Here is a short summary of my thoughts on what’s happening and some possible actions around it, presented in bullet points.
Just for the background – I’m a Jew, born in Russia, moved to Canada almost 15 years ago (left Russia for political reasons). My first education is in Journalism, which included a lot of classes on Russian history. More details about my tech career (not very relevant for this post though) can be found here.
- The world needs unconditional support for Ukraine right now. Time for questioning and analysis will come later – nobody knows when at this point. The easiest way to help is monetary, there are also volunteers in various regions collecting items to be shipped to Ukraine. Here is my post specific to help options from Canada. Note it’s advisable to donate directly to volunteers or Ukrainians where possible. If you would like to send personal donations but don’t have contacts, message me. Regarding transferring money, Paysend is the best right now providing 0% commission from Canada to Ukraine until May 1, 2022.
- Neutrality is not option. Anyone “staying neutral” is de-facto supporting Putin. You have to pick a side, and this must be Ukrainian side. This is a case of pure evil fascist Russia being a threat to the whole world. Russia has become a classic fascist dictatorship with the dominant mode of thinking in Russian pro-Putin public as being unfairly discriminated against and at the same time better than anybody else – very similar to the story of the Weimar Republic in Germany, with similar outcomes.
- Personally, I cut contacts with anyone who supports Russia (for good) and anyone who “declares neutrality” (those contacts I may re-evaluate later). I believe this is the right call because there is nothing to discuss with people who cannot take a right stand in this situation.
- Don’t count on Russians in Russia to revolt or even attempt to. First, most people who were critical of Putin and vocal about it have left Russia a while back. Second, from historical data – it takes people in Russia ~70-100 years to recognize they need a major change and attempt a revolt. Last such revolt happened in 1991-1993, so it is unlikely another one may happen before 2060. Third, people in Russia are being brainwashed hard by Putin’s propaganda – and that is happening since late 2000s. That makes for ~15 years of hard Nazi-style propaganda. You can’t undo that in a day. More so – with 100% of Russian media currently controlled by propaganda it may not be possible to change mindset of people in Russia in any foreseeable future at all.
- Which brings me to this point – best thing to help weakening Russia, apart from economic sanctions and arming Ukraine, is to help reasonable Russian nationals leave the country. Depriving Russia of human capital is one of the most effective measures to break its economy and stop its war machine. Unfortunately, a lot of organizations in the West take the opposite approach – i.e. European banks freezing accounts of Russian nationals en-masse. For example, Societe Generale in France did it to somebody I know personally and who is against Putin. Mind you, it is the same Societe Generale that invested billions of euros into Putin’s Russia – and now best they could do is fight people trying to leave Russia – seriously?
- Instead of attacking Russian nationals who oppose Putin and try to flee the country, it’s better if various Western organizations would start with accepting their own responsibility. Who invested billions of dollars in Putin’s Russia? Who turned blind eye to various violations of human rights in there? Who supplied luxury items to the regime actors and provided royal treatment in the West for them and their families? Whose money essentially went to suppressing attempts of protests against Putin in Russia? Start with figures like Gerhard Schroder maybe, would you? There are lots of others like Gerhard in the West who supported Putin’s regime for years and now get to simply carry on with their lives without any consequences.
- Best scenario for Russia is to be split into parts. It is a shame this hasn’t been done after the end of the 1st Cold War. Russian Far East could be the first part to separate – with some areas there currently being contested by Japan – see this Kamil Galeev’s tweet for some context (he promised to write a big thread on this soon). So any support of separatism in Russian regions is good – likely with the growing sanctions, separatist sentiment would grow.