It was not so long ago, when Russia, as the key part of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, was among the attractive destinations for many, especially students and left-leaning politicians.
Some of our present-day scholars and professionals are actually Soviet-trained, and the names might surprise many who are not aware.
Soviet Russia was not only among the top donors of Bangladesh who supported the development of some critical sectors like energy, but also sponsored many publishing houses and publications in the country.
Same was the case with many other countries of the world, and it is actually the most rational behaviour from a superpower- expansion of one's sphere of influence through various means.
With the collapse of the Soviet Union, the balance shifted to the West, and Moscow largely lost its charm.
But as Putin's Russia engaged in what appears to be becoming a prolonged war with Ukraine, defying the West's threats of repercussions and sanctions, it (the former) has also apparently aimed at recovering its lost glory as a superpower.
Over the last three days, a 53-second video made rounds on the internet which, presenting Russia as a beautiful country with many attractions and cheap amenities, invites people to move to Russia without any delay.
With the use of the most famous one-liner from HBO's fantasy television series Game of Thrones - Winter Is Coming - the video actually feels like a troll video. Many viewers' comments, in fact, show that they are not taking the video, narrated with a funny voice, very seriously.
However, when one notices that the Russian Embassy in Dhaka has also posted the video on their verified Facebook page, it becomes clear that the Russian authority doesn't mind trolling its adversary. In fact, both sides of the Russia-Ukraine war have waged another war of memes from the very beginning, and they are doing it through official channels like the embassies' social media handles.
People's unsatiated thirst for attention is reflected in the warring parties' activities. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and and the First Lady Olena Zelenska's photoshoot for the Vogue Magazine - a much critiqued recent event - is another instance of what appears to be the media warfare.
Against this backdrop, it is not quite hard for the video to be taken seriously, although some of the elements attract criticism and confusion, like magnets attract iron. For instance, the video allures its target population saying Russia is a land of beautiful women, failing to mention handsome men, leading to pondering over why Russia would want only men (apart from women interested in women) to move to Russia. For cheap mercenary perhaps?
Because beyond all this light-hearted banter, a brutal fight (for dominance and sovereignty) is actually ravaging a country, and decaying another, pushing both towards wanting more men to carry on the war. Ukraine actually banned its male citizens aged 18 to 60 from leaving the country at the onset of the Russian invasion.
The fight is nowhere near to a closure, it seems. The Russians are taking control of new Ukrainian cities and power stations, and reportedly occupy 1,26,610 sq km of Ukrainian territory. Although the West has been assisting Ukraine with billions of dollars worth of military aid, Russia currently seems to be on the winning side since the readjustment of their preliminary failed attempt to occupy Kiev, capture President Zelensky and install a loyal government there.
On the economic front of the war as well, Russia is clearly ahead, with Europe's overreliance on Russian gas and oil. Russia actually supplied more than 40% of the EU's natural gas and 27% of its imported oil before the war started. On the one hand, Europe is trying to get rid of this dependence by sourcing energy from elsewhere, and on the other, Russia has cut off gas supplies to several European countries that did not comply with its demand for payment in its own currency - rouble. The share of Russian gas imports to the EU has already decreased to 31% in April 2022.
But this has pushed the West, and the rest of world with it, to a severe inflation, and a looming stagflation is haunting people in their nightmares.
In the meantime, tension is brewing over US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi's speculated visit to Taiwan. China's President Xi Jinping warned his US counterpart Joe Biden not to 'play with fire' over Taiwan, and Russia sided with China.
This in fact, indicates the possibility of the forging of a new axis centring Russia and China. Although the unison of these two countries is not a guaranteed thing - with the memories of the Sino-Soviet border conflict a few decades back - a marriage of convenience cannot be ruled out.
China being the second largest economy of the world at this moment, earning its favour would surely strengthen Russia further to a point of being able to breach The Wall.
If things really go that direction, Russia actually can feel confident enough to throw a challenge to future immigrants to choose between a West shivering in cold due to dependence on Russian gas and a reincarnation of Soviet Russia, because the winter is really coming.