Russia: The Most Dangerous Words

An early sign of the Ukraine conflict unfolding into generational warfare can be discerned from the recent video of a boy soldier, armed with a machine gun, performing roadside security checks in the Donbas.

The innocence lost by youth exposed to widespread atrocities committed by the Russian army is not a new narrative in many continents from Africa to South America. Small wars in many places over time have always seen young soldiers conscripted into death and destruction to continue a legacy of tribalism and violence.

Best efforts by a variety of well-meaning European governments and organizations to turn the tide of use of child soldiers have only resulted in costly administration and expensive jobs for the few with little real results to include wide ranging prevention.

To trip up suspected Russian saboteurs, they are often required to say the local word for bread, palyanytsia, and are exposed by an inability to properly pronounce the ending.

They are other words that take on almost explosive proportions for Russians, namely democracy, freedom and the worst ones, free and fair elections.

While Putin strives in a failed attempt to be remembered in the same breath as Peter the Great, history will record him in the same vein as another child murderer, Soviet serial killer Andrei Chikatilo or the Butcher of Rostov.

Putin’s final destiny will be the elimination of his surname by family members who will follow the example of Stalin’s daughter Alliluyeva who fled to America, and changed her name, to escape the ignominy for the horrors of the Stalin era. Unlike Alliluyeva who was mostly hated by Russians, the Putin name is vilified in many countries and almost a complete hemisphere as the less regal, Vladimir the Butcher.

The counter story on the historical game of remembrance is the Navalny name, now and forever synonymous with bravery, anti-corruption and leadership.

Perhaps the greatest danger to the Putin regime is those closest to him. Molotov, the Soviet foreign minister and effectively the No. 2 man in the Kremlin during the Stalin reign was able to remain after Stalin died.

There are survivors and then, there are survivors.

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Peter Polack is the author of The Last Hot Battle of the Cold War: South Africa vs. Cuba in the Angolan Civil War (2013), Jamaica, The Land of Film (2017) and Guerrilla Warfare: Kings of Revolution (2018).

He was a contributor to Encyclopedia of Warfare (2013) and worked as a part-time reporter for Reuters News Agency in the Cayman Islands 2014-19 but now lives in Canada.

His work has been published in Small Wars Journal, Defence Procurement International, American Intelligence Journal, U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center magazine, Military Times, Foreign Policy News, EU Today, Radio Free Europe, VOA Portuguese, South Africa Times, History Cooperative, INews Cayman, Jamaica Gleaner, Miami Herald, Reuters, Toronto Star and The New York Times.

His latest book entitled Soviet Spies Worldwide: Country by Country, 1940–1988 will be published by McFarland. The book is a compendium of Russian espionage activities with nearly five hundred Soviet spies expelled from nearly 100 countries worldwide.

He completed Only the Young Shall Die by with Jack McCain USNR about raising the age of military enlistment. He is currently doing research on a curated collection entitled War In Pictures of almost 1,000 images throughout several conflicts over many centuries.

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