Friday, August 15, 2014

Zhirinovsky: Buffoon or Harbinger of Apocalypse
Vladimir Zhirinovsky, the vitriolic, bellicose Russian chauvinist, has been spewing his hatred against neighboring nations for years. He doesn’t espouse his love of Russia but he regularly rages against Ukraine and the other x-captive nations. Lately dressed as a colonel in the Russian armed forces, ranting and salivating, Zhirinovsky looks and behaves like a buffoon. But what if he isn’t?
His latest tirade came during an appearance on a talk show on Russia’s Rossiya 24 network. Zhirinovsky, who is also leader of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR), shed a series of new threats against the x-captive nations.
Zhirinovsky, a deputy speaker of Russia’s lower house of parliament, not only threatened those countries, he also suggested launching pre-emptive strikes against Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia, as well as Poland. He justified the remarks by suggesting that Russia “cannot allow” peripheral nations’ missile defenses and air forces to be within striking distance of Russia, and that Russia should seek to destroy them “a half hour before they launch,” according to the Euromaidan website.
The language used in the broadcast was considered especially inciteful, not only for calling for the carpet bombing of the four countries, but their entire annihilation.
“What will remain of the Baltics? Nothing will remain…in Poland, the Baltics, they are doomed. They’ll be wiped out…Let the leaders of these dwarf states reconsider this. Eastern European states will place themselves under the threat of total annihilation, and only they will be to blame…we’ll have to teach them the lessons of May 1945,” declared Zhirinovsky, also a close ally of Putin.
As for the USA, Zhirinovsky said it will not be threatened because it is too far. About Ukraine, which is next door, he said: “All questions of war and peace in general and in particular those relating to Ukraine will be solved by one person, the head of the Russian Federation.”
Understandably, Poland and the Baltic states, witnessing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, are already concerned about their destinies. This angst is certainly compounded by Zhirinovsky’s latest venom.
In quick order, they summoned the Russian ambassadors in their respective capitals to meetings with their officials to protest his threats.
Latvia strongly condemned the threats. The Foreign Ministry in Riga summoned Russia Ambassador Alexander Veshnyakov “to hear Latvia's position regarding the issue,” the ministry said.
“Statements of this kind are a strong testimony to the wish of Russia's ruling elite to restore the Russian empire,” Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics said. “This also demonstrates that the sanctions applied by the EU and other states against Russia in response to the latter’s actions in Ukraine are appropriate and fully justified.”
Rinkevics added that Latvia would take these comments into account when it discusses with its NATO partners additional measures for the security of the Baltic States and Poland.
A day earlier Polish Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski summoned the Russian ambassador in Warsaw, saying Poland had to react because Zhirinovsky is not a private citizen or even an ordinary lawmaker.
However, Valeria Perzhinskaya, a Russian Embassy spokeswoman in Warsaw, obnoxiously said the ambassador didn’t feel he should have to explain the comments of Zhirinovsky, who does not speak for the Russian government. The Polish government would have been well within its rights to send the Russian envoy home.
The LETA news agency reported that Russian embassy officials further warned against “pre-election rhetoric” and accused Latvian government officials of making “russophobic” comments in the past. That is a standard Russian defensive counter-argument against any sovereign country that disagrees with its policies.
In 2013, Zhirinovsky had threatened the Baltic States, saying that they would be occupied or destroyed since they had dared to support the intervention of the Western countries in Syria.
None of these threats can be treated separately from what the Kremlin is doing. Zhirinovsky is not an unknown commodity in Russia. And he is not alone. Putin stands at the top of Russian triangle and he too is known for threatening near and distant countries. Last week, his former chief economic advisor Andrej Illarionov, said Putin seeks to create “historical justice” with a return to the days of the last Tsar Nicholas II, and the Soviet Union under Stalin. Putin is even targeting Finland.
Earlier this week, Reuters reported that Russia began military exercises in a Pacific island chain, parts of which are also claimed by Japan, which could be a potential blow to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's efforts to keep the door open to dialog with Moscow despite strains over the Ukraine crisis. Japan has sided with Ukraine in its war with Russia.
“Exercises began involving military units in the region, which are deploying to the Kurile Islands," Col. Alexander Gordeyev, a spokesman for Russia’s Eastern Military District, told the Russian news agency Interfax. Gordeyev said more than 1,000 troops, five Mi-8AMTSh attack helicopters and 100 other pieces of military hardware would be involved in the maneuvers.
A Japanese foreign ministry official said the ministry was checking whether the exercises were taking part on islands that Japan considers its territory. The islands are known as the Southern Kuriles in Russia and the Northern Territories in Japan.
“If they are conducting a military exercise on the Northern Territories, we can by no means accept that in light of Japan's stance on the islands. We've already informed the Russian side of that stance and asked for clarification,” the official said.
Even NATO has expressed concern that Russia’s imperial ambition goes beyond Ukraine, Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has opined.
"We have seen the illegal annexation of Crimea, we have seen a strong Russian hand in the destabilization of eastern Ukraine," Rasmussen was quoted as telling journalists on a visit to Iceland. “But actually we also see Russia behind the frozen and protracted conflicts in Transnistria and eastern Moldova, in Abkhazia and South Ossetia and Georgia.”
He added, “That's why I am concerned that the Russian ambitions go beyond Ukraine.”
Putin’s imperial arrogance is not original but it should be indicative of who the international community has to deal with. Putin also believes that he can win a war with NATO.
Russian pundit Andrei Piontkovsky was quoted by Paul Goble as saying about Putin, “No state or regime goes to war firmly convinced that it will lose it.” Piontkovsky said if Putin goes to war with NATO and even if he escalates that conflict by using nuclear weapons, he will be acting on the belief that he can win it.
Piontkovsky’s observation is also revealing about his intentions with Ukraine. Putin started the war, seized Crimea, then sent his commanders, mercenaries and terrorists into eastern Ukraine and is now amassing tens of thousands of Russian troops on the border with Ukraine – not to mention penetrating the border with a 200-plus convoy of trucks while the world looks on aghast. Putin has a plan and he is convinced that he can win, defeat Ukraine and re-subjugate it.
It is important for world leaders – and the citizens who elected them – to realize that none of this is new or even recent. Putin did not wake up one day in January of this year announcing that he is going to invade Ukraine and take Crimea. Invasion plans are made months if not years in advance.
For decades, even going back to the Soviet days, Moscow had composed security, defense, military and foreign policies that championed its victory. The only difference is that since the downfall of the Soviet Union, Russia’s policies have been openly championing the ancient glory of mother Russia and the longing desire to reestablish its predominance. The Kremlin has a track record, plan and budget to fulfil it.
Consequently, the Western allies, NATO and others would be foolhardy to belittle the menacing saber rattling of someone like Zhirinovsky.

If the West had believed and reacted to Hitler’s Mein Kampf in 1925 and his speeches in Nuremberg in 1934, then there might not have been a war in 1939-45.