Staunton, April 7 – Just as the notion of a liberal Soviet Union proved to be a contradiction in terms, so too the Russian Federation in its current borders cannot become a democracy, according to Lech Walesa. It must first disintegrate and then some parts of it might be able to come back together in a more democratic state.
In an interview with Ukrainska Pravda, the former Solidarity leader, Polish president and Nobel Prize winner says that Vladimir Putin’s use of force in Ukraine and his threats of using nuclear weapons against the West show that Russia is “30 to 50 years” behind the West.
“In Russia,” he says, “there has never been democracy and freedom. It has always wanted to have an enemy,” and that desire keeps Russia at a distance from everyone else: “Russia will never live according to the principles of the Western world.” Consequently, it must and can be resisted — the West is stronger — and contained until it changes, something that will involve its disintegration.
There are “a minimum of 60 peoples” within the current borders of the Russian Federation, Walesa points out. It could fall apart and the center would still have a population of 20 million. Exactly what the borders of the post-Russian states would be, he says, will “depend on how the disintegration happens.”
After Russia falls apart, he continues, “it is possible that there will be a repetition of a scenario like the formation of the European Union.” There will follow “a union of new states but already on other principles,” at least some of whom will become democratic and be open “for cooperation in various configurations.”
All this will take a lot of time, Walesa says, noting that “Russians are an unhappy people. It is necessary that their mentality be completely changed.” That will happen but it won’t be any time soon.
In other comments in the course of a wide-ranging interview about his own past and current views, Walesa argues that the West, having committed itself to the protection of Ukraine in order to secure the removal of nuclear weapons from its territory, must now use every weapon in its arsenal to defend Ukraine from Russian aggression.
If the West fails to do this and shows that it will allow the stronger to win just because they are stronger, the Polish leader says, then this will be “the end of our civilization” and the beginnings of a new barbarism.
And Walesa dismisses the idea that Russian propaganda has been successful in Europe. “Of course, Europe is not united. Each state has its own interests and fears suffering losses, but here there is no success of Russian propaganda.” That is something everyone must understand rather than giving Putin another victory he doesn’t deserve.