On Saturday, Russian deputy prime minister Dmitry Rogozin went to Transdniestria to celebrate the anniversary of the 1945 victory over the Nazis with the local ethnic Russians – who have the same good reasons to celebrate (congratulations to them, and thanks to the Russian and Western Second World War veterans who helped to liberate my country) and who may feel oppressed by the surrounding nations these days.
After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, they have established a de facto independent ethnic Russian republic which is a supernarrow strip on the border between Moldova and Ukraine. Just to be sure, Moldova is a former Soviet republic which is ethnically Romanian, more or less, and it could have been a part of Romania if the Soviet Union has never existed. Moldova is even poorer than Romania but it's trying to create ties with the EU.
When he was returning from Kishinev, the capital of Moldova, to Moscow, his plane, Rusjet Yak-42, wasn't allowed to enter the Romanian airspace. They were also accompanied by some Ukrainian interceptors Mikoyan MiG (even the Maidan regime seems unable to operate without Russian products) so Rogozin had to land in Kishinev again. The local Moldovan government has used the opportunity to confiscate some petitions in which thousands of the folks in Transdniestria demand protection from the Russian Federation. Moldovan authorities will "study these materials to check whether someone has committed a crime".
It is not clear to me where Rogozin's plane finally went – Moldova is completely surrounded by Ukraine and Romania – but I guess he was finally allowed by Romania to go to Minsk through Bulgaria etc. and then to Moscow. Or maybe he just ignored the ban and took the risk. If you understand the path, let me know.
Just to be sure, these airspace hassles occurred because Rogozin is one of the dozens of influential Russian citizens who were targeted by the EU-U.S. sanctions. He is a very active Twitter (200,000+ followers, plus 12,000 in English) and Facebook guy. He has made an innocent tweet that was destined to be widely discussed.
Румыния по требованию США закрыла моему борту воздушное пространство. Украина снова не пропускает. В следующий раз полечу на ТУ-160.It means
Romania, upon U.S. request, has closed the airspace for my crew. Ukraine won't allow me to enter again. Next time, I will fly with a TU-160.Now, TU-160 is Russia's most powerful strategic bomber that could have some additional authority in the air. However, let me note that the maximum speed is just Mach 2; the MiGs' maximum speed is Mach 3 so the TU-160 probably couldn't really "escape". But maybe it would be robust enough to resist the shooting by the MiGs. I am no expert here.
Rogozin later tweeted about his more complicated trip home:
As it turned out, it will take four and a half hours to get to Chisinau via Bulgaria and Romania. Ukraine is not letting us in.Note that he hasn't forgotten to remind Ukraine that they're a small country relatively to his own. ;-)
It's good that Ukraine is not Russia. Otherwise, the bypass would have taken 20 hours or so.
Romania has officially reacted to the tweet about TU-160. It's normal in NATO+EU member states for officials and activists to get upset by other people's tweets. The Romanian officials has demanded some official explanation of Rogozin's tweet from Moscow:
The Romanian foreign ministry asked Moscow to clarify whether Rogozin's comments represented "the Russian Federation's official position towards Romania as an EU and NATO member".Romania informed the Kremlin (not that it was needed) that it was determined to lick the as*es of the powerful people in the EU and NATO and to parrot every letter of their currently fashionable Russophobic propaganda – one of the few things that the Romanian people are capable of doing.
It said it "believes the threat of using a Russian strategic bomber plane by a Russian deputy prime minister is a very grave statement under the current regional context."
It added that "the Russian Federation has broken Ukraine's territorial sovereignty ... while pro-Russian separatists are violating public order in the neighboring state."
But the question whether Rogozin's tweet represented the "official position" is an interesting one. Good that you asked! Rogozin has promised them a spectacular (?) answer on their English Twitter account:
Well, Sirs from Romania, we'll soon explain it all to you - who you are and what we think of you.The tweet was clearly a tweet from a particular Russian citizen who is also a government official. So different Russian officials, government, and other top political bodies may have different opinions as long as they are compatible with the law and as long as they are realistic. Some of the Russian citizens and Russian politicians have more understanding or less understanding for the dominant official Western approach; some of them may prefer a more diplomatic response or a less diplomatic response. On the other hand, it is absolutely clear that there are no serious disagreements between Rogozin and the other top politicians in Russia. And there are no serious disagreements between Rogozin and the overwhelming majority of the Russian population, either. The approval rate of the Russian president etc. is higher than what his Western counterparts are dreaming about.
Are the Romanian citizens really unaware of these answers? Shouldn't they know better?
Well, they probably do know. What the question is supposed to mean is nothing else than the collective intimidation of the individual human beings and their basic freedoms, something we got used to in the post-enlightenment, post-democratic, politically correct Western civilization. The nearly universal reaction in the West is to surrender to the sufficiently collectivist intimidation. When Larry Summers "dared" to say that we should have "considered the possibility" that women's cognitive skills followed a different statistical distribution than men's – something that is pretty much obvious to every 5-year-old who is not retarded – the feminists demanded his apologies and later his resignation.
Larry, even though he is one of the most self-confident officials in the U.S., mildly resisted only for a week. Instead of crisply explaining why the fascist bitches were wrong and dangerous and instead of doing the maximum to fire those who were at Harvard because of similar whining rather than their scholarly work, he complied and began to apologize. When I saw those faculty meetings, I became sure that I didn't want to have anything in common with the Academic environment because it was and it is so badly screwed, so overrun by intellectually and morally inferior people and by cowards that hopes for a recovery have become unrealistic.
During the subsequent years, I would suffer in hundreds of similar situations when some obnoxious leftists, professional blacks, whining feminists, worshipers of gays, and tons of other fashionable movements were crippling the basic freedoms of sensible individuals. Almost no one has resisted. I have lost most of my beliefs about the future of the West. Things are only getting worse. If there is a hope for the future somewhere, it is not in the countries that used to be the core of the enlightened civilization in recent centuries.
Thankfully, Russia isn't quite buying into this dictatorship of the hardcore left-wing NGOs etc. yet. The world's largest country may have other imperfections but because of the trends, it's likely that they will be getting less important.
OK, let me return to the question. Was Rogozin tweeting as a top Russian politician or as an individual? Well, both. There isn't any direct contradiction between these two things. At least to the zeroth order, Russia is a free and democratic country so the deputy prime ministers don't lose their right to compose tweets showing their stories and sentiments. Presidents of Harvard and other universities, presidents of the U.S., bosses of Mozilla, and everyone who matters in the West may automatically lose his or her balls and his or her individuality but thankfully, it's not the automatic expectation in Russia. Rogozin not only doesn't lose his freedom of speech and freedom to think; his opinions and sentiments do influence the official Russian policy. That's what it means for him, and not someone else, to be the deputy prime minister! In the West, people began to expect that officials and politicians are just mindless, faceless, grey enforcers of some "omnipresent and obvious" political correctness.
Putin, Medvedev, or other Russian politicians were not authoring Rogozin's tweet so it's unlikely that they would use exactly the same words, with the exact same TU-160 model. But of course that they understand Rogozin's sentiment. Of course that no one will fire him. No one in Russia will force Rogozin to apologize or to resign. He has nothing to apologize for. Russia simply isn't as screwed as Harvard. It is a conflict between Rogozin and Romanian officials but of course that if things got serious, Russia would side with Rogozin!
Before we are answering the question whether Rogozin vented his dissatisfaction as an individual or as a top politician, someone should have given the answer to a simpler, more primary question:
Was Rogozin targeted by the sanctions as an individual or as a top Russian politician?This question shows that the sanctions are very muddy. Rogozin hasn't been shown to have committed any particular "crime" that would justify an EU-wide harassment. Those who imposed the sanctions on Rogozin and others were quite open about their true justification. Rogozin was targeted because he is considered an important Russian citizen and one who is close enough to Vladimir Putin. And because both Russia and Putin have become politically incorrect, some people think that the fascist way of targeting people because of their nationality, influence, or direct or indirect friends is just OK! Let me just remind you that in a fair classical Western society, people are only punished for their own harmful or illegal deeds, not for their environment, their power, or their nationality.
Well, these sanctions targeting random influential Russians are surely not considered OK in Russia. Russia won't fire Rogozin just because some Romanian officials have been harassing him or whining about him. He hasn't done anything that would justify such a dismissal. Moreover, everyone knows – and it is really true – that if someone else were hired as the deputy prime minister to help to govern Russia and to reflect the Russian citizens' actual values and interests, he could have been targeted just like Rogozin. So the replacement of Rogozin wouldn't help anyone. Unless, of course, the goal would be to put politicians and CEOs whose opinions are closer to those of the Romanian officials – a mindless, unlimited licking of the powerful as*es in some wealthier Western countries. Virtually no one in Russia wants such a change and I morally sympathize with this defiant attitude of the Russian public.
Can Rogozin really use a TU-160 on his next visit to Transdnestria? Of course that he can! Flying on a TU-160 doesn't mean that he would be bombing Romania yet. Such a bomber may just be a tool for Russia to express the idea that it considers these sanctions illegitimate and it has tools to make them inconsequential, too. And a TU-160 might indeed be necessary to do so! Deputy prime minister's claims that he may use a TU-160 to circumvent a ban is a serious matter, indeed. But the original ban that more or less randomly picked Rogozin and a few dozens of other scapegoats was a serious matter, too. And it was the first reason of this exchange.
I want to say that this whole Romanian spin promoting Rogozin's tweet to the new core of the Russian doctrine is a self-inflicted injury.
There is no need to escalate a tweet like that. Rogozin is a foreign individual who has become a victim of harassment by some Romanian officials, so he is largely in a personal conflict with these officials. It's up to him and his aides to pick the right planes to circumvent the bans he surely considers illegitimate. It would still be a Romania-vs-Rogozin tension.
These days, it's normal in Romania – and, sadly, in most countries that used to define the West – that an institutional threat or a libel produced by an NGO is always destined to defeat the individual. Any individual. Well, Rogozin doesn't think it's so obvious, and neither do I. Does Romania really have the power to enforce similar harassment? I doubt it. What they can do is to whine and hide under some U.S. warmongers' skirts. Is that enough?
Will the TU-160 bomber be used in its originally designed harmful way? It is unlikely, I think. But of course that if tensions run too high, Russia will bomb Romanian targets or any other targets that may turn out to be a major obstacle. Russian targets would probably be bombed, too. It would be a war.
I don't want a war. But of course that it is a possible outcome of the recent developments. And various events are escalating the situation. Of course that targeting dozens of Russian individuals by similar sanctions makes them understandably upset. Of course that they can revenge in some way. Of course that to actually enforce these bans when Rogozin visits some ethnic Russians is another step to escalate the situation. Of course that the promotion of a defiant tweet by a harassed individual to a matter of the new Russian doctrine is a move to escale the situation, too.
Why are these people – not just in Romania – escalating the situation all the time? Do they want a war? Are they sure that such a war would be a net positive for them or the West or the world? Or have they been brainwashed to hate Russia so much that they're not thinking about the consequences of their acts at all? Don't they realize that Russia is the calmer, more rational player and it is pretty much destined to win any chaotic game like this one? I am nervous about both sides' moves towards a war but I am much more terrified by the behavior that has become normal in the West and that used to define what is definitely "not the classical Western attitude" to various situations of life. Harassment of people according to their nationality. Intimidation not allowing an individual to deviate from the group think. Desire to spin every event and transform it into a tool to make the hysteria and group think even stronger than before.
Those fascist, group-think recipes to interact with Russia are widespread in Czechia, too. Still, I think that the top politicians – who are bad compared to the average politicians we have had since 1989 – are still more reasonable and rooted in the free democratic (and pragmatic) thinking than the politicians in many other Western countries.