'The Payback Will Be Ruthless': Scholar's Open Letter To Russia Pulls No Punches

Really? So it would be better to be silent than to say "Global oil prices were always going to fall, it was always going to hurt Russia; I don't like the way Vladimir Putin's establishment has consolidated power in my native land; and I am amazed that Russians cannot anticipate the international reaction to the annexation of territory by force?"

Because, you know, he needs to keep the situation calm, so he shouldn't say anything?

In the United States, there is a type of political character who jumps on any event or fact and always tries to present it in a way that benefits his partisan interests: he is called a "political hack," and he treats political discourse as a game with winners and losers. And it is tolerable, because in a decent country, politics is sort of like a game; it has winners and losers, but it doesn't have a critical. immediate impact on people's daily lives, and most importantly, it has rules that aren't broken.

I see a lot of this surrounding the Ukrainian conflict, and frankly, on all sides; an observer is very aware of the cynicism people have regarding the truth, and it is depressing and contemptible. I am wondering if it is part of Slavic culture, or the cultural impact of the C.C.C.P; perhaps there is more bullshit coming out of Russian asses, but I think sometimes that this is just because the facts of the situation are, by and large, much more useful to Ukrainian partisans and much more damaging to Russian partisans. I am quite prepared to find out that the Ukrainian government has been telling some lies of its own.

You know, today our hero is characterizing the Ukrainian government as a "NATO legion", a "foreign legion": he is a few logical steps away from pronouncing that it is Ukraine, in fact, that is invading Russia! A slow clap for the man, but it is clear how nicely this muddles the issue, see, of just where Russian troops might naturally and rightfully take themselves.

What I don't understand is: is the Russian establishment oblivious to what is actually communicated by such patent, self-evident lies? And they are not even lies, they are a form of trolling, they are deliberately obvious. If Ukraine were Russia's younger brother, Putin would be exclaiming, "Stop slapping yourself in the face, Ukraine! Stop slapping yourself in the face!" The true message is an assertion of power, really; older brother gets to say what is true and what isn't, even and especially if it is a lie, and younger brother is helpless. When the world hears this, what are they supposed to hear but Russia's contempt for them, and Russia's aggression; and what are they supposed to feel but alarm and anger?

Is there a cultural problem, here? Is there an assumption that it is okay to tell such bald lies, that it is part of the game, that everyone else is doing it too --- that the assertions they make are the unmitigated product of equally cynical calculations?

I am writing you this long reply because my first reaction to your comment was, "oh, concern trolling: another shill", and then depression that you probably weren't even a sock puppet, that people are lining up to shill for the cause these days, and then I wanted to treat you like an individual person, and say something that has been in the back of my mind when I read comment in the subreddit for the last few days, now.

/r/UkrainianConflict Thread Link - rferl.org