Putin’s ‘Russian Spring’

by Robert Zubrin
The West’s betrayal of Ukraine is playing into his fascist game plan.

On April 6, Eurasianist storm troopers operating under Kremlin coordination launched assaults, seizing government buildings in Donetsk, Kharkiv, Lugansk, and several smaller cities in eastern Ukraine; declared themselves to be the assemblies of independent governments; and immediately invited Russian troops to invade and annex their respective fictional statelets.

There can be no doubt that many of the thousands of invaders involved were in fact Eurasianist storm troopers, and not, as reported by some media outlets, “pro-Russian protesters.” They carried the outward-radiating eight-arrowed flag of Putinist ideologue Aleksandr Dugin’s fascist Eurasianist movement and shouted and displayed its slogan for the operation, “Russian Spring.” There can be no doubt that their moves were made in coordination with Russian dictator Vladimir Putin, because he, for his part, has positioned 50,000 Russian troops just across the border, armed and equipped to carry out the requested invasion.

None of this should have been a surprise. Dugin actually published the plan for the current operation under the name “Scenario Russian Spring” on his Facebook page March 9. But no action was taken by Western leaders to prevent the invasion. Far from it; the Obama administration and its European counterparts have been rolling out the red carpet.

It’s hard to say which Western government has been the worst betrayer of Ukraine’s hopes for freedom, but my vote goes to our very own, which has mocked the Ukrainians’ desperate plea for arms by offering them $3 million worth of prepackaged Meals Ready-to-Eat instead. This comes after a series of stern threats of strong sanctions (if Russia invaded Crimea, if Russia annexed Crimea, if Russia began to destabilize Ukraine, etc.), followed by actions so weak as to be utterly risible when Putin went right ahead and took each forbidden step in turn. Thus, following the “absolutely unacceptable,” “illegal,” “intolerable,” etc. annexation of Crimea, the administration’s primary response was to freeze the U.S. bank accounts of eleven midlevel Russian officials who do not have U.S. bank accounts, leaving hundreds of other Russian officials who also do not have U.S. bank accounts to cheekily demand the same treatment.

At the same time, billions of dollars of payments of U.S. taxpayer money to the Russian military-industrial complex are continuing without interruption. This includes payment for Russian rocket launches to send astronauts to the International Space Station, a subsidy that could be eliminated by allowing the U.S. SpaceX company to do the job. Instead our government has continued the subsidies but engaged in political theater by having NASA stop its interactions with Russian planetary scientists and astronomers. Even worse, our own Department of Defense is sending billions more directly to the Russian-state arms giant Rosoboronexport, a firm that was supposed to already be sanctioned, even before the Ukrainian crisis, because of its role in selling anti-aircraft weapons to protect the Iranian nuclear-bomb program. The current (illegal) Pentagon cash transfers to the Putin-run, Iran-sanction-violating firm are to pay for M-17 attack helicopters for the Afghan military. So even as it deliberately leaves Ukraine as vulnerable as possible, the Obama administration is building up the Russian arms industry at the direct expense of American taxpayers, as well as American companies and workers who were denied the helicopter contracts in favor of a foreign adversary.

As if that were not enough, on April 8, two days after Operation Russian Spring began, and one day after Secretary of State John Kerry threatened Russia with a forceful response to its continued aggression and treaty violation, the administration announced that it was accelerating U.S. nuclear disarmament, getting rid of a third of America’s strategic nuclear deterrent a full four years in advance of the schedule required by the 2010 New START treaty. This is quite serious, because, as a result of other cutbacks, Russian tactical nuclear weapons now outnumber America’s by four to one. Apparently it is not just Ukraine that the administration is willing to make vulnerable to Russian military blackmail.

Of course the Obama administration’s betrayal of Ukraine would not be completely effective if others did not also participate. In this matter, the Europeans have been only too willing to oblige, with Germany taking the lead in ensuring that no effective actions are taken by the EU or NATO to either assist Ukraine or deter Putin. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is also playing its role by placing severe austerity conditions on any monetary help to Ukraine, an action that guarantees riots and the subsequent destabilization of the country. Special prizes for spreading defeatism and pro-Putin propaganda must go to the Socialist International, led by the German SPD, whose head, Gerhard Schroeder, is actually a business partner of the Putin regime.

But the socialists are not the only fifth column Putin has working in the West. In accord with Putin’s current pose as a defender of traditional values, Aleksandr Dugin and his Eurasianists have organized a virtual fascist international supporting Moscow’s vision of an anti-democratic, anti-American Eurasian empire. Numerous fascist and neo-Nazi groups representing nearly every major Western country have joined, as can be seen on display at Dugin’s “Openrevolt” website, and they are mobilizing for Putin. For example, the American Nazi website The Daily Stormer has been avidly publishing Dugin’s propaganda. Particularly prominent as a Putin propagandist has been Pat Buchanan, the author of several notorious books and articles defending the foreign policy of Adolf Hitler. Writing April 4 on his own website, Buchanan gave full credit to the latest pious pose of the former street criminal–turned KGB chief–turned Moscow apartment building bomber–turned prostitution business magnate–turned brutal, lying, murdering, kleptocratic dictator:

In the culture war for the future of mankind, Putin is planting Russia’s flag firmly on the side of traditional Christianity. His recent speeches carry echoes of John Paul II whose Evangelium Vitae in 1995 excoriated the West for its embrace of a “culture of death.” . . . The war to be waged with the West is not with rockets. It is a cultural, social, moral war where Russia’s role, in Putin’s words, is to “prevent movement backward and downward, into chaotic darkness and a return to a primitive state.” Would that be the “chaotic darkness” and “primitive state” of mankind, before the Light came into the world? . . . In the new ideological Cold War, whose side is God on now?

Buchanan’s plaudits to the contrary, the idea of portraying Putin as a defender of Christian morality — let alone a co-thinker of Pope John Paul II (a man whom, it will be recalled, Putin’s KGB tried to murder) — is utterly risible. Putin’s regime is based on theft and extortion, reinforced by lies and murder. Putin himself made his original fortune in the early 1990s, when he stole the funds that had been entrusted to him to buy food in Europe to relieve the starvation in Leningrad that occurred during the economic collapse following the fall of the Soviet Union. In what was called the second siege of Leningrad; thousands died, but Putin and his partners in crime got rich. Then Putin killed even more Russians when he had the FSB explode bombs in apartment buildings in Moscow in 1999 to give himself the pretext to seize dictatorial powers. Those who exposed these crimes, such as former FSB operative Alexander Litvinenko, he had murdered. But those are just some of the most notorious examples of the regime’s corruption. For all his pontificating about sexual morality, Putin is the leader of the largest prostitution and child-sex-trafficking operation in the world. In Putin’s Russia, young girls are kidnapped off the street in large numbers by well-connected criminal businesses and sold into slavery, and army officers sexually abuse boyish recruits and never face criminal prosecution.

In fact, there is nothing “conservative” at all about Putin’s cause. What he is offering is a synthetic ideology called Eurasianism, composed for him by Dugin, as a means of uniting all the anti-Western movements of the world under Kremlin control. The core idea of Eurasianism is that “liberalism” (by which is meant the entire Western consensus) represents an assault on the traditional hierarchical organization of the world. Repeating the ideas of Nazi theorists Karl Haushofer, Rudolf Hess, Carl Schmitt, and Arthur Moeller van der Bruck, Dugin says that this liberal threat is not new but is the ideology of the maritime-cosmopolitan power, “Atlantis,” which has therefore conspired to subvert more conservative land-based societies since ancient times. Accordingly, he has written books in which he has reconstructed the entire history of the world as a continuous battle between these two factions, from Rome vs. Carthage to Russia vs. the Anglo-Saxon “Atlantic Order” today. If it is to win this fight against the subversive oceanic bearers of such “racist” (because foreign-imposed) ideas as human rights, however, Russia must unite around (or under) itself all the continental powers, forming one grand Eurasian Union that includes Germany, Central and Eastern Europe, the former Soviet republics, Turkey, Iran, and Korea and that is strong enough to defeat the West.

In order to be so united, this Eurasian Union will need a defining dogma, and for this purpose Dugin has developed a new “Fourth Political Theory” combining all the most useful points of Communism, Nazism, Ecologism, and Traditionalism, thereby making it appealing to the adherents of all of these diverse anti-liberal creeds. He adopts Communism’s opposition to free enterprise. However, he drops the Marxist commitment to technological progress, a liberal-derived ideal, in favor of Ecologism’s demagogic appeal to stop the advance of industry and modernity. From Traditionalism, he derives a justification for stopping free thought. All the rest is straight out of Nazism, ranging from legal theories justifying unlimited state power and the elimination of individual rights, to the need for populations “rooted” in the soil, to weird gnostic ideas about the secret origin of the Aryan race in the North Pole.

What Russia needs, says Dugin, is a “genuine, true, radically revolutionary and consistent, fascist fascism.” On the other hand:

Liberalism, is an absolute evil. . . . Only a global crusade against the U.S., the West, globalization, and their political-ideological expression, liberalism, is capable of becoming an adequate response. . . . The American empire should be destroyed. . . . I love the East in general and blame the West. The West now expands itself on the planet. So the globalization is Westernization and Americanization. Therefore, I invite all the rest to join the camp and fight Globalism, Modernity/Hypermodernity, Imperialism Yankee, liberalism, free market religion and unipolar world. These phenomena are the ultimate point of the Western path to the abyss, the final station of the evil and the almost transparent image of the antichrist/ad-dadjal/erev rav. So the West is the center of kali-yuga, its motor, its heart.

In his “Scenario Russian Spring” game plan published a month ago, Dugin defined the borders of the coming Eurasian empire as extending “from Lisbon to Vladivostok” — expansive enough, but leaving out the British Isles, Africa, half of the Middle East, India, China, Southeast Asia, and Australia. In the face of the past month’s serial capitulations by the West, that vision has now been revised. Here then is the map that Dugin just published on his Facebook page, of the planned “Euro-Soviet Empire.”

In the accompanying caption, Dugin says: “The next few days in the South East will settle everything. Very difficult days. Donetsk, Lugansk, Kharkiv. This is the final frontier, for Russia, for a multipolar world, for those who can no longer tolerate the American liberal hegemony. If we go one more step: they will be finished. The next issue that will arise is not the status of Ukraine (no one is interested in that anymore), but the liberation of Europe — from Dublin to Vladivostok.”

Some might dismiss this as megalomania, but that would be a mistake. It’s not just megalomania, it’s metastasizing megalomania, which is being actively promoted out of control by the incredible cowardice of those who should be offering a check to such ambitions. The Western elites have allowed themselves to be routed, and, having shown the enemy their backs, are inviting them to charge in headlong pursuit. The problem is that the Eurasianists see no limiting principle. Why should they? Does anyone believe Pontius Obama is washing his hands of Ukraine because the assurances inscribed on the Budapest memorandum were worded too loosely? No, clearly, the reason Obama is allowing Ukraine to be crucified is that he is unwilling to take a stand. But if not now, then when? If not for Ukraine, then for whom? If the West won’t resist, it won’t resist. All the former Soviet republics are there for the taking. Formal NATO membership will do the Baltic states little good, as any commitments made to them can just as easily be lawyered away as were those made to Ukraine by those seeking excuses not to act. After all, the Baltics were taken by Catherine the Great about the same time she took Crimea and have been independent since then for less time than Crimea was part of Ukraine. More to the point, if the West must capitulate to Putin regarding Ukraine because Europe depends on Russia for its fuel supply, then it must capitulate to his next territorial demands as well. To quote Thucydides, in international affairs, the strong do as they will, the weak suffer what they must. Regardless, the Obama administration is resisting all calls to remedy this situation by legalizing exports of the rapidly grown glut of American natural gas to Europe. Instead, the critical weakness of the West is to be preserved, while the highly profitable Russian monopoly of natural-gas exports to Europe is to remain unchallenged, the better to fund Putin’s growing war machine.

It has been widely remarked that in his current operation to dismember Ukraine, Putin is following Hitler’s scenario vis-à-vis Czechoslovakia to a T. It might also be said that Obama is playing the supporting role of Neville Chamberlain nearly perfectly as well. Emerging from his Munich victory, Hitler exultantly proclaimed, “My enemies are worms!” Putin might well be thinking the same thing.

But the parallels between the Munich Pact and the current betrayal of Ukraine go well beyond the psychological. Their strategic significance is nearly identical, too. Before Munich, the combined forces of Britain, France, Czechoslovakia, and Poland were decisively superior to Nazi Germany. Thus surrounded, and lacking any way to challenge a British naval blockade, Germany had no adequate source of oil and could not attempt to wage a modern war. But by betraying Czechoslovakia, Chamberlain undermined Hitler’s domestic opposition, eliminated 35 Czech divisions from the Allied order of battle, handed over the powerful Czech arms industry (including the huge Skoda works) to the Nazis, and rendered Poland utterly indefensible by opening up its long southern border to Nazi attack. With Poland out of the way, the Germans could get all the oil they needed to assault Western Europe from the Soviet Union. The result was World War II.

Ukraine today has the same significance. Without Ukraine, Dugin’s fascist Eurasian Union project is impossible, and sooner or later Russia itself will have to join the West and become free, leaving only a few despised and doomed islands of tyranny around the globe. But with Ukraine underfoot, and its military-industrial base, natural resources, population, and territory added to that of Russia, the Eurasianists’ program can and will proceed, and a new iron curtain will fall into place, imprisoning a large fraction of humanity in the grip of a monstrous totalitarian power that will become the arsenal of evil around the world for decades to come. That means, at minimum, another cold war, trillions of dollars wasted on arms, accelerated growth of the national-security state at home, and repeated proxy conflicts costing millions of lives abroad.

But it could be even worse. Hitler took the measure of Chamberlain and thought he had taken the measure of Britain. Putin might well make the same mistake, and — believing he has taken, in the spineless Obama, the measure of America — embark upon a similarly reckless grab for world dominion as that attempted by his Nazi predecessor, with even more disastrous consequences.

Good fences make good neighbors. In betraying Ukraine, the Obama administration has taken down the fence. We need to put it back up, and quickly, or we may soon be forced to deal with a very bad neighbor indeed.

— Robert Zubrin is president of Pioneer Energy of Lakewood, Colo., and the author of Energy Victory. The paperback edition of his latest book, Merchants of Despair: Radical Environmentalists, Criminal Pseudo-Scientists, and the Fatal Cult of Antihumanism, was recently published by Encounter Books.