Three concepts may help in understanding why and how President Putin is trying to revive, bring back the Soviet Union and the political, economic, and military power it once afforded the Russians in charge, and through it, owned a fifth of the land area of the world.

During the USSR’s 70-year existence, Russian leaders took advantage of one of the more attractive features of their version of communism to seed and plant ethnic Russians in strategic locations all over the USSR for future use if needed. Associated Press

In the first place, almost exactly a hundred years ago, Lenin, and the other instigators of the Russian Revolution applied much of what they had learned from studying the Paris Commune and its actions during the French Revolution. They understood that the rebellious public had to be kept in an agitated state with continual coaching and provocation, with disinformation, fake news and lies, while showing them what a bright future awaited them at the end of a physical and bloody revolution.

And thus, from the earliest moments of the Russian Revolution, committees for the purpose of agitation and propaganda, called AGIT-PROP Committees, were established to keep the rebels agitated with disinformation, fake news and lies and to promise them a great future.

The Russians haven’t forgotten this technique, and so, it should come as no surprise to find Russian internet hackers and patriots using our Facebook, Twitter, and other communication platforms to agitate and disrupt the physical and political process of campaigning and voting in the United States and other, non-communist countries. They did it then, they continue to do it now, and they do it to their own people.

If it works, why would they stop?

In the second place, during the USSR’s 70-year existence, Russian leaders took advantage of one of the more attractive features of their version of communism to seed and plant ethnic Russians in strategic locations all over the USSR for future use if needed.

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The USSR promised its citizens there would be no unemployment. That is, they guaranteed everyone a job in the field of their training. And so, if you were a barber, or hair stylist, for example, and you needed a job, you applied to the employment agency, and they would find you a nice job and a good apartment in Riga, the capitol of Latvia, or Vilnius, capitol of Lithuania, Tallin, capitol of Estonia, Minsk, capitol of Belarus, or Luhansk in the Ukraine.

If you said you’d prefer Moscow, the answer was, “Well, of course, everyone wants to be in Moscow, but those jobs are all taken. So, how about Donbas or the Crimea, they’re nice places in beautiful Ukraine, and we can get you and your family a great apartment there.”

And so, it should be no surprise to find native speaking Russians holding down important, powerful, and strategic jobs in the capitols and other places of power all over the area of the former Soviet Union. Russian leaders of the USSR further enhanced those seeded in power locations by making Russian the official language for the whole of the USSR, requiring all children to study the Russian language in school, and changing over all languages within their purview to using the Cyrillic alphabet.

In the third place, we Americans don’t distinguish between nationality and citizenship, while most people in most countries beyond the great melting pot of the United States do distinguish between nationalism and citizenship, believing that their nationalism is an innate, immutable, unchanging, permanent thing, something that their parents did to or for them, while their citizenship depends on which country has been persuaded to accept them and grant them some sort of protection or privilege, and can be changed to some other citizenship if needed.

Russia understands this feeling, encourages it, and lets it be known that Russia will defend and support its own people wherever they may be, and once a Russian, born a Russian, always a Russian.

Zinaida, my own daughter, born to others in Magadan, Russia, and adopted by me and Nina when she was 6 years old, brought to America from an orphan asylum in Talaya, a small town in Siberia on the Kolyma trace halfway to the arctic circle and the goldmining region around Susuman, and by this time, at age 33, a fully naturalized, 33-year-old passport-carrying American citizen, still refers to herself as a Russian, although she hasn’t been there since 1986 and doesn’t understand or speak a word of Russian.

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This is the way of the ethnic Russians seeded and planted throughout the vast territory of the former Soviet Union many years ago. They know they are Russian, that this has not changed and cannot change in spite of the many years they and their parents have lived in another country, such as Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Ukraine, Belarusia, and, to a certain extent, in Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Azerbaijan, and other former republics of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.

It seems there may be many ethnic Russians who are eager to separate their current home from whichever nation may currently contain them, declare themselves separatists, welcome in their native-born Russian brothers and sisters, and formally rejoin the Russian motherland.

President Putin is helping them do just that. That’s what he did when he helped the Russian separatists in the Crimea rejoin Russia. He annexed the Crimea. That’s what he says he has been doing in sending a military task force into the Luhansk and the Donbas regions of Ukraine to protect the Russians there from the so-called brutality of the fascist Ukrainians and help them by recognizing the Luhansk and Donbas areas as independent of Ukraine.

Evidently the Putin slogan is, “Where a Russian goes, there go we all.”

Thousands of innocent and unarmed civilians, men women and children, killed in their homes or fleeing on foot, so that one man with a gimpy arm can have ultimate power of life and death over individuals and whole communities, must be what is meant by the Latin expression “Lacrimae mundi” the tears of the world.

Orrin Frink is a Kennebunkport resident. He earned a BA from Haverford College, 1954 Russian Area Studies; MA from Middlebury College Summer Intensive Russian Program, 1955; Ph.D. from Harvard University, 1961, Slavic Languages and Literatures. He can be reached at [email protected]

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