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Rated: 13+ · Short Story · Biographical · #2289839
In the Russo-Ukrainian war, not all Russians are enemies.
The video screen took up a wall of the bunker in Kyiv, Ukraine. Zelensky, dressed in a brown army tea shirt, sat in an armchair before the screen. Various military advisors and his Intelligence Chief, Kyrylo Budanov, stood behind him in the otherwise bare room. All heads were turned toward the screen. A bearded man's face appeared on the screen, in his fifties with graying hair and lines etched across his face. He addressed the Ukrainian president in Russian.

         " Mr. President, my name is Alexander Litvinenko, and I work for the FSB. But I wish to help you."

         "How?" Zelensky did not waste words, and the contact seemed urgent.

         "I have details relating to three plots on your life by assassins from Chechnya, which I have shared with your intelligence chief." Zelensky glanced at Budanov, who nodded at him.

         "Yes we have already taken precautions relating to these, tell me why you are opposed to this war."

         "This war is all about Putin's ambition, and he is destroying all the various checks and balances that moderated his power and worked for the good of my country. Without these checks, I fear for the future. We have already had one Stalin and do not need another one. This war will destroy our economy and our future," Litvinenko replied.

         "But aren't Ukrainian fascists determined to destroy mother Russia and a conduit for Western decadence?" Zelensky suggested in a sarcastic voice.

         "You are a Jew, but they still think they can tap the World War II emotions from when the Nazis invaded us both with this propaganda. I know how much family you lost to the Holocaust, this war does not honor the sacrifices made by brave men like your Jewish grandfather fighting with the Red Army." Litvinenko said.

         "Cut to the chase, these are not the real reasons why you are helping me; what is really going on?"

         "Putin is assassinating the people who put me in my current job. Not all the oligarchs support him or this war, but my faction is being systematically purged, and assassination squads are at work in Russia and around the world. Ironically, our only hope now is if you win this war and Putin gets removed as a result. He has grown too powerful. He thinks he is some kind of divinely appointed tsar and has a grand imperial agenda. He does not care how he achieves his vision, nor how much blood and treasure it costs."

         "Ukraine has its own oligarchs, many of them quite brutal, some of them very pro-Putin. They are not exactly friends of mine either."

         "I can send you a list of some of these with their links to Putin, maybe the war will be an opportunity for you to clean them away," replied Litvinenko.

         "That is generous and would be very useful, but you know that I am cleaning up my country with an intent to move westward to the EU and NATO. Why would a member of the FSB want that? This is the mandate on which the Servant of the People party was originally elected."

         The FSB agent laughed and then shrugged.

         "I watched your TV series, and it was something that could equally apply to my own country. A useful and constructive critique of the abuse of power. But this is not just about corruption. Putin has burned our bridges with the West, but that is where the money and opportunities are. We are being forced into the arms of China, and they make far worse deals, and we will end up dominated by them. Russia did not conquer half of Asia to end up being a tributary state to the Chinese! Since Peter the Great, this has been the age-old dilemma: - do we look east or west?"

         "We hope that China has enough influence now to stop this war," Zelensky suggested.

         "Not while Putin is in charge, and a Chinese-dominated Russia would not be good for Ukraine either. It would control most of its natural resources and harness them into the largest economy in the world. You would simply swap one bad neighbor for an even worse one."

         "Well that remains to be seen, they remain a long way away from us, and they are not the ones invading us. You did not address our intent to move westward."

         "My faction has always wanted Ukraine to join the EU. Since we controlled so much business done with your country and from your country, it would have opened up vast new markets for us," Litvinenko replied.

         "The EU is not that friendly to oligarchs and corruption. This is the excuse they always use to keep us out."

         "Really? Before the war, they were importing almost 50% of their energy supplies from companies like Gazprom. Russian yachts litter the harbors of European Rivieras; the Chelsea football club, property portfolios, and massive investments all suggest that money speaks more loudly than principles for European politicians. But Putin's war has wrecked all that, and now we are staring at a very different world. He is picking off the oligarchs that wanted to build closer links to Europe, and he is moving the country into the darkness of Asia. That is how we see this, and that is why you must win this war."

         "Thanks for your words of support. Stay in touch." Zelensky waved his hand, and the session ended. He pointed at the screen.
"Is that thing off?"

         "Yes, we can talk," said Budanov.

         "We are not fighting this war to preserve the portfolios of a bunch of disaffected Russian oligarchs, but maybe these guys could be useful to us. He was right about the EU, they are not treating our efforts to join them fairly, and it was Russian money that was the main reason there."

         "They feared that opening up the EU to Ukraine would mean gangsters taking over their businesses. But maybe now things have changed."

         "Yes, indeed," replied Zelensky thoughtfully.

Of course there's a Veterans Day - EVERY DAY!
#423698 by Monty

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