Vladimir Putin’s mid-dictatorship crisis has erased 20 years of growth and geopolitical statecraft
[Published first on 3/16/22 on my substack, The Halfway Café. If you enjoy liberal takes on contemporary politics and foreign policy, subscribe!]
Vladimir Putin’s fundamental misconception of historical context in his ongoing European invasion is that Ukrainians’ demand for independence and utter disinterest in joining a smaller union with a post-Soviet Russia and Belarus was the final nail in the coffin for the USSR following the failed coup against Gorbachev and the successful secession of the Baltic states. Ukrainians were emphatic they weren’t Russians then, and they’re emphatic they’re not Russians now.
This miscalculation has wrecked Putin’s mid-dictatorship crisis dreams of a new Russian empire, and Putin has spectacularly failed to achieve any of his strategic geopolitical goals. America has deployed thousands of extra troops to Europe and is currently debating sending Ukraine some US drones alongside billions of dollars in aid, NATO is suddenly existentially relevant to European interests after 30 years of declining interest, former Eastern Bloc countries are rounding up as many arms and supplies for Ukraine as possible to be soon replaced by more modern weapons from Western nations, and the European Union is virtually unanimous in its commitment with America to crushing the Russian economy and currency for as long as Putin’s war crimes continue.
This is literally the exact opposite of what Putin was trying to achieve. It appears Putin self-destructively convinced himself that Presidents Biden and Zelensky were incapable leaders, Europe was too fractured and dependent on Russian energy to intervene, and Ukrainians would not rebel against another Russian intervention in their democracy. Putin got high on his own supply of propaganda.
If Putin were a real historian, he might understand the irony that Russia’s historical security concerns, which drove the previous strategies of the final Tsar, the Bolsheviks and Stalin, were the combination of being surrounded by a strong Germany and a strong Japan. Now Putin has provoked Germany into doubling its military budget to a figure above Russia’s military budget, and almost the entire Western world including Japan is sending military equipment to…