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Putin maps the boundaries of greater Russia [From 2008]
Financial Times ^ | August 28, 2008 | Phillip Stevens

Posted on 03/19/2014 6:24:11 PM PDT by Vince Ferrer

We need to get this straight. Vladimir Putin’s Russia has invaded a neighbour, annexed territory and put in place a partial military occupation. It seeks to overthrow the president of Georgia and to overturn the global geopolitical order. It has repudiated its signature on a ceasefire negotiated by France’s Nicolas Sarkozy and disowned its frequent affirmations of Georgia’s territorial integrity. Most importantly: all of this is our fault.

The “our” in this context, of course, refers to the US and the more headstrong of its European allies such as Britain. If only Washington had been nicer to the Russians after the fall of the Berlin Wall. If only the west had not humiliated Moscow after the break-up of the Soviet Union.

Surely we can see now what a provocation it was to allow the former vassal states of the Soviet empire to exercise their democratic choice to join the community of nations? And what of permitting them to shelter under Nato’s security umbrella and to seek prosperity for their peoples in the European Union? Nothing, surely, could have been more calculated to squander the post-cold-war peace.

Such is the cracked record played over and over again by the Russian prime minister and recited now by Dmitry Medvedev, Russia’s notional president. Sadly, it also finds echoes among those in Europe who prefer appeasing Mr Putin to upholding the freedoms of their neighbours. This Russian claim to victimhood is as vacuous as it is dishonest.

Mr Putin has said the collapse of the Soviet Union was the great geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century. Now he wants to subjugate his country’s neighbours in the cause of a greater Russia. The aim is to turn back the clock: to extend his country’s borders to create the greater Russia sought by the leaders of the abortive coup against Boris Yeltsin in 1991. The west must not collude with Mr Putin’s falsified version of history.

There is no doubt that Russians feel they suffered great hurt and indignity during the 1990s. They did. But it is a misreading of events to blame the US, the west, the EU or Nato.

The blindingly obvious point is that humiliation was inevitable and unavoidable. Until the collapse of communism the world belonged to Washington and Moscow. Suddenly almost everything was lost to Russia. The political and economic system that had once aspired to global domination was reduced to dust.

Open a history book. Humiliation is what happens when nations lose their empires. Ask the British. Half a century after Suez, part of the British psyche still laments this retreat from the world. You could say the same about the French.

The implosion of the Soviet Union could not stir anything but a sense of shame among Russians. But ah, you hear Mr Putin’s apologists say, the west fed Russian paranoia. For half a century central and eastern Europe had been signed over to Moscow. Now the west’s institutions rolled like tanks up to Russia’s borders.

The problem is that this account does not fit the facts. George H.W. Bush was anything but triumphalist in his response to the fall of the Berlin Wall. Indeed, the then US president faced sharp criticism from many Americans for refusing to dance on communism’s grave.

It is true Bill Clinton’s presidency began with some rhetorical flourishes about spreading democracy. And the US administration did press hard for the expansion of Nato, in part because the EU dragged its feet about opening its doors. Some doubted the wisdom of the Nato policy. George Kennan, the author of the cold war doctrine of containment, was among those arguing against Mr Clinton. But then, the revered Mr Kennan was not infallible. He had, after all, opposed the creation of the alliance.

Doubtless there were moments when the US, and Europe for that matter, could have been more tactful. The disciples of free markets dispatched to Moscow by the International Monetary Fund probably bear some blame for the catastrophic melt-down of Russia’s economy. But no, the historical record does not show a deliberate or concerted effort by the US or anyone else to mock or multiply Russia’s misfortunes.

When Mr Putin talks about humiliation, he means something else. Washington’s crime was to assume that the Yalta agreement had fallen along with the Berlin Wall, and that the peoples and nations of the erstwhile Soviet empire should thus be free to make their own choices.

In the Kremlin’s mindset, showing due respect for Russia would have meant allowing it to continue to hold sway over its near-abroad. The most that the citizens of Ukraine and the Baltic states should have expected was the ersatz independence now bestowed on South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Poles, Hungarians, Czechs and the rest should have been locked out of western institutions.

Mr Putin has reopened the issue that seemed to have been settled in 1991 when Yeltsin saw off the tanks at the doors of the Russian White House. Yeltsin decided that the borders of the Russian Federation should follow those of the Soviet republics. That left the Crimea as part of Ukraine, Ossetia and Abkhazia as part of Georgia. Mr Putin’s doctrine is calculated to reclaim Moscow’s sovereignty over ethnic Russians in neighbouring states. This is a greater Russia by another means.

The doctrine overturns one of the central geopolitical assumptions of the past two decades: that, for all its hurt pride, Russia saw its role as a powerful player within a post-cold-war geopolitical order. Mr Medvedev, speaking with his master’s voice, now repudiates the laws and institutions of that order.

For all the occasional bluster about a new authoritarian axis between Moscow and Beijing, the contrast that has most struck me in recent weeks has been between China and Russia. Beijing saw the Olympics as a celebration of China’s return as a great power. China has by no means signed up to the norms and assumptions of liberal democracy; it has still to decide whether it wants to be a free rider or a stakeholder in the international system. But it has concluded that its future lies with integration into a stable world order.

Moscow’s invasion of Georgia and its public scorn at the likely international response speaks to an entirely different mindset: a retreat from integration and a preference for force over rules. Russia’s neighbours are told they can be vassals or enemies. Mr Medvedev boasts Russia is ready for another cold war.

I struggle to see what Russia will gain. It is friendless. Governments and foreign investors alike now know that Moscow’s word is worthless. The price of aggression will be pariah status. Mr Putin, of course, will blame the west.


TOPICS: Extended News; Foreign Affairs; News/Current Events; Russia
KEYWORDS:

1 posted on 03/19/2014 6:24:11 PM PDT by Vince Ferrer
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To: Vince Ferrer

Putin is KGB. He is a commie through and through.

Read The Perestroika Deception by Golitsyn.


2 posted on 03/19/2014 6:32:35 PM PDT by Nifster
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To: Vince Ferrer

By the time Obama is out of office, the Russians will have conquered all of Eastern Europe and the entirety of the old USSR.

Georgia and Ukraine are just the beginning.


3 posted on 03/19/2014 6:33:30 PM PDT by Oliviaforever
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To: Vince Ferrer
If only Washington had been nicer to the Russians after the fall of the Berlin Wall. If only the west had not humiliated Moscow after the break-up of the Soviet Union. Surely we can see now what a provocation it was to allow the former vassal states of the Soviet empire to exercise their democratic choice to join the community of nations? And what of permitting them to shelter under Nato’s security umbrella and to seek prosperity for their peoples in the European Union? Nothing, surely, could have been more calculated to squander the post-cold-war peace.

LOL, the FReeper Borscht Brigade.
4 posted on 03/19/2014 6:33:42 PM PDT by 1rudeboy
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To: Vince Ferrer

The sooner the liberals discover that centuries old Eurasian wars never end the better. Best maintain a strong military. Always.


5 posted on 03/19/2014 6:35:43 PM PDT by Jim Robinson (Resistance to tyrants is obedience to God!!)
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To: Vince Ferrer

Russia got it away with it eight years ago. And Russia will probably get away with it again.

Russia is not bent so much on restoring the USSR as in restoring Czarist Russia.

Vladimir Putin is proceeding from where the last Russian Czar, Nicholas II, left off. Its like the Communist interregnum never happened.

What we’re seeing is not the rebirth of the USSR but the slow revival of Imperial Russia.


6 posted on 03/19/2014 6:36:05 PM PDT by goldstategop (In Memory Of A Dearly Beloved Friend Who Lives In My Heart Forever)
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To: Vince Ferrer
World War III has started. Russia will attempt to take over Europe one country at a time and King Obama will just party and golf.
7 posted on 03/19/2014 6:39:16 PM PDT by Logical me
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To: goldstategop

Russia would not have gone into Crimea had the elected government of Ukraine not been violently overthrown after the US gave $5 Billion to the opposition. This is a foreseeable result of that.


8 posted on 03/19/2014 6:42:44 PM PDT by LowTaxesEqualsProsperity
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To: LowTaxesEqualsProsperity
Russia would not have gone into Crimea had the elected government of Ukraine not been violently overthrown after the US gave $5 Billion to the opposition. This is a foreseeable result of that.

While I believe that the US completely messed things up in Ukraine, the same way it has blown Egypt, Libya, and Syria, Russia still would have invaded. They may have had to wait longer, or they may have had to create an incident themselves. But this is their doctrine, as Putin laid it out years ago. Putin has a better memory than we do, and he is more patient. When the opportunity presented itself, he took it.

9 posted on 03/19/2014 6:48:06 PM PDT by Vince Ferrer
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To: LowTaxesEqualsProsperity

“Russia would not have gone into Crimea had the elected government of Ukraine not been violently overthrown after the US gave $5 Billion to the opposition. This is a foreseeable result of that.”

BINGO....
This didn’t just suddenly happen in a vaccumm.


10 posted on 03/19/2014 6:48:08 PM PDT by tcrlaf (Well, it is what the Sheeple voted for....)
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To: LowTaxesEqualsProsperity

I agree with you. It would be much easier to support our foreign policy (leave our personal viewpoints at the border) if we could claim the moral high ground here. We cannot.


11 posted on 03/19/2014 6:51:02 PM PDT by steerpike100
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To: LowTaxesEqualsProsperity

Yes, they would have.


12 posted on 03/19/2014 7:13:45 PM PDT by Girlene (Hey, NSA!)
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To: goldstategop
What we’re seeing is not the rebirth of the USSR but the slow revival of Imperial Russia.

I think this is right. Putin's communist past can be overplayed. He may have been as much a cynical opportunist as a devoted marxist-leninist. For one thing, he is too smart to have bought all that crap wholesale.

13 posted on 03/19/2014 7:28:19 PM PDT by hinckley buzzard
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To: Vince Ferrer

Remember when the Russkies buzzed our water around the time of Obama’s ‘coronation’? I do.


14 posted on 03/19/2014 7:28:33 PM PDT by RushIsMyTeddyBear (Great vid by ShorelineMike! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KOZjJk6nbD4&feature=plcp)
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To: tcrlaf

Absololutely. Same with screwing up the ‘green uprising’ in Iran.


15 posted on 03/19/2014 7:32:09 PM PDT by RushIsMyTeddyBear (Great vid by ShorelineMike! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KOZjJk6nbD4&feature=plcp)
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To: LowTaxesEqualsProsperity
Russia would not have gone into Crimea had the elected government of Ukraine not been violently overthrown after the US gave $5 Billion to the opposition.

The US gave $5 billion to the opposition? That's a lot of money. Source, please.

16 posted on 03/19/2014 7:39:49 PM PDT by 1rudeboy
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To: 1rudeboy

Vlad doesn’t have a source. But it sure makes it sound like our fault, doesn’t it?


17 posted on 03/19/2014 7:46:08 PM PDT by Toddsterpatriot (Science is hard. Harder if you're stupid.)
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To: 1rudeboy

Ask Victoria Nuland about this.

International Business Conference at Ukraine in Washington - National Press Club - December 13, 2013

Victoria Nuland - Assistant Secretary of State for Europe and Eurasian Affairs

US Assistant Secretary of State for Europe, Nuland said: “Since the declaration of Ukrainian independence in 1991, the United States supported the Ukrainians in the development of democratic institutions and skills in promoting civil society and a good form of government - all that is necessary to achieve the objectives of Ukraine’s European. We have invested more than 5 billion dollars to help Ukraine to achieve these and other goals. ” Nuland said the United States will continue to “promote Ukraine to the future it deserves.”

Oh...
And it’s on video, too.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2y0y-JUsPTU#t=447

Much of that money got funneled to/through Soros Group-controlled NGO’s, on top of it.

But that’s just CWAZY TALK!!”, right?


18 posted on 03/19/2014 7:48:54 PM PDT by tcrlaf (Well, it is what the Sheeple voted for....)
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To: tcrlaf

Ah, I see $5 billion over 20+ years, and not to the “opposition.” Yes, our Russian friend was talking crazy.


19 posted on 03/19/2014 7:52:44 PM PDT by 1rudeboy
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To: 1rudeboy

In addition:
Text of Russian-intercepted call from Victoria Nuland to Geoffery Pyatt

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-26079957


20 posted on 03/19/2014 7:52:44 PM PDT by tcrlaf (Well, it is what the Sheeple voted for....)
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To: Toddsterpatriot

I keyed on the word “opposition.” Now who would call them that, I wonder?


21 posted on 03/19/2014 7:53:48 PM PDT by 1rudeboy
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To: tcrlaf
Again, evidence of a phone call during the protests is not evidence the US caused the protests.
22 posted on 03/19/2014 7:56:40 PM PDT by 1rudeboy
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To: goldstategop

“What we’re seeing is not the rebirth of the USSR but the slow revival of Imperial Russia.”

I totally agree with your assessment, as it is mine also. Putin wants to be Czar, not Commie Boss. There is a difference.


23 posted on 03/19/2014 7:57:41 PM PDT by flaglady47 (Oppressors can tyranize only w/a standing army-enslaved press-disarmed populace)
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To: Oliviaforever

Obama’s got more flexibility this time round.


24 posted on 03/22/2014 6:25:36 PM PDT by 1010RD (First, Do No Harm)
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