The War in Ukraine
By Anastasia Popova, April 23, 2015
Do you remember that episode from “Forrest Gump”, when at an anti-war gathering next to the Lincoln Monument Forrest has started to speak passionately about the War in Vietnam and the sound went out while he had his say?
Every time I write about the war in Ukraine, I feel exactly like him: so much to say, but nobody hears. It is like the communication equipment at our fingertips is disconnected from the majority of Russian constituency. People are deaf and numb from all that hatred promoted by the national TV channels. They no longer want to hear the truth. They want to cheer and feel themselves as part of the powerful crowd.
Wars of the 21st century are not the wars of ideologies anymore, but the wars of breaking news. People want to know that they are on the right side and they are winning – so give this feeling to them, no matter what reality is. It was true with Americans that at one moment genuinely believe in WMD in Iraq and demolished the whole region before realizing their mistake. It is even more true with Russians believing in fascist junta in Kiev installed and supported by the United States.
Hybrid war is the war of fakes. Justify your position and claim your victory before your own people recognize you being a liar. Victors are immune from prosecution.
Fakes may be ephemeral, but the casualties are real. Dead bodies are coming home in thousands; dead minds count in millions. It may seem that sometimes it is enough to switch off the TV to avoid being zombified, but you never know if your neighbor will do the same. That’s how tensions in families and among friends split the society and make people scared to make that simple move – switch off the bloody TV!
One day being with my friends in Silicon Valley at a favorite Russian intellectual game «What? Where? When?» I was struck by learning that I am not welcomed to play with my team anymore. Guess the reason? It was me being against the war in Ukraine – it was considered “unpatriotic” by people who once decided they leave Russia because it was impossible to work there as technology entrepreneurs! They were telling me about patriotism – me, who was kicked out of my Motherland by Putin’s security forces for fighting during years for better life for Russians, while those “patriots” were enjoying California weather. Their patriotism was coming from sitting in safety and comfort in their San Jose homes, watching Russian TV and becoming proud of the country “rising from its knees”, killing thousands of Ukrainians in the process.
That was the final straw for me. That very day I thought to myself that the cease-fire should start in the people’s minds, and only then it can be achieved on the ground.
People of Russia and Ukraine are equally hurt by atmosphere of hatred of once brother nations. To repair the damage Putin’s regime made to recent colleagues, friends and even family members we would need years of patient and delicate work. Here in US, where at least different points of views are present and people are not restricted to one particular source of information it can be done within Russian and Ukrainian diasporas. It is like disintoxication for drug addicts – painful but important.
The problem is not new. We all remember the difficulties of denazification German people underwent in 1945. We remember the numerous stories of people had to recover from the false ideologies of authoritarian regimes in so many countries. We should definitely remember all the horrors and injustice of wars while preparing to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Victory in the World War II where Russia and Ukraine were one country and Russia and US were dear allies.
The fight in Ukraine should be stopped by any means. But it is even more important to stop the fight in the minds of Russians and Ukrainians, which will take way more time than any treaties to sign. We can start doing it right now.
That’s all I have to say about the war in Ukraine.