“Have you been able to turn it [the war] off in your mind?”

Alexei Sorokin
3 min readNov 27, 2022

One of my readers asked, in response to one of my very light-hearted stories. No link to the story — so light-hearted it was. Light-hearted in a bad way. I don’t think the question intended to make me feel guilty but it did. I didn’t pull my hair but I asked myself — all that shock, anger, and pain about Russia’s aggression — is it gone indeed?

No.

My Mom keeps sending dozens of messages every day. “It’s impossible to watch,” she writes forwarding me another video of Ukraine’s suffering. A child dead, a child suffering. “How does this beast ever sleep”, she asks.

“He sleeps fine,” I answer.

I’ve watched a number of documents about serial killers. There is one common trait — no empathy, no remorse. When they try to express remorse, it’s always manipulation. It’s lies.

I’ve completely written Russia off. In recent years, before the war and after, there were rare moments when I thought — there will be a day when I’ll visit my home country and it will be a beautiful day. Maybe it will take decades but one day I will visit Russia and it will be a free country. Free of its fascist past, its atrocities, and its streak of empowering senseless serial murderers.

No, fuck it, fuck these romantic, this nostalgia. Not that I’m nostalgic, but I remember the nineties — no doubt a very dark and disorderly decade in Russia’s history but there was freedom. I was a teenager, loving my home country. I was spending a lot of time away from Russia for education (a testament to Russia being an open country!), but I loved my country. I wanted to return. There was so much hope. So much love! I wasn’t special in loving Russia. The entire world loved Russia.

But that day will not come. Or maybe it will come but I just don’t care.

Russia is a terrorist, fascist state. Putin will die and there will be another monster atop Russia. I fear that several generations of Russians will to… I’m struggling to find elegant words (is there a nice synonym for “die?”)… for the country to change.

And the war in Ukraine is of course raging. If you’re feeling optimistic about Ukraine’s advances, don’t get too optimistic. It’s no longer a war. Russia has lost the war but it’s wreaking havoc with its terrorism — destroying Ukraine’s civil infrastructure (electricity, water).

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Alexei Sorokin

A Russian immigrant in America, father of 4, Cambridge and Harvard Business School alum. I run and write every day. https://runningwritingliving.substack.com/