In an exemplary exercise in Soviet Newspeak, Russian dictator Vladimir Putin yesterday declared that Russia is fighting Western aggression to preserve its sovereignty, “the right to be and remain Russia.” The only way to read that sentence as true is to accept that aggressing against a neighboring country and its sovereignty is the essence of being Russia… but that’s kind of like defending cancer’s right to be cancer.
In further Newspeak, Putin also declared that his invasion of Ukraine “is being carried out successfully, in strict conformity with the approved plan.” Russians don’t take a dump, son, without a plan, but you can’t use successful in the same sentence as this plan:
Analysts and western military officials agree on the primary cause of the flaws in Russia’s military offensive: a failure of intelligence that skewed military planning.
Flowing from this were failures linked to rash decision-making, logistical unpreparedness, poor maintenance of equipment and the use of young, inexperienced troops that together have culminated in a collapse of front-line Russian morale.
General Sir Richard Barrons, former head of the UK’s Joint Forces Command, said: “There is something here that is systemically wrong . . . somewhere in the Russian intelligence architecture, facts on the ground are being converted into an analysis, but that analysis is actually a narrative to support the preconceptions of the senior [Kremlin] leadership.”
As a result, Russia’s intended campaign — an assault strike predicated on speed and Ukrainian political weakness — has tipped into a joint combat operation requiring logistical and communications planning that does not seem to have been in place, say analysts [Sam Jones, John Paul Rathbone, and Demetri Sevastopulo, “‘A Serious Failure’: Scale of Russia’s Military Blunders Becomes Clear,” Financial Times, 2022.03.11].
If he can’t destroy the West and Ukraine, Putin will take out his frustrations on his own people. Putin’s speech (and here’s a link to the official English transcript from the Kremlin, but watch out when clicking on Russian state government websites!) includes this call for a domestic purge of enemies of the Russian state, a “fifth column” whom he says Western powers (the “they” in the first sentence) are using to destroy Russia:
Yes, of course, they will back the so-called fifth column, national traitors – those who make money here in our country but live over there, and “live” not in the geographical sense of the word but in their minds, in their servile mentality
I do not in the least condemn those who have villas in Miami or the French Riviera, who cannot make do without foie gras, oysters or gender freedom as they call it. That is not the problem, not at all. The problem, again, is that many of these people are, essentially, over there in their minds and not here with our people and with Russia. In their opinion – in their opinion! – it is a sign of belonging to the superior caste, the superior race. People like this would sell their own mothers just to be allowed to sit on the entry bench of the superior caste. They want to be just like them and imitate them in everything. But they forget or just completely fail to see that even if this so-called superior caste needs them, it needs them as expendable raw material to inflict maximum damage on our people.
The collective West is trying to divide our society using, to its own advantage, combat losses and the socioeconomic consequences of the sanctions, and to provoke civil unrest in Russia and use its fifth column in an attempt to achieve this goal. As I mentioned earlier, their goal is to destroy Russia.
But any nation, and even more so the Russian people, will always be able to distinguish true patriots from scum and traitors and will simply spit them out like an insect in their mouth, spit them onto the pavement. I am convinced that a natural and necessary self-detoxification of society like this would strengthen our country, our solidarity and cohesion and our readiness to respond to any challenge.
The so-called collective West and its fifth column are accustomed to measuring everything and everyone by their own standards. They believe that everything is for sale and everything can be bought, and therefore they think we will break down and back off. But they do not know our history and our people well enough.
Indeed, many countries around the world have long put up with living with their backs bent, obsequiously accepting all the decisions that come from their sovereign, looking up to it subserviently. This is how many countries live. Unfortunately, in Europe, as well.
But Russia will never be seen in such a miserable and humiliated situation, and the fight we are waging is the fight for our sovereignty and the future of our country and our children. We will fight for the right to be and remain Russia. The courage and fortitude of our soldiers and officers, the faithful defenders of the Fatherland, should inspire us [emphasis mine; Russian President Vladimir Putin, “Meeting on Socioeconomic Support for Regions,” videoconference with leaders of constituent entities of the Russian Federation, English transcript by the Kremlin, 2022.03.16].
It’s funny that Putin would take time in a speech on “scum and traitors” to say that he’s not condemning the folks like himself who put up their girlfriends and other associates in ritzy digs in the south of France and Switzerland. It’s alarming (but entirely in character) that he would lump “gender freedoms”—which he has previously called “a crime against humanity“—in with foie gras and oysters as luxuries subject to his contempt. It’s downright chilling to hear any leader call for cultural cleansing, call that process “natural and necessary”, and say that wiping out dissent will strengthen the nation.