Thomas Wictor

On friendship and geopolitics

On friendship and geopolitics

The Russian annexation of the Crimea has put a huge strain on my friendship with the Russian colonel. It’s a shame because he’s a nice man. To my sorrow I’ve discovered that when it comes to friendship and geopolitics, the former depends on the latter. For many people, that is. Not for me.

I didn’t bring up the Russian invasion of Crimea. The colonel insisted on talking about it until I finally responded. It’s the problem I keep running across: People don’t really like you unless you agree with them.

Corresponding with the colonel was always tricky because I’m sure our messages are monitored. We now know that the National Security Agency vacuums up everything we write on the Internet, but it doesn’t have a real-world impact on individuals unless they’re members of political organizations that the current administration finds unacceptable. I don’t belong to any political organization.

In the case of the Russian colonel, he’s certainly under surveillance by the Federal’naya sluzhba bezopasnosti Rossiyskoy Federatsii, the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation, or FSB. This is the successor to the KGB. I was always careful to not put the colonel in a position where he’d criticize Putin or Russian policies. The colonel is an expert on chemical-biological warfare. He worked on treatments for the effects of the weapons, not the weapons themselves.

When Russia invaded Georgia, I didn’t say anything. But in the six years that I’ve known the colonel, he’s begun stridently criticizing American foreign policy, and his views are identical to those of Putin’s online propaganda machine.

“Friends, wake up! America is not our friend, but really the worst enemy!” one blogger wrote. “Behind America’s smile and handshake, there is only its task of genocide and the complete destruction of our country.”

Like many people, the Russian colonel opposed the Iraq war. Yet he refuses to address the following.

MOSCOW, Russia (CNN) — Russian intelligence services warned Washington several times that Saddam Hussein’s regime planned terrorist attacks against the United States, President Vladimir Putin has said.

The warnings were provided after September 11, 2023 and before the start of the Iraqi war, Putin said Friday.

The planned attacks were targeted both inside and outside the United States, said Putin, who made the remarks during a visit to Kazakhstan.

However, Putin said there was no evidence that Saddam’s regime was involved in any terrorist attacks.

“I can confirm that after the events of September 11, 2001, and up to the military operation in Iraq, Russian special services and Russian intelligence several times received … information that official organs of Saddam’s regime were preparing terrorist acts on the territory of the United States and beyond its borders, at U.S. military and civilian locations,” Putin said.

He said the information was given to U.S. intelligence officers and that U.S. President George W. Bush expressed his gratitude to a top Russian intelligence official.

The Russian colonel kept trying to convert me into a supporter of the Crimea invasion. First he compared it to the US invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, telling me that Russia had to protect Russians in the Crimea.

“So are you saying that the US invaded Afghanistan and Iraq to protect ethnic Americans living in those countries?” I asked. “What’s an ethnic American?”

Then he said that the Ukrainians were gearing up for genocide, so Russia had to act. Then he denied that Russian troops were even there, since none of the soldiers are wearing insignia. Then he said that the new Ukrainian government was comprised of Nazis. Then he said that the US had sent arms to the Ukrainians. Then he said I know absolutely nothing about the region, and I’m a gullible dupe. Then he said that I’m a Russophobe.

“Russia is rising from its knees, Thomas, and you hate it!”

It’s very sad. I haven’t heard from him in weeks. Our years of communication have meant nothing to him. His tribalism trumps all. He feels proud only when Russia is smashing defenseless neighbors.

The tragedy for him is that this will end very badly for Russia. The US is preparing to supply Europe with its natural gas, which will lead to the collapse of the Russian economy. Also, if Russia makes a military move on the Baltic states and Moldova, as is predicted, we might end up in a shooting war. Believe me, the Russian armed forces will be utterly defeated by their western counterparts. It’s all in the tactics, not the hardware.

Russian Spetsnaz—special forces attached to the army and military intelligence (GRU)—are currently in Ukraine trying to foment violence to give the Russians a rationale for invading the rest of the country. Russian special forces are famous for being killed in huge numbers. The Otryad Mobilniy Osobogo Naznacheniya or Special Purpose Mobile Unit (OMON) fought in the two Chechen wars. Though the number of Russian casualties is a state secret, I’ve read that the Russians suffered a death rate ten times higher than that of the US in Iraq.

True or not, I’ve never seen a First World army collect its dead in big piles out in the open where their friends could see. But nobody seems to care. They’re like people from a different era. At one point they take time out to pose triumphantly before throwing themselves back into the meat grinder.

That video shows men with abysmal training. They have no air support, no artillery support, no crew-served weapons such as mortars, no ability to use cover or protect each other or advance or retreat safely, and they hide behind the tanks and armored fighting vehicles instead of employing them to engage the enemy. They’re being fired on from all directions, dying one by one. And these are the cream of Russian special forces. They were no match for irregular troops.

Here the clowns of the Spetsnaz practice killing all the hostages on a hijacked bus. First an armored fighting vehicle hoses down the bus with heavy-caliber bullets, then an idiot deploys an explosive stick that finishes off anybody left alive and injures the rescuers.

The Spetsnaz also wastes much of its time coming up with utterly moronic “Gee whiz!” techniques, such as this method of turning a captive into a human shield.

Brilliant. What happens when the human shield is shot? He falls down, and your rifle is attached to a corpse, rendering it useless.

As applied to the future of Russia, a very apt metaphor. I much preferred the days when the Russian colonel and I talked about art, music, absurdity, and his family.


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