I’ve made no secret here over the years, I have many friends and acquaintances in various parts of Russia. It is a fascinating culture with great art, literature, and music. I am watching with growing concern, the level of Russian demonization from seemingly every quarter being aimed at Russian people and businesses here. It seems that a great number of people have lost perspective. It also shows the power of propaganda. Theirs and ours.
To be sure, watching the situation unfold in Ukraine on social media is disconcerting. No one in their right mind can look at those images and say “Oh, that is normal.” It is greatly disturbing. It is also war. All wars are like this and have been like this since the beginning of time. The images of dead civilians, bombed-out cities, mass graves, and so on are broadcast to the world on social media in almost real-time. That is the difference this time.
This situation in Ukraine is complicated. It is a war of gas and ambition. There are many questions, good questions which can be asked; Why is NATO a concern? Why does Putin feel threatened by the EU? What is the Azov regiment? What did the natural gas fields discovered in 2010 have to do with the 2014 overthrow of Viktor Yanukovych? How much corruption is there with the Zelenskyy government? How did the US know that there was to be an invasion? What, if any, does the Bo Biden/Berisma thing have to do with this?
I mentioned in a previous post about Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty shortwave broadcasts during the cold war. I am heartened to see that there is a private effort to use the facilities of WRMI to broadcast information to that area of the world. The VOA has stated that they are not making plans to make broadcasts via shortwave because few people in that part of the world have shortwave receivers. I know firsthand, that is not true. There are many shortwave sets still in existence and there are people who remember how to hook them up. As Russia becomes more isolated from the world, those shortwave sets are going to get dusted off and put into service.
Currently, WRMI is transmitting Russian language broadcasts on 7730 KHz from 0200-0500 UTC and 9370 KHz from 1900-2000 UTC. They have funding to buy broadcast time into the summer months. They are also leasing time on 1395 KHz medium wave, which I think is the public broadcaster in Armenia:
On the downside, shortwave transmission facilities are expensive to build and run. Unlike internet distribution, there is no way to measure audience engagement or gather audience data. On the upside, it is very difficult to effectively jam HF signals across large areas. It is also very expensive and it would take a fair amount of time to rebuild the old soviet jamming networks. In the meantime, people will be looking for good sources of information about a number of topics.
The one thing that I do know, Putin is the aggressor and he cannot be allowed to win.
6 thoughts on “An open letter to my Russian friends”
Agree completely it’s unfortunate that shortwave as a method to provide a better news service to that part of the world is being discounted.
As for the Ukraine-Russia war no matter the motivation there is no excuse for attacking another country and taking the war to the civilian population. Russia needs to be marginalized until they figure out how to live in a world where their neighbors aren’t required to be their subjects.
Russia is walking backwards into a new period of isolation. They can and at some point will disconnect themselves from the rest of the internet. In such a situation, the rest of the world still needs to engage them with (hopefully factual and useful) information. Old technology like shortwave can accomplish this.
“Why does Putin feel threatened by the EU?”
Putin has stated he intends to restore the Russian Empire. He has said the greatest Russian tragedy of modern times was the break-up of the old Soviet Union.
And now comes video and audio proof of literal atrocities against the civilian population. Torture, summery executions.
Well, I admit I welcome the changing attitudes of western Europe. Finland and Sweden are now likely to join NATO. That was unthinkable just a few months back.
I feel for the Russian people in all this. The oligarchs will not stop Putin, their fortunes are tied directly to him, and the citizenry are rightfully cowed by the crushing repression by the FSB.
Probably the only hope is that Putin’s health is in a precarious state, by his puffy-faced appearance.
Even if he does expire, the hyper-nationalism of the Russian people (in general) likely means another dictator will step up to the plate to take his place…
And like every story about Russia in modern times; and then it got worse…
Putin is an exceptionally dangerous man. If he is as sick as suggested, he will likely be completely uninhibited in order to achieve his pipe dream of reconquering the former clients of the USSR – perhaps more.
Europe is chock full of leftist fools who have ceded control of their energy supplies to the Russians, while simultaneously relying on the US for their protection from the very people they now rely on for energy.
The US is now controlled by a incompetent corrupt puppet with dementia, who’s party has gone completely BS crazy – and suddenly finds themselves unable to define what a “woman” is, and is hell bent on “normalizing” every form of mental illness they can.
The bad actors of the world (China, Russia, Iran) – smile at their good fortune, and will capitalize on this grand opportunity – meaning – count on more chaos.
This is far from over.
Every time I think “it can’t get any worse, and this will start to get better soon” – I’m proven wrong.
My advice: Make your mission in life to enjoy your remaining days, and that can only accomplished by periods of forced intentional ignorance, as the planet swirls the drain and the world goes to hell.
I’m just incredibly thrilled to find anyone who is willing to acknowledge this is incredibly complicated, that even if you don’t agree with Putin bringing eastern ukraine back, it’s pretty easy to see why, that the US has meddled heavily in ukraine, and that yes, both sides have a ton of propaganda.
The whole thing can’t be simplified and shared in a soundbite, but as we ship $40B to ukraine while we can’t even get it together to produce baby formula… lots of democrats and republicans are super happy that americans can be so easily whipped up into a war frenzy.
Yay for Raytheon and Lockheed I guess… we’re not quite just handing them bags of taxpayer cash, but it’s pretty close – just a little detour as the money moves from the US to Ukraine and back…