At the initial stage of the current phase of the crisis in the West, analysts began to play the role of activists and rhetorically exclaim: “how is that?”, “no war”, and “we are for peace.” For them, there is only one participant in the conflict worthy of support — Ukraine, which is on the right side of history. Accordingly, its missile attacks on Donbass and Russian territory are righteous. There was not a single sympathetic statement in the West regarding the murder of pro-Russian citizens in Odessa on May 2, 2014. With a worried face, the former Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Federal Republic of Germany Steinmeier, left only a vague comment: “The parties to the conflict should not add fuel to the fire, and bellicose rhetoric will only aggravate the situation.” For the minister, this was an abstract tragedy, which has no culprits, and which was the result of “tragic circumstances.” President Macron, in the transcript of negotiations with Vladimir Putin made public by the Elysee Palace on February 20, stated in an ultimatum that “we are not interested in the proposals of the separatists.” Against the background of reports in the Western media about the strikes of Russian troops on civilian targets, reports about the Armed Forces of Ukraine Tochka-U missile strike on Donetsk were lost.
In each of my Western media interviews, I talk about the tragedy in Odessa, emphasising how powerful an explosion it was for Russian public opinion and how deeply it affected the dynamics of the conflict, effectively making Russian intervention only a matter of time. However, in none of my interviews did this episode end up in print. None of my Western interlocutors raised their voices when the government in Kiev cut off Crimea’s water supply, while making snide comments that the Crimeans could drink rainwater. There were no voices of sympathy or condemnation when the former President of Ukraine Poroshenko verbally crucified the residents of Donetsk and Lugansk in Odessa: “We will have a job — they won’t. We will have pensions — they don’t. We will have support for children and pensioners — they do not. Our children will go to schools and kindergartens — their children will sit in basements. Because they can’t do anything. This is how we will win this war.” My Western colleagues did not make any remarks when language laws were introduced, the political opposition was persecuted, when Ukrainian opposition members mysteriously perished, entire printed publications were closed, or when many journalists were forced to emigrate.
What is happening today in Ukraine is a real tragedy for Russia, it is a postponed civil war. Eight years of hostilities have separated tens of thousands of families in both countries, because many in Russia have relatives in the neighbouring country. That is why historians will inevitably provide assessments of the current acute phase of the conflict.