Have you ever considered the reasons behind the Russian invasion of Ukraine?
What drove Putin’s order for the annexation of Crimea?
Why did rebels in the east of the country attract Putin’s attention?
Why, when less than twenty-five years ago the Kremlin granted Ukraine its independence? Feel free to disagree, but I here’s how I view the situation: The old KGB agent Vladimir Putin is now the president of a once-revolutionarily-heroic, progressive and promising nation at a point when the country could be viewed as directionless. Putin enters the stage after the collapse of the hope communism once provided. Since 1991, though a great deal has probably improved, the country no longer even has a dream to hold onto.
I’ll be honest. When I began this entry, the title I had in mind was ‘Imperialism in the Russian Federation’. I was adamant that this entire issue was a matter of imperialist attitudes within ‘mother Russia’. However my viewpoint changed today, when I read an article titled ‘Ukraine and Crimea: what is Putin thinking?’ on ‘theguardian.com’ about an hour ago, explaining that ‘Some have seen Putin’s actions in the context of a post-imperial complex’, saying that ‘There may be a flicker of truth in this, but the reality is more complex, according to those familiar with the Kremlin’s decision-making over Crimea in recent weeks.’ This got me thinking…
I came to the view that, regardless of the purely ideological perspectives one may view these events from; regardless of whether or not they ought to be labelled as ‘imperialistic’, one thing can’t be denied: Putin needs Crimea for reasons outside the usual motives for occupation. The materialistic necessities for resources, the tactical necessities of territory to provide an advantage in battle, or perhaps the desire for the establishment of freedom or equality that drove the initial invasions of the Russian satellite states constituting the early Soviet Union – what could be seen as ‘usual’ motives for occupation, are not applicable to the situation.
What I can make from the events is this: Russia needs something to hold onto in the aftermath of communism. Alongside the desire to remind the west of their capabilities and their superiority, and a victory in Europe may provide a temporary solution to the air of dissatisfaction which has clouded the skies over Moscow since 1991. Obviously, without ever living in the country or having any real knowledge of the ideological perspectives within Russia, I can’t say for definite, but the obvious benefit of the ‘communist dream’s’ collapse seems to be the fall of the autocratic Communist Party. Since then, however, one autocratic regime has been replaced with another, yet I think it’s fair to say that the loss of an ideological dream has not been accounted for.
To provide a broader perspective on the situation, the article I’d previously mentioned mentions the internal events in Ukraine, and the fact that Russia’s influence on Ukraine was ceased by internal revolution, referring to one individual (Gleb Pavlovsky) who said that “Putin hates revolution, he’s a counter-revolutionary by nature.” In response to this, I’d say that obviously he wanted to re-establish his influence and did so by means of using and possibly assisting rebels (this is a matter open to debate), as well as annexing territory. I can’t comment on Putin’s own views on the concept of revolution, but I can say that I don’t believe the Russian influence in Ukraine is truly necessary to Putin, and that the measures he took to secure it are, whilst a response to recent events, driven by internal desperation.
This is the conclusion I’ve come to: In a Russia devoid of the hope socialism provided, but with a still-stormy relationship with the western powers, and the autocracy communism is so often blamed for preserved, Putin’s actions were rooted in his own desire to hold onto what he could. Thus, despite whether or not it was truly necessary in the long-term, his influence in that region was one he was not prepared to give up. I suppose, to see the truth (if we ever will), we’ll have to wait and see how it all plays out.
The Featured Image was provided by Kremlin.ru from Wikimedia Commons. Here is a link to the photograph’s licence: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/deed.en, and one to the photograph: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Ceremony_signing_the_laws_on_admitting_Crimea_and_Sevastopol_to_the_Russian_Federation_1.jpg