The world should really be afraid of Russia now | 3/4/2024

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3/4/2024

reading time 5 minutes

Putin took off his gloves. The same is true of Russian society, which is on the verge of descending into bouts of violence that will continue to shock even ISIS-K, writes Alexander Motyl.



You know you have a problem when even the terrorists accuse you of being savages.

Days after the horrific attack on Moscow’s Crocus Hall on March 22, self-proclaimed perpetrator ISIS-K warned “all wild Russians, including Putin” that he would take revenge for the torture of his comrades and “punish Russia” with a blow that will be remembered by future generations of Russians.

The torture ISIS-K had in mind was prominently displayed on social media: One clip showed a Russian soldier cutting off a terrorist’s ear and forcing him to eat it. Another clip showed the terrorist lying on the ground with his pants down and electrodes attached to his genitals. He was tortured with electric current.

Of course, ISIS-K has no right to accuse others of barbarism, but their outrage at the Russians points to a problem that the terrorist attack accentuated and intensified, even if it did not create. Russians are becoming more and more violent, intolerant, brutal and brutal in their behavior and in their speech. Despite Putin’s aspirations to become a Leviathan capable of controlling the wild appetites of his subjects, he has succeeded in relegating Russia to a Hobbesian state of nature where life is “repulsive, brutal and short”.

Certainly, one of the reasons for this sad state of affairs is Russia’s genocidal war against Ukraine. No war ever softened the souls of savages. Every war brings out the worst and sometimes the best in people. However, not every war entails genocide, while Russia’s war against Ukraine does. This means that a brutal impulse preceded a genocidal war, and what could have been a simple military confrontation turned into something much worse, a campaign to exterminate a nation, Ukrainians. And extermination is inherently brutal.

So the fact that the Russians, who detained four Tajik criminals, immediately resorted to torture is not accidental. It’s not even an anomaly. Ukrainian prisoners of war and civilians are routinely tortured in special detention cells. Women are systematically raped. Men were also subjected to sexual abuse. Russian army recruits thugs. Such barbarism is not unique in Putin’s Russia. Earlier versions of Russia were just as wild.

Just two examples: In 1698, Peter I (aka the Great), a man who opened a window to Europe and admired European culture and technology, put down an uprising of archers by publicly roasting them, tearing their flesh with hooks, and crushing their legs. Some broke in the round; others were quartered or buried alive. The onlookers probably applauded. Then in 1941, the Soviet secret police executed over 20,000 Ukrainian political prisoners, but not before gouging out their eyes, tongues, genitalia and breasts.

Did the Russian soldier who forced the Tajik prisoner’s ear know about his distinguished antecedents? Cannibalism seems to be new, even to Russia. Torture, mutilation, sure, why not? It’s business as usual. However, being forced to eat one’s own ear seems a bit excessive, even by Russian standards.

Blame Putin and old Russian customs for the excesses. Russia’s self-proclaimed president has routinely incited violence since his first days in office. The destruction of Russian apartment buildings in 1999, the savage second Chechen war, the crude response to the attack on the Dubrovka theater in 2002, the killing of Putin’s political opponents and the mysterious, allegedly voluntary self-defenestration, have all accustomed Russians to brutality. Putin and his comrades also routinely talk about nuclear war and the final solution to the Ukrainian issue as if they were perfectly acceptable topics for serious discussion.

None of this behavior should surprise us when we realize that Putin is a dictator and that his regime has gradually morphed from simple authoritarianism to proto-fascism to full-blown fascism and in the final twist to something between proto-Nazism and full-blown Nazism. The actions of Nazi Germany shock us, but they do not surprise us. The same goes for Nazi Russia: Its routine descents into savagery are exactly what we would expect from a Nazi regime and leader.

Unfortunately, Putin’s acceptance of Nazism does not absolve Russians of guilt. Their tolerance and approval of barbarism cannot just be a product of Putin’s politics and propaganda. The eternal Russian question comes to mind: So who or what is to blame? Two and a half centuries of Mongol rule? Orthodox Christianity? Serfdom? Constant expansion and imperialism? Absence of Renaissance and Enlightenment? Bolshevism? Lenin and Stalin? Communism? It all smacks of overdetermination and inevitability—at the very least, sticky persistence.

Thomas Hobbes’s Russian state of nature is likely to become even more vile and brutal in the coming months. Putin will now invoke the Crocus attack to crush any possible expression of discontent and escalate against Ukraine and quite possibly the Baltic states, Moldova and Poland. And unfortunately many Russians will be rooting for him.

Putin took off his gloves. The same goes for Russian society, which is on the verge of descending into bouts of violence that will continue to shock even ISIS-K.

Details in English: HERE

2025

The article is in Czech

Tags: world afraid Russia

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