Due to the defeats of the Russian army in Ukraine, the anti-democratic and pro-war movement of right-wing nationalists in Russia is becoming stronger and stronger. They criticize the Kremlin for the lack of success of the offensive and demand the escalation of the conflict and the complete conquest of Ukraine without mercy for civilian victims, writes Russian journalist Alexei Kovalov on the website of the “Foreign Policy” magazine.
This fragmented movement sees the causes of Russia’s failure Ukraine not in the perfect attitude of Ukrainian soldiers who defend their country with modern tactics and Western weapons, but in the “internal enemy” in the very Russia – writes Alexei Kovalev.
According to him, such a narrative dangerously resembles the one created after World War I. Germany the “backstab” conspiracy theory that explained the defeat of the war by the actions of “evil internal enemies,” including Jews. This, in turn, became an integral part of the Nazi propaganda that brought the movement to power. That is why the growing power of Russian extremists bodes badly for the future of post-war and Post-Stalinist Russia, concludes the journalist.
Kowalow points out that the movement he describes is a fragmented, loose coalition of various groups and environments, active mainly on the Internet. It consists of, among others from right-wing nationalists, militant extremists, and veterans of the aggression against Ukraine carried out since 2014 Donbass, mercenaries of the Wagner group, but also bloggers and war reporters providing information from Ukraine, employees of state media and soldiers. Before the war, some of these groups promoted various right-wing and nationalist ideas, such as the reconstruction of the USSR and the subjugation of Eastern Europe to it, or the construction of a “Russia only for Russians”.
The attitude of these circles towards Putin ranges from total submission to criticizing his rule from right-wing positions, but they are all united by the rejection of the Kremlin’s propaganda narrative about wars in Ukraine and harsh criticism of the Russian military and political leadership “for holding back the full power of Russia,” Kovalov stresses.
“The demands of this movement can be reduced to this: they want more war crimes, no pity, no remorse, even the appearance of concern for civilian victims, until Ukraine is completely subjugated and the very idea of Ukrainianness is forever erased” – writes the author. He adds that after the recent Russian failures, there have also been many demands for the use of nuclear weapons around Kharkiv.
“The level of hatred and mockery towards everything that is Ukrainian is difficult to convey,” emphasizes the journalist. According to Kovalev, the slogans of this movement can be described not only as open calls to genocide, but – in some cases – as overtly fascist or neo-Nazi voices.
Most bloggers associated with this movement remain anonymous to Western audiences, but among the prominent figures of this milieu can be mentioned, for example, Igor Girkin, a former military blogger, also followed by Western media, pointing out the Kremlin’s military failures, writes the author of “Foreign Policy”. He points out that Western audiences should bear in mind that Girkin, also known as Strelkov, probably committed war crimes in Ukraine during the 2014 campaign himself.
Ironically, some of the most unpleasant figures in Russia are now the most consistent and insightful critics of the Kremlin’s strategy, Kovalov assesses. Although the authorities in Moscow have intensified the repression of those opposing the war and censor information about it, this does not affect these circles for the time being, the journalist notes. However, there are signs that the Kremlin sees this problem and will want to stop the “angry nationalists”, he added.
“Regardless of whether the Kremlin deals with these groups now (with these groups – ed.), The toxic narrative of the pro-war movement will start to live its own life – especially when Russia loses the war, which now seems inevitable,” Kovalov noted. He adds that the collapse of the Russian state will create good conditions for the further development of extremism. “If the pro-war nationalists seeking settlement are the only remaining opposition in Russia, the world may be heading in a dark and dangerous direction,” he concludes.
Main photo source: Celestino Arce Lavin / Zuma Press / Forum