What have we (Russians, - Ed.) been doing the last weeks? That's right - we followed the presidential elections in Ukraine. Some of us did this with a mocking grin. But most - with envy.
However, Ukraine has been the main Russian discourse for five years. Russia dissolved in Ukraine, forgetting about its problems. The Russian state seemed to have lost itself, confusing its national identity and geographical boundaries.
What means the fact that we live following Ukraine, writing about it, arguing about it, damning it, being jealous of it, explaining it?
This fact says a lot about us. It says that Russia has no idea of consolidation. It says that hostility to the Ukrainians has become a tool to legitimize power. It speaks of the cowardice of our elite, who would like to challenge America, but fearing the consequences, prefers to strike Ukraine.
Our fixation on Ukrainian issue shouts about our complexes and our inability to get out of the rusted vessel. Having made Ukraine an internal (and, moreover, key!) issue of Russian politics, we recognize that we could not find our own incentives for development and unity.
Russia was not ready to Ukraine’s withdrawal. Now we have to seal the hole made by Ukrainians in the Russian state machine and lick the wounds of our pride.
Ukraine, which has escaped from the Russian embrace, continues to be a Russian phantom pain. If you lose your limbs, you start to limp. That is what is happening with the Russian state, which has lost one of the evidence of its statehood.
Russian power is excelled in inventing how to take revenge on the fugitives. We will issue Russian passports to Donbas! But, apparently, the warning did not frighten the stubborn Ukrainians. And now the Kremlin thought up to make it more painful by banning the export of Russian oil, petroleum products and coal to Ukraine. But the Russian attempt to strangle, most likely, will force Ukrainians to confirm their choice - away from Russia!
Russia has formed a class of politicians and experts whose profession is to gloat over Ukraine. Even liberally-minded people talk about Ukraine with condescension, trying to advise Ukrainians what to do. At the same time, they are not ready to suggest what Russia needs to do.
What do they say about Ukraine? This is a brain explosion. The most comical is when Russian observers see a reflection of their own reality in Ukraine: "manipulative democracy"; "complete failure of the ruling elite". The debate between Poroshenko and Zelensky for them is a stupid show and clownery, a shame and a sign of the destruction of the state! It is clear that for a slave mentality it is impossible to imagine how anyone can challenge the leader, and the leader will argue with him on an equal footing! Horror, horror!
Kremlin interpreters describe the Poroshenko’s defeat as systemic failure. They cannot accept that the departure of one leader and the arrival of another as a result of the elections speaks about the viability of the system: the Ukrainians won the right to choose leaders; they have the right to make mistakes and correct them again through elections.
We even have serious experts whining about the weaknesses of the Ukrainian parliamentary-presidential system. It is not clear to them how Ukrainians live in the absence of a tough "vertical" indicating to them how to live. And Ukrainians have no idea how we continue to tolerate the “vertical”, which dictates us how we live.
The Ukrainian project failed, say Russian experts. Ukraine is stuck and it has nowhere to move in a situation of crisis of the European Union. But first, despite all the problems, we see economic growth in Ukraine (in 2018, GDP growth reached 2.5%, and national production growth - 3.6%). And what is the state of the economy in Russia? This is a state secret, if we bear in mind the manipulations of Rosstat.
Secondly, the crisis of the European community reflects its search for new life forms. In any case, Europe understands that its security requires incorporating Ukraine, and not leaving it in the dead zone as a failed state and a source of tension with Russia.
Ukraine is a world periphery, Russian wizards convince us. Hmm ... But it was this "periphery" that caused the confrontation of the West with Russia. And without ensuring the stability of the Ukrainian state, there is nothing to think about the normalization of their relations. We will help Ukraine to overcome the crisis, our well-wishers say. Isn't it better to help yourself and finally get rid of obsession in Ukraine?
They are ruled by oligarchs! Yes, oligarchic fuss is a Ukrainian problem. But after all, some of the local oligarchs (for example, Kolomoisky) will receive personal monuments for their national orientation. And what memory will the Russian oligarchs make of themselves?
The Russian party wonders what kind of president Volodomor Zelensky will become. Whatever he may be, he will defend Ukrainian national interests. Otherwise, the new Maidan will decide his fate. Moreover, Zelensky will not be the only center of power in Ukraine that has managed to create a system of balances. Perhaps the new balance of power in the Rada and who will become the new prime minister is much more important. This is an incomprehensible reality for us. Having accustomed to autocracy, we get lost when we see a lot of opposing forces, considering it chaos.
It is curious that, despite the war and sacrifices, Ukrainians are beginning to have a better attitude towards Russia: in 2018, 48% of Ukrainian respondents treated Russia well (33% of Russians treated Ukraine well). Not because Ukrainians suddenly felt sympathy for Russia. But because Russia has ceased to be the main problem for them. They want to forget about us and think about their dignified life. Without us!
Of course, it is insulting to be rejected power. Meet the indifference is even more offensive. But if Russia wants to reclaim its dignity and vision of the future, it will have to come across Ukraine and go about its business.