The Russian propaganda poster says: "Tank tours over Europe. Diesel fuel is ours, the impressions are yours! Battalions depart in the order of forming" (Image: narod.ru)
Anti-Americanism has become part of the discourse of ordinary Russians over the last year, but senior government officials have generally been restrained in their use of such phobias. But that has now changed, “Nezavisimaya gazeta” says, and “anti-American phobias have acquired the status of the official picture of the world in Russia.”
In an editorial today, the paper says that Nikolay Patrushev, the secretary of the Russian Security Council and former head of the FSB, has made it so by his blunt statements in the course of the interview he gave to Moscow’s “Kommersant” newspaper this week.
Patrushev’s remarks, “Nezavisimaya” says, are “practically unprecedented” as far as a senior Russian official is concerned and thus provide clear testimony about “the level of tension” which now dominates relations between Moscow and Washington.
As the editors note, Patrushev said that the US “very much wanted that Russia not exist at all as a country” and misquoted former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright in support of the notion that in the view of Washington, Russia should not retain either the Far East or Siberia because it doesn’t make good use of them. In fact, Albright did not say that.
Patrushev’s decision to do so, to make use of “invented citations,” is “symptomatic,” the paper says. It shows that “distrust and anger at the West and especially at the US has become for the Russian authorities the chief motivating factor” and that anything, whether it is true or not, is “suitable” for making its arguments.
The Kremlin officials words “mark out the system of coordinates within which the Russian authorities intend to act,” the paper says. For them, “the US wants to destroy Russia. De facto this is an enemy” to be opposed rather than someone with whom one can negotiate. The Europeans are less committed to the American position, Patrushev suggests.
“For those who support normal relations with the West, Patrushev’s comments are a warning bell,” the paper continues. They indicate that anti-Westernism and especially anti-Americanism are “not a maneuver but a strategic choice” and that Russia’s conflict with the outside world is reaching “a point of no return.”
The West will respond, “Nezavisimaya gazeta” says. Indeed, it already has. Germany’s defense minister said yesterday that “with Russia it is better to speak ‘from a position of strength.’” Thus, the attitudes of one side lead the attitudes of the other to change and put the two into a dangerous spiral downward.