Studying the thoughts of Russian President Vladimir Putin is sometimes an easy task, but sometimes the Kremlin leader makes it easier. That was when Putin met with a group of Russian young entrepreneurs on Thursday. One analysis shows that anyone looking for clues as to what the outcome of Putin’s game for Ukraine will be should read the transcript of this discussion. CNN Signed by Nathan Hodge.
In his view, Putin’s words speak for themselves: his pursuit in Ukraine is to restore Russia as an imperialist power.
Below is Nathan Hodge’s analysis (You can read Putin’s English text here):
Many observers immediately pointed to one of Putin’s most provocative views, in which he compared himself to Tsar Peter the Great, the modernizer of Russia, and the founder of Putin’s birthplace in St. Petersburg in the 17th century.
“Peter the Great has been waging the Great North War for 21 years,” Putin said, adding that he was calm and self-satisfied. “At first glance, he was at war with Sweden and took something from him.” That was it. “
It does not matter that the European nations did not recognize the fact that Peter the Great seized their territory by force.Putin added.
“When he established the new capital, no European country recognized the region as part of Russia; everyone recognized him as part of Sweden,” Putin said. “However, since ancient times, the Slavs have lived there with the Finno-Ukrainian people, and the territory was under Russian control. The same goes for the West, Narva and its first campaigns. Why did he have to go there?
Referring directly to his own invasion of Ukraine, Putin added: “Clearly, it is in our hands to come back and strengthen us.”
These ideas were soon condemned by the Ukrainians, who saw them as a mere recognition of Putin’s imperial ambitions.
“His comparison with Putin’s confession on land grabbing and Peter the Great proves that there is no ‘conflict’, but only the bloody confiscation of the country under the pretext of genocide,” Mikhail, an adviser to the Ukrainian president, said on Twitter.
There is a lot to understand here, both in terms of history and in terms of current events. Bodolyak noted that he was talking in international capitals about providing a way to save Putin from escalating or stopping fighting in Ukraine. Last weekend, French President Emmanuel Macron said the world should not “insult Russia” in seeking a diplomatic solution.
These arguments may have seemed more plausible before February 24th. In the run-up to the invasion, Putin expressed a number of grievances to advocate war, from NATO’s eastern expansion to military aid to Ukraine from the west.
But if you read Putin’s comment very carefully on Thursday, the front of the rational geopolitical negotiations is shattered.
“To demand some kind of leadership – I do not mean global leadership, I mean leadership in any field – any country, any people, any ethnic group must assert its sovereignty,” Putin said. “Because there is no neutrality, no intermediate status: a country is sovereign or whatever it is called a colony.”
In other words, there are two types of government: sovereign and occupied. In Putin’s imperialist view, Ukraine should fall into the second category.
Putin has long argued that the Ukrainians do not have a formal national identity and that their government is basically a puppet of the West.
By evoking the memory of Peter the Great, it becomes clear that Putin’s goals are driven by a certain sense of historical destiny.. Putin’s plan for imperial restructuring – in theory – could at some point extend to the Russian Empire or other territories owned by the Soviet Union, raising the alarm in all countries that emerged after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Earlier this week, a member of the Kremlin-backed United Russia party introduced a bill in the State Duma, the lower house of the Russian parliament, repealing a Soviet resolution recognizing Lithuania’s independence. Lithuania may now be a member of NATO and part of the European Union, but in Putin’s Russia, this kind of neo-colonial position is a sure sign of loyalty to the president.
This is not good for Russia’s future. If it does not recognize Russia’s imperial past – be it the Soviet or Tsarist past – Russia without Putin is less likely to abandon the model of subjugating its neighbors or become a more democratic state.
Zbigniew Brzezinski, a former US national security adviser, said in a popular statement that Russia could break away from its imperialist practices only if it was prepared to drop its claims on Ukraine.
“Without Ukraine, it would not be an exaggeration to say that Russia will remain an empire, but if Ukraine is subjugated and then subjugated, Russia will automatically become an empire,” he wrote in 1994.
However, Putin thinks the opposite: Russia survives, and he says it must be an empire regardless of human cost.
“Evil gamer. Amateur music trailblazer. Alcohol geek. Problem solver. Coffee advocate. Troublemaker. Infuriatingly humble zombieaholic.”