Alexander Dolitsky: Old Russian saying is ‘Beat your friends to make your enemies afraid of you’

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By ALEXANDER DOLITSKY

“Beat your own so that strangers are afraid of you.” This is a common Russian expression, which literally means, “beat your friends, so your enemies will be scared of you.”

In Russian culture, the phrase is often used to condemn someone’s behavior. It’s an ironic expression, often used to describe people who attack others from their own team in order to intimidate everybody else.

The phrase clearly characterizes Russian psychological behavior and today’s Russian invasion of Ukraine—a big Russian brother teaches a “lesson” to his little Ukrainian brother, while pointing an aggressive finger to his “naughty” neighbors — former Soviet Republics. 

But what are the underlining causes and reasons of today’s brutal Russian–Ukrainian war?

Historically, Russians and Ukrainians are both Slavs, sharing similar languages, cultural traditions, religion, psychological behavior and many other elements of Slavic culture. The historic bond of both nations goes back to the mid–9th century or formation of the Kiev Rus and later acquisition of other Slavic territories under authority of Moscow in the 12th and 13th Centuries.

Slavic states withstood and ultimately defeated a brutal Mongol invasion and occupation from the 13th to 15th centuries. They  participated in Eastward expansion into Siberia and Russian Far East, bravely fought together in the Crimean War of 1853–1856, and revolutionary movement of the early 20th century. They courageously defended their land in both World Wars, and were under one national state — Soviet Union — until the end of 1991. Ukraine received its sovereignty as de-jure and de-facto country for the first time in its history only after the collapse of the Soviet Union at the end of 1991.

There are many cultural, political, historic, and linguistic ties between Russians, Ukrainians, and Byelorussians. I know this first-hand. Born and raised in Kiev, Ukraine, I traveled extensively in these republics as an archaeologist and educator prior to my departure as a political refugee from Kiev to the West in 1977. 

I know Ukraine and its people well. The country is truly multi-cultural and bilingual. Eastern, north central and southern parts of the country, including Crimean Peninsula, predominantly speak the Russian language, while western and rural territories of the country predominantly speak the Ukrainian language.

All residents of the country can freely communicate with each other in both languages. My native language is Russian and I speak Ukrainian fluently. Nevertheless, politically, academically and ideologically, Ukraine was firmly under strict Moscow’s thumb prior to 1991. Any anti-Moscow policies and ideological diversions were severely punished by the central Soviet regime.

Considering the historic and cultural bond between these two nations, why has war erupted with such uncompromising force?

In my view, one of the major reasons is the continued expansion of the NATO military alliance eastward, approaching Russian national borders and, therefore, threatening its national security.

In the last 15–20 years, the Russian government has cautioned against this expansion, reminding the West that “the security of one nation should not be done at the expense of the security of another nation.” For example, Cuba is a sovereign country, but we will not tolerate a Russian nuclear submarine to be stationed in Cuba; among other instances—Iran and North Korea nuclear ambitions.

The second reason for the current Russian–Ukrainian war has to do with Ukraine’s incompliance with the Minsk Protocol of 2014. The Minsk Protocol was drawn-up by the Trilateral Contact Group on Ukraine, which consisted of legitimate representatives from Ukraine, Russia, and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). The group was established in June 2014 as a way to facilitate dialogue and resolution of the strife across eastern and southern Ukraine.

The text of the protocol consists of 12 points: 

  1. To ensure an immediate bilateral ceasefire.
  2. To ensure the monitoring and verification of the ceasefire by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).
  3. Decentralization of power, including through the adoption of the Ukrainian law “On temporary Order of Local Self-Governance in Particular of Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts (Districts).”
  4. To ensure the permanent monitoring of the Ukrainian–Russian border and verification by the OSCE with the creation of security zones in the border regions of Ukraine and the Russian Federation.
  5. Immediate release of all hostages and illegally detained persons.
  6. A law preventing the prosecution and punishment of people in connection with the events that have taken place in some areas of Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts (Districts). 
  7. To continue the inclusive national dialogue.
  8. To take measures to improve the humanitarian situation in Donbas.
  9. To ensure early local elections in accordance with the Ukrainian law “On temporary Order of Local Self-Governance in Particular Districts of Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts.”
  10. To withdraw illegal armed groups and military equipment as well as fighters and mercenaries from the territory of Ukraine.
  11. To adopt a program of economic recovery and reconstruction for the Donbas region.
  12. To provide personal security for participants in the consultations.

Ukraine’s request to become a member of the European Union and subsequently to join NATO is unwise, unrealistic, and dangerous for all sides involved. This request should never be encouraged by the West. In addition to this request, President Zelensky’s recent suggestion to exit 1994 Budapest Memorandum only added fuel to the fire during this turbulent time for Ukraine and the world at large.

President Putin responded to this unwise suggestion on Feb. 22, “Yes, we heard you.” And several days later, Russia launched a massive full–scale invasion of Ukraine.

To remind readers of the 1994 Budapest Memorandum, the United States, Russia, and Great Britain committed “to respect the independence and sovereignty and the existing borders of Ukraine” and “to refrain from the threat or use of force” against the country. Those assurances played a key role in persuading the Ukrainian government in Kiev to give up what amounted to the world’s third largest nuclear arsenal, consisting of some 1,900 strategic nuclear warheads.

When the U.S.S.R. broke up in late 1991, there were nuclear weapons scattered in the post–Soviet states. The George H. W. Bush administration worried that the collapse of the Soviet Union might turn violent, raising the prospect of conflict among nuclear–armed states. Ensuring no increase in the number of nuclear weapons states meant that only Russia would retain nuclear arms. Further, President Bill Clinton’s administration pursued the same goal.

Eliminating the strategic nuclear warheads, intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), and strategic bombers in Ukraine was a critical deal for the United States, NATO and Russian Federation. The ICBMs and bombers carried warheads of monstrous size—all designed, built, and deployed to attack United States and Western Europe. The warheads atop the SS-19 and SS-24 ICBMs in Ukraine had explosive yields of 400–550 kilotons each—that is, nearly 30 times the size of the atomic bomb that devastated Hiroshima. The 1,900 strategic nuclear warheads—more than four times the number of nuclear warheads that China currently possesses—could have destroyed every U.S. city with a population of more than 50,000 three times over.

Clearly, Russian–Ukrainian war, resulting in massive destructions of the Ukrainian cities, casualties on both sides and dangerous tensions between the West and Russia, was preventable if two stipulations described above were followed through by Ukraine and NATO—i.e., stop expansion of NATO eastward and Ukraine’s compliance with the 2014 Minsk Protocol.

In my presentation “Russian–Ukrainian Relations: Looking Back and Looking Forward” at the Juneau World Affairs Council in 2014, I discussed demographic, territorial and social issues between these two nations that is still current today. Click on the link to watch this presentation.

Unfortunately, today the “bear” is out of his cage, and he will grab what he can and wants. Sanctions against Russia are interpreted by Russians as an economic declaration of war and, most likely, will not result in Putin’s retreat or ultimate defeat. 

In my observation and communication with Russian citizens, most of them support Putin’s aggressive politics, his imperial ambitions and “special military operation in Ukraine.” It is conceivable that Russia will continue its aggressive invasion and eventual partition of Ukraine; and who knows what is next.

Solution—someone has to give in order to prevent a global conflict. And please, don’t tease the “Bear” or play with “matches.”

Alexander B. Dolitsky was born and raised in Kiev in the former Soviet Union. He received an M.A. in history from Kiev Pedagogical Institute, Ukraine, in 1976; an M.A. in anthropology and archaeology from Brown University in 1983; and was enroled in the Ph.D. program in Anthropology at Bryn Mawr College from 1983 to 1985, where he was also a lecturer in the Russian Center. In the U.S.S.R., he was a social studies teacher for three years, and an archaeologist for five years for the Ukranian Academy of Sciences. In 1978, he settled in the United States. Dolitsky visited Alaska for the first time in 1981, while conducting field research for graduate school at Brown. He lived first in Sitka in 1985 and then settled in Juneau in 1986. From 1985 to 1987, he was a U.S. Forest Service archaeologist and social scientist. He was an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Russian Studies at the University of Alaska Southeast from 1985 to 1999; Social Studies Instructor at the Alyeska Central School, Alaska Department of Education from 1988 to 2006; and has been the Director of the Alaska-Siberia Research Center (see www.aksrc.homestead.com) from 1990 to present. He has conducted about 30 field studies in various areas of the former Soviet Union (including Siberia), Central Asia, South America, Eastern Europe and the United States (including Alaska). Dolitsky has been a lecturer on the World Discoverer, Spirit of Oceanus, andClipper Odyssey vessels in the Arctic and sub-Arctic regions. He was the Project Manager for the WWII Alaska-Siberia Lend Lease Memorial, which was erected in Fairbanks in 2006. He has published extensively in the fields of anthropology, history, archaeology, and ethnography. His more recent publications include Fairy Tales and Myths of the Bering Strait Chukchi, Ancient Tales of Kamchatka; Tales and Legends of the Yupik Eskimos of Siberia; Old Russia in Modern America: Russian Old Believers in Alaska; Allies in Wartime: The Alaska-Siberia Airway During WWII; Spirit of the Siberian Tiger: Folktales of the Russian Far East; Living Wisdom of the Far North: Tales and Legends from Chukotka and Alaska; Pipeline to Russia; The Alaska-Siberia Air Route in WWII; and Old Russia in Modern America: Living Traditions of the Russian Old Believers; Ancient Tales of Chukotka, and Ancient Tales of Kamchatka.

A few of Dolitsky’s past MRAK columns:

Read: Neo-Marxism and utopian Socialism in America

Read: Old believers preserving faith in the New World

Read: Duke Ellington and the effects of Cold War in Soviet Union on intellectual curiosity

Read: United we stand, divided we fall with race, ethnicity in America

Read: For American schools to succeed, they need this ingredient

Read: Nationalism in America, Alaska, around the world

Read: The case of the ‘delicious salad’

Read: White privilege is a troubling perspective

Read: Beware of activists who manipulate history for their own agenda

Read: Alaska Day remembrance of Russian transfer

Read: American leftism is true picture of true hypocrisy

Read: History does not repeat itself

Read: The only Ford Mustang in Kiev

Read: What is greed? Depends on the generation

Read: Worldwide migration of Old Believes in Alaska

Read: Traditions of Old Believers in Alaska

Read: Language, Education of Old Believers in Alaska

40 COMMENTS

  1. This piece by Mr. Dolitsky should be carefully read by everyone. To my knowledge, everything he says – and particularly the history – is correct. My only addition is that a solution to the current crisis can be found in and modeled after the agreement between the US and Russia in 1962 Cuban missile crisis.

    • I believe China is the key to a resolution since they will be the only remaining major buyer of Russian gas and oil. The Oiligarchs will be stripped bare by the West. Putin knows he can’t survive without the oligarchs and cash flow

  2. What a cynical and selective assessment masqueraded as pragmatist. “To remind readers of the 1994 Budapest Memorandum, the United States, Russia, and Great Britain committed “to respect the independence and sovereignty and the existing borders of Ukraine” and “to refrain from the threat or use of force” against the country.” Which part of this protocol did the takeover of Crimea and supporting the separatism with arms and “little green men” did Russia’s compliance fall into? Also no mention of the fact that over the last 20 years, Putin has built up the fear of outsiders in Russia through high-tech propaganda and violent suppression of any viable alternatives to his power, which explains this majority support. Or of the thousands of Russians that are being thrown in jail right now for holding a sign. Your views on Ukraine are very outdated, many of the people fighting now on both sides were born after 1991 and have always seen it as a separate country, aside from the last 8 years of Putin working to build himself up as Prince Vladimir. All talk of “one people” and “brotherhood” is completely moot now that Russian military has shown is absolute heartlessness, and Ukrainians are even more determined to throw off the yoke of being the “little brother” of a country that they see for what it is – a beat-down former empire descended into a totalitarian regime. I agree on one thing. Concessions will need to be made to save lives because unfortunately, not enough powerful Russians have the moral core to use this opportunity to put down the bully they’ve been enabling for over 20 years. They will not lead to lasting peace however because after Chechnya, Georgia, and Ukraine, the bully will keep going. And yes, I am Russian.

    • To LIsaV: I find it interesting how so many people in the U.S.,, including you Lisa, who know absolutely nothing about Ukraine, are so enflamed with anger at Russia about it and wanting to defend Ukraine at the potential cost of a nuclear war! I certainly sympathize, greatly, with the people of Ukraine right now, but I think it is terrible how the media play the drums of war rather than trying to explain both sides of the conflict. And, of course, it’s also terrible about the Biden administration simply saying, “NO” to Putin’s plea for assurance that NATO will not expand into Ukraine rather than trying to resolve the situation before it became too late.

      Of course, our media today are so propagandist that they will never point a finger at a Democrat administration for lighting the match to this conflict, but it is still surprising to see how easily public opinion can be created and fanned to the point of wanting war simply by painting one side as evil and the other as innocent. It is so easy for propagandist media to play on the righteous sense of human behavior to drive people to irrational and uninformed furor. But how many times has that happened in human history? Probably about the same as the number of wars in human history.

      • Sure, I know nothing about Ukraine, as apparently none of the people who are fighting for it now do either. Just keep telling yourself that a No from Biden is enough to quell the person that’s ordered murders of anyone important and he can get to who speaks up against him. Biden is the problem.

        • Oh well, nobody changes anyone’s minds in these comments. Thanks for posting the contents of the agreements, which is helpful for background. Blaming third parties for wars a country starts is long-held tradition, nothing new here.

        • LisaV and Dolitsky: I agree with both of you, except I have the viewpoint that I can’t be thinking I have any control over Putin or how Russia sees the West. Sort of like if my son is picking fights with a bully and not dealing with a bully very well, I’m going to deal with my son and hold him to a higher standard, not the bully. I do think the Bush’s, the Clintons, Obama, Biden, Western intelligence, NATO, EU etc have all highly contributed to this problem so it is very hard to go after Putin until we put our house in order so we have better legs to stand on. I think that is a far better way to make Putin and brutal Russian imperialism lose favor within Russia, which is the ultimate goal of the West. Nobody is against a prosperous Russia that finds success and freedom internally and in the world markets as long as it isn’t threatening to the rest of the world or the people within Russia. But boy, with the way people like Hillary Clinton and the media have been talking and with the sanctions, Russians wouldn’t know that. They just hear the drum beats of war and Western propaganda against all of Russia. And they easily believe the Russian propaganda that makes them believe we all hate Russians that love Russia.

      • I lived with a Russian for a few years. He was born in Manchuria and lived under the Japanese during WWII. He had many stories, Russians accept that misery is part of life and you just go along with the flow and try to make out the best you can. One trait is they are not motivated unless there is some personal gain which is why the Soviet oligarch controlled economy is rife with inefficiency and corruption

    • Lisa, for 4 obvious, objective reasons, Kiev 2014 was a Western-backed coup – not a revolution – breaking the Budapest peace agreement and threatening the Russians with what has become “interventionist”/aggressor NATO all the way up to Kharkov at their throats.
      And so they counter-moved just like we did in 1983, when there was a pro-Soviet coup on strategic Grenada within *our* inner security perimeter.
      More recently, the president of Haiti who was warming up to China was assassinated by Colombian mercenaries who have served us well in the past … and then sought escape in the Taiwanese Embassy, which apparently hadn’t been informed about this!
      And a month or so ago, when Russia counter-threatened stationing troops in Cuba and/or Venezuela – from which we are not begging oil – National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said we would not TOLERATE that.

      I’m sorry, Lisa, but international relations are a 2-way fair play street, and we are no longer so powerful as to consider ourselves above it.

      All the Russians want is security: border states being neutral and de-militarized and to keep the territory they and East Ukraine Russians took (back) after our coup.

      By the way, when I was living in Juneau 1973-89, I was very active in the public forum – Juneau Empire, etc. – defending national defense and nuclear deterrence, as Alex can well tell you.
      I believe I was the person who convinced key State Dept. Kremlinologist Martha Mautner – a colleague of George Kennan in our Moscow embassy after the war – that the 1940 Soviet massacre of 25,000 Polish officers and intelligentsia at Katyn (near Smolensk) and elsewhere could be the Silver Bullet historical truth issue to bring down Soviet hegemony in Poland and Eastern Europe, and it did.
      ‘https://www.ibiblio.org/pub/academic/history/marshall/military/wwii/special.studies/katyn.massacre/katynlrc.txt

      Red Army historians and investigators – the Red Army had suffered at least as much at the hands of the NKVD before the war, which helped the Nazis invade on 22Jun41 greatly – in good faith helped the Poles find the mass burial sites.
      And the Russians of today are definitely NOT commies, let alone Nazis like our pro-war “neoconservative” media are trying to smear them. In fact, Ukraine’s neo-Nazis were key players in the coup – being the Kiev snipers to escalate the demonstrations into a revolution/coup with homicidal violence – 3 credible sources on that – and have been the enforcers in the coup government ever since.
      Why else would Ukraine be only one of 2 countries to vote against anti-Nazi UN General Assembly Resolutions 169 on 16Dec20 and 149 on 16Dec21?

      This tragedy is not TV simple. TRY to stay objective and consider BOTH sides of it. Biden&Blinken could have supported a fair security treaty and avoided all this, but they had and have 4 cynical motives for wanting the Ukraine War … regardless of all the innocent people suffering and dying.

      Alex, I know how distraught you must be about this. Hang in there.

  3. This should be required reading for our Alaskan Congressional delegation but, alas, it is more than one sentence long so there is not a chance that they could comprehend the salient facts contained within!

  4. With RT America shutting down, it is good to see that gullible Americans can still get a dose of Russian state propaganda.

    The historical distortions here are too many to address without a full article, but for centuries there were many Rus states and Moscow was hardly the most important. The Mongols destroyed the power of Kiev and Moscow became a significant power serving as the Mongols’ tax collector and enforcer. After it shook off Mongol rule in the late 1300s it proceeded to conquer and destroy other Rus states (such as Novgorod). It gradually seized control of most of Ukraine by the late 1700s due to the decline of Poland-Lithuania which had ruled that region with significant local autonomy since the 1300s. The idea that there were “Russian lands” to be “gathered” and Moscow was and is the natural and eternal overlord of all it surveyed is an artifact of propaganda. In reciting the history, Dr. Dolitsky conveniently omits other glorious aspects of Russia’s rule over the region, including two centuries of Tsarist repression and misrule, the state-directed famine of the 1930s that took the lives of 3 million Ukrainians, and the millions of Ukrainians, Belarusins, Balts, Poles, Kazakhs, and others killed in the gulags or at murder sites like Katyn. (Not to mention the millions of Russians who died with them.)

    Moscow has no God given right to dominate, enslave, or massacre its neighbors, no matter what threat it claims to perceive. Nor does it have the right to dictate the foreign policies of its neighbors or instruct them on what governments they should have. NATO expansion was never an act of aggression and NATO was fading away until Putin revived it. The idea that Estonia or Slovakia in NATO is a threat to Russia is delusional. After 2014, anyone with half a brain recognized that Ukrainians would never agree to rejoin Putin’s “Great State.” Support for Russia even in the most Russophone cities is non-existent. The residents of Kharkiv and Sumy are choosing to die rather than “rejoin” their “brothers” and Russia has only Putin to thank for that. After 8 years of threats, cyber attacks, and proxy war from the so-called Republics of Luhansk and Donetsk, Putin upped the ante and threatened invasion. Is is any wonder the Minsk accords failed or that Ukraine sought to get closer to NATO or the EU? If Ukraine does eventually join either we can erect a monument to Putin for that as well.

    Dr. Dolitsky tells us that the bear is on the loose and will take what he wants and we should be very afraid. But the bear seems to have run out of gas north of Kyiv and Ukrainians will have something to say about this before its over. So I’ll let them have the last word: ‘https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MDF1-RD9Fv8

    • To John Radzilovski: I don’t see any points of contention between my brief summary of the historic bonds between Slavic states and your more detailed summary. The main objective of my article is to familiarize readers on the subject rather than writing a comprehensive academic publication.

      Readers may also find it useful to get acquainted with Professor John J. Mearsheimer explanation behind the Ukraine crisis.

      Professor Mearsheimer teaches at the University of Chicago. He graduated from West Point in 1970 and then served five years as an officer in the U.S. Air Force. He has published six immensely influential books on international relations.

      “Main points: (1) Conventional wisdom that Putin is solely responsible for this crisis is wrong. The U.S. and its allies are mainly responsible for this Ukraine Crisis. (2) Russia’s moves on Ukraine can be understood in 3 dimensions: NATO expansion, EU expansion, and Color Revolution funded and encouraged by the U.S. and West.

      On April 3, 2008, at the Bucharest Summit, NATO announced that Georgia and Ukraine would become part of NATO. The Russians made it unequivocally clear at that point that this is not going to happen. They drew a line in the sand. There were two big tranches of NATO expansion before the 2008 Bucharest meeting. The first tranche of NATO expansion was in 1999 that included Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic. Then there was the second tranche in 2004, which included countries like Romania and the Baltic States and so forth and so on. The Russians swallowed those two NATO expansions. They intensely disliked both of them but they swallowed them.

      When NATO announced in 2008 that the expansion would now include Georgia and Ukraine, the Russians drew a line in the sand. It’s very important to understand it. Thus, it is no accident that in August of 2008, a few months after the April 2008 Bucharest Summit, there was a war between Russia and Georgia. Remember, Georgia is the other country besides Ukraine that is going to be brought into NATO.”

  5. Putin mis-calculated Ukranian desire for sovereignty and thought Eastern Europe would not care if he was their neighbor again. Once you open the bottle of Democracy and free market prosperity is hard to put the cap back on.

  6. Doubt that “ deep Slavic roots” exist between Ukrainians and Russians as Dolitsky claims. The Ukrainian people have a much lighter complexion, tend to be blue or green eyed and are often blond which are typical Caucasian traits. The Ukraine has historically strong connections to the west which have existed far longer and much deeper than they have ever had with Russia. In fact most relationships with Russia have involved forceful occupation and violence!!

  7. An interesting perspective, no doubt, that from a person who fled his homeland but is found defending the land he once fled, while millions flee for fear of death. Be glad you escaped when you did and you are allowed to share your experiences Alexander, many Ukrainians won’t be able to share their experiences and the atrocities of war suffered at the hands of the land you fled.
    .
    I must have missed the part where Ukraine is wholly innocent and as pure as the driven snow, but there sure are a lot of Russian supporters making up all kinds of far fetched ideas to claim Russia is simply protecting themselves from a much smaller country that hasn’t invaded or attacked them. The claim that Russia is protecting themselves from the encroachment of NATO makes sense on the surface but what happens if/when Russia fully annexes Ukraine, doesn’t that logically mean that Russia has made itself the neighbor of NATO? Or is it ok to use your friend or little brother as a shield when it suits your fancy in Russia?
    .
    Regarding the 1994 Budapest Memorandum that Russia has repeatedly violated President Zelenskyy said, in part “Since 2014, Ukraine has tried three times to convene consultations with the guarantor states of the Budapest Memorandum. Three times without success. Today Ukraine will do it for the fourth time. I, as President, will do this for the first time. But both Ukraine and I are doing this for the last time. I am initiating consultations in the framework of the Budapest Memorandum. The Minister of Foreign Affairs was commissioned to convene them. If they do not happen again or their results do not guarantee security for our country, Ukraine will have every right to believe that the Budapest Memorandum is not working and all the package decisions of 1994 are in doubt.” That was before Russia once again broke the agreement and once again invaded Ukraine. You can read his whole speech here ‘https://kyivindependent.com/national/zelenskys-full-speech-at-munich-security-conference/’ What good does having international agreements do if they aren’t enforced?

  8. History, schmistory.

    Dropping bombs on cities because their citizens want to align themselves politically and economically with the west has little to do with history and everything to do with madness. Putin sees himself as that “rough beast, its hour come round at last” who intends to remake the world in his image.

    He won’t stop until he is stopped.

    • To Mark Payne: I was born and raised in Kiev, Ukraine. It is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe: old churches, picturesque landscape, unique architecture, sport, opera, ballet, art museums, universities, climate, white sand beaches, Dnieper River, friendly people, etc.

      I and my friends could never imagined that Russians and Ukrainians could be at war with each other. I cannot settle this in my head.

      As to your question what the U.S., NATO and West should do in this situation, to avoid a direct military confrontation with Russians and Byelorussians: Grave mistakes were made by all parties involved prior to this war — irresponsible Ukrainian diplomacy and its remarkable corruption; aggressive Russian behavior toward their former Soviet Republics and Russian defensive mentality; and our (U.S., West and NATO) ignorance toward Russian and Ukrainian needs.

      What we have now? Russians will not retreat, Ukrainians will not give in, and U.S. does not have a viable plan for reconciliation. This is a terrible combination. At the moment we should stay away from a direct military confrontation with Russians, as far away as we can. I think that Russian aggression against Ukraine eventually will hurt them to its core. But I don’t know how and when.

      • Alexander Dolitsky: Putin retreated from Georgia after 17 days though, didn’t he? Honest question. I find geopolitics incredibly hard to keep up with. I just think there is a real possibility of that repeating itself if the West and Putin don’t keep escalating things. It’s silly for the US to keep entertaining Ukraine joining NATO when the members won’t approve Ukraine becoming a member, at least not within the next few years. And I think it is REAL silly for Russia and Putin to think Ukraine shouldn’t side with the West when Putin behaves this way.

        • To Justin Erickson: Georgia was an easy target for Putin. It was a war against Georgia. He grabbed some territory and left with insignificant loses. Putin’s war in Ukraine is a war against West. He will not retreat.

  9. You all have a deep understanding of this conflict, its history, and a way of thinking that most Americans do not, including our present government. I am afraid that the present administration is going to further botch the situation with their tactics and force a war. As an Alaskan, this concerns me, mostly because when I used to travel to Russia, when I told the locals there that I was from Alaska, they were all quick to point out that Alaska still belongs to them. This should concern all of us. I am fully supportive of offering humanitarian aid, but do not have confidence in our government to go beyond that.

    • Trig: I feel the same way. I hear Hillary Clinton asking hackers of the US to target businesses in Russia and it makes me shiver. I don’t think these people understand how easily Russians, not just Putin, can believe we are arrogant and evil and are due for a deserving great fall. These sanctions do nothing to deter Putin for a reason. They will just give many Russians more reasons to be bitter towards the West, not Putin. Even if the sanctions do work on Russia and devalue the ruble within Russia, not just in exchanges, the West really underestimates the ability of Russians to put up with misery and many of them really do think we are arrogant and hypocritical and lie in our versions of history because it is not hard to find examples where that it is absolutely true. But they don’t look in the mirror too often either (obviously) and this can escalate really fast. I truly wish Western media and intelligence would be more honest and more open about the information that is being shared in Russia in order to combat it, rather than trying to cover it up because we are afraid it will work on our own people. “The truth doesn’t damage points of view that are legitimate.”

  10. First of all, I respect Alexander’s view of this mainly due to the blood that flows in his veins and his deep knowledge of the history and people of the region. I was fortunate to do some graphics work for him on two of his books and find him to be incredibly interesting and kind. As for Russia wanting Ukraine back… Putin not wanting Ukraine to be a part of NATO seems like a hollow excuse because, when he retakes Ukraine – and probably Moldova – he’ll butt right back up against NATO countries. (For all intents and purposes, Belarus is part of Russia and does its bidding.) And, apparently, everything that anyone does contrary to his current ambitions is committing an “Act of War” against Russia. I get why Putin wants what once was Russia’s back but, the way that he’s doing it is barbaric, brutal and will have an eternal effect on how he is viewed from this point forward. Yet, he does not care about perceptions nor has he ever. Bottom line is that he viewed the West as weak and he made his move. Honestly, who would want this administration to get us into a conflict of any kind let alone a global one. Now, Biden and his Prog offspring can continue with their vacuous agenda and go back to concerning themselves with the Green New Deal and making sure gay farm animals aren’t discriminated against or misgendered. That should keep them busy for another 2.75 years and, to our collective detriment.

  11. Old Biden Saying:
    .
    “Milk your friends, so your enemies will yearn to be milked by you.”
    .
    Or better yet: “Let your drugged-out kid milk them and then take 75% from them all.”

  12. Thank you, Mr. Dolitsky, for your insight. I can’t help but wonder how many critics on here stood with the Iraqi people in 2003 when U.S. forces wasted civillians there with reckless abandon. But it was for “Democracy”…… – M.John.

  13. Mr. Dolitsky,
    Thank you for taking the time to clearly state why this situation is occurring and how it could have been prevented. Ron Paul and Daniel McAdams, of the Ron Paul Institute for Peace, have been saying the same thing since before the violence started and support disbanding NATO. The only people clicking their heels with glee over this war, are the businesses associated with war and those businesses contribute greatly to both Democrats and Republicans. And of course, our president, who is now bringing the parties together during this time of crisis? REALLY? The dog is being wagged.

  14. The conflict is extremely complex, and Alexander, as is customary illustrates the background very few in the west are familiar with. When the shooting commenced, the first question was how will the massive ethnic Russian population who were simply moved into the coal and grain rich eastern Ukraine by Stalin (the ethnic Georgian) respond. It appears the majority consider themselves Ukranian and are rallying while their women and children are being killed.
    The current western oligarch installed regime in the US has been continuing the wholesale impoverishing and destruction of American economic, military, societal and security commenced under Obama, destroying the middle class, after the four year unforseen pause aberration of the previous administration. This includes outsourcing illegal bio weapon research to Ukraine, which undermines the pretense of moral superiority position. We just emerged from the consequences outsourcing pathogen enhancement to China resulting in Covid.
    The whole world watched as our politically purged and eviscerated officer corps managed the disaster in Afghanistan, insuring our allies were literally eliminated and calling into question relying on the US. Saudi and Emerati leaders have blocked our president from their cell phones.
    The average Ukranian or Russian has no more voice in government than Americans have become accustomed to. Ukraine has been used as a corrupt foreign aid slush fund for the Biden crime family and others by both parties for decades. The $15 billion aid package passed for Ukraine, most will be siphoned off by Ukranian and American connected families in off shore bank accounts.
    The military industrial complex sees a field day in profits and kick backs along with our senators and representative to escalate the conflict. None of our leaders care in the least for the average Ukranian or American.
    The Russian bear is a predatory animal with no mercy, and the west has long abandoned the unique culture of freedom decades ago. Now we all will suffer the consequences of incompetent and corrupt leadership. America is where Rome found itself right before the barbarian invasions.

  15. Thanks for this article. It’s good to hear the data points and perspective from someone who has lived there and seen the particulars up close. I would like to know something though. You mentioned that the majority of Russians support Putin’s aggression towards Ukraine. How do you know this? My own presumption is that this is unlikely. Russians under 18 who actively engage in war protests are arrested and sent to jail for three years. Adults who do this go to jail for 8 years. And war protest organizers in Russia get 15 years behind bars. With punitive measures like these in place, the disincentive to protest is optimal. There is zero tolerance by Putin. Thus, Russians, by absolute fear of the consequences, will default to keeping their mouths shut. But it’s hardly a show of support for the dictator’s aggression.

    • To ChissyB: In my communication with many Russian citizens of different social and economic background, I concluded that they support Putin’s aggression. I also watch news from Moldova, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Russia and Latvia. Of course, situation changes daily, but my personal observation and statistics that I receive from other sources suggest that majority of Russian citizens (not Russians abroad) of 50 to 70 years old support Putin’s aggression; most young people against it; and middle-age group is mixed. Please note that most protesters (45,000 to 50,000 in total, so far) were relatively young people. Population of Russia is 146 million residents.

      • Your conclusion about Russian citizens supporting Putin’s war is not consistent with reality, please check out these two links.

        ‘https://www.chemistryworld.com/news/more-than-600-russian-scientists-sign-open-letter-against-war-with-ukraine/4015292.article

        ‘https://www.eureporter.co/world/russia/2022/02/24/an-open-letter-from-russian-scientists-and-science-journalists-against-the-war-with-ukraine/

        • To Bharat Jhaveri: My assessment is based on my personal communication with Russian citizens and information I receive from various news agencies, including pro-Ukrainian blogs and news channels. I cannot find a link on the internet, but apparently there is also a long list signed by Russian scientists, entertainers and journalists who support Putin’s policy. I hope Russian society wake up and massively protest against Putin’s aggressive war in Ukraine.

        • To Bharat Jhavert: Correction for the link:

          ‘https://www.timeshighereducation.com/news/russian-rectors-union-echoes-kremlin-propaganda-ukraine

    • To ChrissyB: Interesting information: 200 Russian witches, yes witches, in Moscow prayed for Putin’s victory. See the link below. It is in Russian. Remarkable, but true. I received this information from my friend in Moscow.

      ‘https://yandex.ru/video/touch/search/?text=ведьмы%20путина&filmId=3679747177792616605

  16. Dolitsky does nothing but justify Putin’s atrocities in Ukraine under the Russian rubric “kick the crap out of ’em and let them know that you’re still at the top of your game!” Dolitsky definitely can cudgel Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy, and Solzhenitsyn justifying Putin’s crimes against humanity with his apologetics and earn a top spot in “Putinesque literature!”

    Dolitsky croaks, “Propaganda, propaganda, propaganda!” I grant that it is an “art” that he speaks to with practiced authority as a thrall to Putin. Dolitsky knows no shame!

      • Dolitsky, “the” renown man of fairy tales and myths, daren’t whisper a word condemning Putin’s “war crimes!” Alexander, where is your manhood? Here you are at your most eloquent: “I certainly sympathize, greatly, with the people of Ukraine right now (and the unfortunate young Russian conscripts serving as cannon fodder, too), but I think it is terrible how the media play the drums of war rather than trying to explain both sides of the conflict. And, of course….” What bilge! Since you first expressed such “sympathies,” the world has seen the Russians commit more atrocities in Ukraine! Why can’t you condemn Putin’s criminality? Of course, I expect only the “best” of you! Enjoy your caviar and vodka while you can; you wouldn’t find the good life in hell!

        • Correction: “Enjoy your caviar and vodka while you can; you won’t find the good life in hell!”

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