Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login

Gorbachev secured his place in history by what he didn't do. While never endorsing the end of the eastern bloc, he made it clear beginning in the late 1980's that unlike his predecessors, he would not oppose democratic reforms in Eastern Europe by force. To general astonishment, he kept this promise, and with the regrettable exception of Lithuania this commitment to not repeating the crimes of his predecessors is Gorbachev's greatest legacy. In 1988 you would have been hard pressed to find anyone who could imagine the mostly peaceful collapse of the Eastern Bloc, but Gorbachev had the moral courage to accept this once unimaginable consequence of his policy and to see it through.



Not to pick a fight, but I feel it's important then to note that it was not Reagan who "won" the Cold War. It was Gorbachev, who had the political courage (and idealism) to take the leap.


The people who "won" the cold war are those Eastern countries that had been occupied by Russia for 45 years and fought for their freedom in Prague, Budapest and especially in Gdańsk.


Such freedom, to get pillaged by western companies. We are now in massive debt, most public services are privatised and collapsing, the young can't afford rents, wages are constantly dropping relative to expenses.

It was the profit extractors that won the cold war.


This might be a popular notion in privileged white western high schools, but the transformation in eastern EU countries has been breathtaking.

The poverty divide between east and west Germany was so visibly apparent when you walked across that line. Today, both sides of Berlin are vibrant and thriving. The same can be said in every capital city that has joined the EU. Massive prosperity compared to the Soviet poverty.


The West's outwards aggression and effective embargo are gone, sure. That definitely helps.

However, the material conditions aren't necessarily better. It used to be that everyone was guaranteed a home, a job, healthcare, education, etc. Homelessness is now a problem in most capitals, many struggle to find a job at all, healthcare has generally been defunded and privatised, etc.

So many of us left because we clearly had no opportunities in our own countries after 89, especially after so much industry was sold off for scrap.


Your 80s experience in Eastern Europe is first hand as an adult or hearsay? I visited the GDR in the 80s as an adult and have some first hand experience which differs from yours.

In the GDR "job security" meant they told you what to work, choice was limited, if you always played by the rules, and if you didn't like that, you'd go to jail.

In the GDR no-one was guaranteed education. Today in Germany everyone can study whatever they want, in the GDR <5% of pupils were allowed to study, based on the status of their parents. Participation in events and workshops in school was based on the status of your parents or your participation in party organisations (FDJ, Young pioneers).

The GDR was on the verge of bancrupcy as were many other Eastern block countries at the end of the 80s, with low productivity but unsustainable high subsidies for food and flats. Poland went into bancrupcy and all other Eastern block countries were near that point (often because they took Western credits in the 70s and early 80s to increase consumer good production but couldn't pay back later)

(Anyone interested in Germany I recommend "Das Ende der SED: Die letzten Tage des Zentralkomitees" with protocols from the meetings of the central comitee).


I would like to amplify KingOfCoders answers with the experience in Romania. I lived in 1980's Romania. The party provided a guaranteed job - but only if you worked where the party sent you. The party provided a guaranteed apartment - but only if you lived where the party sent you. The apartment did not have heat and did not have electricity. If you were lucky maybe it had a somewhat stable gas supply. Hopefully the gas stoves you rigged to heat your apartment would not blow up (this happened). The guaranteed job did not feed you because of the food shortages. The party provided free health care - but there were no medicine. The hospitals did not have heat and when my sister went for apendicitis surgery my parents were on pins and needles just so the hospital does not get hit by an electricity blackout. I could go on and on but if you still think it was better under communism then nothing I say will change your mind.


The same in the GDR with flats. You couldn't get one, until you were married and best had a child. Without, single, you had to stay with your parents. You had to apply for a flat and it took up to several years until you got one - the one they gave you, no selection. If you had bad luck or your parents were not of sufficient socialist status, you had no central heating.


I guess you could always go the Romania way, starve the population until debt is zero. The profit extractors were the government but at least it was "our" thieves not some foreign companies.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foreign_debt_of_the_Socialist_...


It's also important to remember why that debt was paid.

Our government had taken IMF loans with the goal of expanding industry to sell products to the West. We did, then we were prevented from selling finished products to many countries. Some of the production was redirected internally and towards trade with other socialist countries, but the loan denominated in dollars remained.

Then the IMF demanded we pay back the loan early, while mostly only allowing us to export food. Today this would be called sanctions. This was a tactic to intentionally create scarcity of food in the country, which coupled with constant propaganda (especially from Radio Free Europe) and arming and funding local fascists (including the famous snipers shooting into crowds), culminated in a bloody coup in '89. Similar tactics have been used by NATO powers against other countries.


Well I lived in Romania in the 1980s so I feel compelled to respond to this.

Romanian leadership took a lot of loans from the West and spend the money on large industrial projects with Western technology which was either obsolete or becoming obsolete (Dacia-Renault, Olcit-Cytroen, CANDU for the nuclear energy, Rombac-British Aircracft, etc...)

This was a huge bet that did not work - but it was all done by Romanian Leadership. The West did not ask Romania to borrow, Romania asked to borrow. When the bills came due at the end of 1970s Romania asked to roll over their debt. Unfortunately for Romania at the same time US FED (Volcker) was raising the interest rates sharply to combat inflation. So rolling over the debt was very expensive. This was not economic sanctions aimed at Romania - this happened to every borrower that had USD debts (including regular people in the US).

Romania choose to pay the debts and the only way to get USD was to sell resources - because the industrial products were obsolete and nobody in the West wanted to buy. So Romania sold food and whatever oil they still had and whatever steel they still had. For the Romanian people that meant food shortages, heat shortages, electricity shortages...

This was done by Romanian leadership. It was not economic sanctions from the West.


> Such freedom, to get pillaged by western companies.

I prefer that to being tortured in prison or being shot by soviet soldiers sitting in our borders.


Russia has also won the cold war, as it was, too, liberated from cumminst tyranny and quaity of life and freedom have raised significantly as a consequence. Sadly, this consequence took time to take place, which made the causal relationship not obvious for many Russians, and a lot of what Russia has won over this liberation has been gradually lost since Putin came into power.


> Russia [after 1991] quaity of life and freedom have raised significantly

This isn't even close to true.


It is, just not immediately after 1991 (there was a long period of turmoil and decline). It happened mostly in 2000s, yes, right after Putin came to power.


I mean, if by "won" you mean, "watched powerlessly as the whole rotten system collapsed around him and didn't slaughter thousands of his own people to stop it"... yeah, Gorbachev "won" the cold war.

Not what I would define as "winning", but ok.


I believe it was summed up quite nicely as:

“A strange game. The only winning move is not to play.”


You're not picking a fight, you're just being wrong. Gorbachev just had the sense to see socialism was not working.


I thought it was Reagan who forced Gorbachev and the Soviet Union into this position by arms racing them to death. I bet you Gorbachev would try to keep the empire if it wasn't for the economical collapse. He sent tanks to the Baltics. He cheered for the annexation of Crimea. His empire might've been more democratic than the USSR used to be, but still an empire. Also, he was a communist and tried to keep it, but the people were full of communism.


Gorbatchev could still have sent the tanks to suppress the peaceful protests like his predecessors did in the 50's and 60's (or China did at this very point in history, and this is exactly what would have happened under a different Soviet leader). Even if this was the only thing Gorbatchev did right in his entire life, it was this one decision that deserves to be his legacy.


No, he couldn't - there wasn't enough anything to do an operation like that, thanks to the economic pressure of the previous arms race. People were rebelling. Also, people remembered that they weren't exactly welcome in 1968. At this point the satellite states had much stronger economies than the USSR and could've effectively protected themselves (and there were very serious plans to do so).

Look at Ukraine today - they are using so much Western technology, relying on so much Western money - and yet they can't get 500 km past Ukraine border. They wouldn't reach their own border if they had only their own resources.


I don't know how it was in the rest of Eastern Europe, but for instance the East German government was much more 'conservative' than Gorbatchev and heavily opposed to perestroika/glasnost. If Gorbatchev wouldn't have left Honecker hanging dry, Honecker would have welcomed the Soviet tanks against his own people.

You don't need to be able to compete with the US military technology to kill unarmed protesters. T-54s will do just fine.


The thing is, the tanks would have to get there. Getting a tank 1000 km past at least 3 unfriendly borders is an enormous logistics issue, and a major resource drain - resources that simply did not exist, not even talking about the human resources.

And you're discounting the strength of millions of super-angry people too much. They would destroy the few tanks with rocks (or molotovs, as illustrated in Ukraine) if they had to.


You've probably been born after the Cold War, but just to put things into perspective, the Soviet Union had half a million troops and dozens of tank divisions already stationed in East Germany, they wouldn't have to fight their way through Poland. And it probably wasn't all that different in the other countries along the Iron Curtain.


The USSR had 300k troops and 5000 tanks sitting in the DDR. Your take is extremely ahistorical.


Same thing in Czechoslovakia, but ultimately the KGB, StB and the local communist party government decided they would not be able to win, only prolong it a little. IIRC from my history classes their projection was 'less than a year and with enormous human costs on both sides, and productivity going to zero due to the whole-population rebellion' - which leads me to the conclusion that they would need significant resources delivered from USSR. Wasn't it similar in DDR?

(A lot of the StB guys decided to simply take advantage of the coming economical transformation and subsequently stole a lot of corporations and other stuff from the general public)


But that's the whole point isn't it? Would the local governments have held back if they would have been pressured by an aggressive Soviet overlord to start a civil war on their own soil? I guess the exact details why the East German army didn't leave their barracks are still not really clarified (e.g. was it incompetence, insubordination, passive resistance, unwilligness to have the blood of their own people on their hands?), at least the last point wouldn't be an issue for Soviet soldiers stationed in East Germany if they had received orders to crush the protests. But apparently they didn't receive such orders and I think the silence out of Moscow was the main reason why the East German government remained passive too.


What good is starting a civil war you can't win and in which you will last less than a year and end up dead?

My point is, the party/StB/KGB calculated (at least in Czechoslovakia - there are their own meeting notes about it) they wouldn't be able to win, and so decided they would rather steal some stuff than destroy it (or let the rebels destroy it). If they wanted to win by force - and initially they wanted to, until they understood the scale of the rebellion - they would need much bigger forces, but that was impossible to arrange, and not for lack of willingness.

They actually deployed the army (both CzSk and Soviet troops) and police, but the rebelling masses were way too overwhelming and they chickened out - there are videos of them going/rolling tanks backwards away from the enormous masses of people (easily hundreds per one troop, not even possible to kill them with your Kalashnikov). If they fired the tank, they wouldn't last 5 minutes and their death would've been nasty. What changed from 1968 in CzSk and from the situation in China was the scale of the rebellion - in 1968 only tens of thousands of people protested, in 1989 it was millions, and each incident (not like there weren't any) caused much more people to rebel instead of suppressing it.

And there was no silence out of Moscow. There are records of USSR-CzSk phone calls about this, and it was definitely not silence nor "we won't do it because it's bad" but "we can't do it because we're out of money, you're on your own BUT DO SOMETHING OR ELSE" (the CzSk side was asking for air support and so on). I assure you that if they went with force all the communist party members, StB/KGB agents and Russian troops would've been hanged afterwards - so the only remaining option was to let it happen and this way they all survived and some even thrived (like for example Andrej Babiš).

Gorbachev's "democratic-communist" (hah, what an oxymoron) Soviet Union could've never worked without the satellite states which supplied most high technology, a lot of important natural resources, etc with dictated prices USSR could afford, so I really don't think he'd just let it go if he had any other option. Certainly the phone calls didn't sound like they were happy about it or that it was the plan all along.

Overall, I don't buy the Gorbachev==good view. Perhaps he let the fall in DDR happen, but probably only because he was busy trying to keep other parts of the empire such as Hungary and the Baltics. He might've been better than the previous leaders, sure - but who isn't better than Stalin and the party? He was still an imperialist even to the modern times, and wanted to force communism (and all the associated baggage) down the throats of his subjects even though the people were demanding the end of planned economy. That makes him bad in my eyes regardless of whether he decided to let the fall happen or not, anyways. Certainly nobody to be fond of, and probably just a case of being at the right time at the right place - it's not like he could've said anything else than he said without being thrown out of the window.


Transport them? What are you talking about? The Soviets had bases all over the place in Eastern Europe.

The case being discussed here, Eastern Germany, was just behind the iron curtain, remember? Soviet troops were at ~300 locations on the GDR territory, ~50 airfields, over 300,000 soldiers, over 4,000 tanks.


The stationed troops and machines were not nearly enough to handle the situation, see my sibling comments. You can't suppress protests of several millions with 300k not-so-willing troops and 5000 not-so-good tanks (the Czechoslovaks manufactured their own tanks because of how bad the Soviet manufacturing was).

For one thing, the problem is your tanks and troops have to be ready all around the country - the protesting people are moving across the state quickly. One day there's a protest in Prague, second day it's in Brno - but you can't move your 300k troops and 5000 tanks from Prague to Brno in a day. And then the next day it's Ostrava and you have to do it again. Then an incident happens and that provokes a 10x bigger protest in Prague, Brno and Ostrava at the same time. That's impossible. You need much, much more troops and tanks to handle this scale of rebellion - and the requested air support that never came. And your tanks will never make people go back to work, anyways.

(I'm discussing Gorbachev, not GDR specifically)


> The stationed troops and machines were not nearly enough to handle the situation, see my sibling comments. You can't suppress protests of several millions with 300k not-so-willing troops and 5000 not-so-good tanks

I don't know how old you are or where you were at the time. I was there. In the GDR, in East Berlin. On the streets. And I can tell you, a few tanks and troops getting their guns out would have made major impressions on people.

It's not just a numbers game. You are greatly oversimplifying history here. Quite naively so, I might add.

It's a great achievement of history that Gorbachev made the Soviets keep their feet still and among many eastern Germans it's regarded as quite the miracle that this whole episode went down non-violently. Look around in the world in the last decades. This was the major exception, and Gorbachev was central to that.

Also, let's get the picture of the situation straight. He didn't just passively sit bunkered in in Moscow, letting things happen. He actively went out to meet leaders of other involved powers, including the German chancellor and foreign minister, Kohl and Genscher, which he outlived by a few years.


Well, OK - I accept your opinion about GDR. But there are still the other states, and Gorbachev somehow forgot to save these too. I don't understand what makes him so good in light of the events in these other places. Isn't it interesting that only Germans are protective of him? You never hear such opinion in former Czechoslovakia. I never heard someone from Poland or Hungary talk about Gorbachev positively - neutral at best, and very unusually.


But Poland, Hungary, etc - they were not divided at least. It was a much bigger deal for Germany than for them. Also, the echo of WWII plays some role here I guess. Germany and other East European countries are in different positions here.


To expand, it seems to me like he worked to be friendly with the largest European economy while continuing to stomp on the smaller ones who didn't have their West part to look after them. Manipulative and calculating, definitely not good. Thank your West German friends, not Gorbachev.


But the dissolution of soviet union is not over yet. You can see this nowhere as clearly as in russias attack on Ukraine[0] where imperialistic russians that dream of restoring the glory and borders of soviet union[1] are waging their genocidal war. Meanwhile they are using hunger[2] and energy as their weapons against the rest of the world[3].

If the russians are not stopped in Ukraine, then there is no reason to believe that they wouldn't rinse and repeat in Baltic states, Kazakhstan, Moldova, and all other now independent former russian states. Including Alaska[4], should opportunity represent itself.

To truly secure Gorbachevs place in history, world must decisively say no to the russians agressions in Ukraine, and help Ukraine deliver a humiliating defeat to the russians and the dissolution of soviet union reach it's logical conclusion by stripping russia and their dreams off of any status as military, or world power.

[0] https://edition.cnn.com/europe/live-news/russia-ukraine-war-... [1] https://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-26769481 [2] https://www.theweek.co.uk/news/world-news/russia/957367/russ... [3] https://www.atlanticcouncil.org/blogs/ukrainealert/putins-en... [4] https://www.snopes.com/news/2022/03/19/does-russia-want-alas...


First of all, RIP Gorbachev.

The Soviet Union ceased to exist in December 26, 1991 [0]. Russia is not the USSR, and it's almost impossible it will never be anything remotely close.

Most of the former USSR industrial capabilities where either abandoned, razed or looted.

Russia's modern industry (including military) depends heavily on European (now sanctioned and obtained via third countries) and Chinese imports. This means that most of their industrial machinery, oil/gas extraction sector, automotive industry, chips... is now strained. They've almost stopped producing cars.

Russia is mostly burning the gigantic former USSR reserves until they dry out. And Ukraine is way bigger than Abkhazia, Ossetia or Transnistria so it has the largest burn rate since Afghanistan.

Just look up at their modern attempts of modernization. The T-14 Armata was expected to have over 100 of them built before 2020 [1] but only a few experimental units can be seen in the wild. Even the Iskander is a USSR design.

The "humiliation" is happening on both sides every day as we speak. No one will either "win" or "lose" the Russia-Ukraine war. It's just an endless attrition warfare [2] were both sides consume their huge military storage (Ukraine using a mix of exUSSR and NATO material and Russia using exUSSR material).

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dissolution_of_the_Soviet_Unio...

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T-14_Armata

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Attrition_warfare


> Russia is mostly burning the gigantic former USSR reserves until they dry out. And Ukraine is way bigger than Abkhazia, Ossetia or Transnistria so it has the largest burn rate since Afghanistan.

As far as I've understood it, the burn rate is way, way higher than in Afghanistan. Soviet-Afghan War took ten years. I don't think we've seen this burn rate anywhere in the industrialized world since WW2.


Sorry, I forgot about WW2! I referred to Afghanistan since it was the last big War the soviets fought before their country fell.



> gigantic former USSR reserves

Heh, I doubt such a thing exists or has ever existed. Resource trade is a large part of their income.

edit: Ah, you meant military capacities...


From your link [1].

He [Putin] became briefly close to President George W Bush - who even claimed to have glimpsed Putin's soul - until the Iraq War drove them apart. In Iraq, Putin insisted that international law must be upheld - no invasion could be allowed without approval from the United Nations Security Council, and that approval was not forthcoming.

This is also Putin and it is not singular. If you listen to his speeches, he often demands that international laws and treaties should be upheld and he became increasingly frustrated over the years that this was not done. Maybe you can argue that this was his only option out of a position of weakness, but never the less he did this.

Putin wanting to recapture and rebuild a past empire is a very new narrative without much supporting evidence over all those years.


> he became increasingly frustrated over the years that this was not done.

This may be true, but I think it's more likely that he doesn't care about it at all. He is an opportunist, and back then the best opportunity was to criticize the U.S. and Europe by insisting on international law. Today, he is saying Europe is a fascist Nazi oppressor.


I think it depends on what exactly you mean with it all. Upholding international law was most likely in his best interests, with Russia in its weak state this was probably the best option to stay relevant and have influence. If you mean that he believed that upholding international law is the right thing to do independent of Russia situation, that is something I can not say. Maybe someone who really studied Putin could make an educated guess at this.


The international organization where his country happens to have a permanent seat should decide the fate of the invasion! No need for further study, this is simple politics.


[flagged]


Every country has unsavoury elements within it, but attacking a country with a Jewish president for being fascist, because there are a few thousand racists in the south, is bullshit. Especially when you're at the same time busily funding and promoting fascist and racist groups all over Europe and the US, as Russia has been.


Zelensky asked the few thousand fascists/nazis to lay down their arms for a cease fire - in order to fulfil his primary campaign promise of ending the donbass war. They refused and called him a traitor.

Being Jewish they probably called him a few other names too.

He tacitly accepted this insubordination without a fuss, as far as I can see. These days he lavishes Azov with praise.

In which other countries does this happen?


Russia has had problems with insubordination too, with soldiers refusing to fight. Frankly I don't see how it makes any difference. None of that makes Ukraine a fascist state.

Nor does it change the fact that when it suits it's own interests, Russia promotes and funds fascists. Clearly none of this has anything to do with fascism, Russia didn't send massive columns of armoured vehicles and thousands of troops at Kyiv over Azov battalion.


Im not sure you could argue that Ukraine is overall a fascist state. Zelensky isnt secretly one of them and lord knows they werent good at winning elections when they ran either.

However, with a lot of fascists rewarded with government posts after their performance in maidan and an entire fascist batallion somehow having the independence to defy a presidential order to stand down in a war, it's pretty clear that fascists hold a significant level of power in Ukraine.


They have power over themselves and their actions, they have little or no power or real influence in the country. They're certainly not making it in any way fascist. In fact the only reason they have any standing at all is due to the Russian aggression, if the Russian's hadn't invaded Azov would be truly irrelevant.


Ask any psychologist with a knowledge of the military world about the number of far right militants wearing an uniform and you'll be shocked by the response. Uniforms and weapons are like sex for some people.

Extreme right wingers want to wear uniforms and carry weapons at any cost: it's the way their brain is wired that makes them so inclined to the show of strength, obsession about physical efficiency, appearing and act dominant, being combative, in constant search of enemies to fight against (including creating them if necessary); and of course that decrepit ideology, which however in many cases is not the main motivator, therefore they're not perceived as Nazis, although they're equally dangerous.

The tale about Nazis in the Ukraine army is true for pretty much every country, including mine and yours. How many soldiers or cops or paramilitary forces does your country have? Well, you can take for granted that under at least 30% of the uniforms there are Azov-like extreme right wingers. And I'm very optimistic, because according both to personal direct experience when I was in the military and speaking with someone with connections there who now teaches in police schools, the numbers are way higher, up to 70-80% in some contexts, although lots of in-betweens make the distinction quite blurred.


> Extreme right wingers want to wear uniforms and carry weapons at any cost: it's the way their brain is wired

You lost your credibility here when you took a large group and applied a judgement on all of them based on how “their brain is wired”. Replace “extreme right wingers” in your sentence with almost any other group without evidence and you will likely not agree with your own statement.

> The tale about Nazis in the Ukraine army is true for pretty much every country, including mine and yours.

Please provide evidence to this statement and the following paragraph. You have found a hypothesis that fits your narrative. That does not make it true.


Sure, there are some, but calling it plenty while Putin's private paramilitary army is the Wagner Group is willfully disingenuous.


> He is an opportunist

And a manipulator. He's the person who gossips in the background. He tells someone that guy over there just called you a name, and then says the same to the first guy. He's the type of person we all hate.


Putin I meant if that wasn't clear. Not Gorbachev.


So when putin claims casus belli over another nation's land due to previous ownership a whole bunch of times, you just disregard it because of something he _didn't_ say years ago?

The tactic of "rules for thee but not for me" is as old as time. The implication that putin wants russia to actually be held to the same standards as he is trying to get other nations held to - all the while fomenting war on his borders and ignoring eight bajillion commitments and treaties - is laughable.


I just read the entire address by Putin [1] after the invasion started - it's all about NATO expansion, historical borders or something along that lines make no real appearance in the entire thing.

I know that he supposedly said things more in line with your point on other occasions but I never came across something that convincingly provided support for this point of view. Can you provide sources?

[1] https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2022-02-24/full-tran...



I read the entire thing [1], well I just skimmed the historical section until the 20th century. I do not see how this can be read as Ukraine is part of Russia end must be conquered back.

For the current situation the most relevant part is probably the one dealing with the recent history, say the fall of the USSR or maybe even only past 2014. Unfortunately I am in no position to judge what is laid out and reading up on all the events would probably take weeks and figuring out the actual truth might still be quite hard.

[1] http://www.en.kremlin.ru/misc/66182


In the letter Putin directly states that he considers significant amount of Ukrainian territory as not-really-ukrainian, but a "present" from Bolsheviks or something. He also states that all of these territories now are "subject to discussion". I think it should be quite obvious to anyone (including the author) that Ukraine (like any other country) wouldn't be inclined to willingly discuss giving away its lands, so conquest is the only logical consequence.

Relevant excerpts:

You want to establish a state of your own: you are welcome! But what are the terms? I will recall the assessment given by one of the most prominent political figures of new Russia, first mayor of Saint Petersburg Anatoly Sobchak. As a legal expert who believed that every decision must be legitimate, in 1992, he shared the following opinion: the republics that were founders of the Union, having denounced the 1922 Union Treaty, must return to the boundaries they had had before joining the Soviet Union. All other territorial acquisitions are subject to discussion, negotiations, given that the ground has been revoked.

In other words, when you leave, take what you brought with you. This logic is hard to refute. I will just say that the Bolsheviks had embarked on reshaping boundaries even before the Soviet Union, manipulating with territories to their liking, in disregard of people's views.

...

In essence, Ukraine's ruling circles decided to justify their country's independence through the denial of its past, however, except for border issues. They began to mythologize and rewrite history, edit out everything that united us, and refer to the period when Ukraine was part of the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union as an occupation. ...


One can debate whether this is a legitimate point of view, that for example Crimea was given to Ukraine after 1922 and therefore they are not entitled to it after the desolution of the USSR. I do not know and have no opinion at the moment either.

But no matter what, this passage is a far cry from Russia wants to grab land left and right and conquer everyone.


Okay, so the thread started from your request to provide sources for Putin discussing historical borders of Ukraine:

"I just read the entire address by Putin [1] after the invasion started - it's all about NATO expansion, historical borders or something along that lines make no real appearance in the entire thing.

"I know that he supposedly said things more in line with your point on other occasions but I never came across something that convincingly provided support for this point of view. Can you provide sources?"

I provided a source (even though your message was directed to someone else) and you proceeded with moving the goalpost to basically "yes, but did he stated he intends to conquer Ukraine to re-establish those borders?" (even though that wasn't what you asked for in your initial message):

"I read the entire thing [1], well I just skimmed the historical section until the 20th century. I do not see how this can be read as Ukraine is part of Russia end must be conquered back."

I indulged you and provided a specific excerpts that in my opinion reasonably support the notion of re-establishing the borders by force. Now you moved the goalpost again and constructed a stawman by saying something along the lines of "yes, but how does that implies that Russia intends on conquer everyone?!". Well, guess what, no one in this thread said that "Russia wants to grab land left and right and conquer everyone"!


Let me put one thing first, I really could not care less who is to blame for what, whether Russia is the bad guy or the US or NATO or the EU or the Illuminati. I am interested in understanding what went wrong and maybe get some insight into what should be done better the next time.

With that out of the way, after the invasion started I got somewhat interested in the conflict and how it developed. Pretty quickly it seemed pretty clear to me that NATO expansion was most likely the main driving factor behind Putin's decision to start this war. But for many in the West it seems incomprehensible that NATO's actions might have played any role, even less that Putin's reaction might to some extend be understandable.

So following the invasion this narrative spread in the West that Putin is simply mad and wants to rebuild the Soviet empire - first Ukraine, then the Baltic states, then the rest of the world. And as I said, I could never find much evidence for this explanation. The thread started with the following.

So when putin claims casus belli over another nation's land due to previous ownership a whole bunch of times [...]

So I thought casus belli should maybe be best addressed in Putin's address after the invasion started and I never read it completely before. In there essentially nothing about territorial claims. So I asked for something else as I was of course aware of that other explanation. You pointed me towards On the Historical Unity of Russians and Ukrainians which, as you point out, talks about how Russia may have legitimate claims for territories in former Soviet states.

My point is just that the language in there does not match - at least in my opinion - what some people want to explain with this. »All other territorial acquisitions are subject to discussion, negotiations, given that the ground has been revoked.« I just can not see the imperial Russia in that language that would make this a reasonable explanation for the invasion, especially if you contrast it with the clear and direct language used to address NATO expansion and similar topics, repeatedly again and again for three decades now.

So if you think I moved the goal posts, then I probably just did not make clear enough where they are. I am looking for evidence that supports the theory that mad Putin simply wants to rebuild an empire as his legacy. And not some bits here and there, but something that makes it similarly plausible as NATO expansion as the leading cause, which is supported by countless speeches and documents with no uncertain language spanning decades.


Think about it that way: Ukraine was not going to join NATO any time soon while having significant chunk of its territory occupied by nuclear superpower. NATO states knew it, Ukraine knew it (Zelensky's own election campaign was along the lines "You won't take us?! Fuck you NATO we won't even apply then!"), and _Russia themselves absolutely knew it_. Also, Ukraine offered to commit to neutrality multiple times during peace negotiations, but Russia apparently wasn't interested.

Now, of course, you could reasonably disagree and continue pressing the narrative that, no, Russia has all the reasons to be concerned. However, in fact there is a Russian neighbor that shares a land border with Russia that is currently in the process of actually joining NATO for real - Finland. And what do Russia do about that? Invades them? No. Maybe a naval blockade and 100k military personnel "on exercise" near their border? No, nothing. In fact, Russia is so unconcerned that according to satellite images they have recently transferred bunch of personnel and equipment from a military base near border with Finland[0]... to fight in Ukraine. It is almost like Russia is not _that_ afraid of NATO and is actually pursuing some other goals in Ukraine... Reasonable person may even conclude that Russia was lying and faking its concern about NATO expansion after consulting the map and determining that for some reason NATO is still not nuking Moscow from Latvia that has been a member for some time now... Go figure!

[0]: https://yle.fi/news/3-12523695


He joined the checheyna war instantly after coming into office. Actions speak louder then a million voices. The empires resurection was part of day one and all else was blatant lies, in public to hypnotize the chickens.

Part of those lies also was, to become as "spokesman" for all sorts of internal oppossition, left and right alike.


People evidently did not care about the war being UN-sanctioned or not. The rule was removed at that point, although with the structure of the UN and its security council it was perhaps inevitable that people start to ignore it.

Especially with history in mind it is quite clear that Russia would take any right that former competitors took themselves. Having lost the cold war or not is secondary it seems. Of course any argument will be used to the largest opportunistic degree. Putin may have believed that invasions now always need to be sanctioned and there was a time where it probably looked like that.

That Putin wants to rebuild past empires is something he openly espouses himself now. Although I do believe this is directed towards the domestic population. I also think Russia did believe that the US tried to topple government in Ukraine and saw a need to react.


I don’t think opposing someone else’s war is much of a credit to him, or evidence against the idea that he is motivated to Make Russia Great Again. It seems more like he wants International Law to bind others but not himself.


He was not completely opposing it, he just demanded to follow the law - you make your case in front of the UN and get it sanctioned. And in this case you should get credit for opposing it as it was all made up bullshit.

Making Russia great again is also perfectly fine if it means to rebuild the economy, improve living standards, and similar things. Making it greater again, i.e. extending the territory with force is of course a different matter.

How well Russia followed the laws and treaties itself, I can not judge, I only know that Putin often said, we are fulfilling our obligations even though the US or someone else does this or that. See for example the speech at the 2007 Munich security conference [1]. How true this all is, I can not tell, I would have to become a full time fact checker.

[1] https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=hQ58Yv6kP44


> He was not completely opposing it, he just demanded to follow the law - you make your case in front of the UN and get it sanctioned. And in this case you should get credit for opposing it as it was all made up bullshit.

Well, as you point out, he doesn't get credit for opposing the Iraq War because he wasn't opposed to it (he just wanted Bush to ask his permission). He also doesn't get credit for upholding the value of International Law because he only does so when it suits him, which is essentially my point.

> How well Russia followed the laws and treaties itself, I can not judge

Sure you can. Russia regularly flouts International Law and it's currently in the process of doing so.

> Making Russia great again is also perfectly fine if it means to rebuild the economy, improve living standards, and similar things. Making it greater again, i.e. extending the territory with force is of course a different matter.

Right, but we're talking specifically about extending the territory with force.


> He was not completely opposing it, he just demanded to follow the law - you make your case in front of the UN and get it sanctioned.

Which, given how he didn't do that before invading Ukraine, was just him spewing bullshit. Why are you repeating his bullshit as if it somehow excuses his actions?

> Making Russia great again is also perfectly fine if it means to rebuild the economy, improve living standards, and similar things.

Did you really miss the initial capitals in MAG-- eh, MARA? It has about as much to do with rebuilding the economy, improving living standards, and similar things as MAGA had to do with rebuilding the economy and improving living standards in America.

> I only know that Putin often said ...

If even you realise that all you know is his own spin, then what makes you think you have anything worthwhile to contribute to the discussion?


Duh -- MRGA, not MARA.


Ah yes, plenty of respecting international law when it has come to assassinations etc in foreign countries.

Putin only care about international law where it is in his own interests.


Small nitpick, "glory and borders of soviet union". Putin compares himself with the Tsar [1] and wants to reestablish Russia in it's imperial borders.

[1] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/jun/10/putin-compares...


> there is no reason to believe that they wouldn't rinse and repeat in.. Alaska

No reason? I can think of 1365 reasons, if Wikipedia is up to date.


Even their source says "a random politician", so this is geo-politically equivalent to MTG hypothetically giving a throwaway comment about how we should take the Gulf of Texas back from Mexico.


[flagged]


What do all these trite propaganda lines about "UkRaiNian NazIs oPpreSsing RuzZiAn-sPeaKinG pEoPleS iN teh EaSt!!1" have to do with Russian army trying to occupy Kyiv or annex Kherson (while indiscriminately murdering civilians in the process)? Do you need my help to verify on the map that those places are not in eastern Ukraine or in Crimea?

P.S. I'm a Russian-speaking Ukrainian.


Well of course, they are at war. Especially as weapons and money flood in from both sides, escalating the conflict further (long-range missiles from the USA that can hit Sevastopol, the economic conscription of the Chechens and Daghestanis in Russia, etc.)

But do you think this conflict is worth it? Do you support the Ukrainian claim on the Crimea? Is it worth the bloodshed and economic destruction?

It's as though we're stuck in a terrible local minimum because both sides are too stubborn to compromise for peace, and there is no real way of having a truly independent process and decision-making (e.g. from referendums in the DPR + LPR, etc.) - ideally this could have been resolved diplomatically a year ago.


> But do you think this conflict is worth it?

For Russia, no. For Putin specifically, maybe. Russia is going to end up in a much worse position without any significant (and maybe any at all) gain. Putin is in a position where backtracking is difficult and dangerous, so he probably won't until things become completely untenable.

For Ukraine it's very worth it because they're fighting for their own existence.

> Do you support the Ukrainian claim on the Crimea? Is it worth the bloodshed and economic destruction?

At this point, I do. Formerly, I'd tend towards "no", but I changed my mind. My reasoning:

* The war has already started. Crimea has a very strategic place in it, and a vulnerability for Ukraine.

* Strategically it's very desirable for Ukraine to own it, as well as for its allies.

* Strategically it hurts Russia a lot to lose it.

* From the long term point of view I think it's good for Russia to lose something significant in the conflict. It changes the calculus. Trying to take over Ukraine not only won't succeed, but will put them in a situation worse than before, and that hopefully is an additional reason to avoid a repeat. Russia can tolerate losing soldiers, tolerating losing a chunk of themselves is harder.

> It's as though we're stuck in a terrible local minimum because both sides are too stubborn to compromise for peace,

I don't think a compromise is really possible at this point. It might have been a possibility in the past, but it's too late.


> Russia is going to end up in a much worse position without any significant (and maybe any at all) gain.

Judging by how bad the inflation and energy poverty is in the West, as well as the continued loss of ground and billions in Western funds in this war whilst the ruble stays strong, I don't have the same optimism whatsoever.


All the more reason to help Ukraine smash Russia quickly. Ukraine is friendly to the West, and has its own gas and oil resources.

But personally I don't mind that much, it's long been time for us to wean ourselves off gas and oil. It'll hurt a bit, but will be a huge benefit on the long term.


No, its the same as with Weimar Germany, once the "we will be big again" sentiments wins over, compromise just gives the perpetrators results. The party was over the moment "greatness/stability" won over "quality of life/freedom/chaos" in the heads of the common man.


> Well of course, they are at war. Especially as weapons and money flood in from both sides, escalating the conflict further

Wait, so are they just protecting Russian-speaking people of the east from bloodthirsty Ukrainian Nazis or they are waging aggressive war with intention to topple Ukrainian government and annex significant portion of Ukraine outside eastern regions and Crimea?

> But do you think this conflict is worth it?

Worth it for whom?

> Do you support the Ukrainian claim on the Crimea?

AFAIK returning to status quo of pre-Feb 24 was proposed multiple times by Ukrainian side. That would imply Russia retaining control over Crimea indefinitely. You make it sound like Ukraine attacked Crimea first and Russia is just defending or something.

> Is it worth the bloodshed and economic destruction?

Of course not! I would prefer Russians to just pack their bags, leave and happily continue selling resources to Europe! They could even invite Angela Merkel to Gazprom board for bonus points!

> It's as though we're stuck in a terrible local minimum because both sides are too stubborn to compromise for peace

Ukrainian side offered peace with concessions multiple times (including neutral status, which is another usual bogeyman of Russian propaganda "we are just afraid of NATO nuking us from Ukrainian territory!"), but Russia didn't want to have any of that. It is almost like Russia is actually interested in something else besides securing oppressed Russian-speaking population of Ukraine and ensuring that no evil NATO nukes are installed on Ukrainian territory...


>And Ukraine is a complicated conflict, Crimea was granted to Ukraine by the Soviet Union which modern Russia considers to be an illegitimate act,...

If they considered it illegitimate, why did they sign a treaty guaranteeing Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity?

The answer is because at the time Ukraine was controlled by Russian stooges, and as long as Russia had control of Ukrainian politics it was all fine. What they couldn't stand is the idea of a genuinely free democratic Ukraine sat right next to an oppressive and kleptocratic Russia. The Russian regime sees all of Ukraine as their back yard, every last square inch of it. They have even said so many, many times. Putin wrote an essay about how Ukrainian sovereignty is "only possible in partnership with Russia", and if you think he means anything like an equal partnership I can't help you. Crimea and the Donbas are excuses, they're a foot in the door to Ukraine as a whole.


Here we come again with the "Ukrainian nationalism" and "coup". So boring. Will you ever update your guide on Russian propaganda? Even the russian troll factory stopped using these arguments like 2 years ago.


I'm not pro-Russian.

But here in Europe we've had 25% of our savings and purchasing power destroyed almost overnight, for a conflict that really has nothing to do with us (CIS borders and nationalism after the USSR).

Why can't we just be neutral? We didn't do this for Georgia's claim in Ossetia or Armenia's claim with Azerbaijan (both similar scenarios), or the Iraq-Iran war, etc.


> But here in Europe we've had 25% of our savings and purchasing power destroyed almost overnight, for a conflict that really has nothing to do with us (CIS borders and nationalism after the USSR).

Very weird to say those things

- Inflation isn't just caused by the invasion.

- Inflation is at ~9%, not enough for 25% purchasing power loss.

- The conflict has a lot of things to do with Europe. Since when is Ukraine not an european country? Even if you mean just the EU, both Ukraine and Russia border several EU countries, and Russia has threatened some of them.

- "Remaining neutral" doesn't mean "free of consequences".


The Euro has also crashed 20% in a year though.

That's a massive loss in purchasing power considering most things are sold in USD (including oil).

We didn't intervene in Armenia or Georgia, there's not much difference here.


The fact is we should have intervened in Armenia and Georgia. We should have intervened in Syria, at least to some extent. We should have imposed crushing sanctions on Russia after the annexation of Crimea in 2014. The fact that we did not is a causal direct line to this invasion.

Since the gulf war the west has become averse to foreign adventurism. I understand that and why, but it's misconceived. Washing our hands of the rest of the world and letting countries like Iran and Russia (and Iraq under Saddam Hussein) do whatever they like doesn't work. It comes back to bite us every single time.

Even if we say it's not our problem, it's not our responsibility, it always comes back and hurts us and our direct economic, political and humanitarian interests again and again. It leads to things like the rape of Kuwait and 9/11.

Being fully engaged internationally is expensive in money and lives, it's messy, it's morally compromising. It's also unavoidable. We are part of the world and can't deny responsibility for playing our part in it. Or rather we can, but at a heavy price to ourselves and others.


Why is it our responsibility?

Intervened on which side in Georgia? That Georgian government was absolutely terrible, putting dissidents in prison, firing on protests, etc. - just because they're anti-Russia doesn't make them good.

We should just try to live in peace and focus on our own nations and stop making enemies.


I'm sorry my friend, but our enemies are out there. They hate us and they want to kill us or force us to change politics or religion whether we like it or not. If they can't get to you they will get to your friends, or neighbouring countries, or countries you trade with, or that you visit on holiday. They're not going to suddenly decide to be all friendly and nice to us, just because we turn our backs on the people they are already terrorising and assaulting.

I'm in no way supporting or justifying the Georgian government at the time, we shouldn't have been tolerating that either. The point is what happens in these places matters to us. It affects us, whether we like it or not.

>Why is it our responsibility?

Because we are moral beings that live in the world, we benefit from the things that world provides to us, and therefore have responsibility for the state of the world we live in.


Millions of Europeans in nations bordering Russia disagrees. This conflict is all about us. We'll take the economic troubles and the cold winters as they come. We can still see clearly that we're not freezing in a bomb shelter or trench, as the Ukranians are on our behalf.

Take your neutrality and what-abouts and stuff them.


Ah yes let's keep funding them to throw their lives away for us in a war they can't win, that's certainly the more morally respectable position.


The Ukranians are free to surrender to Russia should they want to. But the decision is theirs. As long as they want our support I say we are obligated to provide it.

I'd also recommend you to be careful with predictions on the outcome of wars.


Oh, they sure can win and for our future I hope they will.


> for a conflict that really has nothing to do with us

This is so wrong. Where do you think all the disinformation comes from? The rise of far-right parties across Europe. The attacks on democracy. Putin has been waging war against us (albeit a new kind of war) for many years. It is time to fight back if we value democracy at all.


Damn that Putin is both very weak (his Country has GDP of Texas while having way more people), and absolute mastermind organizing far right as some kind of pauper Lex Luthor, on a shoestring budget.

Disclaimer: Western troubles are features of capitalism, they provide the fuel, even if Putin is the one to throw the cigarette butt.


Check my comment history here. You'll see I'm no particular fan of capitalism.

And of course the far-right existed before Putin.

But he is the head of a mafia organization that controls the world's largest supply of natural gas. So I think funding a few right-wing grifters/useful idiots like Steve Bannon and Nigel Farage is within their capabilities.


I'm reminded of a statement by a former UK prime minister describing a conflict as:

"a quarrel in a far away country, between people of whom we know nothing.”

I think we all know how that ended up.


"But here in Europe we've had 25% of our savings and purchasing power destroyed almost overnight, for a conflict that really has nothing to do with us..."

Come now, how can you say that?

After the fall of the USSR, Europe willingly got into bed with the 'new' Russia because it saw an opportunistic economic advantage to do so.

Even back then it was a gamble for Europe to put too many of its eggs into that Russian basket and now it is paying the price. ...And a hefty one at that.


This isn't a simple territorial dispute. Russia has abducted vast numbers of people to camps from where we have no idea what happened to them, vanished Ukrainian children into their adoption system, and massacred huge numbers of civilians wherever it has taken control. They are clearly trying to wipe Ukraine and its identity off the map.


why are (western) Europeans such pussies? Like, really, short-term economic loss is not going to kill anyone. I'm glad to see that the eastern, slavic and baltic part of Europe can handle it so much better. Partly because they've been under totalitarian rule, and gone through the economic disaster it left behind. Which was waaay harder then the current cost surge


> Why can't we just be neutral? We didn't do this for Georgia's claim in Ossetia or Armenia's claim with Azerbaijan (both similar scenarios), or the Iraq-Iran war, etc.

Errors of the past are not a good way to go further.

Lack of any defense for Georgia was very sad (similarly for Chechnya, but Russians might look at it a bit more angry). Fortunatelly Ukraine is to close to EU borders to be ignored and handed over to Russian war mongering.


> I'm not pro-Russian.

For someone who is not pro-Russian, you're performing a remarkably good impression of someone who is pro-Russian, mr "Coup".


Russia may not be the Soviet Union, but the Soviet Union was Russia. Russian ambitions and attrocities in the area go back to at least Catherine the Great.

Russia has no moral or any other claim over Crimea. Their actions in starving millions of people to death in Crimea in the 20s, the ethnic cleansing by evicting Tartars and Cosacks, replacing them with Russians - these all go to the long term drive of Russian imperial ambitions in the area.

Putin tried to take the whole of Ukraine and has tried several times to assasinate Zelensky, just like he has assasinated many others (and tried but failed to assassinate a previous Ukrainian president with poison).

The internal politics of Ukraine are just a pretext that Putin is using to realize his ambitions. They are not a reason in any way for the war crimes and attrocities he has committed.


> Imagine if Trump had really been a Russian agent and had returned Alaska to Russia, would you expect all subsequent administrations to just respect that it is Russian now?

Huh? You mean: Imagine if Russia just annexed Alaska after they sent their green men over-there, to disrupt and takeover the region.

Since when Ukraine just gave up on crimea? They were bullied off it and same with donbass. Their military was weak and disorganization so puting took advantage then.


No, I was referring to when Khrushchev just arbitrarily transferred the Crimea to the Ukrainian SSR.

It had been independent / Tatar before, and Russification meant it was mainly populated by Russians.

The issue is that Ukraine refuses to allow for the self-determination of the Crimea and Donbass since Euromaidan. Why can't they just allow internationally managed referendums to take place? This would be far better than warfare and paramilitary killings, etc. for both sides.


>The issue is that Ukraine refuses to allow for the self-determination of the Crimea and Donbass since Euromaidan.

Wow, just wow. And how exactly were they supposed to do that?

The unity government was declared on 24th February and was formally convened on 27th February 2014.

How long did Russia wait to see if the new government would accept regional referendums?

Well, Russian forces seized control of key strategic sites across Crimea on, er, 27th February 2014. The same day the new government formed. The idea that genuine free and fair regional referendums were ever an option, or even something Russia had any interest in pursuing or allowing whatsoever, is pure fiction.

Suppose the regions did hold referendums and chose to stay part of Ukraine, do you think that would have been the end of it? Russia would have just backed off and respected Ukrainian sovereignty? That's just not how the Russian leadership thinks. Putin had no interest in allowing even the possibility of any such thing.


Yeah, Russia is aggressive and opportunistic.

Peacekeepers should be sent to carry that out (e.g. from the UN directly).

But dragging out open war like this is just terrible for everyone.


Isn't that up to them? I mean the Ukrainians? It's not as if the west is forcing them against their will to keep on fighting for their country and freedom.

In the first months of the war hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians returned to their country to sign up to fight. We either support them, or abandon them to their fate. I don't see how you can credibly claim that abandoning them, despite their appeals for support, is better for them and in their interests. It's clearly in the interests of the Russian government, but why should the west care about that?

Sending UN peace keepers is a nice idea, but unfortunately Russia is a permanent member of the UN security council, with a veto.


> Peacekeepers should be sent to carry that out (e.g. from the UN directly).

And how would that happen when Russia can just veto the UN action?


> The issue is that Ukraine refuses to allow for the self-determination of the Crimea and Donbass since Euromaidan. Why can't they just allow internationally managed referendums to take place?

The internationally managed referendums Russia has never asked for and would never permit?

Arguments that "real issue" with Russia repeatedly invading its smaller neighbours is that one of the neighbours won't grant something never asked for are not made in good faith.


I'm not pro-Russia either, I just don't understand why we're completely destroying our economies for a conflict that has nothing to do with us (post-USSR border division and nationalism).


No, but you are definatly following a script. Once the "Due Process self determination" runs out, you fall back to economics. Just dump the dialog tree?


Ukraine wasn't Putin's first military offence: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russo-Georgian_War

It's reasonable to assume if we fail to stop Russians in Ukraine, they continue restoring Russian empire with military force.

In the past, Baltic states and Poland were part of Russia, yet now all of them are NATO member states. A real opportunity to start a nuclear WW3.


The Georgian war was instigated by Georgia though, that authoritarian president wanted to reclaim South Ossetia - read the unresolved conflicts part of the article you linked yourself! Sure, Russia took advantage of the situation, but there's no way that extrapolates to them invading Poland and Europe.


> I'm not pro-Russia either

Yes you are. If you really think you aren't, you are deluded.


How do you see a referendum working out fairly when the population that sees itself as ukrainian has been forced out and forced to flee and only the russian locals will be able to vote? "Referendum" haha


This is a real problem - like how does this end?

Even if Ukraine "wins"? Then what?

What happens to the Russians in the Crimea? Do they just let Right Sector and the Azov Battalion carry out their persecution, and move Ukrainians in just like the RSFSR did to the Tatars?

Likewise how do they control the DPR and LPR? They previously elected Yanukovych, the problem isn't just going to disappear.


Russification does not give _any_ right over land. Russification was a crime of the Soviet Union and should be treated as such.


Yeah, like the Trail Of Tears in the USA, etc.

But what do you do now? You can't just get the Tatars back, even if Crimea were made independent.


Of course you can. If jews can move to israel, tartars can return from anywhere.


> jews can move to israel

That's been going... Swimmingly for everyone involved. No violation of human rights, whatsoever.


> It had been independent / Tatar before, and Russification meant it was mainly populated by Russians.

And before Russification it was Tatars, so either way it is Russian like e.g. India or Japan.


I think Alaska is a bad example to pick since it has been Russian before.


And Crimea was in the RSFSR, both when it was Tatar (although autonomous then) and during Russification.


And previously it was Turkish and before it was Kiev Rus, we can go on


From everything I've read about him, he was a true liberal and egalitarian. How does someone like that rise up the ranks of an authoritarian USSR in the first place? Did he hide his beliefs and present as just a competent bureaucrat until he got to the top?


If I remember correctly (and please correct me if I’m wrong) his ascent was influenced by his predecessor Andropov, which was one of the original revolutionaries but like Gorby he had a more liberal approach. Andropov’s health was really bad and Gorby being his right arm ended up as chairman of the union.


Andropov was absolutely not liberal. I don't think it was that Gorbachev was Andropov's favourite, but that the politburo realized it was a problem to keep a appointing elderly leaders in bad health. Gorbachev was "only" 54, and since he lived to 2022 I'd say they made a pretty good bet on his health, too.


The way I remember as a far off observer was the Soviet Union went through a few very old and ineffective leaders after Brezhnev died, while their war in Afghanistan drained resources so they couldn't possibly keep up with Reagan's Star Wars initiative. Gorbachev was a young, vital fresh face with new ideas that they had to go with to try to reform and survive.


It was a gerontocracy, with old dryed husks dying on the throne pre gorbachev. It was also mostly resource exporting back then, econimically dependent on the west. The oil prices during the gulf war killed them.


We call it a gerontocracy, but all those guys were considerably younger than the current and previous US presidents, at 79 and 76 respectively.


But with the Soviet healthcare regime of the time (mainly, I'd guess, smoking like fucking chimneys), their effective age was probably at least that of Drumpf and Biden.

To take a President more contemporary to Andropov and Gorbachev: Jimmy Carter is still around, at 97.


No doubt the opinions of Americans here on HN will do a swift 180 once they realize Gorbachev supported the annexation of Crimea and that he condemned the growing NATO presence in eastern europe.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-ukraine-crimea-gorbachev-...


He was not. He send tanks to crush protests, arresting killing and wounding people. He has his own massacre's. It is just that they did not happened in west.


Well, while the satellite countries were allowed to leave, the dissolution of the Soviet Union was met with stiff and deadly resistance. Not just Lithuania but Latvia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan all had their deadly clashes with Soviet forces.


Not true, under Gorbachov SU raided every and each country seceding SU. One example being Georgia where Russians soldairs raided public protest and killed dozens of kids.




Guidelines | FAQ | Lists | API | Security | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact

Search: