Maria Zakharova, the Russian foreign ministry’s spokesperson, said more than she perhaps intended when she declared that the Crimeans, having again become part of the Russian state, “returned us to ourselves as well,” according to Moscow commentator Igor Yakovenko.
The Crimean Anschluss, he writes, is as many have noted “the greatest international crime committed in the 21st century.” But living in Putin’s Russia, there is no point in talking “about law, let alone international law.” Instead, Yakovenko argues, “let us talk about consequences.”
Crimea in reality, the commentator points out, “has divided the history of Putin’s Russia into two parts: ‘before’ and ‘after’” the Anschluss. “Before Crimea, Putin’s Russia was a dictatorship with four main problems: total corruption, the irreplaceability of the authorities, the zombification of the population, and the absence of human rights (and rights in general).”
“After Crimea,” he continues, “all these problems intensified. But in first place arose a new one, which eclipsed all the rest: Russia was converted into the main threat to world civilization.” The Anschluss “has made Russia a world outcast, inserted into the brains of Russians the psychology of a besieged fortress and forced them to be glad of sanctions and to unify around the leader.”
“Crimea has radically changed the level of the rhetoric of public persons in the media toward complete idiotism, rabid xenophobia, imperialism and anti-Westernism.” It has destroyed the influence of the Russian opposition, “part of which simply ceased to be such because it supported Putin’s annexation” and part because it needed to in order to survive.
The Crimean Anschluss “significantly worsened the real quality of life of Russians, driving many of them into poverty and what is more depriving them of prospects for the future.”
It has made “40 million Ukrainians enemies of Russia” because no one can explain to them “why we, 140 million cowards, can’t stop a single lieutenant colonel” from taking this action.
In short, Yakovenko says, “the jubilee of the annexation of Crimea is very shameful, very criminal and very, very stupid.”