Theater of Cruelty

The fear they are not afraid of

RUSSOPHOBIA / Russophobia has cost hundreds of thousands of lives – not because you are afraid of the Russians, but because you need enemy images. Did the USA/NATO have a carefully planned and announced provocation intended to provoke reactions from Russia?


foboiI think Kristine Olsen in Kirkenes was representative of most Norwegians' relationship with Russia when she said: "I don't know anyone who is afraid of the neighboring country." Klassekampen's Ole Magnus Rapp interviewed her on 29 January 2022: She missed the Russians and recalled that the Norwegian-Russian border has never been violated.

In Sweden, which today does not share a border with Russia, they gear up. Now they will soon be in the NATO family as well, without any national debate or externally proven threat. No advance of Russian troops and tanks at Karelia. Sweden and Finland applied for membership in a NATO which was thought to disintegrate after the archenemy, the Soviet Union, disintegrated in 1991.

Today's fear of Russia, it is said, is motivated by the fear of occupation – this is widely agreed upon in NATO countries, and so ubiquitous that it is deemed unnecessary to source it. It is said that Russia is imperialist and expansionist, and that Putin is seeking a kind of Trump copy à la 'Make Russia Great Again'.

My hypothesis is that this one fryktone that is not only false but cannot be justified. One simply does not fear Russia. For Norwegians, Russia is our only neighbor that has never attacked us. Maybe you don't like the country, maybe you don't respect it, but you're not afraid of it. Hence the title: The fear they are not afraid of.

Moscow's Underground

About fearing an occupation?

In order for a fear of occupation to be said to be justified, two prerequisites must be present: There must be a ability and a will to occupation. Capability: Is occupation physically possible, do you have military capacity, popular support? Willingness: Has anyone expressed a will or motive for occupation?

The litmus test of whether Russia was about to occupy Ukraine 24 February 2022, lies in whether Putin/Russia has said something in that direction, and whether the Russian military's mobilization on this day was realistic to carry out an occupation. Chicago professor John Mersheimer was clear during the Holberg debate in Bergen 2022: you find nothing in Putin's speeches that indicates a will to occupy Ukraine. Analysts like Scott Ritter and Ola Tunander also indicates that the Russian army that crossed the border into Ukraine on 24 February 2022 also did not have the ability to occupy anything. They were too few for that. Kiev residents could safely continue to live in their capital, knowing that Putin's goals were declared and legible: to prevent Ukraine from joining NATO, to ensure ethnic Russian human rights, and to de-Nazify the country's leadership and culture.

Bolshoi Ballets

The arms industry

The Swedes were still talking in 2014 about the Soviet violations of their sea border in the 80s, although these rumors were refuted by the Secretary General of the Public Swedish Submarine Investigation (2001) and in Mathias Mossberg's book In dark waters (2009 and 2016). The head of the investigation, Rolf Ekeus, is today giving Mossberg support in the claims that it was most likely western states that were behind the submarines that were observed in the Swedish archipelago. The alleged motives vary from being a grenade aimed at Olof Palme's softening policy towards the Soviet Union, to a western reminder to the Swedish navy to be on guard.

A powerful story about how everything Russian is being destroyed in Ukraine.

What is certain is that in the assessments one must take into account that the military has both its prestige and its budgets which they 'massage' when they use the media. An outer enemy is worth its weight in gold in that regard. The extra billions that Norway, for example, is pouring in today for rearmament, would never have been put on the table without the image of a fearsome Putin in the background.

With the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, a dramatic decrease in the world's armament expenditure was envisaged. Violence and armsthe spiral was to be turned. In the UN, they talked about "the peace dividend". Finally, the spending madness of the armies was to be cut and resources channeled to the environment and development, to the world's poor, to education for girls all over the world.

And in the back of the picture, Birgitte Grimstad sang "I natt jag drömde" in a stronger voice than ever. But as you know, it didn't work out that way. Birgitte's dream was quickly crushed. 22 years later, the arms industry has never seen higher graphs. And they point upwards. No one doubts that this is due to the fear of Russia.

Fear of the Russians – russophobian is not a theoretical quantity. It appears on the front pages even in Norwegian newspapers. But are we really afraid of the Russians?

Russian culture

I am probably a godsend from the country and by no means an expert when it comes to Russia. I have only been there twice, once during the Soviet era, when in 1989 I caught a long queue to buy sauerkraut, but also a performance at the Jewish Taganka theater (established by the opposition theater man and vice singer Vladimir Vysotskij) – a play with Bach music that I was captivated by, despite the fact that I did not understand a single word of what was said.

Later, in the Russian era with a visit to the Hermitage in the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg, an art museum that surpasses the Western world of museums. And a symphonic concert in the evening with elderly men in worn suits, tired too, but who came to life when the orchestra played Shostakovich. Put the Guggenheim, the British Gallery and the Louvre on top of each other and they won't reach the Hermitage: put Rachmaninov and Shostakovich together with anyone and they'll manage. The city of St. Petersburg itself is also beautiful. I got the statue of Tsar Peter the Great on horseback treading on a snake. "The snake is Sweden," said my acquaintance. From before, I remembered Karl XII in Kungstregården in Stockholm, pointing warningly in the direction of Russia.

Charles XII had his confrontations with Russia. In 1709, his imperial dream was crushed precisely by Peter the Great in Ukraine, Poltava. And even today, the Swedes sing about "fornstora dar" in their national anthem. Do they still dream like Karl XII?

Mutual fear or hatred is solidified in Swedish and Russian deep culture, the statues, so that Swedes and Russians will not forget – even if it is events that lie 300 years back in time.

Although a third of Ukraine's population says Russian is their first language, all studies in the Russian language have been stopped by the authorities, books removed from schools and libraries.

But are Charles XII's successors pointing menacingly to the east, and are St. Petersburg's horses treading on the same snake today? I have searched and found no threats against Sweden. In the threat game, Sweden therefore leads 1–0 with its application to NATO, in my notes. But I think this is a flirtation with the image of fear, a form of racism that comes to the surface in Ukraine where removing the Russian inferiors will end up with a pure, Ukrainian race, as the Swiss NATO employee and Ukraine expert Jacques Baud has said.

Hatred of everything Russian

I search the word 'russophobia' in Google. That brings me to YouTube: "Russophobia is a term used to justify Russia's war crimes in Ukraine." But the video and the title are taken from a UN report and a hearing I found, with e.g. Professor Timothy Snyder. Oddly enough, his post, among three, is used as the title of the UN report. The other two ushers, Kirill Vyshinskyj and Dmitryj Vasilets, have completely different opinions. The UN report appears very strange: SC15226 14 March 2023: ‘Russo-
phobia’ Term Used to Justify Moscow’s War Crimes in Ukraine, Historian Tells Security Council.
Other Briefers Declare Russian Language Gradually Being Destroyed.

The other two speakers, 'Other briefers', to whom it is reduced in the subtitle, are not without weight. They tell a different and powerful story about how everything Russian is being destroyed in Ukraine.

Kirill Vyshinsky is director of the wholly owned Russian Russia Segodnya, which tells about Ukrainian systematic destruction of Russian culture in the country over the past 20 years. Although a third of Ukraine's population says Russian is their first language, all studies in the Russian language have been stopped by the authorities, Russian-language books have been removed from schools and libraries – and the language is refused to be used even in private conversations. Cities, streets and squares have been given new names, monuments and churches have been razed or confiscated. "We see an ideology of hatred of everything Russian, hatred of Russians, hatred of everything that can be linked to Russia," said Vyshinsky during the hearing.

Dmitryj Vasilets spoke on behalf of millions of Russian citizens in Ukraine, as deputy chairman of the country's lawyers' association. He added that Russian was banned from being used in schools from 2020, and in cinemas and in public buildings from 2021. "This barbarism has been legislated by Ukrainian President Zelinsky."

Vasilets believed that being able to use one's mother tongue was a human right. "The Russian language is slowly but surely being destroyed," he stated.

The former NATO advisor, Swiss Jacques Baud confirms Vasilet's and Vyshinsky's claims in his book Operation Z. Respect for the minorities in Ukraine has slowly been erased. The Budapest Memorandum from 1994 was signed to ensure the rights of minorities. But in the same way as with the Minsk agreement, Western supporters have gradually come to the conclusion that "the memorandum is not valid" (German ambassador Anka Feldhusen in Kiev 19.02.22 on TV channel Ukraina 24). A law of 23 February 2014 abolished the old Kivalov-Kolesnichenko law which secured Russian as the official language of Ukraine.

This is what Baud calls Putin's "Responsiblity to Protect, R2P" operation on February 24, 2022.

Slowly but surely one can follow the tracks in Ukraine's recent history where very extreme right-wing forces (there is no doubt that this was strong fasciste and Nazi ideological groups) in collaboration with Western European countries are changing legislation, policy and practice – as well as creating the conditions for an expulsion of Russians from the country.

This is what Baud calls Putin's "Responsiblity to Protect, R2P" operation on February 24, 2022. After 2014, 18 lives had been lost in the fighting that eventually took place in eastern Ukraine (Donbass). Putin had repeatedly refused to incorporate eastern Ukraine, Donbass, into Russia. He did this despite the pleadings of the population there, out of respect for the Minsk agreements which, if respected by Kiev, would have ensured a large degree of self-determination but let the area remain part of Ukraine.

Russia's supreme leader Vladimir Putin and Ukraine are central to the Russophobia debate right now. What immediately strikes one as a media consumer in the last decade, and especially after February 2022, is the thoroughly negative image that is drawn of everything Russian and Russian-related – also in Norway. Former Chief of Defense Swear Diesen#'s mention of Russia, surprising to the undersigned, is by no means unique, which I thought when I heard him on TV 2 on April 2, 2023 at 17.00:
Sverre Diesen: We must remember that the Russians are not very skilled, they cannot achieve much. But they have two characteristics that make them dangerous: They are eat, and they are brutal. What we have seen in Ukraine so far can confirm the ineptitude and brutality.
TV 2: Why do the Russians continue with acts of war against civilians?
Sverre Diesen: Because they are like that. Russian warfare is barbaric and always has been.

The Norwegian media are united and compact in their negative coverage of everything Russian. All media. All fabric. Only negative since February 24, 2022

Characteristics of Russians in the Norwegian media

Russians are bad, their soldiers are poorly equipped, poorly trained, more brutal, with higher numbers of dead and wounded, they are stupid, Putin is sick, if not dying, he is a criminal, a war criminal. He must be brought before the International Criminal Court in The Hague, ICC. This is the story the Norwegian media has been bringing to its readers for the past 18 months – if not longer. Has the Norwegian media ever described a phenomenon in such a comprehensive and totally killing way? I am more than happy to be reprimanded. But even more important: Do the press themselves believe this?

ENSRETTET: The first thing you see in today's situation is that there is never a search for alternative angles or points of view, journalism that ideally preaches that one should seek breadth and diversity of perspectives. Now there is mostly only a unidirectional, negative focus. Can this be justified by any journalistic principles or traditions?

AGREED MEDIA: The next thing that has no parallel in Norwegian media history (my hypothesis) is that absolutely all media outlets agree on this. No single newspaper or any single broadcast medium takes the opportunity to promote something 'different', something 'sensational'. If something sensational at all is going on, then pulling the elastic is an extra notch towards the breaking point. Putin is not only sick, he is dying. The Russians are not only dying on the battlefield, they are soon annihilated. Russian opposition is not only growing, but Putin is soon to be overthrown. But still, Sverre Diesen still takes the cake. He sums up the verdict on a people: The Russians are inept and brutal, and bad at everything they do.

PUTIN: The third characteristic of today's Russian characteristics is to give Russia's leader, Putin, "all the beating". He is portrayed as a demagogue, a despot and a dictator. Russia and Russians "are like this" because Putin has made them like this or put them in such a position. His speeches are aggressive. His narrative is false, seductively nationalistic and expansionist. Make Russia Great Again, sort of.

In parentheses, I must mention that I deliberately ignore some extreme articles in Klassekampen by one Kataryna Pedersen. I don't know if this is a person or a pseudonym. But the views about the Russian people are so unvarnished and improbably vulgar that I choose not to include them here. Nevertheless, it is important for a debate about Russophobia to at least acknowledge that they have been recorded.

Illustration Of Negative Putin Propaganda.
Her Joep Bertrams-Putins Threats. Libex.Eu

Zelinskyj to the rescue

The villain is Putin. But no villain without a hero. The hero in today's Russia-critical universe is of course Zelinskyj. Researcher Cecilie Hellestveit remains in her book Bad news from the Eastern Front. The war that changed everything a not untypical exponent of the tribute to Zelenskyj: "Heroes stepped forward in every village, under the tactful leadership of Volodymyr Zelinskyj […]. If everyone stands together against foreign Germany, this can end well. Slava Ukraine!” The researchers are at the forefront of the tribute. They make it easy to forget the recent history of Russia's invasion. Forgotten are 14 killed eastern Ukrainians (plus western Ukrainians) in the civil war from 000, forgotten are the strategic manipulations during the Maidan activities with the installation of a government according to the USA's recipe, forgotten are referendums in Crimea and Crimea's history of independence, and the desertions of 2014 percent of the Ukrainian army with a transfer to the local Crimean authorities. Forgotten are the speeches in the Rada (see below by Poroshenko) of their military threatening the Russian population of Donbass.

  • Everything was planned!
  • If today I draw up this list of what has happened in Ukraine in the past year, many will nod in recognition:
  • The US is increasing its own energy production from gas.
  • Europe's opportunities to import liquefied natural gas (LNG) from the USA are being strengthened.
  • introduction of extensive trade and economic sanctions against Russia
  • arms shipments to Ukraine
  • The impression is created that the Russian authorities are not concerned with the interests of their population.
  • Russia's reputation abroad is being undermined.
  • Bombers are deployed.
  • More tactical nuclear weapons are deployed.
  • Drones and remote-controlled aircraft are deployed.
  • More investment is being made in long-range, super-fast rockets.
  • It is investing in new electronic warfare technology.
  • an increased marine activity in the area
  • Russia's Black Sea activities are monitored.
  • US forces in Europe are being increased.
  • a deployment of large NATO forces along Russia's border
  • Military exercises are carried out up to the Russian border.
  • Military countermeasures and offensive measures are practiced.
  • Construction of rockets resumes.

Is this list similar to the "send more weapons" projects from the last 18 months? Yes, but now this is not a list of what has happened. Considering that the was already written in 2019 as a proposal for how US policy should develop in the coming years, it takes on a very special meaning. It was drafted three years before Russia invaded Ukraine by US Defense Department advisers (a RAND report). The plans to destabilize (weaken, overthrow) Russia took physical form already in 2019! LNG gas reception, which is inaugurated on the day the Baltic Sea cable is blown up, takes on a revealing significance. The United States' unilateral announcement of limited nuclear agreements, as well as the campaigns to discredit Putin as well.

The plans to destabilize Russia took physical form already three years before the Russian invasion!

Those who joined this text and followed it up are more or less aware of a blatant violation of the UN Charter [see also Lavrov's speech] and all international law on cooperation between nations.

A blatant violation of the UN Charter and all international law on cooperation between nations.

Gas policies, provocative weapons deployments, smear campaigns, military exercises – all of this described in the list, which has seen the light of day in the last two years, was not, in other words, a product of "Russia's brutal, full-scale, unprovoked invasion" of Ukraine, but is carefully planned by the US/NATO, in other words a well-advertised provocation to trigger reactions from Russia.

The importance of this list for our topic here i ORIENTERING, 'fear of Russia', necessarily means that the Americans', NATO's and soon Norway's 'fear' of Russia is not a real fear of what Russia might conceivably do, but an excuse to hit the country and the president.

The West's attitude of violence and coups towards Russia

After the Maidan coup in February 2014, Ukraine's new coup government intensified its attacks to de-Russify the country. Everything that was Russian was going away: culture, knowledge, libraries, studies and language. Yes, because it was a coup, a coup d'état. French l'Observateur uses the word 'coup d'état' (25.01.17). Even the NATO-friendly Atlantic Council states that the so-called revolution was hijacked by oligarchs and ultra-nationalists (29.03.17). The founder of the US intelligence service STRATFOR, George Friedman, even says in Le Club Mediapart (24.01.15) that Majdan "was in truth the most blatant [state] coup in history".

The overthrown president Yanukovych had come to power on 7 February 2010 in an election that the OSCE (Organization for Co-operation and Security in Europe) called "transparent and honest" and "an impressive display of democracy!" (Le Monde, 08.02.10).

The newly installed Prime Minister Petro Poroshenko then spoke to Ukraine's parliament about how he intended to get rid of his compatriots, the country's Russian population. No, he is not really afraid of the Russians:

  • "We want jobs – they don't want that.
  • We want pensions – they don't want that.
  • We want care services for children, for people and for pensioners – they don't want that.
  • Our children will go to school and nurseries – your children will live in basements.
  • Because they are not capable of anything.
  • This is how we are going to win this war!”
  • (14.11.14, YouTube-video)
  • No, the Russians are not feared, but Russophobia lives on

My short journey in Russophobia here in ORIENTERING ends up prosaically. I can't find anyone who feels threatened by the Russians. Kristine Olsen's wish to meet the Russians again does not have to be a distant dream. But for now, the Russians in our media are useful scare figures like 'negroes', 'trolls' and 'bad guys' used to be, or the 'Germans' or 'Japanese' in old war films. They can be used to rally dissidents, to increase budgets, or to turn around a bad opinion poll.

The Russians in our media used to be useful scarecrows like 'negroes', 'trolls' and 'bad guys', or the 'Germans' or 'Japanese' in old war films.

But in Ukraine it has all gone wild. The country, Europe and the West have achieved results they never dreamed of, and the world will demand a new review of common rules and an ethics for a new age. Russophobia has cost hundreds of thousands of lives, not really because people were afraid of the Russians, but because someone wanted to use them as enemies. And here they have really achieved what was planned.

See the rest of ORIENTERING here.

John Y. Jones
John Y. Jones
Cand. Philol, freelance journalist affiliated with MODERN TIMES

Related articles