Exclusive Interview with Dr. Peter Hanseler, Moscow. — Part 2
Part 1 of the interview is here
born in 1964, holds a doctorate in business law (Dr. iur.) from the University of Zurich and a master’s degree in American law (LL.M.) from Georgetown University (Washington, D.C.). He has worked as a lawyer, manager and entrepreneur. Peter Hanseler, who speaks German, English and Russian, has been living in Moscow for the last three years for private and cultural reasons and before spent a lot of time in Russia as a lawyer, manager and entrepreneur since 1997. Before his move to Russia, he lived in Switzerland, the United States, Spain and Thailand.
He runs the blog Voice from Russia and writes for various newspapers. Peter is politically and journalistically independent, does not pursue any commercial activities in Russia, and does not receive funding from any government or other organizations. Unlike mainstream journalists, he considers and evaluates issues from both Western and Eastern perspectives in their entirety – and also writes about issues that are predominantly not reported on in the West.
Felix Abt: What would you say to people outside Russia who would like to get rid of President Putin about what might come after him?
West should not Rule Russia
Dr. Hanseler: The Russians are happy with their elected President at a rate of about 80%. Therefore, I could not see how the West could get rid of him. It is in my opinion cynical that Western people, who are claiming to defend democracy have the nerve to interfere in Russian matters such as who should be president of another country. Having stated this, the West, who has no clue about Russia really thinks that a pro-western president would follow Mr. Putin.
West wants Puppets as Russian President
Presented by the West are e.g., Mr. Khodorkovsky, who sat in prison in Russia for tax fraud, a former oligarch who – in the opinion of the Russian people – stole billions in Russia during the 90’s when building up his vast oil empire.
In the course of his expansion, dozens of competitors simply disappeared. Khodorkovsky is – in the view of the Russian people – nothing more than a puppet of the CIA and based on his present statements against Russia, a traitor. He wouldn’t stand a chance in an election.
Navalny is another dream candidate for the West. He is currently in jail for embezzlement in Russia and most of the Russians are happy that he is in jail and also know that he is a CIA asset. Neither he would stand a chance.
Successor of President Putin would be Tougher on the West
If President Putin would die or leave office at this time, the chances would be very good that a hawk would follow him. Mr. Putin was always very western oriented, lived for many years in Germany, loves and respects the German culture and tried – though in vain – to have very close and lasting relationships with Europe.
What the West does not seem to grasp is that a successor of President Putin at the present time would be more nationalistic, less western friendly and would most probably steer a much more aggressive course towards the West. Mr. Putin always tries to de-escalate and is even criticized for this course in Russia.
Felix Abt: Western politicians and media often claim that Russia is a serious “threat” because it is “imperialistic” and bent on invading European countries. What is your answer?
The West Attacked Russia
In the past 200 years Russia has been attacked by the West three times: 1812 by Napoleon, who made it to Moscow, but had to retreat and lost most of his army and his crown.
In the first half of the 20th century, in 1914 and 1941, the Germans attacked Russia twice within a few decades.
The Russians lost over 4 million people during World War I; however, worse was to come: the Nazi policies enacted by General Halder before the Germans attacked in June 1942 put brutality on a new level.
The Nazis Tried to Extinguish the Russians
Some of the people may know the so-called Commissioner order (Kommissar Befehl) under which the German troops were ordered to kill any political commissar in Russia on site. However, this constitutes only a fraction of the truth. The team of Halder instructed every troop commander to destroy Russia and the Russian civil population and expressly stated that anything soldiers did would be legal, i.e., under no circumstances punishable.
The majority of the Western people do not fathom what went on in Russia during World War II, anybody got slaughtered, raped, hanged – old men, children, mothers. It defies description and you only really find out if you talk to people in Russia who saw it with their own eyes. The result was around 30 million dead Russians – more than half of them – civilians.
In view of this slaughter, which cost 2.5 times more of civilian victims than the Holocaust, it is cynical on an absolute unacceptable level, when the West did and does not take Russia’s security concerns seriously.
The Americans protected Halder
All the former attackers are today members of NATO.
What did the Americans do with General Halder – hang him? Quite to the contrary. It was Halder the Americans hired after World War II to write the history of the war in Russia and it was him who white washed the German Wehrmacht claiming that it were only SS-Troops which committed atrocities although the facts showed otherwise.
Russia Imperialistic – a Cynical Statement
You can imagine how Russians feel about being called imperialistic among others by exactly the politicians of a country who slaughtered their civilian population a few decades ago. If you hear the hate speech from Germany today against Russia, one should feel sick in the stomach. The same choice of words as the Nazis used – now used by today’s German political elite – and the media.
The Russians have enough of that and if NATO will be stupid enough to attack Russia, there will be a reaction which most probably will set Western Europe on fire.
History of the Second World War should have taught the West, that the Russians do not have the tendency to give up – ever, whatever the price may be.
Felix Abt: Even though Ukrainian nationalists now deny it, Russians and Ukrainians — both categorized as Eastern Slavs — have historically and geographically been one people with fewer differences than similarities for a long time. More than a thousand years ago, Kyiv, the present-day capital of Ukraine, served as the administrative hub of Kyivan Rus, the first Slavic state and the forerunner of both Ukraine and Russia. At that time, the two countries’ shared history began. What can you tell us about the shared history and when and why did divisions arise between Russian speakers and Ukrainian speakers?
Ukraine Belonged to Russia for a Long Time
Dr. Hanseler: At the beginning of World War I, the present territory of Ukraine had been part of Tsarist Russia and Austria for 250 years.
A part of Russia it became by voluntary accession and not by Russian force, when the Hejtmen of Ukraine sought protection from the Russian Tsar and swore eternal loyalty to him in return.
No Ukrainian Culture on its Own
Basically, there was no Ukrainian culture of its own, there were customs, regional traditions. Even a written language existed only in rudiments. Every self-respecting intellectual living in the territory of today’s Ukraine wrote in Russian. There was no other way, because Ukrainian offered only limited linguistic possibilities (there were no Ukrainian equivalents for many terms), so that many Russian words found their way into Ukrainian as a matter of course e.g., many names of animals that do not live on the territory of Ukraine.
However, in other Slavic countries, especially those of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy in the 19th century, there was a pan-Slavic movement that sought ways to achieve at least rudimentary national independence within the framework of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy. But even this movement passed by Ukraine practically without a trace.
Ukraine was Born as a State after WWI
Politically Ukraine was brought to life towards the end of the 1st World War by Germany and Austria.
Lenin was let into Russia in 1917 by Germany from Switzerland via Germany, Sweden, and Finland – in a special train and equipped with enormous German funds in gold – in order to achieve an armistice with Germany, so that Germany could bring its troops to the Western Front: the Peace of Brest-Litovsk.
Peace of Brest-Litovsk
Under this treaty, Russia had to make enormous territorial concessions, as a result of which a Ukrainian Republic was proclaimed under German control. With the treaty, the Germans pursued the following goals: (1) to keep Russia out of the war so that Germany could finally defeat France in the West, (2) to fight hunger in Germany by having access to the Ukrainian breadbasket.
It was not to be as Germany wanted it to be.
Versailles created new borders and new states. The borders were drawn exclusively by England and France. The USA nodded off everything.
Under Versailles, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Romania, Austria, the Baltic States, etc. were created. Poland waged war to the East from the first day of its existence, because it wanted to restore the old Polish-Lithuanian Empire from the 17th century.
Thus, against all ethnic realities, it occupied large parts of the new Lithuania, Belarus and Ukraine. Ukrainians were against the Polish occupation. This is important because this Ukrainian resistance was the origin of today’s Ukrainian nationalist movement. The Polish-Russian war lasted until 1922.
1922 – Ukraine part of the USSR
In 1922 the USSR was founded and with it the 16 Union Republics. The establishment of the Ukrainian SSR within the framework of the USSR was – apart from the Ukrainian Republic, which existed for a few months by German grace – the first Ukrainian statehood ever. There were some Ukrainian hejtmannschaften in the late Middle Ages, but they had little to do with statehood in the modern sense.
In order for the Ukrainian SSR to succeed, Lenin did something that many consider the starting point of today’s madness. He expanded Ukraine proper in a high-handed way.
But above all else, the USSR created a Ukrainian language as part of Lenin’s official nationalities policy – as it did in other parts of the USSR – and placed extremely high value on culture and education in Ukrainian.
Here is an overview of the geographical development of Ukraine over the centuries:
Ukraine in 1654
This part voluntarily placed itself under the protection of the Russian tsar in 1654 because it could no longer cope with its external enemies – Turks, Swedes, Poles.
So this is the historical Ukraine par excellence.
Added in 1654-1917
These are territorial extensions of Russia, which also remained Russian territory and were administered by the Tsar as part of Ukraine.
Added in 1922
This was Lenin’s high-handedness. Ukraine was a distinctly agrarian country. To strengthen the proletarian revolution, this part of Ukraine was annexed. Everyone was against it, but Lenin did it anyway. Thus, the economically strongest part of Russia was added to Ukraine.
Crimea was given away by Khrushchev in 1954 – against laws in force at the time.
During the Soviet Union, the territorial conditions within the Soviet Union did not play an important role in principle. What did play a role, however, were the nationalist aspirations that were massively promoted by Germany and Austria during World War I and were revived by Germany in the 1920s and especially the 1930s. Here, of course, the Stalinist atrocities in the course of collectivization of agriculture also played a significant role. But these also hit other parts of the Soviet Union hard.
Here begins the work of Bandera and others. Bandera was an agent of the Gestapo since the 1930s. There is enough material about Bandera’s activities during the war. In principle he was against everything and everybody and only for a nationalistic Ukraine. For this purpose, he or his organizations acting under his ideas murdered everything that was worth to be murdered in this sense – Poles, Russians, Jews, Byelorussians, yes, also many Ukrainians.
CIA saved and hired Bandera – a War Criminal
After the war, his organization (OUN) was condemned as a criminal organization in Nuremberg. However, under the Operation ANYFACE, Bandera himself was saved by the Americans, protected by the US Army’s refusal to honor a Soviet extradition request. After the war, Stepan Bandera plotted for Ukrainian independence for nearly 15 years, under contract of the OSS, the predecessor of the CIA.
And here begins the conflict with the participation of today’s forces.
The CIA used Bandera’s people in Ukraine as a base for an undeclared war against the USSR in Ukraine. This conflict was extremely bloody, incredibly brutal, and dragged on until 1954.
Thereafter, the OUN no longer existed. In the so-called thaw period after the XX Party Congress of the CPSU, Khrushchev publicly forgave the ex-OUN members and offered them a return to normal public life. They could study, work, whatever they wanted. The former leaders, if they were still in the country, went mainly into education and became teachers.
This was the basis of the later secession of Ukraine in 1991/92. Already in the 70’s and 80’s nationalism spread again in Ukrainian schools. There is no end of evidence of this, but no one in the Western mass media wants to see it. It would go beyond the scope of this interview to explain this in detail.
Ukraine – the Key to Western Powers
Ukraine as a part of the Soviet Union was always the key for all Western powers when it came to working towards the dissolution of the USSR. Hitler wanted to integrate Ukraine into the German Reich: as a breadbasket and as an industrial center.
When Ukraine was created as a state in 1992, it was the post-Soviet republic with by far the highest standard of living and the best development prospects. And then began the gutting.
Ukraine’s Problems as a State
Just briefly: a very big problem of Ukraine as a state was (1) lack of history as a statehood, (2) exuberant power of oligarchs (they determined and determine what happens in the country), (3) gateway of the West to dominate politics in Russia, (4) very many ethnicities and finally, (5) the use of ethnic contradictions by the West.
As a result, the well-known political instability characterized by changing governments, unclear election results and coups d’état ensued: (1) 2004 pro-West; (2) 2008 pro-Russia and finally, (3) 2013/14 violently pro-West.
These contradictory overthrows occurred because the governments since 1992 were unable to provide the country with a national identity. Each government served almost exclusively the interests of certain circles. No one has been able to create anything close to a Ukrainian sense of unity. Yanukovych came the closest, but he was ousted by the USA, CIA, EU and NATO in 2013-14.
This coup was prepared for a long time and extremely comprehensively and served only to exploit the country, which is extremely rich in itself, on the one hand and to transform it into an anti-Russian state on the other hand. To this end, the driving Western forces were willing to use any means, even the establishment of a Ukrainian state church with the help of the CIA and Ukrainian Orthodox churches operating in the American diaspora.
The consequences were foreseeable and we see them today.
Felix Abt: Russia has a fascinating history, ranging from the early Mongol invasions to the Tsarist regimes, from eras of enlightenment and industrialization to revolutions and wars. Russia is also known for its cultural achievements such as ballet, Tolstoy, Tchaikovsky, caviar and vodka, but also for its political rise and upheaval. Politics and culture between Europe and Russia have greatly influenced and intermingled over the centuries. Is a nation more European or Asian when it borders Poland to the west and Japan to the east, and nearly three-quarters of its landmass lies east of the Urals in Asia? What do you think about Russia’s ethnic and cultural diversity and its “Europeanness”?
Dr. Hanseler: Due to its sheer size, Russia as a country has always formed a bridge: between East and West, North and South.
Russia undoubtedly belongs to Europe. “Russianness” today unites in itself to a great extent what Europeans once considered European values during the Age of Enlightenment: Openness, tolerance, inquisitiveness, national pride, but without aggression towards others.
The majority of the population feels and is European. But when one’s own country borders on countries that are culturally very different from one’s own, this physical proximity alone educates people to cultural respect and tolerance – on both sides of the border. In contrast to Ukraine, for example, no Pushkin monuments were destroyed in Georgia.
Since there is enormous cultural and ethnic diversity even within Russia, Russians do not consider respect and tolerance towards strangers and foreigners as unusual or exceptional. It is part of their life and upbringing. Since the state is also very strict against anything that could cause ethnic unrest, and there is a great deal of cultural autonomy of the individual administrative regions (republics and oblasts), what is happening in terms of ethnic conflicts in the West seems strange and often incomprehensible to Russians. However, the tolerance of Russians does not go so far that they would give up their own being and culture, as is unfortunately quite evident in the West.
It should not be concealed, however, that the strong influx from Central Asia, the former constituent republics of the Soviet Union, does cause friction.
Felix Abt: Finally, a quote from you: “I live in Moscow, the city I love.” How would you describe your love for this city?
Dr. Hanseler: Maybe, I should start the answer with a quote from John Updike – “We are most alive when we are in love.”
This quote may best describe how I feel when I am in Moscow – I just feel better than anywhere else in the World, feel more energized and fulfilled. Love is hard to describe or define and I do not even endeavor to do that because if you rationalize love, you take the love out.
Therefore, when making this statement, I do not refer to rationality or reason. This love is not about politics, infrastructure or anything you can explain or touch. Most probably it is a mix of elements, the atmosphere, which consists of the beauty of the city, the Moloch that is so green, and most probably the people who are the glue of it all.
I am afraid I am a lousy explainer of love. Come to Moscow and find out for yourself.
Dr. Hanseler, thank you very much for talking to us.