Letter From the Editors

We learned some fascinating things from Belarussian President Aleksandr Lukashenko’s press conference last week. For example, did you know that almost 90% of voters in Belarus supported him in last year’s election, and it was only the weak and wicked 10% who protested the outcome? And even those people were merely tools of the collective West, which tried to topple the Minsk regime as a way to strike at the heart of Russia? And that if it hadn’t been for batka and his loyal riot troops, the reckless Europeans would have unleashed World War III?

If only our American leader could keep the planet under such effective control. As we pore through the first feature in this issue of the Digest, President Biden looks like a world-class loser by following through on his promise to withdraw US troops from Afghanistan. Fyodor Lukyanov leads the pack in condemning this decision: “Biden announced the final withdrawal of the contingent . . . to gracefully round out 20 years of the ‘war on terror’ that was declared after the 2001 attacks. In the end, the symbol turned out to be the opposite – ‘terror’ has triumphantly carried the day.”

Expert Vladimir Vasilyev even raises the idea that Afghanistan could cost Biden the presidency. He predicts that when Congress returns from summer recess, the legislators will look for someone to blame for the collapse of the US-installed government in Kabul and the rapid takeover by the Taliban: “The postmortem will begin. The question is: Will Biden repeat Nixon’s fate?”

Ignominious comparisons don’t stop with Nixon and the Vietnam War. Many analysts, on both sides of the Atlantic, are drawing parallels with the long Afghan campaign waged by the Soviet government – an engagement that historians have long considered a dismal failure. Yet, Lukyanov writes, even that looks good next to today’s events: “[T]he icing on the cake, especially for us: American commentators are recalling the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan 30-plus years ago as an example of a thoughtful and well-prepared military-political act.”

Sergei Radchenko also expresses a rosy opinion of the Soviet action: “Some 30 years later, it certainly seems that by withdrawing from Afghanistan, Gorbachev made the right call.” But unlike his Moscow colleagues quoted here, Radchenko extends that forgiving attitude to the US administration: “Who knows what pressures Biden is under. But he, too, made the right call. . . . Getting in was a mistake; getting out was the right thing to do. Because in the end, Afghanistan was never Moscow’s or Washington’s to win or lose.”

In a similar vein, Sergei Nechayev, Russia’s ambassador to Germany, discussed a few issues that foreign governments should be staying out of. The Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, for one: “This matter has been extremely politicized in the West, but in reality it has always been a commercial project by a group of stakeholder companies, including five European energy concerns. . . . The project . . . is being implemented strictly in accordance with German and EU laws.”

Another commercial venture that is not proceeding so smoothly is Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine, which has not yet been officially recognized by the European Medicines Agency. Nechayev explains: “Russia reached out to Germany . . . back in the spring of 2021, offering to open consultations on mutual recognition of vaccination certificates at a national level. We are being told that our offer is still ‘under consideration.’ ” These two weeks of stories and interviews from the Russian press have taught us at least one thing: If you really fear or hate something, your best bet is to politicize it. Just look at the big stink being raised in the media about a simple event that occurred a year ago, when a certain Russian citizen sought urgent medical care in Berlin.