Letter from an American to the good people of Russia

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s plea to the Russian people in video remarks posted early on Feb. 24: “Many things are always lacking in war. But what is in abundance is pain, dirt, and death.”

A new Instagram acquaintance of mine from Saint Petersburg, Russia decided to publish this little gem to her story today:

I felt it merited a serious response. Not just for her, but for all the good people of Russia.

Firstly, we understand that in many ways, most of the people of Russia are also a victim of the deranged madman who is running Russia and invading Ukraine.

We know that unless you are one of his rich oligarch partners in his Russian crime syndicate, he couldn’t care less if you live or die. He couldn’t care less if you starve.

We empathize with your plight. Unlike during the cold war of the 1960s, when America was strongly anti-Russian, in 2022 we don’t hate or wish any hardship on the Russian people as a whole. Quite the contrary, we would love to see the people of Russia prosper and have the choice to live in freedom.

But we also know this… Putin remains in power because you allow him to remain in power. There are only three ways he will be gone… he will die; his fellow oligarchs will decide it no longer suits their interests to allow his madness to continue; or the people of Russia will overthrow him.

There are many times throughout history where a people have revolted against tyranny and insanity to gain their freedom. Doing so created the foundation of the American experiment in democracy nearly 250 years ago.

The 2014 Revolution of Dignity that took place in Ukraine demonstrated that it can still happen in current times. Putin, faced with a faltering Russia, fears the threat of democracy so very much that it is the primary motivation for his current invasion of Ukraine.

And if Putin isn’t stopped here and now, we know very well he won’t stop with Ukraine. There are lessons learned from the failure to stop Hitler that many of us still remember.

In America, we are only seeing the start of the hardship this situation will create in the form of higher food and fuel prices, and the plummeting of the value of our retirement plans.

Much more pain for us is likely coming, and this situation has the potential to create environmental and cyber-security disasters in addition to economic ones.

But we will bear this pain because it is the price that must be paid to stop Putin. And because we know that no one in this situation will suffer more than the people of Ukraine.

And we will continue to do everything we can to bring the value of the Ruble to as close to zero as possible. We don’t do this because we hate the Russian people or because we think that Putin will stop because he cares about you… he doesn’t care about you in the least.

We do it because we know that when things get so bad in Russia that people can’t work or eat that his own people will take to the streets in sufficient numbers to overthrow him.

And it is only when his oligarch friends see their fortunes plummet to nothing that they will stop tolerating his insanity.

Look at these brave people in Russia who were out this past week protesting what is happening in their country.

(See also The Atlantic:Anti-war Protests in Russia“.)

These protesters risked getting beaten. They risked getting put in jail.

If you go out and protest too, then you will face the same risks of course. We surely don’t want to see these things happen to you. But it is only through finding the bravery to challenge Putin that the people of Russia will have the potential for a prosperous future.

So suck it up, buttercup. Show some backbone. At least have the decency to show some contrition and humility for being a part of a country that is engaging in war crimes, even if you are not personally taking or condoning such actions.

If you can’t find the courage to take personal risks and try to be a part of the solution, then at least quit whining about your plight and start thinking about how much better it is for you than for the poor people of UkraineĀ who are not only suffering economically but are also sacrificing their lives in the name of freedom and to try to bring Putin’s campaign of madness to an end, knowing full well that there is a very good chance that they won’t personally survive to see it happen.


Cliff Kurtzman
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