In the Ukrainian segment of social networks, the arrest of Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny upon his return to Russia after a long post-novichok poisoning rehabilitation in Germany, eclipsed even a fake story about the alleged "full ban" of the Russian language, spun by pro-Russia pundits.
Some are perplexed over the fact that the "triumphant" return of the "survivor" was accompanied by a quote from a legendary chauvinistic Russian action movie from the early 2000's, Brother-2: "... Bring us some vodka!" the main character's female acquaintance tells a flight attendant and is quoted verbatim by Navalny's wife on a Moscow-bound plane departing from Berlin. Some consider a show-off stunt the move turn oneself in to Russian security forces by someone who has barely survived a poisoning attack by those very agencies. And some are outraged, why anyone in Ukraine should bother to pay attention to the squabbles ongoing beyond the border between their dictatorial government and a toothless opposition.
But this is all worth paying some attention to, though.
This whole foiled poisoning story, on the one hand, screams incompetence as regards the Russian spy community, which some in Ukraine some still consider real pros in their craft. Not only did they fail the mission to eliminate the dissident – they also embarrassed themselves in from of the whole world when their target Navalny duped one of the operatives purportedly involved in the attack into revealing details of the operation. Although, it seems there's nothing surprising in such incompetence following a Salisbury attack and the infamous interview where the two alleged attackers claimed they had visited the UK city as tourists admiring unique spires of a local cathedral.
After all, had they really sought to get rid of the guy, they would've just killed him bluntly as they did with Boris Nemtsov on a Moscow bridge right outside the Kremlin
On the other hand, the Navalny poisoning job could have been intentionally non-lethal from the start. It's just that the Kremlin chief could have needed an incapacitated rival, not a dead one. After all, had they really sought to get rid of the guy, they would've just killed him bluntly as they did with Boris Nemtsov on a Moscow bridge right outside the Kremlin.
Meanwhile, the "bring us some vodka" catchphrase, which triggered many Ukrainians over the pretext implying Russia's imperial claims of Crimea, could well be aimed at the Russian potential electorate. It's those very "other Russians" who are in fact the same kind. And Ukrainians should accept that this has nothing to do with them. All that I want to believe is that most Ukrainians realize that the "vodka" reference is on a par with a "Crimea is not a sandwich" quote (in one of the interviews, to a question "Whose territory is Crimea?" Navalny said Crimea is not a sandwich to be handed over back and forth, suggesting it mustn't be returned to Ukraine). In the end, it’s time for Ukrainians to stop admiring "them other Russians" and creating another idol for themselves, this time in the face of Alexei Navalny.
At the same time, totally ignoring the developments in Russia would testify to a certain infantilism. Ukrainians need to know what's happening in the country with which they've been at war for the seventh year already. They also need to work – directly or indirectly – to make things worse for Russia internally. If Putin's political opponents are trying to knock support from under his feet, it doesn't mean Ukrainians must necessarily help them, but it would be wrong to not monitor these processes. If those new sanctions, which some European countries are promoting over Navalny's arrest, create additional pressure on the Russian economy and distract the Kremlin from any new escalation in Ukraine, it's important that Ukraine support them and even try to strengthen them.
Even if many see Putin, Navalny, and the rest of Russia with its entire population as a problem for Ukraine, they won't go anywhere simply because Ukrainians want this.