Staunton, Dec. 15 – Many commentators are suggesting that Vladimir Putin must be in a funk because of the mounting tide of bad news coming in as a result of his failed policies, Vitaly Portnikov says. But they are wrong: there is good reason to think that the Kremlin leader now is in fact more pleased with where things are than he has ever been in the past.
Not only is he showing that he is quite capable of killing anyone who doesn’t submit to him, the Ukrainian commentator says; but he is also ensuring that his policy and ideology of revanchism will be his legacy to Russia and the world long after he passes from the scene (graniru.org/opinion/portnikov/m.286957.html).
The Kremlin leader’s annexations of Ukrainian territory are not from his point of view a mistake but rather “his political testament,” actions that ensure that what he wants will be long embedded in the Russian political system. “Imagine the most optimistic scenario,” Portnikov says. Ukraine retakes all of its land and is admitted to NATO.
But even if that happens, the Kremlin will continue to insist that what has happened is an attack on Russia and must be reversed. From its point of view, the territories it occupied and annexed will now be presented as territories occupied by Ukraine “with the help of the West.” And Russians will want to reverse that because that is what they will be told.
“Will Vladimir Putin be president of Russia when that happens?” Portnikov asks rhetorically. That really doesn’t matter. Putin is “not eternal, but the ideology of revanchism, the foundation of his regime in ‘post-Crimea’ Russia will remain the state program of that country even after his departure.”
What this means is that “this whole bloody nightmare” may “drag on for many years” even if Russia suffers military defeat in Ukraine, the Ukrainian commentator says; and it may involve many other countries as well. The only way forward requires something far greater, a fundamental change in Russia itself.
That is the real challenge ahead, one vastly more significant even than the expulsion of the Russian invaders from Ukrainian land.