by Robert van Voren
It is hard to imagine to what extent Putin has done his country, and in particular the Russians among them, a disservice.
With his behavior he has made sure that a majority of the Ukrainian population has changed its attitude to Russians fundamentally and has started to view them as an enemy. As the writer Vladimir Voinovich pointed out so clearly: “they will never forgive us for this”. Indeed, there is a part of the Ukrainian population – in particular among the younger ones – who will never forgive, or forget, this.
But it is not only Ukrainians. He has made sure that internationally the notion “Russians” has again become synonym to “Soviets”. And now it is not ignorance among observers, like it was in Soviet days, but “Russians” are now really “Russians” and not just a wrong name attributed.
Also, he has made sure that the orange-black symbol, now propelled into the colors of “the Russian spring” and worn by separatists in the East of Ukraine, by “unidentified green military” in the Crimea and Eastern Ukraine and also used by FSB, GRU and all other illegal insurgents and infiltrators (as well as the crowds of useful idiots who for 500 Hryvnia sell their country and their own freedom, without realizing it) has become a sort of 21st century swastika. It used to be connected to the Second World War, to the fight against Nazi Germany. Now it is the symbol of Russian aggression, of Putinism, of 21st century neo-fascism. And it will never change back. No way will Ukraine ever hold a parade to celebrate the victory in 1945 using these colors as a symbol.
And Putin does not stop here. He will now hand out medals to the military who were on the Crimea but who officially were not there. So they get a medal for not being there?!
He is rubbing salt into wounds, one day after the other, and every move he makes with his condescending smile and cold KGB stare makes it even worse. Every day, the antipathy against Russians is growing, and every day more people fall back into a mood that we haven’t seen since the height of the Cold War.
Thank you, Putin, for messing up everything possible for the Russian nation. You will be remembered.
Robert van Voren is Professor of Soviet and Post-Soviet Studies at Vytautas Magnus University (Kaunas, Lithuania) and Ilia State University (Tbilisi, Georgia).