In the current crisis over Ukraine, it is no secret that Russia looks upon Western Europe as the weak link. Russia has sought to play on European vanity as Putin's press secretary Dmitry Peskov did when he implored them to resist the US bullying "cowboy" approach. An independent European foreign policy and security approach was always the lame pillar in European integration. The development of such an independent policy, commiserated Peskov, has been stymied constantly by the Americans who "openly state what should be done and by whom, and what will be those who do not agree. That's the way it was, and so it continues. This situation contrasts strongly with the desire of the Europeans to become more sovereign in their foreign policy interests."
However, the appeals to the Europeans to assert their independence from Washington are coupled with disrespect for the EU. In two columns the first by Moskovskiy Komsomolets columnist Dmitry Popov and the second by the Valdai Discussion Club's program director Timofei Bordachev, Europe is flayed for its lack of strategic vision, its presumption to lecture others, and its expectation to be revered for abandoning its penchant that twice plunged the world into destructive world wars.
Below are the two columns that are presented in chronological order with first Popov and then Bordachev:
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Russian President Vladimir Putin at a press conference following their recent meeting (Source: Dw.com)
Popov predicted that there would be no major war as Europe would fulfill Putin's plan by leaning on Ukraine to concede.
"Since Russia's latest 'imminent' invasion of Ukraine has been indecently postponed ever since November to the point that by itself, it sort of ceased being 'imminent'. The EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Borrell has already changed his mind, 'I wouldn't say that we are on the verge of a full-scale war like World War II. I don't believe Russia will invade Ukraine.' But in fact this is how Putin's plan is being implemented step by step.
"Essentially, a nuclear power plant is the same as a steam boiler, (it is fueled with uranium 'firewood,' though). And in order for all this to work and not explode, a very complex design is needed.
"Putin and Biden are super-experienced politicians, and the US president certainly understands Russia's concerns. With a high level of confidence, it can be stated that the leaders agreed that there will be no war. However, those same highly complex designs are beginning around this bottom line.
"One of the main load-bearing structures (the one that lies at the cornerstone of the issue) manifests in the fact that Russia, despite all its internal tensions and foreign policy problems, began claiming the role of an important player. However, Russia (or rather, the USSR) lost the Cold War, so 'where does the loser fit in?' Big Western capital already has to make room for Chinese capital, and now the Russians want to poach a piece.
"But we have to be reckoned with. Back in 2010, Putin told the Germans, 'I absolutely do not understand how are you going to heat your buildings. You don't want [Russian] gas, you don't develop nuclear power… Are you intending to stoke firewood [ovens]? Well, you have to go to Siberia for firewood, too. You don't even have firewood.' They didn't hear him. Now there is an energy crisis in Europe. (The Germans, by the way, were smart enough to sign a long-term gas contracts, and Russian gas is three or more times cheaper than spot prices thanks to them.)
"In the European 'court', too, there is a pileup of interests. The two leading powers, Germany and France, aren't running ahead of everyone else under the star-spangled banner. Self-esteem in the form of a developed economy and national pride as manifested in a passionate population prevent them from doing so.
"The new German Chancellor Scholz, ignoring accusations of being 'a Kremlin accomplice,' has taken a tough stance on arms supplies to Ukraine, as if he said, 'here's your 5,000 helmets, but you won't get anything to shoot with.' And he is going to pay a visit to the Kremlin. The German foreign minister, after visiting Ukraine, never even met with Zelensky, because she refused to state that Berlin would renounce the Nord Stream-2 pipeline in case of an escalation.
"Macron (he has elections around the corner and needs to be the Europe's savior) has already been to the Kremlin. And what he then brought to Zelensky was displeasing to the Ukrainian president. And what could Macron possibly convey, aside from 'Minsk [Agreements]'? Although Macron already looks not much of a 'savior,' he agreed that Russia would withdraw its troops from Belarus at the end of the military exercises (which would've happened anyways even without him. So it's not a big concession.)
"British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss will come to Moscow on Wednesday. Johnson himself won't be able to do that, as he is using the 'confrontation with Russia' to fight off domestic attacks and mitigate the 'Covid' partying scandal, which he has been accused of conducting.
"Putin is masterfully dismembering European unity. The united anti-Russian front no longer looks so united. In order to leave behind nonsense about unifying 'democratic values,' let's recall Saudi Arabia, to which no one has any complaints, as long as it is serviceably markets oil, despite the fact that there is not even a whiff of democracy there.
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"It's hard to guess what will be the result of all this chaos. In fact, there are quite a few scenarios, for example, Russia will get Donbass, but will be lose Nord Stream-2. America will benefit from it, as there will be no competition for liquefied gas on the European continent. But everyone will bear serious costs, which, however, experienced politicians will turn to their advantage. (Let's imagine that the systemic economic crisis could be attributed to external factors, i.e. 'sanctions,' 'an enemy is at the gate,' 'let’s rally around the leader.' However, the main thing is that it seems that the [Ukrainian] 'boiler' won't explode.
"So, what about Ukraine's place in all of this? - There is none. Putin made a very harsh, but true statement, 'whether you like it or not, you have to endure this, my beauty.'
"And this is an object lesson to anyone, who believe that outside interference could be used for regime change in a country. In this case you'll be multiplied by zero [i.e. eliminated], and they won't ask you anything. They will only instruct you. That, for instance, is the current case, 'wait for the invasion, wait some more, wait a little longer, all right, you don't have to wait.'
Dmitry Popov (Source: Mk.ru)
Bordachev flays European self-centrism and claims that while the American cocoon allowed Europe to abandon its constant wars, it also left Europe ill-prepared for the massive global changes. 
"During a joint press conference following a meeting with the Russian president, German Chancellor, Olaf Scholz, talked about the issues of war and peace and said, inter alia, that he was part of a generation, for whom a war in Europe was unthinkable. The Russian president immediately reminded him of NATO's aggression against Yugoslavia in 1999.
"Considering the validity of this observation, it would be strange to expect that it will be adequately dealt with not only by a German politician, but also by all his colleagues in the Western European states. Despite its obviousness to us, it is at odds with the most fundamental misrepresentation in the way Europe perceives itself and the world in recent decades.
"For some generations now, 'Old Europe' residents were indeed raised on the understanding that after 1945 the Old World knew no wars. This one of the central dogmas defining their carefully constructed identity.
"It is impossible to agree with the historical veracity of such a statement, as it obvisously contradicts the facts [It's especially weird considering that Africa and Asia, being parts of the Old World, had their fair share of conflicts. The author might have confused the terms 'Europe' and 'the Old World']. For 10 years after the fall of the Iron Curtain, armed conflicts associated with the collapse of the Yugoslav federation blazed up in the Balkans one after another. Myriads of people died during these conflicts, large parts of the region were destroyed, and masses of refugees flooded the West, where they were, in fact, warmly welcomed. Several local conflicts also occurred in the western part of the former Soviet Union.
"Back in 1999, as the Russian president correctly noted, the war in Europe was already being waged by NATO member-states, which for several months bombed military and civilian targets in Serbia and Montenegro. A significant number of peaceful civilians were killed and wounded. However, for German and other Western European politicians, these events don't mean that a war occurred in Europe, as their countries were unhurt by it."
A video that appeared in 2019 commemorating 20 years to the NATO bombing of Serbia and Montenegro the title reads: "20 years have passed since NATO's aggression against Yugoslavia." (Source: Regnum.ru)
"It is impossible to forgive such an aberration of consciousness, however, it's possible to understand its origins and learn helpful lessons for ourselves. After all, we cannot rule out the possibility that future generations of Russians may be no less egocentric [as the Europeans]. Stability and self-confidence also have a flip side. After the disappearance of country's 'imperial burden' in 1991, such a situation may prompt us to condescending and dismissive attitudes towards the post-Soviet space peoples.
"Regarding Western Europe, it has indeed been for centuries a major global hotbed of military disaster. We do not know where or for what specific reasons the next world war will break out, but so far, all the world's tragedies had European origins.
"Since the emergence of the major regional powers, they have been constantly struggling against each other on battlefields. The fields of Western Europe aren't just littered with the bones of the fallen, they form its soil. Such buffer countries as Belgium are in fact one big military cemetery, the result of an armed confrontation between powerful and numerous neighbors. It's exactly here [in Western Europe, not Belgium] that the nightmarish (in terms of casualties) world wars of the 20th century occurred. The historians sometimes regard them as one continues conflict.
"In the Second World War, Europe delivered a suicidal defeat to itself and found itself split into zones of influence between Russia and the US. The Europeans' own belligerence had, which caused them to stumble upon Russian fearlessness and American invulnerability produced this result.
"The political regimes that appeared under the Americans' protection in its western part had to forge, for the sake of their self-survival, a new relationship among themselves, which excluded the most familiar resource allocation method for the Europeans, i.e. the militaristic one. Such a state of affairs was certainly unnatural for Western European countries, as they had never done so previously in history, and necessitated the creation of new myths.
"It took a colossal effort on the part of Western European elites to erase from the peoples' memory what had been normal behavior throughout previous history. For several generations, there was a persistent perception formed that World War II was the last war in European history, and that such an experience could not be repeated. And if it cannot, then even when a war breaks out on the European periphery, it is not an actual war. Simply because the real one can never happen again, otherwise the entire meaning of the new way of life is lost.
"As exemplified by the respected, and in all other regards extremely suitable German chancellor, we see that this task has been strikingly successful. Especially since the new European myth quite successfully dovetails with two objective features of the culture and history of its bearers, i.e. with their inherent egocentrism and historical experience. The war became truly horrible when the largest European nations (i.e. the Germans, the British and the French) took part in it.
"The first feature is a truly intrinsic consumerist attitude of the Western European residents towards those around them. It's the result of their harsh history and lack of geopolitical space. The cramped conditions in which Europeans have always lived, leave no room for a moral attitude toward their neighbors, as they are always competing for limited resources.
"Historical experience in fact confirms that the true catastrophes occurred only when large nations were involved in conflict. Small peripheral wars in Europe happened much more frequently than Pan-European ones, however the scale of casualties and destruction they brought remained miniscule by Pan-European standards. Therefore, for the average European politician or layman, a serious war is only one, which provides for the involvement of large nations.
"For several centuries, the major powers of the region have been a source of serious trouble for all mankind. Acquiring undeniable military and technical superiority by the beginning of the 16th century, the residents of the western tip of Eurasia enthusiastically deployed it not only against each other, but even more actively so for aggressive purposes against other nations.
"So in prompting us to believe that Europe has been at peace for almost 80 years, Chancellor Scholz and his colleagues from the EU are appealing, in their own way, to our common sense. What for us is an unhealthy aberration, in the perception of the bearers of this ideology, is simply a call to pay attention to the peaceful behavior of those, who have always posed a threat to those around them.
"This, as European politicians used to believe, is in itself a value, whose creation should be rewarded by other peoples. Should others be grateful to Europe for this? Certainly not! But for Europeans themselves, changing their own conduct has been an achievement on such a scale, that it became a cornerstone of the most important myth, which holds their entire political construction together.
"Clinging to this myth, as well as an obsessive attempt to convince everyone around of its rectitude, are simply a result of confusion and a misunderstanding of which direction to take. It's Europe that has been the most affected by the diversity of the modern world. First of all, because the independent rise and development of other regions, above all Asia, destroys the illusion of the Old World as the center of global civilization, the most successful, peaceful and flourishing part of the international community.
"The reasons for the weakness and vulnerability that Europe now faces in literally every direction are quite simple: for several decades after World War II, it lived in a safe vacuum under the US military and political protection. Thus, despite its enormous wealth, it has been the least prepared for the global changes that occur. First of all, where it comes to the very ability to accept reality."
Timofei Bordachev (Source: Kommersant.ru)