The Russian Perspective

Albert Denmark
5 min readAug 21, 2023

Try for a second to look through the eyes of a Russian. I know, that is very controversial. I can assure you, I am not on the Russian side. Neither am I trying justify the Russian and Putinian actions. I still condemn any violation of the Ukrainian souveranity, integrity and autonomy.

It‘s very easy to say, Putin is lying. Lavrov is lying. Medvedev is lying. Even Prigozhin is lying (d’uh!). And sure, they are telling different things than Biden, Macron, Zelensky, Scholtz, Stoltenberg and all the other people from “The West”.

(Note: August 27th, 2023: Prigozhin WAS lying, if the other Russians are telling the truth about his death. Nevertheless: Rest In Pieces, Mr. Prigozhin)

Photo by Vitolda Klein on Unsplash

OK, let me play a little bit the devil’s advocate. I guess, “The Devil” is a good title for Putin, seen from Western eyes. And remember: I am playing, I am not in fact that advocate.

For most western people, their country is very sharp marked with a border. I am born in The Netherlands, and almost my entire family lives in The Netherlands. Sure, a handful moved to other countries, like myself: I live in Denmark. But I can tell with great accuracy, that my family is Dutch, despite that little handful of people I share my (dead) grandparents with, who moved to other countries.

That is NOT the case for Russians. Nearly every Russian citizen has family in other, former Soviet states. Nearly any Ukrainian citizen has family in Russia. I think you can call that “soft borders”.

For me, Germany is a total different country, and I have nothing to do with Germany. If I hear about Germany in the news, I think of it as “a foreign country”, even though I can be in Germany within one hour, if I want. But if I hear about “The Netherlands”, or even about “Denmark” in e.g. a video or news article from USA, I feel proud. “My country, they are talking about”. I haven’t been living in The Netherlands in more than 20 years. I haven’t even put foot on Dutch soil in nearly 9 years! But still, The Netherlands are something, I have a connection with.

And that is what most Russian people feel: they feel a connection with Ukraine. They see the Ukrainians as their brothers and sisters. And it hurts them, when they see they’ve turned their back on Russia.

I will not be able to tell how many people in Donetsk and Luhansk, before 2014 actually were pro-Russian. I guess no-one can tell. But it is a fact, that Ukraine from 1991 until 2014 primarily was pro-Russian. Whatever the reason was, most people in Ukraine voted for pro-Russian leaders. Whether you like it or not, Victor Yanukovych was a CHOSEN leader.

You might have heard the words, allegedly said by Winston Churchill:

No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time …
Winston Churchill, November 11, 1947

In 2010, Yanukovich won the elections: he got more votes than his opponents. However, in the first round, there were 18 candidates. Yulia Tymoshenko was the second best, with 24,7% of all the votes. Yanukovich got 35,8% of the votes (source: 2010 Ukrainian presidential election — Wikipedia). This means two things:

  • No candidate managed to get an absolute majority, resulting in the necessity of a next round, where only the two top candidates compete
  • At least 35,8% of the Ukrainians supported the pro-Russia politics of Yanukovich. Perhaps more: other candidates might be pro-Russia. Perhaps less: some people may vote for Yanukovich despite his pro-Russia politics.

In the next round, Ukrainians could vote between two candidates: a pro-Russian and a pro-West one. And the majority voted for the pro-Russian candidate.

I know, there is a huge chance, Russia has exercized its influence and/or conducted hacks on the elections, which might have resulted in the triumph of Yanukovich. Nonetheless, the elections were perhaps under some suspicion, and perhaps not totally free, but they were accepted. And that means, that a vast part of the Ukrainian people at that time accepted the bonds with Moscow — and with that, Putin.

There was not one thing, that was the reason for the 2014 revolution. However, it is a fact that the majority of the Ukrainian people turned their backs on Yanukovich, and with that, Russia. This majority embraced the pro-West politics, even though Yulia Timoshenko did not took office (again — she was prime minister before Yanukovich) after Yanukovich fled to Russia.

This does certainly not mean, that 95% of the Ukrainian people are pro-West. Perhaps, a very little majority, is pro-West. It even could be, that a larger minority is pro-West, while most people are pro-Russian, but just anti-Yanukovich. No-one will know for sure.
It could be, only 50.1% of the Ukrainian wanted a more West-style.

Please note, this is all hypotethical. I have no clue whether a large or a little majority is pro-West. But I do not doubt, there are a lot of Ukrainian, who are pro-Russia. Again: how many they are, I don’t know. But somehow, they managed to control Donetsk and Luhansk in a long time, after 2014. And they asked Putin for help. And there you have it. There are Ukrainian who rather would like Putin than Zelensky. And that is okay — they can have their preference.

That does not mean, Putin was in his right to answer “Okay, people from Donetsk and Luhansk, I am going to help you”. And certainly not to attack Kyiv. But it means, that what the Russians hear, day in and day out, that there are people in Ukraine, who want to be liberated. There are people in Ukraine, who feel betrayed by the new government, who wants to be like the West. Who wants to be a NATO member. These people exist, and their cry for help is being heard in Russia. Again and again.

In the West, we barily hear them. We hear the people, who do not like Russia. Who despise Putin. Who embrace Europe, USA and NATO. Those are the people we primarily hear in our countries. If IF we hear “the others”, then they are always depicted as losers, people who do not know better, people who simply are too stupid to understand. But, whether you like it or not: there are people for whom it really is “just” a special military operation, to liberate the people from Luhansk and Donetsk (and Zaporizhzhia, Kherson and Crimea).

I do not endorse Putin. I would like we did not have Putin. And I really would like, Russia got out of Ukraine, and let Ukraine be. But on the other hand: what would we get in stead? Dugin? Prigozhin? I think Putin suffers from the same problem as democracy:

Not many pretend that Putin is perfect or all-wise. Indeed it has been said that Putin is the worst form of Russian ruler in modern times. Except for all those other idiots that have not been tried yet …
Albert Denmark, August 21, 2023

Slava Ukraini!



Albert Denmark

Father, husband, Computer Geek and author. Living in Denmark, born in Holland. Mail: