Russian militarism, the occupation of Crimea and its continued undeclared war in Ukraine has long undone any public relations benefits Russia received from the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, the most expensive Olympic Games in history. (Image: Marijn via Twitter)
After a brief attempt to escape from its past in the 1990s, Russia under Vladimir Putin is “again returning to militarism… the model of existence in which Russia had existed for centuries” in order to prepare for war. No other such civilization exists in the world now, but Russia “cannot militarize as it did, because it lacks the means,” Lilia Shevtsova says.
In an interview to Apostrophe.com.ua, portions of which have been published today, the Russian analyst points out that the Russian budget of 430 billion US dollars simply isn’t large enough to maintain the former kind of militarism.
And that gap between aspiration and possibility explains why Putin is behaving as he is: “Militarism requires the consolidation of society on the basis of one idea: the enemy and a besieged fortress. But now there are very few people in Russia who are prepared to support militarization.”
As a result, Shevtsova continues, “we find ourselves in a very complicated pause, when on the one hand, the system has not departed from militarism and the authorities want to return to militaristic patriotism and, on the other – and this is certainly the last gasp and agony of militarism — the country no longer can militarize itself or conduct a continuing struggle with the entire world.”
What that means, she says, is that “the Kremlin is capable of fake militarism, the imitation of war, and ‘an undeclared war.’ That is the kind of war Russia is conducting with Ukraine.” Most members of the Russian elite understand what is going on, she says; it is critically important that people in neighboring countries and the West do as well.