Russia is making scary noises – it’s time we got scared

The good thing about evil dictators of modernity is that they make no secret of their aggressive intentions towards the West. The bad thing is that the West tends not to listen.

Neither Lenin nor Hitler ever bothered with subterfuge. The international socialist Lenin created Komintern, a giant subversive organisation run out of Moscow and explicitly devoted to deliver the world into Soviet concentration camps. Both Lenin and his accomplices, such as Trotsky and Bukharin, openly talked and wrote about world revolution as their desideratum, effectively declaring war on the West. The West’s reaction? Massive financial and technological support of the Bolshevik regime, eventually enabling Stalin to build a formidable military machine. That juggernaut was only a few weeks away from rolling over Europe, when Hitler’s pre-emptive attack pushed it back. When the machine was cranked up again, it could only gobble up half of Europe, something that upset Stalin no end.

Nor did the national socialist Hitler conceal his murderous plans, as any reader of Mein Kampf will confirm. The West’s reaction? Massive support of the Nazi regime, first ignoring its threat and then failing to deal with it early enough, say after the militarisation of the Rheinland, when Hitler could have been stopped dead at relatively little cost. The results of the Western tendency towards appeasement are well known. But the lessons of it aren’t well learned.

In strategic terms, the Putin regime today is roughly where Nazi Germany was in 1936 – at the accelerated stage of a rearmament programme. In addition to physical weapons, this includes metaphysical ones: propaganda aimed at creating the right frame of mind both in the country and its potential adversaries, in this instance NATO. Weapons are the domain of the Defence Ministry; propaganda is mostly the responsibility of the SVR (Foreign Intelligence Service), formerly known as the KGB First Directorate charged with dealing with the West.

Both have spoken in the last few months, in a forthright manner that distinguishes those who know their cause is just. The propaganda bit came in a 32-minute video clip put together by the Russian Institute for Strategic Research (known as RISI in Russian or RISS in English) and shown on Russian television on 13 March, 2012. The RISI, whatever its official status, is an SVR think tank, and it’s run by Gen. Leonid Reshetnikov, until 2006 head of the SVR Analysis Department. In those days his name was different, but then what’s in a name? He is still doing the same job, with a few added responsibilities.

For those of you who understand Russian, I do suggest you watch this bit of shrill war propaganda ( Others will have to rely on my digest of it, and I’ll stick close to the text, adding a few parenthetic remarks of my own.

The gist is that the West has always tried to destroy Russia because it was terrified by her growing might. It was the West, specifically America, that engineered the 1917 February Revolution that put an end to the monarchy. It was a dastardly Wall Street abetted by Britain that, using the German General Staff as a clearance house, financed the subsequent Bolshevik takeover.

It was the West that falsely accused the Soviets of unprecedented atrocities when its own record, specifically during the Crusades and the Spanish Inquisition, was no better. In the interests of scholarly integrity the clip doesn’t hold the United States directly responsible for those outrages, rather implying that all Western countries are tarred with the same historical brush, and have been since the Middle Ages.

[Just to keep the record straight, the Inquisition carried out about 30,000 death sentences in the 400 years it was in business. The Soviets murdered over 60 million of their own citizens between 1917 and 1987 (Source: Prof. RJ Rummel’s book Lethal Politics, 1990). Both figures are reprehensible, but the latter is 2,000 times more so, if my arithmetic serves.]

When the Soviet Union grew too strong for America’s comfort, explains the clip, she bribed Gorbachev, Yeltsyn, liberals, democrats, liberal democrats, oligarchs, emphatically including Boris Berezovsky, and other traitors into destroying the country and breaking it up into 15 feeble fragments. It then bribed them further into putting in place liberal reforms that brought Russia to her knees, fostering starvation, unemployment, homelessness, stray children and civil conflicts responsible for killing up to 600,000 people. [‘Up to’ are fraught words, covering in this instance the range from one to 600,000, but then the Russians’ actuarial techniques are notoriously vague when it comes to human lives.]

Now the West is worried by Russia’s growing strength under her great national leader Putin, and it’s trying to undermine her as best it can. Specifically, it finances and organises all those White Ribbon demonstrations against Putin, as proved by video sequences showing opposition leaders walking in the general direction of the US Embassy. [If it’s true that the Embassy can organise rallies involving hundreds of thousands, then my hat’s off to it. But, considering its rather limited resources and a long history of incompetence in such matters, perhaps the metaphorical hat should remain perched on my head.]

The West, according to the RISI, would dearly love to bomb Russia into docility or, preferably, the Middle Ages. Direct proof for such intentions isn’t offered, while the indirect variety supposedly comes from NATO’s action in Iraq, Serbia and Lybia, where not only poor Saddam, Milosevich and Col. Gaddafi but even the Colonel’s little grandchildren were brutally murdered. [Contextually, by the Americans and, by association, Russian liberals.] Russia’s friends Chavez and Assad are also under mortal threat. Yet the West can’t bomb Russia, considering her growing military muscle under Putin.

The video then reels off a few numbers, such as Russia’s GDP that under Putin has grown 10-fold [a parallel increase in world prices of hydrocarbons, Russia’s chief export, isn’t mentioned] and her military expenditure that has been increased by a similar proportion. The latter achievement is then illustrated by sequences, showing missile launches, and a few pieces of hard data. Apparently, Putin’s army is about to receive 60 new AA systems, 90 new types of warplanes and uncountable new missile systems, including those with a range of 5,500 km and those armed with 15 MIRVs.

The whole tone of the film is indistinguishable from Stalin’s, Khrushchev’s or Brezhnev’s war propaganda, and the nice xenophobic touches create just the right atmosphere. The Russians are implicitly told to be wary of the West and, above all, to support the Putin regime that won’t let the West get away with its sharp practices and murderous intentions.

By contrast, the report of Russia’s Defence Minister Anatoliy Serdyukov to Putin, published on the government’s official website, is delivered in the dry, informative language of battleground briefing ( Stab points aren’t used to formulate the tasks for Mr Serdyukov’s ministry, but they are implied. Here they are some of them, verbatim, and they do add credibility to the RISI video:

  • Massive and comprehensive modernisation of the Armed Forces. The state programme of modernisation until 2020 contains the relevant plans and by January 2021 we will prepare plans for the following modernisation programmes:
  • The development of weapons based on new physical principles: radiation, geophysical, wave, genetic, psychophysical, etc. [Most of these are internationally banned, but since when is that a problem?]
  • The implementation of the state armament programme for 2011-2020.
  • Ensuring dynamic development of military education, fundamental military science and applied research programmes. We have plans from 2012 until 2015; we will update them and prepare for approval.
  • Restoration of the former competences of military institutions and their integration with the evolving system of military education. [In other words, achieving the total militarisation of society that characterised Soviet years.]
  • The integration of military research and civilian science. We are planning to prepare the programme within this year, and as of January 1, 2016, similar decisions are to be taken for the next period. [In other words, militarising science and most economy, as they were in the Soviet past.
  • The strengthening of the integrated aerospace defence system of the Russian Federation. [That was called Star Wars when the Americans were developing it.] The plan of building the Armed Forces until 2015 has already been approved. By January 2016 we will prepare a similar plan for the development of the aerospace defence for the following five years.
  • Revival of the oceanic Navy, especially in the North and the Far East. We will prepare the plan during this year for the period starting in 2016, and the plan until 2015 has already been approved. [Strategic Navy is hard to describe as a purely defensive service, but that’s where the RISI comes in.]

Both the impassioned video and the deadpan Serdyukov report scare me. Do they scare you? If not, perhaps they should, especially considering that, though both are in the public domain, neither has been as much as mentioned in the Western press.

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