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Politics Foreign Affairs Culture Fellows Program

Russia's Quiet Home Front

“Our elites are afraid of ideas because they don’t know how to control them.”

Moscow,,Russia,-,August,,06,2017:,Russian,Military,Aircrafts,Fly
(By VLADJ55/Shutterstock)

Yuri Yevich is no stranger to the battlefield. The 49-year-old Donbas native has participated in three wars, including the current one in Ukraine, as a combat medic for Russian assault and reconnaissance units. “When our infantry and scouts are sent on missions, I take a weapon, put on my protective gear, and go into the field with them,” he said. 

When I spoke to Yevich following a recent deployment to Ukraine, he told me that if Russia wanted to ultimately prevail on the battlefield, cosmetic changes to its military strategy would not be enough. Yevich argued that Russia could only triumph if it undertook a “holy war of cleansing”—a process of sweeping reforms that would not only transform the country’s political and economic system, but also spearhead an ideological and spiritual mobilization of the masses.