The Truth is Out There

This is the 21st century. The Russians deny they are responsible for the slaughter of civilians in Bucha, Ukraine, claiming corpses were planted on the streets after Russian soldiers had left the scene. Satellite pictures clearly show bodies on the ground and Russian troops still on the scene.

There is a fiction making the rounds that says the average Russian does not know what their country is doing in Ukraine. Don’t buy it for a minute. During the Cold War, the Soviet Union worked hard to keep the truth out of their territory. Western news media were blocked, jammed, and banned. But the truth leaked in, and when the USSR fell in an economic collapse, the truth flowed in with a vengeance.

Vladimir Putin makes no secret of his desire to return to the days he sees as Russia’s glory and destiny. But he has only now, belatedly, tried to lower the Iron Curtain once again. Unlike the Chinese, who have maintained a bamboo blockade on electronic contacts to the outside world even as they increased their business contacts with the west, in Russia the post-Soviet days saw the end of that information shield. Now, even as he has criminalized critical comment, arrested, or killed opposition voices, and thrown western media representatives out of the country, the truth gets through. But some do not want to hear the truth.

Russians, particularly Russians born long after the end of World War II, are used to easy contact with the west. They know the rest of the world has cut them off. They know that travel to the west is no longer possible. They know that western fast-food restaurants have shut their doors. They know they are no longer welcome in western colleges. Or at most sporting competitions anywhere in the world. And they know shortages of goods, especially those made in the west, are beginning to appear. There is already a brain drain of young skilled Russians who have fled the country said to total in the hundreds of thousands. There will be more.

But not everyone can get away from Russia. And in truth many don’t want to. For many, especially the older Russians, the Putin led call for a return to Russian glory is welcome. A Rand corporation study reports Putin has been feeding his people propaganda for years. Russians have been taught to feel demeaned and disrespected by the west. To them, Putin is not a war criminal. He is a hero. They share his belief that domination of at least eastern Europe is their right. And they share his guilt.

The Russians will not stop. They never have. Brutality is in their blood. They slaughtered their opponents in World War II. Little was said by the western powers because it detracted from the even worse atrocities, if you dare assign them relative degrees of criminality, because the crimes of the Germans were so much worse. Th Russian’s mistreatment of civilians during war is legendary, Checknya, Syria, and now Bucha, Ukraine. And who knows what kind of horrors Russian soldiers, already clearly losers of this military campaign, are inflicting on the city of Mariupol. No unarmed relief efforts can get through to the besieged city. There are also reports of Ukrainians being forcibly taken east to detention camps in Russia. What does that remind you of?

This does not end until the Russians accept the fact that they do not own the people in the nations on their border. Ukraine is not Russia. Nor is Georgia. Or the Baltic States. Crimea is not Russia. Poland is not Russia. The eastern part of Germany is not Russia. Nor does Russia have the right to assimilate, as Putin has argued, all Russian speaking people anywhere. There are a hell of a lot of them in Brooklyn!

In the years following the collapse of the Soviet Union, many of the nations newly free of Russia sought to align with western Europe, or at least lean that way while remaining neutral. Russia might consider why.

This does not end until the rest of the world does something about it. The humanitarian cost is demonstrated minute after minute via social media in a manner never before possible. The world knows what is going on. How can people turn their backs on the people of Ukraine?

NATO supplies Ukraine and leads the sanctions front of the battle. But it has drawn the line at direct military involvement. The United Nations condemns the Russian crimes in nearly unanimous votes. Russia may find itself thrown out of some UN operations and other world bodies. But the UN was never designed to step in where the original founding nations are not in consensus agreement. It cannot do so now.

How long will the world watch the blood flow while still, understandably mindful of the Russian threat to employ nuclear weapons, staying out of direct military conflict with Russia. And with providing Ukraine with aircraft and missiles that would allow that nation to inflict on Russian cities what Russia has already done to the cities of the Ukrainians? Where does this end?


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