In my final post of 2015, I said that I would try to focus more on good analysis of things Russian and less on bad. So here are links to three recent articles which go some way towards debunking some common myths about Russia.
First, Mark Galeotti punctures the myth that Russia is ‘weaponizing’ everything from information to refugees. As Galeotti correctly points out, the weaponization meme, ‘reflects and encourages poor analysis’. He concludes:
Realistically, it is unlikely that there will be any change from the Kremlin. Rather, it will have to be the West that instead starts to wean itself off the addictive temptations of caricature. Not to be the bigger party (though it will be), not on the condition that Russia follow suit (it won’t), but because better policy comes from better understanding.
We spend too much time chasing hybrid ghosts, confusing ourselves, and diffusing lines of effort. In Washington, Russian hybrid warfare has come to embody Frederick’s [Frederick the Great’s] warning on defending everything; while in Europe they seek to defend against Moscow everywhere. If the West is to come up with a political and military strategy that deals with Russia, it must start by killing bad narratives and malformed analysis: Russian hybrid warfare should be the first on that list.
Third, Sergei Armeyskov denounces the recurring claim that Russia is on the verge of collapse. As Armeyskov says, ‘real Russia’s problems do exist and they serve as the realistic basis for the mythology of “imminent Russian collapse”. This Western “collapsophilia” can be referred to as crussialism (from crush +Russia + [certain amount of] realism). Crushialism [sic] has been an inseparable part of Western master discourse of Russia for years.’ But this crussialism is wrong. According to Armeyskov:
Russia has many serious economic and social problems. I know it much better than any BBCNN ‘Russia watcher’ because I’m a common Russian living in Russia, so I see the signs of crisis every day. But ‘crisis’ doesn’t mean it will necessarily result in a revolution/regime change (we had enough), and even the latter isn’t equal to ‘collapse’.
Amen to all that.