This is my recent translation of “Война или Мир?” post (in Russian).
I have recently started this blog and gradually post my old works there, so that I am also in process of reviewing them for their ongoing relevance. Some old essays (especially political ones) look rather obsolete today and may only be included for archiving reasons, but some look surprisingly fresh. For example, I have found the Russian version of this article to be reasonably up-to-date looking, despite its relatively old publication date (February 2015). Sadly, this proves that little has changed in Donbass war since that time and Minsk peace deal is still as elusive now as it was back then. Moreover, yesterday’s unanimous passing of “Stability and Democracy for Ukraine Act” by the U.S. House of Representatives which allows the USA to supply its puppet Kiev regime with lethal weapons systems, makes me believe that another escalation of Donbass conflict may soon occur, which, in turn, will be followed by new Schlosberg-style accusations, our counter-strikes and so on… Very sad.
I should mention also, that my original Russian text was already translated in English and published back in February 2015 (http://mondbasis.com/otveten.html ), but, unfortunately, I cannot say that the quality of the English publication was particularly good. Thus, I have decided to do what I should have done in the first place and produce a better English version myself.
Now I can invite you to enjoy the benefits of my recent efforts. Let us view this work as my reply to US “Ukraine Act 2016”:
Recently a good friend of mine has sent me a link to an “incredible” article “Do not shoot!” by Lev Schlosberg, a journalist and, somehow, a huge Ukrainian patriot.
I have read this neo-liberal masterpiece and quickly realised that I, a humble amateur writer with a simple Ukrainian surname Buryak, again have my call of duty to reply instantly – if guys like Schlosberg stood up for Ukraine, then, at least some us, Buryaks, should stand up for Russia.
In order not to overload the reader, I will summarise the main points of Mr. Schlosberg below (surely, those who are not too lazy, can help themselves and enjoy the original version http://gubernia.pskovregion.org/number_725/01.php).
In short, the author of the article “Do not shoot!” is claiming that:
- Russia, instead of dealing with its internal affairs, has declared war to the whole world.
- The formation of ugly, merciless and brainwashed “nation of war” has almost been finalised.
- Because of this, Russia, as a nation is balancing on the brink of a pure fascism (and Putin is like a new Hitler).
- Russian people must reject any participation in the war in Donbas; only such course of action will prevent Russian national catastrophe.
As Mr. Schlosberg compiled his January Manifest (“Do not shoot!”) in that order, it seemed logical to build my February Counter-Manifest in a similar way, in a format, which is convenient for comparing both works. I admit, however, that sometimes it was tempting for me to swap the order of my bullet points… Oh well, we are not allowed to do what we want all the time, are we?
So let me start now:
- About “Russia’s war against the whole world” claim.
Russia is currently in a state of a deep conflict (Cold War Mark 2) with the pro-American Western “civilised world” (the US and their close allies – and there are quite a few of them indeed), but not with the whole world. The majority of world countries (in fact, the countries, where more than 75% of global population lives) have not supported sanctions against Russia in any form. It is particularly important to note the refusal of the sanction support by BRICS countries, including world industrial powerhouses of China and India.
Moreover, I can easily understand the underlying reasons for this Russia vs. West conflict: for the last 20-25 years the “civilised world” has done so many terrible things, that today any resistance to its persisting “democracy enforcing” attempts (like bombing of Serbia, the invasion and destruction of Iraq and Libya and so on) looks like a justifiable course of action. In fact, “civilised world”, in general, and the USA, in particular, have now all but ruined their well promoted image of “a fair policeman of the world”, the image, which was so carefully crafted during the final 15 years of the original Cold War (Cold War Mark 1). The current Ukrainian conflict provides some excellent examples of Western “fairness” too, where mainstream Western Media almost completely ignores daily civilian casualties in Donetsk, Lugansk, Gorlovka and other cities of the rebellious Donbass (caused by the shelling by the Ukrainian side), but massively inflates and exaggerates far less frequent cases of civilian casualties occurring on the territory controlled by Kiev. And only very occasionally an odd Western journalist may bitterly admit something like: “Consider the shelling [by pro-Kiev troops] which often hits civilian targets rather than military ones. Is this because the artillery crews lack the skills or the targeting data? Because they are not being told where to aim? Or because Kyiv actually wants to punish the civilian population?” (Ref. ) So Western media is actually aware about the truth, but is not in any hurry to broadcast this inconvenient picture in their everyday mainstream news. Or would you insist that “civilised world” media has only recently adopted such unfair communications practices from, say, Putin’s RT team? Come on, guys, get real!
- About “ugly people of war” claim and the Russian World.
Now let us move to Mr Schlosberg’s statement about the rise of hateful “people of war” in Russia… I would actually soften this rhetoric considerably straightaway – it is important to remember, that ever after Kiev coup of February 2014 the substantial majority of Donbass people have been very reluctant to live under Russophobic central Ukrainian government and they are not willing to accept ANY Ukrainian rule now, after several months of “accidental” bombings and shelling by Kiev troops. Thus, even an active support of the Donbass insurgents does not make people of Russia “brainwashed people of war” – their position is very justifiable indeed. Also I do not know if you find this surprising or not, but currently the majority, or even the large majority, of people in Russia are not satisfied with a Yeltsin-era role of their country as a semi-colony of the “civilised world”. Moreover, the rejection of even a minimum support of the uprising in Donbass against Western-funded puppet Kiev regime would be seen by most of Russians as an unconditional surrender to the Western Powers. Form this prospective, I would rather refer to the alleged “people of war” in Russia as to “no-surrender people”. Personally, I am very glad to observe that “no-surrender people” are doing so well at the moment and that, in contrast, the “people of peace” (in Schlosberg’s language), i.e. supporters of an unconditional capitulation to the West, are in a modest minority only…
I also need to say a few words about the Russian World phenomenon allegedly invented by Putin, which (again, according to Schlosberg) “does not even exist and has never existed without Kremlin propaganda machine efforts”. I would still insist that the Russian World itself, together with “no-surrender” people and other Russian culture and heritage loving individuals supporting it, is a very real phenomenon. Furthermore, this Russian World was far more likely to be “invented” not by KGB and Mr. Putin, but, say, by his distant predecessor Prince Dmitry Donskoy of XIV century. It was Dmitry, the evil mastermind of Moscow-led Russia resurgence, who did not put up with Tatar “semi-occupation”, supported the “party of war” and led his people to the “senseless slaughter” of Kulikovo Field battle in 1380. And what exactly was achieved by this battle? Remember, that just 2 years later in 1382, Khan Tokhtamysh burned Moscow yet again… What for did thousands of Suzdal, Vladimir, Pskov and Rostov people give their lives, not to mention the slaughtered Tatars and their Italian friends, fighters from Genoa’s Crimea colonies? By the way, what a nasty surprise, the Italian friends from Genoa were fighting on the side of Tatars! Who would believe that even back in XIV century the West was directly helping enemies of Moscow? But they did, didn’t they? Personally, I am not really sure what these Italian guys were fighting for in the heart of Russia, but I believe that Moscow-led Slavic fighters fought exactly for the Russian World! Because those who went into the battle as people of Suzdal, Vladimir, Rostov and other allied principalities returned from it … as RUSSIANS, although living in different cities. Most of historians agree that from Kulikovo battle the real renaissance of a new Russian nation (from the fragments of the collapsed Kiev Russia of XIII century) really began.
Do these historic events look any similar to what is happening now in Donbass and Russia? In my opinion, there are some striking similarities, but Mr Schlosberg can only see the rise of “brainwashed people of war” and “Russian fascism”.
- About “Russian fascism” claim.
In fact, these accusations by an apparent supporter of the Ukrainian battalions of AYDAR and AZOV, members of which just love various fascist rituals and gadgets, is an unbelievable hypocrisy! Internet is just littered by pro-fascist posts of these Ukrainian fighters: New Year celebration with SiegHeiling Snow Maidens, gratuity watches with swastikas, memory photos of the fighters with the Nazi flag in the background – probability because of their relatively low IQ, AYDAR / AZOV guys regularly put all these Nazi crap on Facebook and the Russian VKontakte sites… Mr Schlosberg is probably just using a well-know “it is always better to strike first” approach (i.e. assumes that if he accuses Russia in supporting fascism first, than his readers are less likely to notice “swastika on his own face”)… I can also remind you which countries recently voted in the UN against the resolution condemning the glorification of Nazism and its accomplices: there were only three of such countries: Ukraine, Canada and the United States (even Latvia with its SS-parade “tradition” abstained). So who is really supporting fascism there?
I understand that MY arguments are very unlikely to convince Mr Schlosberg and his supporters and therefore, I further refer them to Western experts – Schlosberg & Co are probably a bit more likely to believe them…
Quotes from Ref.  : “Vladimir Putin isn’t in the same league as Hitler or Joseph Stalin. Putin is an old style nationalist who insists that his country’s interests be considered. There is no global hegemonic struggle, no grand ideological contest, no plan for widespread territorial conquest. Putin’s ambitions may outrage the West, but they appear bounded. Said Kissinger [former US Secretary of State, free from any sympathies towards Russia] of Crimea: “It was not Hitler moving into Czechoslovakia.” Plus another citation from the same article: “Putin is rebuilding Russia’s military, but he would be a fool not to do so. Moscow has taken no action against America or vital American interests. Indeed, experience suggests that Washington is far more likely than Russia to breach the peace. Of course, U.S. officials argue that all of their interventions were justified—over the last three decades against Nicaragua, Grenada, Panama, Haiti, Bosnian Serbs, Serbia, Somalia, Afghanistan, Libya, Yemen, Pakistan, Syria, Iraq (recently for the third time). Russian nationalists can be forgiven for thinking differently”. But sadly our neo-liberal “thinker” Mr. Schlosberg is totally blindfolded by his own rage. Because of this, he is no longer able to understand the reality or to see the actual heart of the matter.
- About REAL reasons for Ukrainian Army battlefield troubles.
Some very naive readers (if such creatures still exist) must be crying hysterically after reading of Mr. Schlosberg’s creations and for supposedly good reasons: lives of tens of thousands of Russian conscripts (allegedly sent by Putin to fight for Donbass insurgents) are in constant danger; thousands of them may have already died in bloody battles… Soon Russia as a country will be completely ruined by a crushing burden of the never-ending Donbass war and growing international isolation and so on and so forth. I admit – Mr Schlosberg has a rather creative imagination and he is quite skilful in writing his neo-liberal fairy tales. He hates Putin and the “people of war” more than Antichrist and his essays could have become a guiding star for, say, an anti-Putin opposition movement in Russia if… they had any sizable share of truth in them.
Look, I also feel very sorry for the people killed in Donbass. I feel sorry for the Russian volunteers, the Ukrainian recruits and civilians, for the Eastern Ukrainian locals fighting on both sides of this civil war barricades – and especially sorry for the dying children of Donbass. But at the same time I am absolutely sure that neither “tens of thousands”, nor even hundreds of Russian conscripts can be found in Donbass. By the way, Western experts and the Ukrainian leadership are well aware of this fact too. All their yelling about “huge multi-thousand columns of invading Russian troops” which are supposedly regularly send across the border by Russia and then destroyed by glorious Ukrainian fighters is a mere Kiev propaganda fiction. Instead of trusting these stories, let us have another look into the article of the Western pro-Ukrainian military expert (Ref. ) and cite his professional opinion. He estimates the maximum number of a “shadow” Russian contingent in the Donbass by 6000 troopers (this is a few times more, than my own assessment, but even such a discrepancy does not disturb the general conclusion about main reasons for the persistent Ukrainian Army troubles). After all, the expect is still asking the very right question: why a country of more than 40 million population and reasonably large armed forces cannot defeat the small contingent (“half-brigade”) of elite (i.e. professionals, not conscripts) Russian troops and about 50 thousand strong militia of local rebels and Russian volunteers (highly motivated, but not very well-trained fighters)? The expert’s answer is rather simple, even obvious, and, in my opinion, is quite correct: the Ukrainian defeats are due to the unprofessionalism and incompetence of the Ukrainian military leadership and low morale / lack of motivation of the army personnel (mostly conscripts). Thus, the direct Russia’s involvement in the conflict is a relatively minor contributing factor in Kiev troubles. The main reason is that the vast majority of Lvov and Kiev conscripts simply do not want to fight to stop Donbass from leaving Ukraine. This, in turn, is happening because there is no “Great United Ukraine”, as a counter-thesis to the Russian World. In fact, Ukraine consists of two distinct halves: Central-Western and South-Eastern parts – and they represent, as they say in Odessa, two very different creatures. But if there is no “Great United Ukraine”, then why would anyone have to fight for its unity? By doing this, Ukraine only brings itself closer to its so much hated “totalitarian” North-Eastern neighbour, and keeps fighting with its own shadow…
Tell me, my pro-Western Ukrainian brothers, which evil forces stop you from showing the world that you are ready to join the peaceful family of European nations and let Donbass (and others who do not want to follow your “European choice”) to leave Ukraine in peace, not by war? Are you telling me that your hands are twisted by Poroshenko, oligarchs and neo-liberal clowns, like Mr. Schlosberg? So send them to Hell and continue running away from your conscription “duties”. Or even better, organise a New Maidan for these guys –they long deserved to be overthrown by a new revolution! And last, but not least, DO NOT SHOOT! … at Donbass people. Here I am quite in agreement with Mr. Schlosberg.
Recent addition (September 2016):
Surely, I could not resist to temptation to add an extra piece – a kind of alternative super-compressed reply to Mr. Schlosberg’s text by an actual participant of the Donbass war. Vitaly Fedorov was in Donbass from June to October of 2014 and has written an excellent book about his experience, which you can get, e.g. from Amazon
A Russian version of Vitaly’s book was already written in February 2015, but sadly I did not have an access to it back then. Well, I do now and I can share this new awareness with you by providing a great quote from the final chapter of this book:
“Do I regret going there? Certainly not. Yes, all my “material” gains were only in form of two shrapnel pieces in my back. However, I’ve meet many interesting people, learned that I’m not a coward in a war fight, gained a lot of unique experience and met a few new real friends. But, most importantly, I feel that I’ve tangibly helped to bring the renaissance of the Russian World a step closer to reality by fighting for it and being an integral part of my own people. Participating actively in this process is so much different from “just thinking” about it…
Would Novorussia war [Civil War in Eastern Ukraine] have even started without this massive flow of Russian volunteer fighters? Probably not… It would have been just a few more Odessa-style massacres, probably with several times more victims, and pro-Russian movement in Donbass would have been simply smashed and blood-bathed in a month or two. Should we have left Ukraine alone to resolve its “own issues” and ignored those who initially rebelled rather peacefully in Donetsk and Lugansk? I don’t think so – we did the right thing by going there and fighting with them, because the nations, exclusively relying on a questionable moto “peace by all possible means” … disappear from history in a rather quick fashion. Their lands are taken by other nations with more will to live and defend themselves. In 2014, on the battlefields of Donbass, we, Russians, proved the World that it is far too early to write us off completely.”