In his annual address to the Federal Assembly, Vladimir Putin emphasized Russia’s historical importance. However, according to writer Alexander Podrabinek, the Russian president’s most recent speech was full of empty pomp, historical contradictions, and common nonsense.
The saddest thing about Vladimir Putin’s most recent annual address to the Federal Assembly is that the Russian president actually seems to have spoken from his heart and to have believed what he said. If he and his advisors had made an effort to avoid contradictions and nonsense, the president’s address could have been completely different. For instance, the speech would not have contained the statement that Russia still supports the sovereignty of its neighbors while simultaneously expressing resentment that nobody deemed it necessary to consult Moscow on Ukraine’s association agreement with the European Union. “To put it simply, we were told where to go,” Putin noted, completely forgetting about the fact that sovereignty implies an independent decision-making process with regard to membership in international organizations.
Yet another part of the address noted Crimea’s civilizational and even sacred importance for Russia. Had an intelligent person written this speech, he or she would have taken good care not to emphasize that “the spiritual source of the development of a multifaceted but solid Russian nation and a centralized Russian state” was located abroad, and would have avoided mentioning the sacred significance to Russia of the ancient Crimean city of Chersonesus. After all, sacredness that comes from “foreign parts” is likely to generate doubts among the population. As well, Chersonesus was historically part of the Byzantine Empire, which considered the Russes to be pagans and savages. Before being baptized in Chersonesus, Prince Vladimir laid siege to the city for over six months, depriving its population of food and water, and finally captured it and went on to commit many outrages against its people. Prince Vladimir killed the ruler of the city and his wife and had their daughter raped in his tent. One can only imagine what happened to the ordinary people, although chroniclers do not mention such “minor details.” Having captured the city, Prince Vladimir solemnly adopted Christianity. This is the source, according to Putin, of Russia’s sacred greatness, and these are the circumstances under which it was born.
Putin’s address to the Federal Assembly shows that we are now living in a hybrid state that is essentially an insane asylum and a military unit rolled into one.
The third reason why Putin should not have tackled the maze of history is that Vladimir was the grand prince of Kievan Russia. Consequently, it appears that today, Kiev has more historical rights to the whole Russia than Moscow has to Byzantine Kiev. However, such profound historical research is, in the eyes of Putin, apparently entirely inappropriate to international relations.
Putin’s sincerity creates an awful impression. He retells the myths created by the Kremlin’s delusional propaganda officials while expressing complete confidence that this is the way things really are. He talks about a U.S. conspiracy against Russia, about the unique Russian national pride, and about the “warm and fuzzy” Russian policies that are so different from the “dirty” and “cynical” Western ones.
Putin cannot stop praising himself and his subordinate country: “We are strong and confident,” he said. “We will tell the truth to people abroad.” “We are ready to take up any challenge and win.”
Putin’s statement concerning future victories sounded rather ominous. Having reminded his listeners about the defeats of 1941 and 1942, he called on them “not to repeat the mistakes in the future.” In other words, victories should be secured from the very beginning. Having boasted about the Russian army being “modern and combat ready,” he declared that “no one will ever attain military superiority over Russia.” Does this mean that he truly believes that Russia’s armed forces are superior to NATO’s? If this is the case, then we are sitting not just on a powder keg, but on a powder keg with a lit fuse. Furthermore, Putin declared that Russia’s defense will be guaranteed by, among other things, the implementation of “innovative solutions.” This probably means that, even worse, we are sitting not on a powder keg, but on a nuclear one.
The term “hybrid war,” which has been used to describe a war that is neither too hot nor too cold, has recently become widespread in Russia. Putin’s address to the Federal Assembly shows that we are now living in a hybrid state that is essentially an insane asylum and a military unit rolled into one.