The Russian troops were supposed to be a model of modern troops of the 21st century. Its “happening” in Ukraine began to baffle, then to amuse, and finally… I don’t even know what the right word is, the troops turned to be nothing more than an armed band of marauders.
Marauding (the French word marauder, meaning “to steal”) is a war crime: taking of the property of those killed or wounded in war or natural disaster for selfish purposes, or the robbery of civilians, or simply robbing in areas where the permanent population has been evacuated. The whole world is talking today about the Russian marauding in Ukraine. People speak with indignation, astonishment and sometimes even with humour: even if you are aware of their atrocities, you cannot help but smile when you see that ‘liberator’ taking a microwave or even a quite old toilet brush from the house of a Ukrainian.
I was thinking about the reasons for the Russian marauding a couple of weeks ago, because I had a duty to follow a performance by these fellows – Vladimir Putin and Aliaksandr Lukashenka – somewhere in the Far East, “watering” a new spaceport, which is supposed to be a highway to outer space. The hope that the Putin-Lukashenka crew would go into space on that occasion did not materialise – in that country, as the experts say, the technology is usually not working because the wires have already been stolen. One Russian journalist advised Vladimir Putin not to be afraid of the ‘nuclear button’; let him press it, nothing will work, because something has been stolen there too.
The conquest of space, which has turned into pride of Russia by the ill will of Vladimir Putin, is not very Russian after all. The father of the Soviet space programme is rightly considered to be the designer Sergei Korolev, who was…. Ukrainian by origin. Sergei Korolev was responsible for the launch of satellites and “Strelka-Belka”, and for Yuri Gagarin becoming the first cosmonaut. After the Ukrainian’s death, the Russians never went to the Moon. People of my generation, who were taught from Soviet textbooks at school, remember that they said that the Russians were the originators of all sciences, that all the most important inventions, from the light bulb to the space rocket, were made by Russians. However, the world didn’t know about it, but that’s the world’s problem…
Some personal reflections.
On the border of what is now Lithuania and Latvia Theodor von Grotthuss lived, who was interested in science and published the world’s first theory of electrolysis in the early 19th century. He was born and brought up in Germany, and had this manor house as a former property of his parents. I suppose you will not be surprised now: when I was studying chemistry at the university, I found the ‘information’ in a Russian textbook that Theodor von Grotthuss, a Russian scientist, is considered to be the pioneer of electrochemistry in the world. That is because he lived for a while in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, which was seized by the Russians. Technically speaking, this is a scientific and technical marauding. There is no wonder that soldiers steal and do not feel any shame. It seems that scientists, “famous” writers and composers have stolen and are stealing, not just inventions and works, but methods and styles. It is no secret that Ivan Krylov’s most famous fables were written by the Ancient creator Aesop, and some of Alexander Pushkin’s rhymes are taken from French literature. Yes, of course, not all artists are like that, just as not all soldiers are like that, but the true face of the troops is shown by what took place in those temporarily occupied Ukrainian towns.
There is a lot of talk these days about the Russian Navy – from all angles. I will tell you my opinion. The luminaries of the 19th century Russian Navy are considered to be people like Fabian Gottlieb von Bellingshausen, Adam Johann von Krusenstern and Otto von Kotzebue. If these names sound very Russian to you, read again. I will say that all three considered themselves Germans and were born and raised in what is today Estonia. They were all so-called Baltic Germans, so they did not become Russians by choice. The Empire came to them. It is sadly amusing that in Soviet and Russian sources the first is called Fadey Fadeyevich, the second is Ivan Fyodorovich, and the third is Otto Yevsta-Fievich… and then their surnames. This is a linguistic marauding. How can you make a German or an Estonian even more Russian? We know very well how Königsberg turns into a Kalinin town and Tolminkiemis into Prussians. So you can steal geography, not to mention history. For example, the history of that Kievan Rus… They even stole Rome, trying to call their Moscow the Third Rome, the centre of Christianity. Nobody formally recognised it as such, but… Is there anything left in that country that is not its own and that has not been appropriated from others?
What I have written here is my personal observations. Every reader can tell a lot from his or her own life what has been just stolen in science, art and literature…
Where does the Russian obsession to steal and start russification of everything they touch, from the toilet brush to history. I am beginning to believe the Ukrainians that the thousand years old Kievan Rus simply did not exist as such. The Grand Duchy of Lithuania does not say that the Slavic-speakers of that time were marauders. The Mongols we marauders, who started out as looters of things, but somehow left their influence behind. Perhaps those historians who say that the Duchy of Moscow was a product of the Horde rather than of Ruthenia are right. A Khanate rather than a Duchy. The Horde plundered and created nothing. Russia… as you see and know. A marauding civilization is not a value; it is rather a parasitic anti-civilization.
The expansion of the Mongol Empire was “successful” because it was feared by those around it. They had the choice of being robbed or paying a tribute. It was one or the other, both of which are bad choices. The Horde was stopped, not by those who calculated how much the Horde could be paid or how it could be “tamed”. It was stopped by those who did not fear it, because it is better to be killed in a battle than to be killed on a “playing field”. The Horde – this or that – is not ready for courage. I would like to wish that those who sit in the capitals of Western Europe are not afraid either…
A Finnish Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim or a Ukrainian Volodymyr Zelensky, according to nomenclature of Moscow are also Russians because they were born in that empire. But they are definitely not Russians. Not by name nor ethnicity. They have inherited neither the tendency to steal nor the tendency to fear. This is a different (I want to say and believe) – our civilisation.