Caught in Crossfire of Cold War II
Putin Blasts ‘Tyranny in Ukraine;' Adviser to Yushchenko Persona Non Grata in Russia
A lingering political crisis still grips Ukraine. Over the last few weeks, we have witnessed a Serduchka-caliber performance by Yanukovych, who is now something of a drag queen for elections, acting in consort with diehard naysayer Moroz. We’ve also seen Yushchenko covering his bases with yet a third decree, which cements the agreed election date at Sep. 30.
Russia, whose presidential campaign kicks into gear amid historically high tensions with the West, has refused to be a passive observer in Ukraine’s internal affairs. Cold War II, Putin’s successor strategy, thrives on the phantom fear of NATO aggression. Among experts, there’s an industry-wide interpretation of it being a propaganda ploy with which to galvanize Russian society along the lines of anti-Americanism and Pax Sovietica nostalgia. The tagline, therefore, should read something like this: “They've got us surrounded. What are we, a bunch of suckers?”
The script appears to be simple and stupid:
Step one, brainwashing. Convince the Russian public that NATO, acting through its ‘puppet regimes’ in Ukraine, Georgia, and the Baltics, plots Russia’s total destruction.
Step two, solution-selling. Peddle “Baby Putin” as the one and only superman capable of saving Russia from this axis of evil.
By arousing patriotic sentiment at home, the Kremlin has successfully diverted attention from its routine business of siphoning gas and oil revenue to offshore banks. Educating the West on the virtues of Russian democracy has been a hard sell, though.
In his recent remarks — a melange of self-deprecating posturing and sarcasm — Putin joked about having spiritual ties with Mahatma Gandhi, whose death he said left him ‘with no one to talk to.’ To make it even more funny, he went on to picture himself as a ‘democrat of the purest kind,’ one whose hopes have been dashed by Ukraine’s ‘drift toward tyranny.’
Recently, Mr. GasPutin, as he is often nicknamed, has re-energized his rhetoric about ‘Ukraine living off cheap Russian energy.’ More heat came Tuesday when Russian authorities denied Mykola Zhulynsky entry to the country, preventing Yushchenko’s adviser and former Ukrainian minister of culture from visiting his relatives’ grave.
The incident opens another chapter in the persona non grata warfare between Ukraine and Russia. Zhulynsky, a moderate nationalist whose views pose as big a threat to Russia as French cultural protectionism would do to Hollywood, was picked as the target of a diplomatic reprisal. It turns out Ukraine had incurred the wrath of the Kremlin when it had blacklisted Aleksandr Dugin, the famous Russian political scientist with a neo-imperialist agenda.
For a country frequented by high-profile foreign politicos who treat its independence with disdain and publicly challenge its territorial integrity, Ukraine has shown a profound degree of tolerance and hospitality. Few countries would tolerate that sort of behavior on their soil.
Unlike Vladimir Zhirinovsky and Konstantin Zatulin, whose persona non grata status has recently expired, allowing them to test Ukraine’s patience again, Mykola Zhulynsky carried no bag of tricks with him. Ukrainian foreign affairs minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk has vowed to raise the issue with Russian leadership.
Friday, June 08, 2007
Caught in Crossfire of Cold War II