Yesterday was the 365th day of Russia’s “special military operation” in Ukraine.
We have nothing to type to mark the occasion—everything we want to say about this conflict, we said in May (with brief follow-ups in September and October).
Instead we will share excerpts from “Letter to Russians and Ukrainians,” by assassinated Lugansk militia leader Alexei Mozgovoy. (It’s possible that the “letter” is actually a compilation of diary entries that were compiled after his death.)
Written sometime before May 2015:
Brothers! I see how our enemies, having divided our people, are preparing a big war for us. And my people are not Russian or Ukrainian. My people are one. And I don’t want to know anything else. As a man without an arm or a leg is considered a cripple, so is a divided people.
We Russians, Ukrainians, Belarusians are bequeathed to be together. And the fact that today we are mad and hate each other is the main indictment against us—we have violated this covenant.
What did we lack, brothers? Soil? Look how much land we have. Freedom? So by killing each other we became more free?
I think we just don’t have enough love for our brother. We have forgotten what the sanctity of kinship is. And therefore strangers come to us and become masters of our house. Now these strangers, whom we trusted more than our own people, are urging us on, and under their sly speeches about the greatness of the Russian and Ukrainian people, we are killing each other. […]
This became possible because in 1991 we lost our common homeland—the Soviet Union. Then the enemies destroyed the state, and today they are crushing and playing off its parts. We have nothing left, neither our culture, nor education, nor our mines and factories. But it’s only half the trouble.
The main thing we have lost is our brothers. Now we are easily incited, and we believe that the Ukrainians are the serfs of the West, and the Russians are the aggressors and invaders.
We, the slandered and robbed, have only a common dream—of a just state. Ukrainians dream about great Ukraine, Russians about great Russia. But in essence, this is one big dream of a divided people, yearning for their homeland for 25 years.
We aren’t yearning for the state of oligarchs and traitors—the Moscow and Kiev colonies—but for our united Slavic state. And it doesn’t matter to me what it will be called—Kievan Rus, Muscovite Rus, Novorossia—the main thing is that it will be New Russia, our common home.
In the meantime, we kill each other, and our executioners almost openly push us to kill.
They mock us on Russian and Ukrainian television, either insulting the Ukrainian people and calling them fascists, or insulting the Russian people, calling them occupiers.
From the “objective Russian media” you will not hear words of sympathy for Ukrainians in trouble. They will not say who plunged the whole nation into a spiritual catastrophe. And the Russians themselves no longer hear their brothers. They, like the Ukrainians, were lulled into “patriotic” lies about their own greatness, and kindled petty national pride and arrogance.
The main thing that the media is busy with is preventing the awakening of good feelings between our peoples.
How humiliated we are, brothers, by insulting one another! Are we so blind that we can’t see the real enemies? […] The war will at least open the eyes of our people to who we are and who our enemy is.
I call on my comrades-in-arms, I call on those who are in the ranks today, and future warriors. We could not help it, we had no choice. But you should be wiser than us.
Don’t trust your enemies. Do not trust Moscow and Kiev. Even if they give you the entire Donbass from Slavyansk to Mariupol, even if they give you all of Novorossia, don't believe it! They will turn everything into defeat. Power in Russia and Ukraine is in the same hands. […]
Therefore, I appeal to you, brothers, so that you always see the true enemy and do not raise your hand against each other.
A similar appeal was written exactly one year ago, on February 25, 2022, by Russian social commentator and reserve colonel Alexander Zhilin:
The events in Ukraine are, of course, very dramatic. I do not quite understand it, and even more so I do not share the euphoria that even the most active propagandists demonstrate, because this is the tragedy of one people. […]
The situation is catastrophic, because it is not clear at all in the name of what the people should smash each other’s skulls.
I have a feeling that the Ukrainians will fight and die for the yachts of the Kolomoiskys, and the Russian guys for the yachts of the Abramovichs.
And this is very sad.
Don't know who the "Winners" will be - only know they watch from afar. Smiling.
The "Losers" ?
Everybody that calls Russia or Ukraine "Home".
Reading this with tears in my eyes... So true, so heartbreaking, and so... humane. Thank you Riley.