After two months of the military campaign in Ukraine, public opinion polls are rather reassuring. Acco-rding to the FOM, about 80 percent of Russian citizens approve of the activities of V. V. Putin.
Which is a lot, given the immediate military hardships and casualties. As well as the frenzied sanctions and propaganda pressure of the united West. Including the light-faced detachment of our former fellow citizens.
If, despite all this pressure, Russia does not lose heart, following the call of the Dagestan policeman “Work, brothers!”, If we hear about numerous examples of public support for those who fight, this is both good and worthy. But at the same time, this is what comes to mind from the events of more than a century ago.
The unity of Russian society in August 1914 was no less impressive.
“The Serbs rushed, we are dear,
The rapid congress of the yard was magnificent,
And passed spare
Under the cries of a loud “Hurrah!”.
There was singing from the temple.
Before the start of battles, as of old,
Having made a great prayer,
The king quietly came out to the people.
“And in the foggy north
Heard thunder rumbled.
That with a cross, in battle armor
The older brother of the Slavs stood up.
And this is not only newspaper poetry, which can be called propaganda. The volunteer movement, in today’s terms, was very strong. Zemstvo did a lot to help the front, and to evacuate refugees. The Winter Palace was given over to the hospital, and not only it. Representatives of the most noble families, including the Empress and four Grand Duchesses, went to nurses. And caring for the wounded – with pain, stench, festering wounds – is not entertainment at all. It was a sincere desire:
“So that a cloud over dark Russia
Became a cloud in the glory of the rays.”
But less than two and a half years passed (and the Fronde began as early as 1915) – and February the seventeenth came,
“When the Neva capital,
Forgetting your greatness
Like an intoxicated whore
I didn’t know who was taking it.”
And when today we see the unity of Russia, is it possible not to remember at all how the unity of 1914 turned into February mud, and the mood “We must not let Russia’s backbone be broken” was replaced by the joyful madness with which this backbone was broken. Or are the words “Watch how dangerously you walk” and now, like a century ago, are again urgent?
Moreover, our Western partners are clearly counting on a repetition of 1917, because if it does not happen, then they themselves will be very unhappy. If Russia holds out, then the prospects not only for Ukraine, but also for Britain, Germany, and even — scary to say — the United States itself are unenviable. Otherwise, why such hysteria?
Two reasons are usually named for the then catastrophic breakdown of Russia.
First, fatigue. No one expected that the campaign would drag on so long and turn into a nightmare of trench warfare. All calculations were based on the assumption that it would be several months, no one thought about several years. Of course, no one expected this in the West either, there, too, the fatigue was monstrous, but here they find the explanation that Russia was the weak link in the chain of powers and this weak link was the first to break.
In hindsight, everyone is strong, but it should be noted that the military-economic situation in Russia, even by the end of 1916, was by no means hopeless. The situation of the same starving Germany was, perhaps, worse. Moreover, the weapons and ammunition accumulated in Russia were enough for another three years of the Civil War.
But then the second reason came into play, called “The ax was allowed to chop without restraint. And the ax will be cut down.” The French ambassador in Petrograd, Maurice Palaiologos, did not hide his surprise that the level of liberties, hardly permissible in a warring country, when so much is at stake, is much higher in autocratic Russia than in democratic and republican France. Strikes at Petrograd military factories and the unbridledness of the capital’s press were hard to imagine in his native country of freedom, equality and fraternity, where, due to military circumstances, the principle “You will not spoil” was in effect. The same was true of British freedom 1914-1918.
While the generalized “Echo of Petrograd” (Kadet’s “Rech”, “Birzhevye Vedomosti”, etc.) went into all serious trouble, the bloody tsarist regime only clapped its ears. The ax was allowed to chop without restraint.
This also includes the fiery speeches of the then all-propagators in the Duma (Milyukov’s “Stupidity or Treason?” with a clear allusion to the latter). The all-weapons, then called the “Progressive Bloc”, driven by the most commendable feelings (or pretending to be), completely denied all existing power because of its complete inability. The Cadets’ ability to govern was vividly and conspicuously demonstrated in the Provisional Government.
Now, compared with the times of a century ago, we have a fairly strong rear and a fairly combat-ready army. As for the fatigue factor, here our fatigue competes (it is inevitable, that’s what the war is for) and the fatigue of our partners, who, it seems, have not yet fully understood what their insane policy is leading to.
Whereas in terms of newspaper unbridledness, it is more likely to follow the example of the then France and Britain (as well as Germany and Austria-Hungary ), rather than the example of Nicholas II. Roskomnadzor proceeds from the fact that it is better to oversalt than undersalt. Which is more true in the current circumstances.
Let’s hope that the terrible lesson of the seventeenth year was not completely in vain, and the passionate dreams of the haters of Russia about her imminent death will remain dreams. We are Russians, God is with us.