The New York Times columnist Bret Stephens writes about the parallels between the persecution of Jews in the Russian Empire and USSR and the current targeting of Ukrainians. Stephens’ great grandfathers both suffered from persecution in the early 1900s; one of them later was gone missing after being arrested by Bolsheviks. As Russia has used anti-semitic narratives to deny antisemitic facts, like justifying pogroms, now Russia is using the same textbook to constrain the mass murders of Ukrainians and justify the “special military operation’. Stephens shares his familyʼs story to demonstrate that Ukrainians are going through something many Americans’ foreheads went through before migrating to the US, either from Russia, Vietnam, Ethiopia, or Venezuela. While Americans are starting to feel the consequences of inflation, the interest in Ukraine is dropping. Still, these personal stories are what could make a difference and remind the US about the founding value of freedom and truth.
The alleged role of toxic masculinity in the Russian invasion of Ukraine became a topic of a recent essay by Walter Russell Mead on The Wall Street Journal titled “If Putin was a woman…”. Mead discusses Boris Johnsonʼs statement, which said that if Putin were a woman, the crazy macho war of invasion and violence would not happen. According to Mead, on the contrary, one of Putin’s role models is Russian Empress Catherine the Great. It was she who expanded Peter’s empire and made Russia the greatest land power in Europe. Mead watched the TV series “ʼEkaterina: The Rise of Catherine the Great" produced with Russian state funding and broadcasted on Amazon Prime, and found many insights into Putinitsts’ thinking. For example, one of the narratives used in the series is that all other countries hate and seek to ruin Russia, and the concept of “values” is used to confuse and disarm Russia. Another standard narrative is that corruption is chronic and can’t be overcome; however, there are good corrupt officials and bad ones. Therefore, only a solid free from the moral burden supported by a robust security apparatus can keep Russia safe. Mead believes that this is exactly what Putin convenes to the Russian people, and this is how he sees himself. Mead urges the G-7 leaders to better watch the series and eliminate cheap gender stereotypes to understand Putin better.
The Washington Post writes about Eastern Europeʼs responses to a growing Russian threat. Military and civilians are taking measures to get prepared to respond if Russia invades. According to a recent Pew Research, 94 percent of Poles see Moscow as a “major threat” which is almost 30% more than in 2018. Krzysztof Wojcik, a founder of a non-profit that provides survivalist and weapons training for civilians reports a dramatic jump in interest for his services since February 24. Motivated by Ukrainians’ brave resistance, Poland is training “civilian soldiers”. Starting from September, children from 13 years old will begin limited weapons training. Sweden and Lithuania also are taking similar measures, both countries are having a vast increase in the number of recruits signing up for civil defense forces. The Czechs are signing up for active army reserves but also are buying out available weapons and learning to improve shooting skills. If Russia attacks, they should be prepared – this is what unites Eastern European countries in increased interest in guns and military training.