The war of the betrayed bride
by Stefano Caprio

The countries with which Russia feels itself at odds today are not "enemies," but "unfriendly" countries. The theses of Vladimir Solov'ev, who at the threshold of the 20th century recalled the "feminine nature" of Russia to ponder the depths of this definition. In this perspective, war is a reaction that affirms the injustice and masculine violence of a West that lives for itself and does not honor its bride's capacity for sacrifice, her desire to generate a new world.

Russia's war, which has now exceeded four months of extremely violent clashes, seems to have been confined to the control of the Donbass regions, considering this area in its widest version, but still reduced to the southeastern belt of Ukraine. Out of the mists of the Kremlin's bunkers emerge from time to time proclamations of new assaults on Kiev and the rest of the "nazified" country, perhaps involving the Belarus of the uncertain Lukasenko, and some Duma deputies go so far as to threaten Lithuania blocking transit to the Russian Baltic enclave of Kaliningrad, not to mention the recurring nuclear threats of Putin and his inebriated sodal Medvedev.

Beyond the strictly warlike events, the war of Russian resentment toward the West has far broader and deeper horizons and dimensions, having to demonstrate to the whole world the need to listen to the message of salvation that Russia sends to all mankind, as the patriarchate's new "foreign minister," the young Metropolitan Antonij, reminded us. Here then, it is not just a matter of drawing the Ukrainian or Lithuanian front line, nor even vis-à-vis the much-hated NATO of the Anglosaksy and their European settlers. There is a Russian term that distinguishes the countries with which Russia feels in opposition, and in duty to bear witness to the trampled truth: they are not the "enemies," but the "unfriendly" countries, nedružestvennye strany. The term does not even indicate hostility or opposing ideological alignments as in the good Soviet days, but rather a "moral" and sentimental "diversity": the drug is the friend, the nedrug is the friend who betrayed you, and took a wrong path.

The list of "unfriendly" countries has expanded in recent months, from 2 (Czech Republic and the U.S.) to 48, including all those in the EU (except partly Hungary), Switzerland, NATO countries and their Asian allies, all those who support Ukraine in some way and join even a smear of sanctions against Russia. Students are no longer accepted from these countries, although businessmen and tourists who still have an interest in visiting the country are not blocked, because "Russians are no one's enemy," as Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov often repeats. The definition of "unfriendly" was clarified by a 2018 law, applying it to those states that "perform unfriendly actions against the Russian Federation, Russian citizens or Russian institutions." Of course, sanctions fall in as the main very unfriendly action, but initiatives that endanger "the territorial integrity of Russia or are aimed at its economic and political destabilization" are added.

Opening the unfriendly list were the Czech Republic and the U.S., which expelled a large number of Russian diplomats in April 2021, and additional sanctions against Moscow also came from Washington. Deciding to whom the title of sentimental betrayal applies, by law, is only the president of Russia, who has the right-duty to "decide on compensatory measures" against the former friend, which can range from a ban on cooperating with Russian legal entities to a ban on trading in various productive sectors. In fact, there is no formal limitation to these measures, which can cover any dimension of relations expressing the effectiveness of punishment for those who have inflicted pain and humiliation on Russia, such as on a betrayed wife.

To better understand this feminine sensitivity of Russians to affections and denied friendship, one may recall the theses of one of Russia's most famous philosophers, Vladimir Solov'ev, who at the threshold of the 20th century recalled the "feminine nature" of Russia, its ženstvennost. The expression is not meant to circumscribe gender (Solov'ev was an ante litteram feminist), but to apply a dimension that belongs to any form of life of humankind: men, women, peoples and nations, churches and parties, but above all to human beings called to exercise power. In the "Three Discourses in Memory of Dostoevsky," Solov'ev recalls St. John's vision in Revelation of the "woman clothed with the sun," which in his view represents Russia generating a new word, the word of truth that Russians must proclaim to the whole world. For the philosopher such a message is "the word of reconciliation between East and West, in the union of God's eternal truth with human freedom."

It would be long to go over the Solovievian interpretations of the masculine and feminine principles, which he described in various works such as the "Meaning of Love." Certainly, the "feminization" of Russia is seen as a reflection of the eschatological union of humanity, understood as the Bride, with her Bridegroom who is Christ, according to the biblical image of the Song of Songs, to which Jesus himself refers in so many nuptial metaphors and references such as that to the Bridegroom's friend, that John the Baptist who is to attest to the consummated conjugal union between the human and the divine. Solov'ev even attempted to translate these visions into a political-spiritual project, expressed in the monumental reflection on "Russia and the Universal Church," in which the Russian tsar stands side by side with the pope of Rome in a grandiose union of Christians and peoples for the affirmation of what he calls the "free theocracy," the system that realizes to the full the incarnation and redemption of man in Christ.

The Russian philosopher explains that "the foundation of Eastern culture is the submission of man in everything to the supernatural force, while Western culture teaches the autonomy of man who makes himself," in a comparison of "humility" and "dignity" that generates the need for a "third force," represented precisely by Russia, which "reconciles the unity of the higher principle with the multiplicity of the freedom of the various forms." Russia's mission is thus accomplished by overcoming "the outward appearance of the slave, the miserable condition of economic and social inferiority that does not contradict its vocation, rather enhances it," because as Dostoevsky, a friend and inspirer of Solov'ev himself, also stated, in Russians is expressed "the unusual ability to appropriate the spirit and ideas of other peoples, to reincarnate them in the spiritual essence of our nation." Solov'ev concludes that "we as a people are saved not by egoism and conceit, but by the spirit of national sacrifice, in which our authentic identity consists." This spiritual and religious ideal, inherent in the soul of the Russian people, sets them apart from "superb France" or "ancient Anglia," and even "faithful Germany," to show the world "holy Russia."

Solov'ev's visions are not normally cited in Russia, due to the official ostracism against him because of his conversion to Catholicism, which he wanted in order to "feel authentically Orthodox." Neither were his great ecumenical and social proposals, which also inspired many, even Pope Leo XIII to whom they were submitted, and which are somewhat reflected in the papal doctrine on the "third way" between liberalism and socialism. Yet the great philosopher was proposing in a "mystical" form what Russians have always sought to achieve, and still dream of today, that new synthesis in which there is no opposition between East and West, but revelation of the authentic face of both.

That is why Russia cannot have "enemies," putting itself forward as the beloved of the Song who seeks her bridegroom in every garden and in every nook and cranny of the valley. If the beloved betrays you, he is the "non-friend" who arouses a motion of disappointment and deep resentment, and more than the betrayal that makes Russia suffer is the lack of consideration, the offense of indifference, the inability to see the beauty of the beloved. The Russian war is a feminine reaction, affirming the injustice and masculine violence of a West that lives only by itself and does not honor its bride's capacity for sacrifice, her desire to generate a new world. The world of masculine pride lives on material satisfaction, and thinks to assert itself with trivial economic sanctions, not knowing that in doing so it will make the purity and wonder of the eternal feminine of holy Russia shine even more brightly.