And so it began, in the end, the tug-of-war between the tsar and his nemesis, the real one, the one that was his target from the beginning, the one to be crushed because it increasingly took away territories rich in resources, preventing the band of looters from continuing the pillaging.
The tsar fights it by having wiped out internal opponents, anesthetized his public opinion, razed independent information to the ground. He fights like a game of chess, with a ruthless gambit in which he sacrificed his Armed Forces only to create the casus belli that would allow him to use his strongest weapon.
However, it has lost a fundamental secret ally, that Germany which since the time of Adenauer and Brandt the Soviet Union considered its main road for western expansion; a Germany domesticated by dirt-cheap energy to please the German industrial establishment but on which the grip gradually loosened to the point of allowing the birth of the European Union and, with перестройка, or the first dissolution of the Soviet Empire (a second one is in the making), its progressive strengthening, despite a myriad difficulties.
The symbol is obviously the Wall: after losing Czechia and Slovakia, the Baltic states, Poland, Romania, Bulgaria and Hungary, in 1981 the Soviet empire also saw the enclave of East Germany slip away: instead of expanding, it was contracting.
And that dysfunctional, full of defects, decadent, slow but wonderful Europe is the bewitching siren that now attracts Ukrainians but also Georgians and Caucasians and to some extent resonates also with Belarusians, Kazakhs and Uzbeks, for all of whom the alternative is the systematic looting to which they are historically used, but not because they like it.
As long as Europe exists, it disturbs the looting: this is the battle that is being fought.