Why Russia Is Like America's Jealous Ex Who Can't Move On
Russia, I said we're done with you.
The U.S. has had an important and formative relationship with Russia. From the end of World War II, when we had the meet cute in Berlin, to the fall of the wall 45 years later, we had a fairy tale geopolitical standoff. Now we have moved on to our complicated on-again, off-again engagement with the Middle East, but Russia never really got the message.
Like all breakups, both sides act a little insane, but let's be clear: Russia is the crazy ex in this situation. They're obsessed. They basically invaded Ukraine to get our attention, then denied invading Ukraine but said that if they had invaded Ukraine it would've been because the United States is invading Russia's space by expanding NATO to include former Soviet states. Well, Russia, it's not our fault if your old satellites like hanging out with us more. They're sovereign states and can make their own decisions.
They insist that we are constantly thinking about them too, but we just almost nominated a socialist presidential candidate: We aren't still mentally in the Cold War. Someone needs to tell Russia to lay off the rom-coms, spare their dignity, and spare the rest of us the possibility of a thermonuclear war (in front of everybody).
They Are Stalking Us
Globalization and the internet have enabled countries to be all up in each other's business like never before. It might seem odd for the United States, who was caught snooping on German Chancellor Angela Merkel's text messages, to say boo about someone else spying on them. But let us not forget that stalking someone online bears the same relationship to regular stalking as watching someone strip online bears to being in a strip club: It's much more common and leagues away from the real thing.
Russia stalks us IRL like they're about to boil the nation's rabbits. Take, for example, the Illegals Program: a group of spies so incredible, their story inspired the second-greatest spy drama in recent memory, The Americans (the absolute top spy drama in recent memory is the fabricated fight between Taylor Swift and Kanye West). The Illegals were highly trained sleeper agents capable of living under deep cover for decades at a time.
Here's Andrey Bezrukov, aka Donald Heathfield, aka your gynecologist you have an inappropriate crush on.
Some were in so deep they had children without breaking cover. Russia is so obsessed with us it sent people to live with us for so long that their own kids had no idea of their true identity.
The FBI arrested 11 alleged members of the program as recently as 2010. That means Russia had deep-cover spies lurking in the U.S. long enough to both be excited for 28.8k dial-up service and to be bored by The Social Network. That takes a crazy amount of dedication and resources. And when I say "crazy," I mean that literally, because it seems as though they weren't even gathering valuable information. Russia risked an international scandal and years in prison for its top operatives just to send them around to hang out and see what was going on with us.
"So, what did you think of Suicide Squad? Actually, do you mind if I write this down?"
And there's no reason to think this kind of behavior is over, either. While there were just 11 Illegals arrested, a former CIA operative estimated that there are more Russian spies working in the U.S. now than at any time during the Cold War. Just two months ago, banker Evgeny Buryakov pleaded guilty to covertly working for the Russian government on U.S. soil. Anyone who thinks that's the end of Russia's stalking has never seen Swimfan.
They Are Constantly Talking Shit About Us
Every split has two sides to it, sure. But Russia tries to make every bad thing that happens somehow the fault of the U.S. and its allies, no matter how unrelated.
We probably doped all those athletes in their sleep.
When a Russian flight went down in Egypt, killing the 224 people on board, they accused us of being psychos who would be complicit in or possibly even the masterminds behind the crash. It was later proven that the plane went down because of a terrorist attack, but did we ever get an apology? No. Because what matters to Russia isn't what actually happens; what matters is how they can make us look like assholes.
When a meteor streaked across the Russian sky, injuring 1,200 people, Russia claimed it was a U.S. weapons test, suggesting we are heartless enough to test weapons on a civilian population. Maybe that was the kind of thing we did back when we were in an unhealthy relationship with Russia, but we totally haven't done that stuff in decades. Probably.
The strange rash they all broke out in was totally unrelated.
And, recently, Russia pulled the most insane and melodramatic move in the book: They accused us of giving them HIV. Russia is currently dealing with an HIV epidemic, but rather than come up with real solutions that would involve acknowledging their own flaws, they blamed Western attitudes toward nontraditional marriage (along with condoms) for the outbreak. Again, the details of how that could possibly work (not to mention developing a plan to help their citizens) are less important to Russia than giving us a bad rep around town. Russia wants to make us look bad even if it means burning down their own country in the process.
They Try To Control Our Life
If Russia insists we're so terrible, one might wonder why they try so damn hard to get entangled in all our dealings. Not directly, of course, because that would force them to admit that they're obsessed with us. Instead, they try to manipulate us through intermediaries, which, according to TorontosNumber1DateDoctor.com (the foremost expert on dating advice, as far as I'm concerned) is a sure sign that your ex is manipulating you and is "desperate (and not in a good way)."
"Then he called me fat. Fat! Do you think I look fat?"
Russia has tried to buy their way back into our lives by giving loans to European political campaigns that might bring them closer to us. For example, they loaned $11.7 million to Marine Le Pen's right wing bid for the French presidency, which has been sympathetic to Putin and his strong-arm tactics. In fact, American intelligence agencies are undertaking a review of how Russia may have covertly meddled in a number of European elections. Russia is trying to sneakily pal up to our friends, whom they have never gotten along with, to stir up shit in our treaty organization.
Fortunately, Russian wining and dining tactics are less than effective.
And why wouldn't they? They've already violated our privacy by breaking into our email to help out Donald Trump -- the only candidate capable of alienating our friends so badly they stop hanging out with us. In turn, representatives of the Trump campaign watered down the GOP's anti-Russia stance regarding Ukraine, changing the language from "providing lethal defensive weapons" for Ukraine to the milder "appropriate assistance." That may not seem like a big deal, but you have to remember that Russia has always had an "if they give you an inch, take the Baltic states and 11 percent of Finland" mentality. If we let this shit slide, before we know it they'll be leaving their missile defense systems in Poland again.
They Harass Us
When Russia can't control us, the next best thing appears to be harassment. In a "if I can't be happy, you can't be happy either" mindset, Russia spends thousands upon thousands of man-hours sowing disinformation in the U.S.
As reported by Adrian Chen for the New York Times Magazine, Russia employs legions of professional internet trolls to harass us. Sometimes they will flood a political post with pro-Russian comments (which obviously will be the only explanation for any negative comments below this article). But often their objective is to fuck with us for the sole purpose of fucking with us.
The upskirt pics of Alaska were going way too far.
They run operations meant to confuse and startle, like coordinating several dozen fake Twitter accounts to post about a chemical plant explosion that didn't exist, but that certainly scared a few people in the county where the chemical fire was supposedly raging. They create weird online characters like the fortune teller named Cantadora who divines weight loss tips, relationship advice, and political prognostications. Slipping creepy messages into our news isn't going to make us miss our old relationship with Russia. In typical stalker fashion they've convinced themselves that weird and annoying reminders they exist will eventually bring us around. It's a wonder they haven't resorted to sending us flowers with threats to dissolve the Russian Federation if we don't call them back.
They Want Everything To Go Back To How It Was
Russia's erratic and illogical behavior is aimed at just one thing: reviving their old relationship with us. Putin, talking like a melodramatic teenager, called the breakup of the Soviet Union "the greatest geopolitical tragedy of the 20th century." In the documentary The President, he mentions that he wants to go back to the days of just the two of us jointly deciding the affairs of the world. He's on the verge of showing up on our lawn holding a boombox over his head blasting the theme to James Bond.
To get ready, he's been getting Russia back into shape, bulking up with invasions of Georgia and Ukraine. They're getting new ships and flexing their military muscles in the Black Sea. And, to be honest, it's working. Russia is looking as villainous as they ever have.
We should have suspected something when they named all the ships after Ivan Drago.
They're even willing to try out three-way hostilities, offering to tag-team ISIS. They know we couldn't turn down the prospect of the two of us hammering our new nemesis together. Of course, that hasn't turned out exactly as planned and they've snuck some extra cluster bombs where they're not supposed to go.
We know that Russia is toxic. Not only in the literal sense that it contains Lake Karachay -- the most polluted place on Earth, where an hour on the beach could kill you -- but also in the metaphorical sense. We've got to cut them out of our lives. Then again, it's probably true that no one will ever hate us like Russia does.
Aaron Kheifets is an occasionally mustachioed comedian, writer, and director. You are allowed to follow him on Twitter.
Check out how crazy Russia is in 5 Unintentionally Hilarious Soviet Versions Of Good Ideas, and learn why you should love Putin or else in 6 Reasons You've Probably Read Russian Propaganda Today.
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