Keith Gessen on how we got to war

the next part of our series on the transition to a new world

We promised you, gentle readers, a series based this war. Our thoughts on how it began, what happens now, and what might yet be to come. And how we dreaded writing some of them! Especially the one about how we got here. Complicated or what?

Fortunately, we found the work of Keith Gessen. Ladies and gentlemen, this little piece he put in today’s Guardian is so remarkably fair, full and above all clear, that we recommend it wholeheartedly and without further ado.[1] And don’t be put off by the “long read” strapline, because it’s really not that long at all.

The story dates at least to that fateful coup d’etat in 1991 and has one central theme. Mistrust. The Baltics and others could never trust the Russians, and longed for NATO/EU membership as the ultimate guarantees of freedom. Russia smarted from what she saw as a humiliating defeat in 1991. Every political change in Russia, or any or any of the border republics, was seen as evidence of nefarious American purpose. This was especially true of Putin and his coterie of KGB men who seemed unable to ask a simple question “why might people prefer the West to us?”

In the end all roads lead back to Putin, who believes violence and terror are the only certain guides to human conduct. His concerns therefore cannot be with the real or imagined grievances of national minorities, or local lines on maps. They are pretexts for a bigger project: the restoration of the USSR in its entirety. And who can say with confidence that this time it will stop on the Elbe?


#NATO #EU #USSR #Russian #Ukraine #Putin #Estonia #democracy #police state #Totalitarianism

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