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  • Writer's pictureBy The Financial District


Analyst Reuben Johnson has argued that Russian President Vladimir Putin is consumed with a burning desire to take over Ukraine after annexing Crimea and supporting Russian-speaking separatists in Eastern Ukraine, particularly in the Donetsk and Luhansk areas.

Writing for Breaking Defense, Johnson said that Putin, a lieutenant colonel in the KGB before he was taken in by Boris Yeltsin as a political lieutenant, saw the Berlin Wall tumbling down, watched as Russian forces beat a retreat in Afghanistan, and sulked as Michael Gorbachev presided over the demise of the Soviet Union. Putin also thinks Ukraine is not a real country and is a part of Russia.

“Whether or not war between Ukraine and Russia breaks out or not, the fact remains that Putin has a deep-seated desire ‘to make Russia great again’ — if need be by invading its neighbors and destabilizing the entire region. Understanding that overriding imperative of Putin’s rule may be the singular element in formulating policy vis-à-vis Moscow,” Johnson wrote.

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“Putin’s near-obsession with Ukraine remaining under Moscow’s control is prompted by several factors. The first and foremost of these is that Ukraine is the centerpiece of his 30-year-long crusade to compensate for the collapse of the USSR, spelling the end of Russia as an imperial power. The late Zbigniew Brzezinski, the Polish-American statesmen and former National Security Advisor in Carter Administration, once observed: ‘It cannot be stressed enough that without Ukraine, Russia ceases to be an empire, but with Ukraine suborned and then subordinated, Russia automatically becomes an empire.”

“Secondly, there is the economic decline of Russia. Already in financial shambles due to years of low oil prices, it is now reeling from the impact of COVID-19 and a host of other ills; the year 2020 saw an 11-year low in economic performance. These conditions have produced increasing numbers of anti-Putin protests in which he is openly denounced as a thief and a criminal. This has all but destroyed any of Putin’s remaining possibilities to offer an attractive ‘eastern alternative’ to Ukraine’s aspiration to join the EU. Ukraine is also not alone in wanting to remain outside Moscow’s orbit. In other bordering republics, a series of pro-Moscow leaders have either been removed or have suffered considerable setbacks,” Johnson concluded.


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