Although the Iron Curtain between Eastern and Western Europe disappeared in 1989, it is slowly beginning to appear again. This time, it is not in central Europe, but on the eastern European border with Russia. “The curtain that disappeared in 1989 is now reappearing,” says Ivo van de Wegdeven, author of All the Frustrated Edges of Europe. Russia correspondent Joost Bosman believes that disagreements are also growing. “The Russian people are preparing for something bigger perhaps, a confrontation with the West, in any form.”
“The Russian people are ready for confrontation with the West”
The gap between Europe and Russia has become greater and greater in recent years, partly due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. But the dividing line is also widening elsewhere in Eastern Europe. For example, Finland recently closed almost all border crossings with Russia because Russia is sending migrants to Finland. The author believes that this iron curtain looms mainly around Scandinavia and the Baltic countries. “From the far north, with new NATO member Finland, to the Baltic states around the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad and the Belarusian border.” According to him, it becomes “much murkier” further south.
Van de Wegdeven believes that the perspective in Eastern Europe is different and more acute. “They say they never trusted their Russian neighbor and are actually glad that Western Europe realizes that now too.” The author believes that the tensions that have returned now actually began fifteen years ago. “When Russia was busy in Georgia in 2008, for example. That’s why a country like Poland says it has been warning for much longer than in 2014 (when Russia annexed Crimea, ed.).
Russian talk shows
The sense of the Iron Curtain is also present from the Russian perspective. Russia correspondent Joost Bosman sees this too. “If you just look at the talk shows here, the craziest things are said. For example, nuclear missiles should be launched at Berlin, London, Paris or Warsaw. This does not give the West any confidence at all,” Bosman asserts. “They have nothing to say,” he said on talk shows. “However, this indicates that the Russian people are preparing for something perhaps bigger, which is a confrontation with the West, one way or another.”
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Bosman also believes that people have become eager for confrontation with the West in practice in society. He added that children are receiving military lessons and shooting training again in schools. Although they don’t use real bullets, they do get their hands on real Kalashnikov rifles. They have to put it together and take it apart. I also saw this in Soviet times. “It’s going that way again,” the reporter notes. “Russians were raised as patriots from an early age.” According to him, this also has potential consequences for the relationship with the West in the future. “You have to imagine what that would mean for the population in the future, if all you hear is that the West is bad and wants to destroy and attack Russia.”
The wall will not come back
But Bosman considers physical separation by a wall or fence unlikely. “It will be mainly an ideological division, as far as there is ideology in Russia. Of course, the Berlin Wall will not come back, and I don’t think the walls will be built either. Bosman expects NATO to deploy more troops on the alliance’s eastern borders. “You can,” the reporter said. “To imagine that there will be a buildup of troops on the 1,300-kilometre border with Finland and Russia, and Russia is already working on that.”
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