First, the easy one. Russia has a typical 5th column: pro-western “liberals”, assorted agents of influence, nostalgic of the 90s (when they could plunder Russia as much as they wanted), Washington Consensus types, folks who hate Russia (for whatever reason) and dream of the day Russia will break apart, etc. etc. etc. They are, objectively, agents of influence for the western PSYOPs. I coined the term “Atlantic Integrationists” because, at best, these folks want Russia to be accepted by the West as an equal partner and then join all the western institutions and become the next Poland. Of course, these folks are all russophobes, whether they admit it or not. They think of themselves as “elites” (they like to call themselves “intelligentsia”) and they feel much superior to the “dark, illiterate, masses” who vote for monsters like Putin. I think this is all pretty simple and I won’t discuss that any further.
Now the much more complex issue. Russia ALSO has a 6th column. I wrote an entire analysis of these folks in a post entitled ” Is there a 6th column trying to subvert Russia?” which you must read to understand what I am going to describe below. I will not repeat it all here.
I will, however, offer a few reminders:
- The western PSYOPs understood that when most Russian hear the the West and the Russian 5th column that calling Putin a “brutal dictator” they think “well, if they hate him this much, he must be defending our, Russian interests, and not the West’s imperial agenda” (Russians also remember how the West absolutely *loved* Eltsin!). Considering that pro-western liberals represent something in the range of 1-3% (max!), the folks at the CIA or MI6 figured out that they were wasting their energy and had to come up with a different plan.
- And somebody pretty sharp came up with the idea of calling Putin not patriotic enough, sold to the WEF and Davos, an agent of Israel and a traitor to true Russian interests. Of course, this is NOT what western PSYOPs told the audience in the West, but in Russia the folks from the CIA and MI6 found a very fertile ground amongst the folks who, for whatever reason, were disillusioned by Putin and who were instantly willing to pick up and repeat the narrative “Putin is not patriot, he is, in fact, a weak figurehead at best, and a traitor at worst“.
Again, I wrote an entire article about that, so please do read it to understand the “hows” and the “who” of all this.
My article was written on April 30, 2020, and I think I did a decent job describing a phenomenon nobody else, at least to my knowledge, discerned or described. But what I did not have is a “smoking gun”, the proof that my analysis was not all the product of conjectures or my misreading of the reality of Russian internal politics.
Yesterday I found that smoking gun. And, boy, it is good, really good. Let me explain.
There is a Russian retired Colonel-General named Leonid Ivashov. Here is his English Wikipedia page. It so happens that I had the chance to meet him and have a long conversation, one on one, with him in Moscow in 1993 when he was the Secretary of the Council of Ministers of Defense of the CIS States. It was quite a meeting, outside nearby firefights were taking place between the supporters of Eltsin and those who defended the Russian Parliament, so I had to pass two rings of heavily armed and very stern looking Special Forces to meet Ivashov (we met in the building where he had his offices and the guard was very strict). The fact that he was willing to meet me, a young Russian emigre and a nobody, in such crazy circumstances speaks to the kind of man Ivashov is: very nice, soft spoken, humble and very welcoming. We drank some Turkish coffee with cardamon (which he called “Moldavian style coffee”) together and even shared one glass of (excellent) Moldavian brandy. If I remember correctly, Ivashov served in Moldavia, hence his love for all things Moldavian. He made a great impression on me, he was very sober minded, superbly educated, amazingly open (especially for a Soviet-era general) and I think we parted on very friendly terms. I want to share all this with you to be as honest as I can about what I will write next about Ivashov.
Politically Ivashov was clearly a real patriot, no doubt about it. However, over the years, his criticism of the Kremlin policies and, eventually, Putin personally become harsher and harsher. Over the years he became one of the figureheads of what I would call the “anti-Putin patriotic movement” in Russia. Here are some of the talking points members of this movement often expressed:
- Putin is a pure product of the Eltsin “family”. He was deeply involved with the likes of Eltsin, Sobchak and the rest of the gang which took power in 1991.
- Putin’s elections are all fake, the people of Russia hate him.
- Far from saving Russia from disaster, Putin very much continued the Eltsin policies of the 90s, only wrapped in a pious pseudo-patriotic claptrap.
- Putin is selling out Russia to both the West AND China.
- Putin also sold out to Russian Jews, international Zionists and the Israelis.
- Putin betrayed and lost Russia when he recognized the Ukronazi regime in Kiev and stopped the LDNR forces from liberating more (some would even say “all”) of the Ukraine.
- Putin is surrounded by oligarchs whose bidding he does and whose interests he really upholds.
- The Putin regime does nothing against all the western agents of influence in the Russian media and government structures, but he viciously represses real Russian patriots.
- Russia is all but dead, we lost against the West, China will eat us up, economically Russia is dead too, import substitution did not even work, and Russia is still totally dependent on the West for basic stuff ranging from simply metal bolts, to microchips to entire machines.
I could go on for much longer, but I want to point out two crucial things here:
- The Russian liberals and the Russian anti-Putin patriots agree on many things.
- If what these folks say is correct, then its all over, Russia is done, and everything is lost.
That latest concept, “everything is lost”, even created a special words for those who believe that to be the case: “allislosters” (всепропальщики).
I have always contended that pro-US liberals and the allislosters fundamentally share the same ideas and are, whether they are aware of this or not, objectively advancing the kind of defeatism which the western PSYOPs want to inject in the Russian collective psyche. That idea is what I call the “Borg ultimatum” (from the Star Trek the Next Generation series): “resistance is futile, you shall be incorporated”.
When degenerate liberals a la Muratov or pseudo-democrats like Navalnyi spew that crap, they get traction with only a tiny proportion, a few percents max, of the Russian population.
But when real patriots say these things, it bring FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) into a MUCH bigger percentage of the Russian population, probably no less than 20%: not a majority, but a very sizeable minority.
Here is a machine translated (and slightly corrected) version of the text penned by General Ivashov and his supporters which was released yesterday and, very characteristically, immediately mentioned by the entire western media within hours. Read it for yourself before we continue. I bolded out some key sentences.
The Chairman of the All-Russian Officers’ Assembly, Colonel-General Leonid G. Ivashov, wrote an Appeal to the President and citizens of the Russian Federation “The Eve of War”:
Address of the All -Russian Officers’ Assembly
to the President and citizens of the Russian Federation
Today, humanity lives in anticipation of war. And war is the inevitable human sacrifice, destruction, suffering of large masses of people, the destruction of a habitual way of life, disruption of the life systems of states and peoples. A big war is a huge tragedy, someone’s grave crime. It so happened that Russia was at the center of this impending catastrophe. And, perhaps, this is the first time in its history.
Earlier, Russia (USSR) waged forced (just) wars, and, as a rule, when there was no other way out, when the vital interests of the state and society were threatened.
And what threatens the existence of Russia itself today, and are there such threats? It can be argued that there are indeed threats – the country is on the verge of ending its history. All vital areas, including demography, are steadily deteriorating, and the rate of population extinction is breaking world records. And degradation is systemic, and in any complex system, the destruction of one of the elements can lead to the collapse of the entire system.
And this, in our opinion, is the main threat to the Russian Federation. But this is an internal threat emanating from the model of the state, the quality of power and the state of society. And the reasons for its formation are internal: the non-viability of the state model, the complete incapacity and lack of professionalism of the system of power and management, passivity and disorganization of society. Any country does not live in such a state for a long time.
As for external threats, they are certainly present. But, according to our expert assessment, they are not critical at the moment, directly threatening the existence of the Russian statehood, its vital interests. Strategic stability is maintained in general, nuclear weapons are under reliable control, NATO forces are not being built up, and they do not show threatening activity.
Therefore, the situation being escalated around Ukraine is, first of all, artificial, self-serving for some internal forces, including the Russian Federation. As a result of the collapse of the USSR, in which Russia (Yeltsin) took a decisive part, Ukraine became an independent state, a member of the UN, and in accordance with Article 51 of the UN Charter has the right to individual and collective defense.
The leadership of the Russian Federation has not yet recognized the results of the referendum on the independence of the DPR and LPR, while at the official level more than once, including during the Minsk negotiation process, it emphasized the belonging of their territories and population to Ukraine.
It has also been said more than once at a high level about the desire to maintain normal relations with Kiev, without singling out special relations with the DPR and the LPR.
The issue of the genocide committed by Kiev in the south-eastern regions has not been raised either in the UN or in the OSCE. Naturally, in order for Ukraine to remain a friendly neighbor for Russia, it was necessary for it to demonstrate the attractiveness of the Russian model of the state and the system of power.
But the Russian Federation has not become such, its development model and the foreign policy mechanism of international cooperation repel almost all neighbors, and not only.
The acquisition of Crimea and Sevastopol by Russia and their non-recognition as Russian by the international community (which means that the overwhelming number of states of the world still consider them to belong to Ukraine) convincingly shows the inconsistency of Russian foreign policy and the unattractiveness of domestic policy.
Attempts through an ultimatum and threats of the use of force to make the Russian Federation and its leadership “fall in love” are senseless and extremely dangerous.
The use of military force against Ukraine, firstly, will call into question the existence of Russia itself as a state; secondly, it will forever make Russians and Ukrainians mortal enemies. Thirdly, there will be thousands (tens of thousands) of young, healthy children killed on one side and on the other, which will certainly affect the future demographic situation in our dying countries. On the battlefield, if this happens, Russian troops will face not only Ukrainian servicemen, among whom there will be many Russian guys, but also military personnel and equipment of many NATO countries, and the member states of the alliance will be obliged to declare war on Russia.
The President of the Republic of Turkey, R. Erdogan, clearly stated on whose side Turkey will fight. And it can be assumed that two field armies and the Turkish navy will be ordered to “liberate” Crimea and Sevastopol and possibly invade the Caucasus.
In addition, Russia will definitely be included in the category of countries that threaten peace and international security, will be subject to the heaviest sanctions, will turn into an outcast of the world community, and will probably be deprived of the status of an independent state.
The president and the government, the Ministry of Defense cannot fail to understand such consequences, they are not so stupid.
The question arises: what are the true goals of provoking tension on the verge of war, and the possible unleashing of large-scale hostilities? And that there will be such, says the number and combat strength of the groups of troops formed by the parties – at least one hundred thousand soldiers on each side. Russia, baring its eastern borders, is moving formations to the borders of Ukraine.
In our opinion, the country’s leadership, realizing that it is not capable of leading the country out of the systemic crisis, and , with the support of the oligarchy, corrupt officials, lured media and security forces, decided to activate the political line for the final destruction of the Russian statehood and the extermination of the indigenous population of the country.
And war is the means that will solve this problem in order to retain its anti-national power for a while and preserve the wealth stolen from the people. We can’t think of any other explanation.
From the President of the Russian Federation, we, the officers of Russia, demand to abandon the criminal policy of provoking a war in which the Russian Federation will be alone against the united forces of the West, to create conditions for the implementation in practice of Article 3 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation and resign.
We appeal to all reserve and retired military personnel, citizens of Russia with a recommendation to be vigilant, organized, support the demands of the Council of the All-Russian Officers’ Assembly, actively oppose propaganda and the outbreak of war, prevent internal civil conflict with the use of military force.
Chairman of the All-Russian Officers’ Assembly, Colonel-General L.G. Ivashov
Next, what I want to do is bring all the parts I bolded out into one single paragraph.
I would call it their “creed”, the symbol of their “faith”. Here we go:
The country is on the verge of ending its history. The non-viability of the state model, the complete incapacity and lack of professionalism of the system of power and management, passivity and disorganization of society. External threats, they are certainly present. But, according to our expert assessment, they are not critical at the moment. NATO forces are not being built up, and they do not show threatening activity. The situation being escalated around Ukraine is, first of all, artificial, self-serving for some internal forces, including the Russian Federation. (The Russian) development model and the foreign policy mechanism of international cooperation repel almost all neighbors, and not only. The acquisition of Crimea and Sevastopol by Russia and their non-recognition as Russian by the international community convincingly shows the inconsistency of Russian foreign policy and the unattractiveness of domestic policy. Attempts through an ultimatum and threats of the use of force to make the Russian Federation and its leadership “fall in love” are senseless and extremely dangerous.The use of military force against Ukraine, firstly, will call into question the existence of Russia itself as a state. There will be thousands (tens of thousands) of young, healthy children killed on one side and on the other, which will certainly affect the future demographic situation in our dying countries. Military personnel and equipment of many NATO countries, and the member states of the alliance will be obliged to declare war on Russia. It can be assumed that two field armies and the Turkish navy will be ordered to “liberate” Crimea and Sevastopol and possibly invade the Caucasus. The question arises: what are the true goals of provoking tension on the verge of war, and the possible unleashing of large-scale hostilities? The country’s leadership, realizing that it is not capable of leading the country out of the systemic crisis. This may lead to an uprising of the people and a change of power in the country (and) activate the political line for the final destruction of the Russian statehood and the extermination of the indigenous population of the country. War is the means that will solve this problem in order to retain its anti-national power for a while and preserve the wealth stolen from the people. We can’t think of any other explanation. We, the officers of Russia, demand to abandon the criminal policy of provoking a war.
I submit that this is unambiguously a terminally defeatist text. It basically says the same thing as what the Ukronazis were chanting in streets “Russians, surrender! Russians, surrender!”.
I am on record as saying that Russia has been at war with the Empire since at least 2013. Yes, that war is 80% informational, about 15% economic and about 5% kinetic. But it was (and still is) a very real war: the Empire lost that war on January 8th 2020 and the USA lost this war on January 6th, 2021. What is taking place now are truly mopping up operations, especially after the Joint Declaration of Russia and China!
Objectively, General Ivashov by his open letter is serving the interests of the CIA/MI6 PSYOPs, now the entire western media can say “Russian generals are opposed to Putin’s aggressive campaign against the Ukraine”.
The fact that this text was released at a time when Putin and Macron had a SIX hours long negotiation is also very telling, to put it mildly.
And then, there is this: this latest text DIRECTLY CONTRADICTS everything which Ivashov said many times over the past years. I don’t have the time or energy to give you all the quotes, but I recommend this video from the exiled Ukrainian blogger Anatoly Sharii, who shows and explains that all in details. The video is in Russian, but I believe that there is a way to get an auto-translation going in the YouTube captions. If you can, I highly recommend you listen to what Sharii says. I would summarize it by saying that Sharii correctly point out that Ivashov made a 180 and now even contradicts his own, past, views.
Personally, when I first saw that text I had to rub my eyes and make sure it was not an optical illusion or a hallucination. My next thought was that somebody must be blackmailing Ivashov. But that is highly unlikely. The man is already retired, I doubt that anybody has any “dirt” on him and, frankly, I don’t believe that he is a coward who would yield to such pressure or abandon his principles. Neither is Ivashov senile, at 78 he is still has very articulate mind (as shown by his live inteviews and videos on the RuNet; he ain’t no Sleepy Joe).
Was this text a fake?
Nope, Ivashov even doubled down this video.
So what in the world happened here?
Before I answer that question, I want to touch upon something very important.
In any PSYOPs or propaganda, WHAT you see is much less important than the EFFECT of what you said will have. So PSYOPs and propaganda are not aimed at “everybody” because people are different. Which I won’t even bother debunking all the factual falsehoods, logical fallacies or outright idiotic nonsense this text is full of. Most of the readers of the Saker blog easily can do that by themselves anyway.
Let me give you one example: these anti-Putin patriots constantly “warn” that there will be an uprising, an insurrection or even coup against Putin. So the WHAT is “a warning about something”, but from an EFFECT point of view, it is very simple: FUD – to try to induce fear, uncertainty and doubt.
In the real world, there is exactly *zero* possibility of any revolt, insurrection or coup against Putin. If anything, should the liberals or the anti-Putin patriots try to organize a Maidan in Moscow, they will be crushed not as much by the security services, as by the much larger ANTI-Maidan forces in Moscow (that already happened once in 2011-2013). So the argument is idiotically counter-factual. But the intended EFFECT is FUD at a time when Russia is winning on all fronts.
Not a coincidence.
That being said, what happened to Ivashov?
I see only one explanation: I would call it “ideological drunkenness”. That is when a person’s ideological inclinations become so acute and the reality in the real world so unacceptable, that a person becomes literally “drunk” with his/her ideology. We can currently observe that with the US Neocons, the Trump 2024 supporters, the anti-vaxxers and COVID-dissidents, and every single religious sect/cult out there. Notice that cults always emphasize emotions over rational analysis. You could say that their operating principle is “don’t confuse me with facts, I have my opinion made“.
And if you insist of facts, they get really mad really fast.
The main reason why the pro-western liberals and the anti-Putin patriots are so angry and even directly mad at the Russian people, is that both of these camps failed to get enough traction with the Russian public to truly weaken Putin or the Kremlin. So the crazy “defeatist stream of consciousness” shown in Ivashov’s text is the result from many decades of deep frustration and anger. Frustration because the Russian people did give their support to Putin over and over again and anger because far from failing, Putin is winning on all fronts.
When a rational mind finds that a prediction or an effort failed, it seeks to correct its initial assumptions and policies and develop new, more effective ones. You know, the scientific method and all that.
When an ideological mind finds that a prediction or an effort failed, far from analyzing reality, it seeks refuge in doubling-down over and over again or, if dates are involved, these ideological minds simply push back the date of the “inevitable collapse”.
And if that means that a 3 star general must write stuff he MUST know (due to his excellent education) are factually false and utter nonsense in order to push his ideological agenda, then we see that this is truly a desperate effort.
BTW – let me reassure everybody, this letter will also go to the trashbins of history even if it is used for a while by the unison of the chorus of the western propaganda machine. Folks in the West mostly believe the “Putin the evil dictator of Mordor” anyway. As for Russia, those who were already anti-Putin patriots don’t matter much, in this case Ivashov is preaching to the choir. As for the rest of Russians, they will “twist their finger at the temple” (Russian gesture to say “crazy”) and quickly dismiss it.
But for our purposes, this open letter is truly precious, priceless even.
In French we could say “Navalnyi ou Ivashov – même combat!” meaning “Navalnyi or Ivashov – same struggle”.
Mind you – Ivashov is so blinded by his hatred for “the regime” (he would say “the family”) that he is probably totally oblivious to how he comes across and whose interests he de facto very much serves.
This is very sad, and for personally too, I still like the man very much. Navalnyi is a sad, immoral piece of scum. But not Ivashov: I am certain that he is a good, honorable and sincere person. But like an alcoholic, he drank too much of his own cool-aid – his actions are not an expression of his personality, but of his (ideological) pathology.
Ideologies are probably the single most dangerous (mental) toxins out there.
My only hope is that the ridiculously over-the-top contents of this truly deeply delusional letter will open the eyes of those who are on the fence (in Russia and abroad) about both Putin and the anti-Putin patriots. If they are ideologically sober enough they might remember the words of Christ “ye shall know them by their fruits” (Matt 7:16) and realize that de facto anti-Putin Russian patriots are collaborationist with the western enemies of Russia.
As for Putin, oh sure, he does have his faults. And yes, there are still plenty of Atlantic Integrationists in the Russian circles of power (media, Presidential Administration, Government, Central Bank, etc. etc. etc.). In medicine, it is important to take note of two things: the condition of the patient and the evolution of the disease. I would argue that any honest appraisal of Putin’s actions over the past 20 years show two things:
- He failed to solve all the problems of Russia (I wrote about this in distant 2016!)
- But the evolution of Russia since Putin came to power an improving one, going from bad, to better and sometimes to even very good. Yes, it did take a lot of retreats and compromises to achieve the current situation, but there is no denial that in 1999 Russia was breaking apart while in 2022 it is clear that Russia prevailed over both the Empire and its main constituent, the USA.
Real, sober, patriots understand that, for all his faults, now is NOT the time to subvert or undermine Putin. Let him prosecute the war until Russia’s full victory, and then let’s put maximum pressure on him to finally develop a truly sovereign Russian internal policy and even polity.
I fully expect most anti-Putin patriots to never EVER admit that. That would invalidate no less than two decades of their (misguided) efforts to get rid of Putin were in vain and that they will never come to power themselves.
My personal biggest hope is that you, the readers, will now become fully aware of what I call the 6th column in Russia, as opposed to the 5th, traditional one: the next time you hear somebody deny the existence of the Atlantic Integrationists, the Russian liberal 5th column or the allislosters 6th column, please ask yourself: cui bono – who benefits from this denial?
The current standoff between Russia and the West has already yielded numerous very good results. To use an metaphor, Putin stuck a stick into the “western anthill” and all the ants (western politicians) are now running around like crazy. Putin’s success also stuck another stick into the “allislosters” anthill and all these ants (anti-Putin patriots) are now also running around like crazy.
How much comfort can the leaders of the West get from all of the above?
It is pretty clear that both 5th column and 6th column PSYOPs have miserably failed. In fact, both the 5th and the 6th column can only preach to their choir, most Russians absolutely hate liberals and a majority also disagrees with the 6th columns defeatism. Putin’s recent series of major successes (politically, militarily, economically) really leave the 6th column no hope at all to prevail. At most, they will lash out and continue to predict an insurrection or coup, but that ship has sailed long ago.
That is not to say that we should dismiss that toxic and evil trio: Atlantic Integrationists, the 5th column and the 6th column. For one thing, there still are Atlantic Integrationists everywhere, from RT, to the Russian Central Bank, to the Presidential Administration, the Kremlin, the Government and A LOT in the media, including entertainment. Putin has pushed them back to some degree, the situation now is MUCH better than, say in 2017, but the enemy is still there. And Russia’s history clearly shows that the internal enemy is far more dangerous than the external one.
Furthermore, Russia is still a “one man show”: remove Putin and Russia will immediately undergo a major crisis, internal and external, if only because there is no credible successor to him, not by a long shot. I can name many very good people near Putin, his Eurasian Sovereignist allies, but none of them have his stature.
And he still has not found the opportunity to get rid of some dangerous snakes which are also in his close entourage. I believe that Putin is much more threatened by Russian financiers than he is by NATO or the US. And, always keep this in mind, Putin is no Stalin. He cannot just fire, expel, arrest or execute anyone for no reason: he has to follow the law which very much limits his power. Nor do I believe that a majority of Russians would approve if Putin started to act like a dictator: been there, done that, paid a huge cost and won’t ever do it again.
Still, should something happen to Putin (disease, death, incapacitation, etc.) we can be sure that the Atlantic Integrationists, the 5th columnists, the 6th columnists and the entire united West will pounce on Russia which will result in a major crisis which potentially could truly threaten the future of Russia.
The truth is that as long as Russia will still be in the process of redefining herself on the fly Russia will be unstable and vulnerable. But that is a topic for a future analysis.
UPDATE: as soon as I posted this up, several commentators quasi immediately chimed in with “Ivashov is right”, “I agree with him”, etc. etc. etc. All commentators from the West, by the way. Considering how disruptive my analysis is to the western PSYOPs, I expect a deluge of trolls trying to “retake control of the narrative” in the comments section. Needless to say, I will eject them all without any hesitation. After 15 years of blogging I can easily distinguish a sincere critical comment from the typical output of trolls (paid or not).