Staunton, Feb. 26 – Those who argue that the last year since Vladimir Putin began his “special military operation” in Ukraine is as much a turning point in the history of Russia as was the 1917 revolution have compelling arguments for their position, according to the editors of Nezavisimaya gazeta.
Once again, the paper says in a lead article, the Kremlin has turned away from the West but in many ways in even more radical ways, not in the name of some incomprehensible communist future but rather in defense of national security above everything else and Russian traditions (ng.ru/editorial/2023-02-26/2_8667_editorial.html).
And as in the past, there is no possibility for a sustainable compromise between Russia and the West as long as those in the Kremlin and its supporters retain the positions that Putin has taken. One of the two sides has to win and the other has to lose in the new conflict just as was the case between communism and Western democracy and capitalism.
Putin’s recent address to the Federal Assembly “fixed the final divorce of Russia with today’s West,” the paper continues. It was filled with terms tha.t make it clear that for Putin the West is “an absolutely unacceptable partner, above all on a moral-ethical basis” and that no compromise is possible.
For the current Kremlin leader, Russia’s national security is paramount and requires that Moscow have a decisive voice in the countries adjoining it without any of those states having outside protectors that will limit Moscow’s ability to get its way. NATO expansion is the threat; and while Russia could live with countries opposed to it, it can’t with those allied with NATO.
“Putin wants recognition of the exclusive geopolitical interests of Russia,” the paper argues, “in particular, on questions of its own security, he insists on the right to push back NATO from its borders, at a minimum from the space of the former Soviet Union.” But his goals are larger than that.
He “does not recognize the customary but legally supported conception of a rules-based order,” the editors say. Putin “says that Russia doesn’t accept these rule in the development of which it did not take part and will not follow” because they have allowed the West to attack Russian interests around the world with impunity.
Given that absolutist position, there is no place for compromise on Ukraine, something which after all is the search for “the second best” solution. In the case of Ukraine, this is clear: Kyiv demands a Russian withdrawal to the borders of 1991 while Moscow demands that all its goals in the special military operation be fulfilled.