Monday, April 06, 2015

Russia cannot imagine herself prosperous without destroying others

Excerpts from Stephen Blank's opinion Putin’s Ukraine War Is About Founding a New Russian Empire published today in the Newsweek:

"According to Vladimir Putin, Crimea and Ukraine are where the spiritual sources of Russia’s nationhood lie. And he “always saw the Russians and Ukrainians as a single people. I still think this way now.”

People observing the crisis triggered by Putin’s aggression against Ukraine therefore ought to understand what these words mean... If no Ukrainian state has the right to exist, the entire settlement of 1989 to 1991 in Eastern Europe, and especially in the former Soviet Union, is illegitimate and a standing threat to the Russian state. Thus Putin not only aims to overthrow the entire post–Cold War order in Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia, he is also saying that the Russian state as such not only cannot tolerate an independent Ukraine, it can only survive as an empire...

Even if the Ukraine war devolves into a so-called frozen conflict, that logic will still be operative. We already have seen how quickly frozen conflicts can become unfrozen and how they corrode civility and democracy throughout their regions. Beyond that, a renewed Russian empire essentially reincarnates the idea that Russia is not safe unless everyone connected to it, and not only its immediate neighbors, is unsafe or insecure...

This is what is at stake in Ukraine. It is not just a quarrel over the fate of Ukraine. It is a war for the future of Russia and beyond that for the long-term future of European and Eurasian security. And to the extent that we hide behind rhetoric that masks a deeper inaction or complacency about Russia and Ukraine, we are only storing up for ourselves and future generations a larger continental crisis..."

(Emphasis mine - M.M.)

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