Staunton, June 10 – Picking up on the increasingly alarmist rhetoric of Kremlin outlets about the possibility of war, a Urals blogger who openly flaunts his ties with the FSB yesterday posted three commentaries in which he said that Russians must prepare for a major war with the West, according to Kseniya Kirillova.
Sergey Kolyasnikov, who presents himself as a super patriot had in the past limited himself to statements that “there may be a real war or there may not be,” but yesterday he shifted his tone and pointedly called on the Russian people to prepare for a major war with the Western powers.
In the first, Kolyasnikov said that “the only variant which the US and Europe consider acceptable for Russia and us is destruction. Any rejection of this means war. Thus, there will be war.” In the second, he said that the West had long been preparing for war and that “the population of Russia must massively prepare for one.” And in the third, he wrote that “the next factor which has returned to our reality will become the atomic bomb.”
There are all kinds of things on the Internet, Kirillova notes, but there are four reasons for taking Kolyasnikov’s words more seriously than most: he “doesn’t conceal his links with the FSB;” his denunciations have led to criminal cases; he has appeared at Kremlin-sponsored conferences in recent weeks; and as, the Novy Region-2 commentator says, any Russian who puts out something which the authorities don’t like would suffer for it.
Some may be inclined to view Kolyasnikov’s remarks as an indication that at least one “hurrah patriot” has escaped the control of the Kremlin and is “seeking to organize ‘a patriotic Maidan’ in Russia, Kirillova suggests, but she dismisses this because of the prominent place Kolyasnikov has been given in RISI [Russian Institute for Strategic Research] meetings and the like.
That still does not mean that the Urals blogger’s words should be taken entirely at face value, she continues. There are three obvious alternative explanations for them. First, they could be intended to “create in the eyes of Western analysts the illusion of ‘a patriotic opposition which Putin ‘can hardly restrain’” and that “’without him, things would be still worse.’”
Second, Kolyasnikov’s words could be intended to justify in the minds of the Russian population further deprivations and “any worsening of the economic situation.” If the country faces war, Russians will accept shortages far more willingly than if it were the case that it does not.
And third, they could be intended to set the stage for intensifying the repression of the population and for presenting that intensification as being “’at the demand of the people.’” Such actions could be directed not only against the opposition but at officials, Vladimir Putin excepted of course.
But putting out such messages is extremely dangerous. The FSB and the other siloviki [law-enforcers] may be able to arrest a Kolyasnikov or others like them, but these institutions are unlikely to be able to cope “with the hundreds and thousands of people who they have succeeded in zombifying” by such messages in the course of Russia’s war against Ukraine.
One very much wonders, Kirillova says, whether those backing the issuance of such messages understand that “hatred and fear are irrational forces” which are easy to provoke but difficult to “’drive back into the bottle.’” But however that may be, it is clearly the case that “under the pretext of a non-existent threat, Russia directly inspired by the authorities is descending into a hell, the depth of which it is even now very difficult to imagine.”