Russian propaganda has always told the tale of the West’s alleged paranoid fear of, above all, Russians. Yet it is Putin and his ilk who clearly suffer from an irrational “phobia of the West” and operate with horror scenarios in order to spread fear.
Three weeks after Russia’s illegal attack on Ukraine began, Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier found the right words. “It’s not the war of the Russian people against Ukraine,” he said. He expressly protected migrants of Russian origin in Germany. “We must not allow them to be denigrated, threatened or even physically attacked. There is also a red line there.”
Steinmeier was right. Because at the time there were reports of a variety of insults, threats, damage to property – such as broken windows and graffiti on restaurants – and violence against Russian-speaking people. Michelle Bachelet, then UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said at the end of March 2022 that “an increase in ‘Russophobia’ was observed in a number of countries”. It was a single sentence on the subject in a long statement on Putin’s slaughter, in which the Chilean listed the war crimes committed by the Russians and declared, among other things: “For more than a month, the entire population of Ukraine has been experiencing a nightmare come alive.”
Even in those days, Putin and his cronies were already banking on the myth of alleged “Russophobia” in the West against their country and everything Russian. Then as now, he and his cronies ignored all the rules and standards of the civilized world. And like any other dictatorship based on lies and deceit, the government in Moscow proved that for them the law of the interplay of cause and effect does not exist. The Russian embassy in Berlin declared a few days after the invasion of Ukraine: “We consider any manifestations of discrimination and violations of the rights of our citizens and the Russian-speaking population in Germany to be unacceptable.”
The scale is missing
The diplomats of a government without respect for human rights, without scruples and without morals, which has hundreds of thousands of dead – including compatriots – on its conscience, which tyrannizes cities with bomb terror, plunders, rapes and abducts and a neighboring country under the invention of an alleged “genocide ” to Russians, complained about insults, smearing, shoving and bullying. The scale hasn’t slipped – if you tick like that, you don’t have one.
There are now almost no police reports of malicious behavior of this kind. There have never been any massive attacks or even an irrational or panicky fear of Russians or people of Russian origin, at least not to an extent that would justify the term “Russophobia”. Like all other Western societies, German societies have shown that civilizational achievements such as tolerance and the general rejection of violence as a means of political debate are deeply rooted in them. We are not barbarians. The German constitutional state also tolerates rallies by Kremlin apologists. As a rule, they take place peacefully – if necessary under the protection of the police. (By the way: pro-Ukrainian counter-demonstrators are sometimes insulted and threatened as “Nazis”.)
Despite this, Putin, his foreign minister Sergei Lavrov and his spokesman Dmitry Peskov, who, like their master and ruler, have been taken in by their own fantasies, keep repeating the claim of alleged “Russophobia”. This narrative is part of their propaganda to keep their own people in line, since fear binds to the supposed protector, and the disinformation with which anti-American tendencies are served in this country. After the drone attacks on Moscow, Peskov said on Russian state television, referring to Germany and other Western countries: “You can feed Russophobia, and they feed Russophobia.”
“There is only a rabid Russophobia that you turn to,” Lavrov confirmed to the other 19 heads of government at the G-20 meeting in Bali last summer, because they wanted to talk about the war and not, as Putin’s foreign minister wanted, about “Key Issues of the World Economy”. In September, Lavrov once again demonstrated his paranoia in front of the global public. “Official Russophobia in the West is unprecedented, the extent is grotesque,” he said at the UN general debate in New York. Referring to the US, the EU and their allies, he said: “They are no longer even embarrassed to openly declare that the intention is not just to inflict a military defeat on our country, but to destroy Russia, to dismember it. “
It’s grotesque: To invade the neighboring country and want to completely annex it, to smash entire cities, vital infrastructure and even dams, in order to then claim that your own nation should be destroyed and dismembered – you have to be beyond good and evil to do this to spread nonsense and endure it in oneself. Putin declared in May: “A real war has been unleashed against our motherland.” One might think that there is a “phobia of the West” in the Kremlin.
Most of all, all the irrational gossip that has been pouring out of the mouths of Putin and his cronies for more than a year should scare and terrify you. Especially since the announcements are constantly flanked by open and disguised threats to use atomic bombs of all kinds. Spreading nightmare scenarios and fears of an uncontrollable war if the West does not do this or that is a means of the Kremlin’s psychological warfare. With Putin’s delusions of grandeur and his willingness to use any means to maintain his power, there is reason to worry that the Russian warlord may make even more devastating decisions than invading a neighboring country. So if anyone creates “Russophobia,” it’s the fearmongers in the Kremlin.