Security Council head Patrushev’s claim that Americans will need to resettle in Ukraine and Russia after the volcano erupts is both officially promoted—and ridiculed.
by Massimo Introvigne
“Russia has only three allies: its army, is navy, and the Yellowstone volcano.” This meme is becoming viral on Russian social media but perhaps not everybody outside Russia would understand it. The story begins with Czar Alexander III in the 19th century. In a typical expression of the Russian idea that the country is under siege from foreigners and almost everybody in the world hate Russians, the Czar said that Russia cannot have real allies. Its only two allies are its army and its navy. Putin, who uses the same rhetoric of Russia bravely standing alone against the world, quoted Alexander III approvingly.
Enter Nikolai Patrushev, the Secretary of Russia’s Security Council, which makes him the equivalent of a National Security Advisor in the United States, and a former Director of the FSB. Patrushev is one of the most powerful bureaucrats in Russia and one of the closest to Putin, considering also that the two of them as young men worked together in the same KGB office and befriended each other.
Patrushev earlier this month told the national newspaper “Izvestia” that to understand what is going on in Ukraine and the world one should look at the supervolcano called Yellowstone Caldera in Wyoming. Geologists explain that the last eruption of the volcano happened more than 600,000 years ago and had catastrophic consequences all over North America. Patrushev believes that Americans are aware that the Yellowstone Caldera “has shown increasing signs of active volcanic status over the years,” and when it erupts “it is believed that all life forms extant in North America would inevitably die off.” In fact, Patrushev said, “an eruption at the heretofore dormant Yellowstone would trigger a chain reaction featuring the eruption of other volcanos, earthquakes, tsunamis and acid rainfall, affecting the bulk of the planet’s population.”
But not Russia. For this reason, Patrushev revealed, “some in America and Europe [believe] that Eastern Europe and Siberia would be the safest places to take refuge in the event of a potential eruption.” This is why the “Anglo-Saxons” (a quite derogatory anti-Western expression used since the Cold War era) want to “take possession” of Ukraine and Russia itself. They will need to move there after the Yellowstone Caldera erupts.
Of course, Russians have offered all sort of explanations for their aggression against Ukraine. And they keep changing. They range from the imaginary threat of Nazism in Ukraine, which should be “denazified,” to the accusation that Ukraine exports “cults” into Russia, or the West through Ukraine wants to impose LGBT lifestyles to the Russians who do not want them. Now, it’s the Yellowstone Volcano, but Patrushev also alludes to the always-present propaganda theme of homosexuality when he compares the Americans before the eruption of the Caldera to the ancient Romans before the eruption of the Vesuvius in Pompeii. “The ancient Romans living in Pompeii also enjoyed an affluent lifestyle, while not being immune to various perversions and depravity” (by which he meant homosexuality), Patrushev said.
Patrushev is only peddling fake news known as such. There was an upward movement of the Yellowstone Caldera, measured in millimeters, in the first decade of the 21st century, but it has slowed down in the second decade. The Yellowstone Volcano Observatory, which monitors the Caldera every month, has repeatedly answered tabloid accounts and conspiracy theorists that even the upward movements do not mean that an eruption, much less a “super-eruption,” is expected in any foreseeable future. Additionally, technology now exists to predict such a possibility well in advance and cool the magma chamber, thus reducing the eruption to one comparatively inoffensive.
The problem is that these may have been originally private ramblings by Patrushev, but they have now been broadcast by the Russian state-owned news agency Tass. They are everywhere in the Russian social media. However, the meme mimicking Alexander III and stating that now Russia has three allies, with the Yellowstone Volcano joining the Russian army and navy, has been created to ridicule Patrushev, not to support him, although this fact may have escaped censors deprived of a sense of humor.
That somebody laughs at Patrushev shows that sanity is not dead in Russia. That Patrushev is one of Putin’s closest advisors, on the other hand, shows that what remains of Russian sanity is not found in the Kremlin.