A training center in Tambov, Russia, hung a banner showing a ‘Russian empire’ that included all of central and eastern Europe, a re-divided Germany, Finland, Central Asia, Mongolia, and even Alaska. The slogan across the map says “We will teach you to love the Motherland”. (See map below). The title image of this article is a 19th-century caricature that represented the same spirit of Moscow’s ugly expansion as a dark octopus stretching its tentacles all over the neighboring countries. Yet, there was another image of Russia that may fit the current situation even more. At the end of the 18th century, British traveler Edward Clarke in his bestselling book ‘Travels in Russia” compared that formation with a toad: “… Russia, morally considered, is like an enormous toad, extending on every side her bloated unwieldy form, and gradually becoming weaker, as she swells with an unwholesome and unnatural expansion.” It is about time for the toad to explode.
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