In 2014 and since then, «Крим наш» (Crimea is ours!) was proudly voiced by huge numbers of Russians. This had to be very encouraging and empowering for Putin. A lot of responsibility for this war lies with these people

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Such a complicated issue to get our heads around, thanks for the summary. What do you think about the West, and the US in particular, returning Russians who seek asylum here based on their wish to avoid being drafted? I saw this over the weekend about the US deporting some of them. https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2023/mar/18/biden-administration-russia-deportations

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If you're so keen on collecting fees from Russians for visas, why don't you also address the European politicians who, despite the annexation of Crimea, continued to fuel Putin's regime with cash from 2014 to 2022? This money has been used to hire riot police to suppress Russian protesters, and it has also funded the construction of missiles that were eventually launched at Ukraine.

And while we're at it, why not investigate how companies within the Almaz-Antey holding have been acquiring sanctioned goods in Europe for the past eight years, ever since the annexation of Crimea? It's baffling that effective sanctions were only imposed after the invasion of Ukraine and took almost a year to materialize, rather than being implemented immediately following the annexation of Crimea. And let's not forget the complete lack of sanctions in response to the poisoning and arrest of Navalny.

It's time to question who bears more responsibility: European politicians seeking cheap resources, or ordinary Russians who refuse to rot in prison?

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You write, "Russians who are against the war do something – anything!"

How about welcoming Russians who are against the war to become citizens of a Western nation? They can't accomplish anything in Russia, and deserve to live free.

I'd like to see us implement a determined policy to help any Russians with useful skills to liberate themselves from tyranny and move to the West. If we can't bring democracy to Russia, bring Russians to democracy.

Russia is relentlessly bombing the infrastructure in Ukraine. Let's make the human infrastructure in Russia our target.

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It is certainly wise to recognize different shades of Russian public opinion, even though conditions in Russia now require special courage or circumstances to express opposition to the Kremlin's war of aggression in Ukraine. It is also important to recognize how much this war derives from the current Kremlin leadership. I listened this morning to a podcast on the Economist in which Russian actress Chulman Khamatova, now living and performing in Lithuania, gave a personal account of her meetings with Mr. Gorbachev and Mr. Putin. She became close friends with Gorbachev, whom she describes as warm and human, someone who valued human life and dignity. By contrast, her interactions with Putin, even after he had supported some of her charitable causes, proved that he was a "transactional" person only. Any support he gave meant that he would expect a favor from her later, such as public support in his re-election campaign. Putin is not a man who places any value on human life and dignity, as his brutal war against Ukraine has shown very clearly.

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Perhaps we shouldn't be blaming all Russians for the war against Ukraine, but we should be blaming a substantial portion of them for being so gullible and weak-minded.

In "Russia's War" by Jade McGlynn, the author dissects the Russian propaganda machine, which is far bigger than our own, and describes how it has had great success in hypnotizing its own people -- and much of the far right in the West -- into believing in fairy tales instead of the real world.

Here's an excerpt: "So who is Russia fighting then? The West or Ukraine? Yes, them, both of them. And lots of other people besides: satanists; drug addicts; liberal fascist cancel culture; pagans; ...LGBTQ+ parades; migratory birds carrying genetic bioweapons; NATO; militant Baltic gays.

"Such a variegated list of enemies has given rise to a similarly incoherent set of aims. Reading Russian media, you understand that the Russian Army will give Ukrainians life by killing them. It will decommunise Ukraine by rebuilding Lenin statues. It will free Ukraine from the Anglo-Saxon yoke and help Americans not to have to finance Ukraine.

"By unleashing so many confusing and confused narratives at once, you bamboozle people. The viewer feels overwhelmed and stops relying on facts for contours, reaching instead for familiar concepts, things they definitely know, like national identity, historical parallels, general emotions, their own memories, perceptions of which are often reinforced by popular culture and the media."

This strategy is being applied in both Russia and the United States, and unfortunately, it works all too well.

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Thank you keeping us informed with authentic information on the current situation based on your many years of experience in living there and being a US Ambassador to Russia. I am enjoying reading your excellent book "From Cold War to Hot Peace" and learning much on the subject.

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I agree that Russians need to at least find symbolic ways to protest. However, there are still many European and US based companies that need to get out of Russia. If sanctions are going to work, companies have to be held to account. It has been reported that western oil companies can cheat by buying oil from Russia through third parties. Start there and that might give an ordinary Russian facing real danger some hope their risk will matter.

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I think it worth noting that while there appears to be wide-spread acquiesence to the war there has been absolutely no rush of young men to the army recruitment offices. They clearly haven't brought the regime's line that Russia is in some sort of existential struggle and the very existence of Russia is at stake. (Unless they really don't care even then!).

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I don't understand why any Russians are allowed to travel to the West, unless it is to defect. Can Russians still buy and sell property in the West? If yes, why?

How about this? Let's call it Operation Brain Drain. Any Russian with important skills should be offered citizenship in the West, and financial support while they reestablish their career outside of Russia. All they have to do is get themselves out of Russia.

Here's the slogan: If we can't bring democracy to Russia, let's bring Russians to democracy.

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I am not in Ukraine. I was in Russia, I think, when I read about the Ukrainian government arresting Orthodox clerics on suspicion of supporting the Russian invasion. I have heard that some Ukrainian priests and bishops have severed the age-old ties with the Moscow patriarchate, and some have not. Since Kirill supports the war as a “holy war”, as he supports anything that Putin does in return for money to rebuild the church in Russia, it seems logical that the Ukrainians who still are loyal to Moscow might indeed be expressing support of some kind for the Russian armed forces. And of course, this is treason in time of war, and must be dealt with as appropriate. Nowhere did I hear that the entire Ukrainian Orthodox church in all its branches was being suppressed. Only those individuals who were suspected of collaborating with or supporting the invaders.

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Okay, I'm russian protester, and I'm really want that Michael would read my message

I was a civil right activist since 2010.

I have involved in 'стратегия 31' and also I have been involved in riots at Bolotnaya square in 2012.

I'm an extremist (in the eyes of Putins regime) and enemy of the state

When war has been started, two of my comrades from Nizniy Novgorod -- Alexey Onozhkin and Iliya Myaskovski was captured in prison. Alexey Rudoi was forced to immigration in France. All of my friends now are either in prison, or in immigration.

All of us, russian protesters have to go through all of it. Through prisons and tortures.

Do you ever imagine, Michael, what is it like, to feel like russian political police officer (we called it "Estapo") put a red-hot cigarette right into your hands?

Do you ever imagine, *how* is it painfull?

Do you ever imagine the smell of burning your own flash?

They electrocute us, beat us, torture us, but still, *we resist*, like we always do. We are exist. And we will survive.

You know, some of us, who has managed to evacuate from Russia, usually asked for a political asylum.

But in order to get asylum, first we need to *get out of Russia* to the safe place

And how we would suppose to do it, if you will ban tourist visa?


I know, you will answer to me, that there is a humanitarian Visa, but if you get this type of visa in Russia, then you will instantly get a target on your chest, because Russian authorities will instantly understand, that you are actually a dissident, and put you in prison

Do not ban tourist visa, untill we figure out how to evacuate from there without been suscpicious by russian estapo

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Other Russian people do not want to appear to be supporting the Ukrainian government which is clearly not democratic. As we speak they are trying to expel Ukrainian Orthodox monks from the historical Lavra in Kiev with the accusation the the Ukrainian Orthodox church is allegedly subversive. Imagine what would happen if the city of San Francisco would try to close the Russian Orthodox Cathedral on Geary Street. https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/ukraine-orders-russian-aligned-orthodox-church-leave-kyiv-monastery-2023-03-10/

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In my mind there is a parallel with Fox News. I may be stretching it but ... if all you ever watch, or want to watch, is Putin's propaganda (or Fox), you stay home and do nothing. How a country of 144.5 million people can sit idly by and allow Putin to murder civilians anywhere, much less in a neighboring sovereign country, is beyond my understanding of human nature. Surely most of the Russians are not that evil. Now Fox News watchers are another quandary. Unlike the Russian population they have readily available alternate sources of information.

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I'd be interested in whether you think this piece is realistic or not given your long background in Russian affairs -- https://www.passblue.com/2023/03/30/how-putin-could-be-compelled-to-step-down-from-power/ My email is: scsje@aol.com

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