Whining over war criminals: How WSJ apes Dostoevsky

Whining over war criminals: How WSJ apes Dostoevsky

Photo: pexels.com / Алесь Усцінаў
29 March 2024
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On March 12, WSJ published an article about protests by a few Russian soldiers’ wives against over-extended military deployments of their husbands in Ukraine. The article highlights hardships by families of Russian soldiers, featuring a story of Maria Andreeva, a Russian soldier wife. The article is  glaringly tone-deaf to the immense suffering by the Ukrainian nation fighting the invasion perpetrated by Putin’s government and the soldiers like Andreeva’s husband. The article gives insights into the thinking of many Russians and can help in understanding why Putin was able to mobilize masses of soldiers with no recourse. The article also demonstrates the West’s naivete about who Putin is, highlighting one of the roots of its weakness in supporting Ukraine.

According to the article, when Andreeva and her husband received his draft summons in October 2022, 8 months into the full-scale war, they were not worried. They thought that as a new draftee he would not be sent to combat and would return home soon (neither the wife nor the WSJ author seem to be concerned that he would serve in the part of Ukraine occupied by Russia and thus contribute to the suffering of so many Ukrainians). As time passed by, Andreeva realized neither was true. The article describes how Andreeva joined the campaign by Russian soldiers’ wives demanding the Kremlin to return their husbands from the war.

This campaign is not to be admired. They are not campaigning against the war that took their husbands. They want their husbands and fathers of their children back, believing they have “paid their duty to their homeland.” That “duty” has been to wage an invasion of Ukraine killing civilians, women and children and committing other war crimes: mass rapes, looting, torture, and kidnapping. Russian soldiers murdered more than 400  innocent people in Bucha, they routinely kill prisoners of war, including mass killing in Olenivka, and the civilian death toll in the destroyed Mariupol is estimated at between 20,000 and 100,000. Russian soldiers’ wives, like Andreeva, not only did not oppose the war when it started. They supported it by sending their husbands to a peaceful country to kill – and even encouraged them to kill Ukrainians. 

Russian soldiers and their wives are not victims, as the WSJ is trying to convince its readers. While Russian propaganda is very powerful, they know perfectly well what they are doing. Many of them go to murder Ukrainians for money – slightly less than $3,000 per month, as reported by the article. It is a choice. They can escape the draft – either by fleeing to another country or by bribing conscription officers (or by other means). But they choose to murder. And by trying to develop in their readers compassion for them, like Dostoevsky did for Raskolnikov, WSJ does a bad service to its readers who may be next to be killed by “poor Russian soldiers”. 

For the very few Russians who genuinely oppose the war, the Kremlin has a brutal repression system  that will send them to prison for many years for any open opposition, even as small as picketing. Then why are these wives allowed to have a picket line in front of the Kremlin? First, they are not against the war. Second, the impact is negligible: Russia has sent to Ukraine more than 500,000 soldiers and only 200 or so women came to protest. It is easier to let them be rather than attract attention to them. Finally, this WSJ article and other similar articles are a reason too. Such publications support an illusion that Russia may change from within. As Pushkin said, “it is easy to deceive me because I’m happy to deceive myself”.

It is outrageous that after 10 years of war in Ukraine, bloodbaths in Chechnya and Syria, the West still hasn’t learned that it is dealing with a fascist country headed by a KGB operative who knows how to influence and manipulate people at home – and with his resources and global social networks – people in countries that oppose him, including the United States and Europe. It is not surprising therefore that Western “experts” and reputable media, such as the WSJ, promote ideas that play into Putin’s hand. 

The West should wake up from its self-sustaining illusion that if they do not drastically escalate its military support of Ukraine, Putin will not escalate its military aggression, now or in the future. The perennial bully that he is – intimidation is his method of direct influence, and brute and united counterforce is exactly what he is afraid of.

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