Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Instead of Developing Russia, Putin Claims Right to Territories of Former Soviet Republics

Paul Goble

            Staunton, March 22 – Speaking to a meeting on the seventh anniversary of his Anschluss of Crimea, Vladimir Putin said that the Bolsheviks had handed over “significant territories and geopolitical space to quasi-state formations” known to others in the past as the union republics of the USSR and now as the post-Soviet states” (ria.ru/20210320/rossiya-1602030545.html).

            “It is difficult to say how the residents of the 14 ‘quasi-state formations, which are typically called ‘the near abroad should react to Putin’s words, Anatoly Nesmiyan, who blogs under the screen name El Murid, says. But his revanchist position inevitably will drive them further away from Russia (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=6055EF7504016).

            Putin, of course, made this declaration to justify his seizure of Crimea. “It wasn’t me who stole; I was the victim of theft.” In short, “a tactical solution which casts doubt on strategic goals,” something that is “pure Putin” and informs much of what he does, sacrificing genuine long-term needs for something temporary and even ephemeral.

            Putin has never had any idea how to develop what he has or what he has seized. He can only think of seizing more in order to territory and population to boost his position. In that respect, his Russia resembles the Soviet system which gave rise to it, a system that also sacrificed domestic development in the name of foreign conquest.

            But Putin’s system is even worse because “the aggressiveness of a degrading state objectively grows” because “it is not in a position to meet the appetites of the rulers who have led the country into decline.” Therefore, he and they seek their rewards vis aggression and annexation.

            Putin isn’t able to offer any other policy, Nesmiyan says. “he cannot form an economy of development in his own country. He doesn’t understand what this is; he doesn’t know and simply doesn’t have anyone around him who knows how to do that.” And that lack makes Putin’s words especially disturbing.

            “It isn’t even important whether Putin himself will be at the head of this regime,” the blogger says. What matters is that without a cardinal change in approach, without the reformation of the economy, everything will remain after him just as it is now, that is, internal development will be replaced by external aggression.”

            And every new conquest will suffer the same fate: if it had been developing before Moscow came, it will not afterwards. Consider Ukraine’s Crimea which is facing desertification under Russian rule. Overcoming that should be the task of its rulers, but instead, “Putin is declaring his right to the territories of other ‘quasi-state formations.’”

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