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ith the current war taking place in Europe and tensions pointing towards a potential third World War, all fingers are pointed at the man who “started all this”, Vladimir Putin. Do not take this statement in the wrong manner, I do not support his choices and neither his political decisions in this case, but Putin isn’t the one who created this war between Russia and Europe. This war goes back over 100 years and historians are arguing about what exactly or who started it.

Writers such as Richard J. Evans or lesser-known such as Tudor Arghezi remind us through their work that long before the defeat of Germany during World War II and the transformation of Russia into the Soviet Union, Russia never believed in unity. We are not able to apply European logic to today’s Russia, as given by Aristotle.

Let’s have a look at the aftermath of the Crimean War (1853–1856). The Empire of Russia was going through a great expansion and Europe didn’t like this. The old saying “The enemy of my enemy is my friend” was taken literally by the British Empire who even joined forces with the Ottoman Empire to crush The Russian Empire and stop their expansion, expansion which had nothing to do with Western Europe or the Western World.

The Russian Empire was teased towards pursuing conquering Europe, but this is only an added bonus to their hunger for expansion.

Russia’s efforts to Conquer Europe

People seem to have forgotten that 19th-century Russia presented a very powerful nation that was wealthy, especially after selling Alaska to America. They used their aristocratic connections to build connections throughout Europe and the Western World with the vision of conquering these lands and expanding their vast lands.

Look at Grigori Rasputin, the self-proclaimed holy man who befriended the family of Nicholas II, the last Emperor of Russia who had trusted people too much and was easily influenced by West Europe, something quite unique in Russian blood. The Bolsheviks started their revolution against the Emperor, mainly made up of aristocrats who could not stand a peasant (as they described him) such as Rasputin hanging around the Royal Family.

Rasputin surrounded by his admirers in St. Petersburg, 1914 (Source: public domain)

Sometime later the socialists came to power who didn’t like the ideology that Russia was in a slow economic decline. Leon Trotsky who started as a Marxist revolutionary in Russia managed to create the best system that has always been represented in Russia since. Selling your people and your country for financial muscle and political power. His political system referred to as Trotskyism was like Marxism but on steroids.

Trotsky believed his country could achieve socialism only if the working classes around the world rose up as one to overthrow the ruling classes. However, although leaders such as Trotsky would acclaim that he is equal to the people of Russia and even prove it by giving his “personal watch” to a peasant, they had their own interests. In every war, someone has to profit from all the violence and that was Trotsky’s ideology.

Leon Trotsky (Source: The National WWII Museum)

To put it in simple terms, he wanted to create an equal society that would overthrow the rich Western society and turn everyone into a working-class whilst he and his friends would enjoy the prestigious status of Marxist revolutionists and enjoy all the plunder that came from the revolution. Putin isn’t trying to do that, but he is selling his people and country for his own personal interests. He knew very well that Russia’s economy would plummet once this war started and all the other sanctions brought by the Western World.

Historians point at the 6th of May, 1932 as the start of Russi’s actions towards pushing to directly influence political powers within Western Europe. On that date, the French president Paul Doumer was assassinated by a Russian poet known as Paul Gorgulov who also happened to be the president of the “Peasant All-Russian People’s Green Party.” This anti-communist party was made up of people who fled Russia after the 1917 Revolution.

Paul GorgulovArrest (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

The words that have been mentioned to Doumer before assassinating him were:

“This is only the beginning”

Paul Gorgulov

The reason why Gorgulov killed the president of France was simply that France stopped fighting against the Soviet Union.

“Europe and America seem favorable to Bolshevism, so I decided to kill the president and cause France to declare war on Russia! I am a great Russian patriot. I had no accomplices,”

Paul Gorgulov

Gorgulov had his own intentions, but this created tensions between Russia and Western Europe, something that the United States has been doing for a while with Russia and Europe, influencing a war just because “we don’t like our enemies”. All the tensions had been claimed by the uprising of the Nazi political party in central Europe.

With the end of World War II, the Soviet Union used the casualties and damages suffered during WWII as a justification to annex half of Europe as “they did most of the heavy lifting during the war”. This isn’t necessarily a false statement, but the victory of WWII had been a collective effort between all allies who at the end of the day lost a lot, although Great Britain not so much.

This brought the start of the Cold War where Russia used the Domino Theory to conquer most of Europe and Southeast Asia. All the Soviet leaders followed the same ideology, wanting to conquer most of Europe, each with their own interests, but all focused on making Russia the world’s strongest power despite the Russian’s poor quality of life which is still present today.

Today’s Russia is the Same

All of the Russian leaders through time reinforced this ideology of making Russia great again in their own way, but most focused on conquering Europe. Most Russian leaders also seem to follow a very autocratic leadership model where they don’t take input from anyone around and just imply their ideologies through a dictatorship. This is only a short representation of some historical events that have been key to the tensions between Europe and Russia.

Of course, politics are a lot more complicated than a few historical events that occurred 100 years ago, but it is something that should be kept in mind. The scary part is that Russian leaders very rarely carried about their population, so they were never hesitant at pushing the red button. Something that can be observed dreadfully in Putin’s eyes.

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