Ukraine 'Was Just Occasion to Square Old Accounts'

Novinite Insider | May 10, 2015, Sunday // 15:56|  views

Serbian army soldiers march during the Victory Day military parade in the Red Square, Moscow, Russia, May 09, 2015. Photo by EPA/BGNES

Russia's Victory Day parade on May 9 reflects mass attitudes in the country, Grigori Nedyalkov, a Bulgarian journalist, has said.

He has pointed to the nearly 14 000 different commemorative events across Russia "from Kaliningrad [in the west] to Kamtchatka [in the east-most end of Russia] and to the 20 million participants, with Russian President Vladimir Putin also having taken part in the Moscow parade bearing a portrait of his father who also took part in World War Two.

In his words, all this "speaks for itself" as the parade was "an impressive show of military might".

Asked by Novinite to comment on the events around the May 8 and May 9 anniversaries and on recent tensions in the relations between Russia and Western nations, whose leaders boycotted en masse the Victory Day celebrations.  

In his words, "if the strategist [Carl von] Clausewitz said that "war is a mere continuation of politics by other means", then the boycott... could be viewed as a continuation of the current policy on the Kremlin with something like a "psychological operation". We are still in the phase of "playing the nervous game", Putin is still being punished over Ukraine."

But to avoid accusation of downplaying Russian World War Two victims, some politicians such as Italian President Giorgio Napolitano have kept pointing to the recognition of Russia's role in the war, Nedyalkov opined.

Asked whether the West and Russia are showing they have failed to learn lessons of WWII, he explained:

"The lesson learned from the last century is that the "appeasement policy" applied to Hitler until 1939 shows the utter helplessness of liberal democracies against the Nazi march in Europe. Now the situation is delicate, because on the one hand there is the necessity of resolute resistance to attempts at changing internationally recognized borders, on the other hand direct conflict is unthinkable and has to be evaded at any cost, even if that is some kind of an appeasement with Putin."

He believes that, due to Western nations' incapacity of an insight into ethnic psychology and historical etymology of conflicts, reactions to Russian involvement in Eastern Ukraine were "sometimes superficial" though "well-grounded from the point of view of international law".

Ukraine, at the same time, is used as an occasion for "squaring old accounts"  rather than being a reason for growing tension. "We all know how Crimea was handed to Ukraine in the 1950s, under the Soviet Union. And this is also a lesson: that there are no eternal rulers. From histgory we know that empires don't last long, but have the capacity to stir up trouble with long-standing consequences."

Asked whether activity on behalf of both the West and Russia, which increasingly resembles Cold War times, could lead to a "hotter" phase, Nedyalkov warned that shouldn't be ruled out, even though such a scenario should currently be looked on more as more appropriate for the film industry.

"Nobody is currently interested in taking desperate actions that would have the effect of mass destruction," he opined.

"All that said, security systems are absolutely obliged to be ready for such escalation, without letting themselves be guided merely by the idea that in a situation of tension the rational approach prevails."

He reminded Bulgaria was naturally threatened due to its proximity to Eastern Ukraine and the Crimean peninsula incorporated by Russia last year. Apart from a refugee influx, he pointed to a risk of increased illegal activity carried out by sea, such as arms and people trafficking and smuggling of certain banned products.

But what do Russia and Europe lose by failing to cooperate? "At this stage losses are mostly economic - these are two-way sanctions, the two countries mutually punish themselves, limiting movement of people, goods, capitals, and so on."

"It is clear that Putin's government is not a model for a liberal democracy. The country will likely undergo evolution in domestic policy, economic and social relations. The question is whether the West should be more tolerant to Russia's tempo-rhythm of this evolution or we will enter new phases of the information warfare. The most urgent thing now is winding down tension in Ukraine, but in a way that does not give Putin a motive to feel as a winner."

For many years Grigori Nedyalkov had been a news anchor for the Bulgarian National Television, the country's public broadcaster. As a reporter, he covered mostly defense issues, and ever since retained devotion to the portfolio.

He later headed the Military Television Channel, a station under the helm of the Ministry of Defense, a position he quit to take part in an online TV project.

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Tags: Russia, europe, West, EU, victory day, Vladimir Putin, Putin, parade


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