The countries I have studied the most in my career have been the United States and the Soviet Union, which split in 1991 into 15 separate countries, including Russia and Ukraine. Although I only spent two months in the Soviet Union, as it was coming to an end, I still have a great interest in Russia and sympathy for its long-suffering people.
It bothers me when kind-hearted people in my church call for prayer for the Ukrainian people, but express no concern about the Russian people. Although Russian cities are not bombed, many Russians have been persuaded or pressured into joining the military and are suffering huge casualties in Russia’s outrageous “special military operation” against Ukraine.
Many other young Russians disrupted their personal lives by fleeing to other countries to avoid being forced into military slavery and sent to Ukraine. The Russian economy is suffering from trade embargoes (rightly) inflicted by the United States and its NATO allies, and what hurts the economy inevitably hurts the people who live there.
I fervently hope that Vladimir Putin will quickly end this ridiculous war and cultivate his own garden rather than trying to expand it by force. But apparently he has bigger fish to fry.
Early in his presidency, Putin complained that the breakup of the Soviet Union was a “major geopolitical catastrophe,” which it undoubtedly was. But he should remember the lesson of the famous story of Humpty Dumpty where after his “great fall” it turned out that “all the king’s horses and all the king’s men could not put Humpty back together” .
As Thomas I. Cook, chair of the political science department at Johns Hopkins University said when I was studying there, there is no such thing as an egg straightener.
But it increasingly looks like Putin is trying to “MAKE RUSSIA GREAT AGAIN”.
If he could put this slogan on a hat, what color should it be? The Communists ruled the Soviet Union under the red flag, but Putin does not want to bring the Communists back. Anyway, this color has already been used on another famous hat.
Ukrainians obviously don’t share Putin’s enthusiasm for making Russia great again, and I doubt most people living in the other countries that were once part of the Soviet Union would feel much differently. Several of these countries have joined NATO or have expressed an interest in doing so.
It is not necessary to make Russia great”Again“Russia has had a great culture for centuries: writers, musicians, scientists. Chekhov, Dostoyevsky, Solzhenitsyn, Tchaikovsky, Shostakovich, Mendeelev and Sakharov come to mind. Like all countries, Russia has a lot to be ashamed of , but also a lot to be proud of.
Centuries ago, several of today’s European countries were striving to grab additional territory. They have now renounced military expansion and are focusing on good governance of their people rather than expanding themselves.
If only Russia would soon develop a similar change of heart, stop trying to take over neighboring countries and become a peaceful and prosperous part of a peaceful and prosperous Europe.
By invading Ukraine, however, Russia may give ideas to the rulers of a neighboring country that is much bigger, much richer and most likely eager to grab additional real estate on which to settle its huge population. . Large parts of Russia’s eastern Siberian regions are sparsely populated and close to China, which shares a long border with Russia.
It would be ironic if Putin’s attempt to make Russia great again would lead to the loss of a large chunk of Russian territory. And by cracking down on Russians who oppose war on Ukraine, Moscow may be creating conditions such that Siberian residents might view life in China – not a model for civil liberties – as an improvement over to being governed from Moscow.
— Paul F. deLespinasse is Emeritus Professor of Political Science and Computer Science at Adrian College. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article originally appeared in the Sturgis Journal: Paul de Lespinasse: Will Vladimir Putin make Russia great again?