Russians know perfectly well what’s going on

Roman Tsymbaliuk
17:00, 22 May 2015
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There is a popular opinion in Ukraine that there is a need to open the eyes of the Russians to the actions of their government in Ukraine. To tell them about a direct armed invasion of the regular Russian army; the deployment of the so-called Russian volunteers in the Donbas for the sake of glorifying and saving the “Russian world”; the unlimited supply of tanks, "Grad" missile launchers, and ammunition. Some think that the Russians are being fooled, while they are ground down by the propaganda, having no opportunity to see an alternative point view.

I hate to disappoint you, but that would be a complete waste of time. All of your arguments or calls to reason will be met with a careful or emotional (depending on the manners of your counterpart) lecture about the Nazis/fascists in Ukraine, while any Ukrainian ready to defend their country will be lumped into this category. They will argue for some time about the infringement of the rights of Russian-speakers in Ukraine, while this debate will be exclusively in Russian.

Don’t think that the Russians are stupid, or they don’t understand anything because of the influence of their TV. This is absolutely not the case. The overwhelming majority of Russian citizens are well aware of the fact of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and... they support it. However, not all of them have enough courage to admit it (even to themselves). Some say that it can’t be happening “because we are fraternal nations,” some say that the soldiers go to the Donbas “unofficially”, someone insists they are fearless “volunteer militants”. They just prefer not taking one thing into account: citizens of the Russian Federation in this status shoot and kill people in the Donbas as effectively as Russian soldiers would. Some think that this doesn’t directly concern them, and they can just fantasize about a victorious war in Ukraine against the United States. It’s easy to believe in such things – on the TV they don’t show stories about Russian citizens who die in Ukraine. They only incite interest by speaking on camera about the crimes of the Kyiv “junta.”

In Russia, it is impossible to know the number of the fallen Russian “volunteers,” not to mention actual soldiers. This question is always deflected by the same response: “We are concerned about the terrible human rights record in Ukraine.”

Unfortunately, the report by Boris Nemtsov “Putin. War”, published by his friends and supporters, or any other future publications of this kind, will not change the situation. The Russians will still pretend that they have nothing to do with it and will keep talking about a “civil war” in Ukraine.

The situation can only be changed with a statement by the Russian president, the kind he has already given once. First, Putin was telling about the “self-defense forces” in Crimea, and then he acknowledged the fact of the invasion by the Russian regular army. And hundreds of talking heads on Russian TV suddenly found plenty of arguments to explain why it had actually been necessary for Putin to lie. It’s the same story with the Donbas – everyone who is zealously proving today that there are no Russian troops in Ukraine, will argue exactly the opposite if the story coming from the main tower of the Kremlin changes.

Roman Tsymbalyuk

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