigantic ISIS, only Stalin-Orthodox.”
Now in Ukraine there are many studies on how we could watch “Brother” in Ukraine if it teaches everything that Russia is doing now. Very simple. We looked at it differently. Other eyes. From what we saw in the 90s, we drew other conclusions. A literature teacher at school said that a person takes from a book only what he himself puts into it.
First, we decided to change the government. We decided that no one will ever have absolute power. And if the president is elected by the majority of non-politicians, then so be it. Secondly, we have learned to fight. We fought in communcal firms for a certificate, in courts for truth, in parliament for laws, at polling stations for results, in the media for the right to speak, on the streets we learned to answer the question “will you give me a sigarette?”. The slogan “ prison to the bandits” united us in due time. In these Russian films, we saw what bandits are capable of. Even those who did not see the bandits in live saw it.
I grew up in a country that promoted demilitarization. We had a course to reduce the number of military personnel. We were proud that, unlike Russia, we broke the back of the KGB and destroyed this structure. Until 2014, I believed in humanity and the Budapest Memorandum. Ukraine’s renunciation of nuclear weapons looked like a reasonable step for a civilized man. The mass destruction of petals and other weapons that have been stockpiled throughout the country since the days of the USSR, I perceived positively. I watched American TV shows where mothers scold children for fighting at school. It seemed that we live in a world where physical strength is no longer an advantage.
What Ukraine experienced in the 90s was terrible. It’s a shootout in the streets. This is the police, which often worked for bandits. These are people without salaries and “new masters of life”, who could do anything. “Let’s go out and talk” is a phrase from those times.
At the same time, it was the time of the birth of real new people who did not know the prohibitions of the Soviet Union. New educational institutions, gymnasiums were opened. On behalf of Ukraine, Klitschko began to speak. We hosted Eurovision. We traveled and took gold at international programming olympiads. We wrote books and songs. Blue and yellow flags were raised everywhere. Once upon a time there was a popular song “Born in the USSR”. Today, those who die at the front are often Ukrainians born in 1990 and 2000. They don’t know the USSR.
For thirty years, tremendous changes have taken place in Ukraine. During the last parliamentary elections, I met a delegation from Europe. Told them about corruption. They were indignant: “How is it that nothing is changing?” And my businessman friend said, “Oh, a lot has changed. In the 90s you could be taken to the forest. Under Yanukovych, when I received all the official documents for trade during a mass event, Berkut came and simply took out my goods, because someone from those in power so wanted. Today there is corruption, and we are fighting it. In courts and at rallies. And believe me, it’s much harder to deal with broken fingers. Now, even though it is difficult, our judicial system has begun to be reformed. Ukraine has changed.”
With enormous, inhuman efforts, our teachers taught me. And right now, to the sound of sirens, they continue to teach my child. We have become a real Ukraine. The state is not only land, it is a social contract, a contract between you and another person on the bus, it is an opportunity to get to know each other and organize your life. I didn’t believe in war. I thought a new world had begun. I thought we were going to Europe. I was taught Western values – I believed in the human right to life and dignity. And I believed that the person next to me believed in my right to life. I believed that both NATO and Europe believed my right to life. I thought the world was the normal state of man. In 2014, I suddenly found out that peace is just an interval between two wars.
My mother was crying then, she did not believe that the Russians could attack us. Arkady Babchenko once wrote that a soldier in a war begins to really fight only when the first losses begin. Until then, you don’t believe it’s really happening.
In 2022, I woke up in the morning and saw a note on the table: “Girls, in case of a nuclear strike, take two pills.” You know, there is a joke about what a soldier should do in case of a nuclear strike? “Keep the machine gun at arm’s length so that the molten metal does not splatter government-issued boots.”
My five year old son survived the February 2022 evacuation from Kyiv. In the summer I took him to the planetarium. He was told there that the Sun could explode and destroy the planet. Olzhik then asked: “Mom, what if the sun explodes. Will you take me back to the village to my grandmother?”. Tell me, Mr. Macron, if the sun explodes from your sentiments and “light breathing”, in which village should I save my child?
Bandit Russia has medieval thinking. The idea of a holy war is perhaps somewhat reminiscent of the Crusades. “The idea of a crusade – along with witch persecution, anti-Semitism and fascism – provides one of the most impressive examples of how one officially proclaimed, collective insanity can “remove” the individual madness from countless individuals whose souls are torn apart by the conflict between the religion of love and militarism”. Participation in the crusade was placed above any other repentance. It is no coincidence that many chronicles say that the most inveterate sinners – murderers, rapists, thieves, debtors, runaway monks – sometimes went on a campaign.
And don’t we see this pattern repeating? Facebook post by Rustem Adagamov: “Prigozhin’s media showed how someone from Wagner distributes medals and pardons to convicts who became crippled in the war. One of the “pardoned” is Stanislav Bogdanov, who in 2013 brutally murdered and robbed a Novgorod magistrate. Was sentenced to 23 years. He enlisted in the war, lost his leg. Now he received a medal “For Courage” and a piece of paper about “pardon”. Russia, autumn 2022”.
Dmitry Bykov noted in an interview that Putin “created an ideal twilight environment for all the characters to come to the surface – they sat in the subconscious, disguised themselves, tried to adapt, adapt, travel to Europe. Putin uncovered, tore off the masks and showed the world the true face of Russia – what was hidden, what was presented as an incomprehensible Russian mentality, Russian spirituality, for the divine Russian catholicity and in all terrible nakedness showed the world. According to him, the same Okhlobystin is a person with an altered consciousness. It is not clear to what extent he is a fool, and to what extent he commits his actions consciously, voluntarily or involuntarily, he “by his own example shows the disintegration of the personality, to which such an ideology leads”.
And how terribly Anton Krasovsky spoke – he literally said that “it is necessary to drown and burn” Ukrainian children who consider Russians as occupiers. Denis Kazansky remarked very subtly at Krasovsky’s cancellation: “He was expelled from the Gestapo for cruelty”. Many also noticed a paradox in Putin’s state terrorism – “you can kill Ukrainians, but you can’t talk about it”, no matter what the Russian army does, it’s important how their “feats” are portrayed on TV.
Hannah Arendt once tried to define the nature of moral evil using the Holocaust ideologue as an example. She came to the conclusion that in the conditions of the “moral collapse of the whole nation”, the perpetrators and participants in the massacres are not only “supervillains”, but also the most ordinary, ordinary people.
Hannah Arendt asks: did the Germans not have moral doubts? Didn’t they try to use Kant’s categorical imperative to give themselves an honest answer about whether everything that happens around is really normal? After all, it is so simple: “act in such a way that the maxim of your action can become a universal law.” The paradox lies in the fact that in the minds of ordinary citizens this simple moral formula was replaced by another, outwardly similar one.
After conversations with Eichmann, Hannah Arendt writes: “In this “time of state-sanctioned crimes,” as he himself now called it, he not only discarded the Kantian formulation as no longer applicable – he changed it, and now it sounded like this: so that the standards of your actions are the same as those of those who write laws, or the very laws of your country. Here we should recall the formulation of the “categorical imperative of the Third Reich” made by Hans Frank – Eichmann could well have known it: “Do so that the Fuhrer, having learned about your actions, can praise you for them”.
And, of course, I do not expect that the Vice-Admiral of the Baltic Fleet, who has not read “these yours Kants”, will think in terms of morality. But the fact I believe that the Russians are in the position of “Act in such a way that the Fuhrer, having learned about your actions, could praise you for them”. And so thoughts like “Come on, how can a normal person start the process of destroying humanity by pressing the red button?” sounds to me about the same as “Come on, is it possible to think of killing millions of people in concentration camps?”.
Why did it happen? Andrei Loshak explains this by the fact that for most Russians politics is a distant and abstract concept, like quantum physics. “And it seems like this is a normal strategy for a survivalist – to approve the actions of the authorities and stay away from politics, because everyone sees what happens to those who get into it and no one wants the same. Unfortunately, none of us has been able to clearly explain the axiom to a wide audience: if you do not engage in politics, politics will take care of you. If you do not choose the government and do not influence it in any way, it will first destroy its opponents, then those who sympathize with opponents, and then it will definitely come for you – this is how the evolution of dictatorship works. It’s like with bandits – once you give in to them, after some time you will have to give up your apartment, if not your life,” he says. At the same time, according to Andriy Loshak, the “preppers” are in the main risk zone, since they are now criminally sent to die in Ukraine.
The same Andrey Loshak reflects on the “evolution” of Putin – “in 6 years, Putin managed to turn into the main criminal of our time”. He recalls the “Tu-154” crash near Sochi, which was flying to Syria, the death of people in Yeysk, the murder of a pregnant girl in Kyiv, reflects on how it happened that the deaths of Ukrainians became commonplace. He recalls “Nord-Ost” and the bombings of residential buildings in Russia in September 1999. And he comes to a sad conclusion: “Maybe he is not quite a man? Inhuman – this is how maniacs are usually called in crime reports. Only no maniac has killed as many people as he did. The police are hunting for maniacs, they are sent to prisons, and for some reason this one is called the president, lives in luxury, travels to international meetings, somebody greets him, fawns over him, TV around the clock sings of his greatness, he is sincerely worshiped by millions of people. The mind is incomprehensible. Well, few people already doubt that before dying, the non-human will do everything to drag as many people as possible into the next world. This is the arch of this anti-hero: from targeted killings to mass murders, from mass murders to the total destruction of humanity.”
It’s some sort of Schrödinger nuclear war. Until someone opens the suitcase – it is as if there is and as if there is not. A good moment was in the film “The World, the Flesh and the Devil”, where three people who survived after a nuclear war, the first thing they did was start the fourth world. This is a question for humanity. The question for the world system of law was already raised by Lumet – can a piece of paper replace rocket launchers when the enemy suddenly becomes respectable, is there a piece of paper that will save us from Pearl Harbor?
We’re having rolling blackouts right now. This hasn’t happened since my childhood. They hit our cities. Modeling the situation, we come to two conclusions: if now “everything starts”, then perhaps the real “end of history” will come. And here, in general, everything is clear. As my literature teacher said: “Well, the dinosaurs died out, so what? Does anyone regret this now? And my five-year-old son, after watching a BBC film about saber-toothed tigers, breathed a sigh of relief: “It’s good that they are no more.” The exceptional significance of humanity in the universe is seen as such only through the eyes of the representatives of humanity itself.
But if we consider that our species is characterized by high adaptive abilities, then perhaps one of us will survive in any case. Only, unlike American fantasies, it is not bandits vs officials who will survive in our country. By Kyiv standards, if anyone survived, it would most likely be a couple of activists and developers. It would be a good plot for a movie.
During World War II, Albert Camus wrote in his “Letters to a German Friend”: “We will be victorious, and you know it. But we will win precisely because of that defeat, those long wanderings in the dark, which helped us to comprehend our rightness. Through suffering we learned that, contrary to our previous beliefs, the mind is powerless before the sword, but that the mind, in alliance with the sword, will always prevail over the sword, unsheathed for the sole purpose of killing. That is why we have now adopted the sword, making sure that reason is on our side. To do this, we needed to see how they die, to touch death ourselves. And finally, in order to subjugate the mind, we needed physical torture. Truly, you firmly own only that for which you have paid dearly. I have never believed in the triumph of truth, which is not supported by anything else. But it is very important to know that with equal energy, the truth prevails over the lie. I even have a temptation to tell you that we are fighting for the nuances, but for those that in their significance are not inferior to the value of the person himself. We are fighting for the nuance that distinguishes sacrifice from mysticism, energy from violence, strength from cruelty, for an even more subtle, elusive nuance that distinguishes falsity from truth, and the person we trust from the insidious gods you worship.”
And I have nothing more to add. Because every Ukrainian knows that we are on our own land. You can try to wipe us off the face of the earth, but you cannot force us to surrender. We have no other choice but to defend ourselves to the last. And we will do it. And further, if this “further” is behind the civilized world, there will be new sincere great directors’ films, and new philosophers’ works about the nuclear crisis of 2022. But it is unlikely that they will be created on Russian.