As the war in Ukraine approaches its one-year anniversary and as Russian forces continue to advance along the front line, questions about Ukrainian resistance going forward and the war’s final resolution will remain. Being the center of Western commentary and analysis.
Although President Joe Biden’s visit to Kyiv and subsequent journey to Warsaw boosted morale on the eastern fronts, but we are concerned about Ukraine’s breaking point and its capacity to continue resisting.
However, little attention has been paid to what could happen in Russia after this incredible madness committed by Putin last February. One question that should be on everyone’s mind is: where is Russia headed?
What Putin wants and what history teaches
Putin’s Russia is re-litigating 1991—in that sense, another aspirational empire, much like interwar Germany—still convinced that the Russian people can reclaim their imperial place in the sun once the betrayal of their politicians has been purged.
Putinism closely resembles the Dolchstoßlegende narrative during the Weimar Republic insofar as there is a feeling among the public that the Russian military never lost to the West but was subverted by politicians—the cowardly Gorbachev, the drunkard Yeltsin, whatever.
This imperial animosity gave Germany Adolph Hitler and a war that ignited Europe, which would not stop until the back of German imperialism was definitively and irrevocably shattered. At the risk of oversimplifying history, this is where Russia currently sits.
Putin’s argument that he is rebuilding the great Russian people, velikiy russkiy narod, follows the same themes of grievance and entitlement to an empire that Europe faced in the middle of the 20th century when Germany attempted to re-litigate the Treaty of Versailles.
And suppose Europe is to see lasting peace. In that case, the Russian armies that have stormed into Ukraine must be unequivocally defeated so that any illusion of the Russian empire in the minds of Russian citizens is shattered.
The world is watching Ukraine.
The stakes are high in the outcome of the Ukrainian war because it is a system-transforming war, one that will realign the distribution of power not only in Europe and Eurasia but also in the Indo-Pacific; Make no mistake, Beijing is watching closely for any signs of US weakness and lack of determination to see this war to victory, both for Ukraine and for the West.
Russia and China have attempted to ensnare the United States in a two-border trap, which the Ukrainian people’s patriotism and brave resolve to combat are unraveling.
It is not enough to just do the right thing by supporting Ukraine’s quest for independence and freedom. This is also a matter of geostrategic calculation and the fundamental interests of the United States and Europe. In Ukraine, a non-NATO army is destroying the Russian ground force on non-NATO territory, which gives us the upper hand and repositions the threat posed by China’s push for hegemony. For this reason alone, Ukraine merits our unqualified and complete support.
In addition, defending a country that a stronger neighbor has assaulted is morally and ethically correct because it sought independence from Russian dominance.
The end of Russia?
We must recognize that the Russian Federation of today is not the Soviet Union of the past. It is a mid-tier Eurasian power whose economy doesn’t even come close to that of today’s great powers and which—save for its nuclear weapons—has little reason to claim to be among the world’s leading powers.
And let us remember that historically Russia has always succumbed to centrifugal forces whenever it suffered defeat on the battlefield: this was the case in 1905 after losing to Japan, in 1917 after losing to Germany in Europe, and again in 1991 after losing to the United States at the end of the Cold War.
It is worth remembering that while in 1913, the Russian imperial court celebrated three hundred years of the Romanov reign with unparalleled splendor in Saint Petersburg and throughout the country, just four years later, the country was shaken by two revolutions, and the Bolsheviks massacred the great Emperor Nicholas II and his family. The empire no longer existed.
If we support Ukraine with main battle tanks, long-range fire, and modern combat aircraft, the Ukrainian army will be in a position to defeat the Russian army. The Russian Federation—what Lev Dobriansky described as a modern “prison of nations”—will likely implode after that defeat.
It is about time we acknowledged that the collapse of the Russian Federation, while certainly loaded with danger, may, in fact, occur, for until the Russians figure out how to become a “normal state,” neither Europe nor the rest of the world will experience peace.
The Ukraine war, which in retrospect will probably be seen as Putin’s latest folly, is a test of the West’s resolve and a promise of a better world for Ukraine, Belarus, and Eastern Europe.
Assuming Russia is unequivocally defeated in Ukraine, it can also offer the Russians a chance for a better future.