(Those wishing to hear the poem can go to minute 47:18 – or can start a minute before to see John Lennon and Yoko Ono, as well. The first time Ray thought it appropriate to recite this poem to a Russian audience was in late April 2015, at a tree-planting commemoration in Moscow of the 70th anniversary of the meeting of Russian and American forces on the Elbe, April 25, 1945, two weeks before V/E day. Translation is pasted in below.)
Hat tip to Bruce Gagnon, coordinator of The Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space. Last fall he and other Maine activists protested the Bath Iron Works “christening” of an Aegis destroyer with missile defense systems, which in turn inspired the Russian filmmaker to do a wider documentary dealing also with Russia’s concerns over encirclement by U.S./NATO.
Since this could end up destroying the whole lot of us before climate changes does; since Western media dismiss it all as Russian propaganda (if they mention it at all); and since Moscow’s very real concerns are pooh-poohed or dismissed as paranoia – perhaps it’s time to revisit some of the things President Vladimir Putin said publicly shortly after the U.S.-sponsored, largely fascist-led coup in Kiev on Feb. 22, 2014, which “regime-changed” the duly elected government of Ukraine:
On April 17, 2014, six weeks after what has been (rightly) called “the most blatant coup in history” (George Friedman, President of STRATFOR, Dec. 2014, on the coup in Kiev), Putin held a Q and A session on Russian TV. In answer to a question, Putin said the following:
“We were promised … that after Germany’s unification, NATO wouldn’t spread eastward. … However, it started expanding by incorporating former Warsaw Pact member-countries and later on, the Baltic states, former Soviet republics.
“I used to say at one time: ‘Why are you doing this?” … I heard in response: ‘This doesn’t concern you.’…
“But … when the infrastructure of a military bloc approaches our borders, we have grounds for certain apprehensions and questions. … this compels us to counteract. …
“Missile defense … is no less, and probably even more important, than NATO’s eastward expansion. Incidentally, our decision on Crimea was partially prompted by this.
“Needless to say, first and foremost we wanted to support the residents of Crimea, but we also followed certain logic: If we don’t do anything, Ukraine will be drawn into NATO sometime in the future. We’ll be told: ‘This doesn’t concern you,’ and NATO ships will dock in Sevastopol, the city of Russia’s naval glory. …
“But if NATO troops walk in, they will immediately deploy these forces there. Such a move would be geopolitically sensitive for us because, in this case, Russia would be practically ousted from the Black Sea area. We’d be left with just a small coastline of 450 or 600km, and that’s it!
“This is a serious thing. So … we must consider these circumstances and react accordingly. …
“US missile defense … is not a defensive system, but part of the offensive potential deployed far away from home. Again we’re being told: ‘This is not against you.’
“However, at the expert level, everyone understands very well that if these systems are deployed closer to our borders, our ground-based strategic missiles will be within their striking range. Everyone is well aware of this, but we’re being told: ‘Please believe us, this is not against you.’…
“If they deploy these elements in Europe, we’ll have to do something in response, as we’ve said so many times. But this means an escalation of the arms race! Why do this?
“It would be much better to look at this issue and determine if there are missile threats from some directions and decide how this system should be controlled or accessed. It would be sensible to do it together, but no, they don’t want that.”
The following day (March 18, 2014) Russia annexed Crimea. In a formal address to State Duma deputies in the Kremlin, Putin addressed these serious issues but chose at one point a more jocular touch about most NATO sailors being “wonderful guys, but…” (see below):
“We have already heard declarations from Kiev about Ukraine soon joining NATO. What would this have meant for Crimea and Sevastopol in the future? It would have meant that NATO’s navy would be right there, and this would create not an illusory but a perfectly real threat to the whole of southern Russia. These are things that could have become reality were it not for the choice the Crimean people made, and I want to say thank you to them for this.
“But let me say too that we are not opposed to cooperation with NATO. [But] NATO remains a military alliance, and we are against having a military alliance making itself at home right in our backyard or in our historic territory. I simply cannot imagine that we would travel to Sevastopol to visit NATO sailors. Of course, most of them are wonderful guys, but it would be better to have them come and visit us, be our guests, rather than the other way around.”
Внимая ужасам войны,
Heeding the horrors of war,
При каждой новой жертве боя
At every new victim of battle
Мне жаль не друга, не жены,
I feel sorry not for his friend, nor for his wife,
Мне жаль не самого героя.
I feel sorry not even for the hero himself.
Увы! утешится жена,
Alas, the wife will be comforted,
И друга лучший друг забудет;
And best friends forget their friend;
Но где-то есть душа одна –
But somewhere there is one soul –
Она до гроба помнить будет!
Who will remember unto the grave!
Средь лицемерных наших дел
Amidst the hypocrisy of our affairs
И всякой пошлости и прозы
And all the banality and triviality
Одни я в мир подсмотрел
Unique among what I have observed in the world
Святые, искренние слезы –
Sacred, sincere tears –
То слезы бедных матерей!
The tears of poor mothers!
Им не забыть своих детей,
They do not forget their own children,
Погибших на кровавой ниве,
Who have perished on the bloody battlefield,
Как не поднять плакучей иве
Just as the weeping willow never lifts
Своих поникнувших ветвей.
Its dangling branches.