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Imperial Delusions
Russia’s Virtual Reality

Russian policy based on its misreading of the West, and especially on its misunderstanding of its own neighbors, can only frustrate.

Published on: November 1, 2017
Kirk Bennett is a retired U.S. Foreign Service Officer who served in both Russia and Ukraine.
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  • Bankotsu

    What a surreal article on Russia.

    Somehow I feel that the writer seems to be completely disconnected with reality.

    There is a dream like quality to the writing. It puts me to sleep.

  • Bankotsu

    “Russian policy based on its misreading of the West”

    So what should be Russia’s “correct” reading of the west?

  • adk

    Thanks, Kirk, for an excellent analysis. The main takeaway is that the problem of Russia isn’t just its top leadership but the people who largely share the “besieged fortress” mentality, and that is much harder to change.

    • I do not know who are you. But it seems like narcissism is your problem.

      Я не знаю кто ты. Но похоже самовлюбленность это твоя проблема.

    • Пэдро Бандерлогов

      The whole world knows the only country that is striving for monopoly leadership and this is not Russia. The remaining countries strive to become equal among equals and independent of this “exclusive superpower”.

    • Алексей Глушенков

      Why did America send tanks for the siege?
      Many words in the article, but everything can be described in a few words – America has removed the competitor and is trying to finish it.
      And all these attempts to talk about the Russian mentality – just ridiculous against the background of American tanks on the border of Russia. Why are they there? Peaceful tanks? Everyone living in Russia has long been clear.

      • adk

        I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt — I’ll assume that you are not a paid Russian propagandist but really believe what you write.

        Then you must be an ignorant idiot. Re those American tanks (and other Nato forces) “besieging” you motherland, here’s an extended quote for you from the Army Times
        https://www.armytimes.com/news/your-army/2017/03/19/back-to-europe-the-army-is-sending-more-troops-tanks-and-helicopters-to-deter-russia/

        Back to Europe: The Army is sending more troops, tanks and helicopters to deter Russia
        By: Meghann Myers, March 19, 2017

        Three years ago, the Army rolled its tanks out of Europe after decades of post-World War II and Cold War presence. But that didn’t last long.

        As the last M1 Abrams tanks and Bradley Fighting Vehicles shipped out, Russia annexed the Crimea region of neighboring Ukraine and stepped up its aggression in the Black Sea, routinely flying fighter jets low over U.S. ships.

        The situation is a lot like it was in the 1980s and 1990s, when both Daugherty(head of operations at U.S. Army Europe) and Hodges(U.S. Army Europe commander) spent time in Europe.

        “When I was a lieutenant, we had 300,000 soldiers over here. You had a huge German army, British army — you even had large Dutch and Belgian formations over here,” Hodges said. “And the mission when we had 300,000 was to deter the Soviet Union, assure our allies and protect U.S. strategic interests.”

        “Today we have 30,000 soldiers. The mission is to deter Russia,” Hodges said. “We have to achieve the same strategic effect with 30,000 that we did with 300,000, so making 30,000 look and feel like 300,000 is our task.”

        Back in 2015, the Army’s immediate response to Russia’s rising activity along its western border was to send tanks back to Europe, but for short stints and in small formations spread over the year.
        That plan changed at the beginning of 2017, when 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division of Fort Carson, Colorado, deployed as the first of a new nine-month, back-to-back rotation.

        “In the intervening 62 days, we moved just over 3,000 soldiers, 2,600 pieces of equipment about 380 miles from the port of Bremerhaven down to five assembling areas here in western Poland,” [brigade commander Col. Christopher Norrie] said.
        [End of quote]

        So there’s now a US armored brigade in Poland with under 100 tanks per Wiki
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brigade_combat_team#Armored_Brigade_Combat_Team

        Number of tanks in the Russian Army is over 10,000.
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_main_battle_tanks_by_country#R

        Some “tank siege”, huh?

        Further, the US brigade is in Poland, and Poland has just a 232 kilometres (144 mi) long border with Russia. And not just with the “mainland” Russia but with its tiny exclave Kaliningrad Oblast which is sandwiched between Poland and Lithuania, both NATO members. So Poland is not exactly a great bridgehead for a US/NATO attack on Russia, don’t you think?

        As for the total number of NATO troops stationed close to Russia, see this
        http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/russia-nato-border-forces-map-where-are-they-positioned-a7562391.html

        No tanks, a few military planes here and a EU battalion there… must be really scary if you live in Russia. One day, you may wake up and see an Albanian or Dutch NATO soldier triumphantly marching by your window.

        So yeah, by all means, keep spending your meager resources on your “defense”.

        With such “strategic” thinking, all we need to do is wait and see how you collapse economically once again, just like the USSR did.

        So good luck, comrade.

        • Алексей Глушенков

          You never said what American tanks are do so far from America. What interests are they protecting there – and look, there are no Russian tanks in Mexico. To compare the number of tanks – not very correctly, as well as the number of troops – the rockets solve a lot. And not all Russian tanks are in the European part of the country. This is not an argument.
          After the end of the Cold War, it seemed to the Russians that all this was over, but as it turned out, everything was just beginning ….
          Again, as before – the troops of a foreign and distant country are at the borders – you will not deny it? Their number is not important, since there are air defense systems and satellites ….
          Just answer the question – why are there American tanks in Baltic? For what? After all, 30 years ago they were 1000 kilometers to the west …. Is this a movement towards peace?
          Tell me – what should Russians think when they look at this?

          • adk

            There are no Russian troops in Mexico because Mexico isn’t afraid that one day the US will invade it under the pretense that Mexico is just a small brother of the US that properly belongs to it.

            But Ukraine, the Baltic states and probably few other former Soviet republics are afraid of you as they have every reason to be since Putin pronounced the collapse of the Soviet Union the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the XX century and started meddling and attacking those former brothers of yours who started looking to the West for guidance.

            You see, Russia with its low living standards, monumental corruption, military adventurism and the centrality of the “Russian world” just isn’t attractive to your former “brothers”. You can rave about that all you want, but they just don’t want to go “Back to the USSR”, and that is your main problem.

            So maybe you Russians should start thinking why you keep stepping on the same rake again and again, and keep living miserably (save the relatively few at the top) despite having so many talented,educated people and vast natural resources? Maybe, just maybe you could do better?

          • Алексей Глушенков

            Or maybe it’s worth looking at it from a different point of view? All these tales about the attack of evil Russia on small neighbors leave the children. All for a long time it is clear. Politics is a dirty thing and the inhabitants of Russia see the same thing over and over again – enemy troops at the borders, which once again save another victim of this very Russia …. This is simply not funny.
            And you seriously believe that Russian tanks in Mexico will never be? Well, not in Mexico – will be on the cube. And tanks and missiles. There will also be in South America – since the United States really does a lot to be not loved all over the world.
            If we are to say without embellishment, then the entire Baltics are vassals of the United States, who have a pathetic semblance of the economy, a large part of which are free loans from the US and Europe. For what it’s done – also not a secret – they are needed in order to get closer to Russia.
            This is to the word about the love of neighbors. In politics there is and never was love – there are only interests.
            Compare two maps – one thirty years ago and fresh, paint the places where NATO troops are located, whose leadership openly says that Russia is an enemy and think about what the Russians should think about this state of affairs.
            All the rest is just words. Important matters. And the cases show that once again Russia is surrounded by troops. Under what pretext – yes, invent what you want – it does not change things. Vaughn invented a threat to Russia. Then come up with something else ….
            Nobody wants to think about the consequences – and it saddens not only Russians, but also a lot of thinking people on the whole planet.
            Does not it make you sad? Or you just do not think, because others think for you?

          • adk

            “…inhabitants of Russia see the same thing over and over again – enemy troops at the borders…”

            You keep asking this question, what should the Russians see when they look around… Well, the real question is not “what” but “who” should they see, and the answer is a psychiatrist. You all should seek massive professional help for you are suffering, collectively, from paranoia.

            Maybe you are an exception — you just spew your propaganda for money, but a lot you, “inhabitants of Russia”, do believe that garbage and nobody can help you until you experience another yet cataclysm like in 1917 or in 1991.

          • CCCP

            I’ll assume that you are not a paid Russian propagandist
            I also allow myself to manifest the hope that you are a regular man in the street, and you absolutely for free here write some long messages almost more than the article itself.
            So, guys, after Yugoslavia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria… Your accusations of paranoia, bear in memory only this photo. What is it? Anthrax spores, or a piece of weapons-grade uranium from a nuclear weapon depots in Iraq?
            Don’t answer that. It was a rhetorical question…
            https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/272cbb9e5ccb1618d943be1316f829069dcaf4ecf603a3559286997c7f1b3be4.jpg

          • adk

            3 am in Moscow/St.Pete, comrade USSR — night shift? Hope the pay makes it worth it for you.

          • CCCP

            We hurry home, there is certainly a pair of Russian hackers are breaking into your Fax.

          • Алексей Глушенков

            That is, you say that if I go to a psychiatrist, then the NATO troops that are now on the borders of Russia – will disappear?

          • adk

            Probably not unless he’s also a magician. But he should be able to treat you for an acute case of paranoia by explaining that the US/NATO are not going to invade Russia because a) what would be the point of it? and b) we are not suicidal.

            And if you start ranting again about the US tanks gathering on the border with Russia, he should be able to gently explain to you that some 100 US tanks in Poland (brought back to Europe after you invaded Ukraine) are not a real threat to 10,000+ Russian tanks.

            You see, the goal is to cure you (and others like you) so that you can perhaps start seeing things as they are and not as they appear in your fervent imagination. Maybe you could then look at what really ails Russia (hint: it’s all internal).

            So good night and good sleep, comrade. May you have a peaceful dream for a change.

          • Алексей Глушенков

            You have not answered the simple question – why do they need American tanks there at all? By the way, there are not only tanks, not just from the United States. And the troops of all of Europe are also not so far away. And a missiles are already installed, and although NATO said earlier that it is against Iran, now no one is hiding that these missiles are against Russia.
            What is this all for? If a neighbor has put a machine gun in his house and it looks to your house – do you think he did this to strengthen relations?
            My friend – everybody has understood everything for a long time already and it is not necessary to write these hypocritical and demagogic words about the defense of the Baltic – it is not necessary.
            The simple question is, why are the troops standing there now – they were not there before?

          • adk

            Because NATO is a mutual defense organization and some members(Poland, the Baltics) feel particularly threatened by your country, so they actually invite troops from other NATO member states to be stationed on their territory.

            Given their XX century history with the Soviet Union and its inheritor, Russian Federation, it’s perfectly understandable. They don’t want to find themselves in a Crimea takeover scenario, and foreign NATO troops on their soil give them that assurance.

            As for the number and composition of those NATO units (including the US ones), and their proximity to Russia, any sane person looking at that will conclude that they are not there to invade Russia. Besides, for any invasion (or even “siege” as you put it) there’s got to be a reason first articulated then presented to the US/Western public (unlike how it’s done in Russia.)

            Name a single Western leader who talks about “siege” or “invasion”.

            As for the troops numbers now and before — what is “before”? During the Cold War, there were over 300,000 of just the US troops in Europe. Some of them would certainly have been stationed in Poland had Poland been then part of NATO. But Poland, as other Eastern European states and East Germany, were under the Soviet boot, so naturally it was your troops all in those countries.

            Notice how much love Poland and others had for Russia that once Gorbachev removed that boot, they all turned to the West.

            Cold War ended, the US troops largely went home. You invaded Ukraine, some of them came back, so now it’s roughly 30,000 in Germany and Poland. Do the math.

            I’m afraid you are not going to have peaceful dreams any time soon.

    • newotark

      Look at the map. Ruussia is a besieged fortress – besieged by you.

  • It seems like digging in someone else’s dirty laundry is a favorite thing for Americans. Watch your hygiene. You smell bad.

    Похоже копаться в чужом грязном белье это любимое занятие американцев. Следите за своей гигиеной. От вас дурно пахнет.

  • 1982vostok .

    Yes, NATO is virtually existing and virtually expanding to the Russian borders. And American top politicians virtually calling Russia as the arcenemy and main threat to the US. It is all virtually, just in Russian sick imagination.
    It is not spam! Why are you deleting my comments?

  • Пэдро Бандерлогов

    “Russian policy based on its misreading of the West”

    Really? How else to interpret the expansion of NATO and its approach to the borders of Russia? How else to interpret the endless generation of sanctions to prevent the development of the Russian economy? How else to interpret the support of neo-Nazi and terrorist organizations in the surrounding countries? How else to interpret the planting of inhuman, anti-social, and unnatural Western values? Before healing other countries, heal your own.

  • Владимир Кузнецов

    I will paraphrase the Russian way …- What if Russia does not look at the West with envy as if it were a 21st-century giant, but sees in it a corrupt, flawed militaristic state, vicious and cowardly like jackals, who destroyed and enslaved the world’s sex brought grief and suffering to millions of people and now in a chronic decline is an object more disgusting than awe-inspiring fear?

  • newotark

    You really should learn Russian history. Chaganat of Kazan saw itself as an ancestor of Golden Horde and demanded tribute from Moscow – that started the war. Today then half of Tatars are living in other Russians regions then Tatarstan it’s not a good manner to remind that Tatars and Russians were mortal enemies. Of course, unless US wants to trigger internal fighting in Russia , and eventually weaken and destroy it. Ups, sorry, it seems I revealed your plans.
    P.S. Paranoia does not mean that there is no people who are after you. In our case I would perefer Russians leaders to be paranoid, because if they are not – well, remeber Gorbi and what happened with his country?

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