Is The Enemy Of My Enemy My Friend? Russians Hate Both Oligarchs And America – OpEd


The imposition of sanctions by the United States on Russian oligarchs puts many Russians in difficult if intriguing situation. They dislike both the oligarchs and the United States, and thus with one “enemy” attacking another, they have to ask themselves “what should be done?”

On the one hand, Russian commentator Ivan Lapin says, they have every reason to hate the Americans more for attacking “our Russian people” and taking away their money. Thus, “beat the Americans and support our guys!” But on the other, those the Americans are attacking are in no way beloved by the Russian people (

Thus, some Russians are in fact forced t ask themselves whether they ought to be sympathetic to what the American are doing given that at one level at least they are taking down a group many Russians would like to see cut down to size, Lapin continues.

More importantly, this puts the Russian authorities in a bind, he says. They would like to mobilize people on the basis of patriotic anger about foreigners “’beating our people.’” But as the Khodorkovsky case showed, Russians aren’t inclined to stand up for oligarchs: there was not a single public demonstration backing him.

But in the very worst position are the oligarchs themselves, Lapin suggests. “Never before have they looked so helpless and idiotic.” And consequently, it may even be that “as a result of all this, Trump comes out for some as the best friend of the Russian people” given his willingness to pursue “the enemies of the Russian people.”

“Marvelous are Thine Ways, O Lord!” Lapin concludes.

Paul Goble

Paul Goble is a longtime specialist on ethnic and religious questions in Eurasia. Most recently, he was director of research and publications at the Azerbaijan Diplomatic Academy. Earlier, he served as vice dean for the social sciences and humanities at Audentes University in Tallinn and a senior research associate at the EuroCollege of the University of Tartu in Estonia. He has served in various capacities in the U.S. State Department, the Central Intelligence Agency and the International Broadcasting Bureau as well as at the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Mr. Goble maintains the Window on Eurasia blog and can be contacted directly at [email protected] .

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