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Operation Unthinkable Continues, or the World Wars Always Return

24 March, 12:17

In recent months, I have been thinking about war a lot, although I have tried to resist these thoughts in every possible way. On the Internet and in the press, I deliberately selected articles that, after a long and scientific analysis of the political, economic, and even weather situation, deemed full-scale-war with Russia to be impossible. Now, despite the authority and experience of the journalists who wrote these texts, I ignore their new claims and conclusions, as I no longer believe. I understand that they, just like me, were all guided by logic and a desire to live in peace – concepts totally irrelevant when working in the Russian cultural field.

Like me, you know it is impossible to escape some truly important, inner thoughts no matter how hard you try. Despite having ignored Joe Biden's speeches and Lavrov's threats, I was unable to avoid the sense of war in the air. The war kept returning to my thoughts through the lines of some writers (remarkably, their texts could not be about the war, but simply contained this terrible word); it hindered my plans, which for some reason became more and more uncertain, as if certainty itself could curse them. Even jokes were poisoned by the premonition of war – their toxic bravado stole both the narrator's emotions and the listener`s peace. If the war had not happened, I would not have remembered these barely perceptible changes in my subconsciousness. I would not have returned to these feelings – such a journey is possible only from beyond. I understand now that this war was inevitable, just as our thoughts about it must be.

When premonitions become your reality, it somehow becomes easier to act than when your fears were locked only in your subconsciousness. What is a world war – I think, on the way to the grocery store after the howlings of alarm sirens stop. A month ago, I would have avoided this idea in all possible ways, but now, walking the streets of my country at war, I let myself think. Can wars be numbered – the first, the second, the third? Do they have a beginning and an end? Were the wars of the ancient world also world wars, and when does a conflict become a world war? Who decides this? In my opinion, it is not a question of the number of countries at war, but what they are fighting for. If it is for resources, access to the sea, or for some queen, then this war is local. But when universal values are at stake, then this is a world war. Our war with Russia is global, and we are not the only ones who think so.

Thoughts about the inevitability of war with Russia also came to me on a sunny beach one summer day in 2019. Then I was reading “The Churchill Factor: How One Man Made History”, a brilliant book by Boris Johnson. I marveled at how lucky the British were to have so many smart, brave, and eloquent prime ministers in the same century – and for one to have even written a book about another. This book is useful to many, but especially to you and me, because writing it in 2014, Johnson lived and accepted many of Churchill's ideas. I am in no hurry to compare Johnson with one of the greatest men of the twentieth century, but I am convinced that his active participation in our war is the work of Churchill. Yes, do not be surprised – the war brings back to life many great people, righteous and sinners, so Kadyrov is still fighting with Bandera, Hitler and Stalin inspire Putin, and Churchill leads Johnson into this battle.

On May 13, 1945, a year before his famous Fulton's speech, Churchill wrote to President Truman that “‘an iron curtain’ had descended across the Russian front.” Johnson went on to explain what the strategist meant, comparing Russia to a bear tearing eastern Europe to pieces: “Russia was to retain all the gains of the odious Molotov–Ribbentrop pact, and to command all of eastern Europe and the Balkans. The Baltic states were to go to Russia. Poland was to go to Russia – Poland, the country whose very sovereignty and integrity had been the cause of war; Poland was once again betrayed, sacrificed and carved up to please the totalitarian regime.”

A war in which one totalitarian regime fell and another survived cannot be called victorious. Churchill saw the pain of the nations disappearing under the shadow of the great communist wall, swallowed into its darkness for decades. Millions of Ukrainian victims of World War II were followed by millions of Ukrainian victims of the Soviet regime, and now our battle continues. Anticipating this, on May 24, 1945, Churchill asked British  military planners to look into what he called Operation Unthinkable. Boris Johnson quotes the historian David Reynolds about the essence of this operation: British and American forces would actually turn on the Russians and push them back from eastern Europe, not without the help of de-nazified German troops. This too-bold idea was not supported by the war-weary States, and the British accused Churchill of sowing panic and did not support him in the next elections. But he was right, as always.

The operation he called Unthinkable, understanding its political, economic, military and psychological complexity, is currently underway in Ukraine and our response surprises the world. Now, the only thing I disagree with in the texts of these great British men is actually the name of the operation. It might be better characterized by Inevitable. No matter how hard we try to escape the thoughts of war, they will return, together with the war itself, because the battle of good and evil, freedom and totalitarianism continues in our territory today. Johnson says Churchill somehow instinctively knew what was wrong with communism – the suppression of freedom. Now he knows this about Putin and the Russian people, who are used to living under state control. But we also know that the inevitability of this war will be followed by the inevitability of our victory. These thoughts come to me more and more often as I walk the streets of my country at war, and I no longer resist them.

Anna Danylchuk

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