This is why Putin will fail

Greg Odogwu

Let no one harbour any illusions about the intentions of Russian President Vladimir Putin. No matter how the fear of the unknown nudges us into shying away from reality, he is a man on a global imperialistic mission to conquer the world, starting from the Caucasus. Surely, with a nuclear arsenal and an iron will, anything is possible. But he will fail, for the same reason that Adolf Hitler failed: No one man should have all the power!

For those still in doubt, Putin’s unwarranted petulance in playing the nuclear card shows that his sight is not just on Ukraine—a country with no nuclear might— but on the united front of the developed world. It appears that he intends to reconstruct the dead Russian empire through effective annexation of the old Soviet states, creating a reunited Slavic homeland with him as the Emperor. This sounds implausible, but great warlords never had believable plans. This was the same way Hitler went about his Aryan business before World War II. And, at that time, many did not take him seriously until it was too late.

To me, Putin is a messianic figure, who knows exactly what he is doing. He sees the world beyond the material vista of the ordinary politician. He is up against the “organised” West, the same way former President Donald Trump faced the so-called deep state in America. Politically, he is a phoenix, navigating Russian politics, with the hope of turning Russia into a real-life phoenix.

During the early years of his presidency, he described the dismantling of the USSR as a tragedy. “First and foremost it is worth acknowledging that the demise of the Soviet Union was the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century. As for the Russian people, it became a genuine tragedy. Tens of millions of our fellow citizens and countrymen found themselves beyond the fringes of Russian territory,” he lamented.

In a July 2014 speech during a Russian-supported armed insurgency in Eastern Ukraine (Donbas region), Putin stated he would use Russia’s “entire arsenal of available means” up to “operations under international humanitarian law and the right of self-defence” to protect Russian speakers outside Russia.

Last year, 2021, he again mourned the fall of the Soviet Union, describing it as what he called “historical Russia,” and said the economic crisis that followed was so bad he was forced to work as a taxi driver. Interestingly, the comment fueled speculations among his critics about his foreign policy intentions, who accused him of planning to “recreate the Soviet Union and of contemplating an attack on Ukraine.” At that time, the Kremlin denied it as unnecessary fear-mongering but last week, the notion became a reality.

This was also how Hitler rose. When Germany suffered a humiliating defeat in World War I, the young Adolf was devastated and went around making fiery speeches against the reparation that Germany paid, as per the Versailles Treaty of 1918. He joined in the formation of the National Socialist German Workers’ Party, aka Nazi Party, exactly for the purpose of helping his nation become great again, punish those who made them lose the war and then reunite the German people wherever they were in Europe. As inspired by the Prussian king, Frederick the Great, he visualised the reemergence of the German Empire and its eventual takeover of the civilised world.

Still, the world must not be hasty in crucifying Putin. He is only but a product of the continental cauldron of European politics, which actually reflects the injustice and inequity that pervades the entire global system. Historically, Europe’s political and socio-economic development is skewed against Putin’s people, the Slavs. To be sure, at some point Africans were sympathetic to Russians because they felt we were all underdogs.

Out of a total European population of 744 million as of 2018, some 94% are native speakers of an Indo-European language; the three largest phyla being Romance, Germanic and Slavic, with more than 200 million speakers each between them, accounting for close to 90% of Europeans. These three can easily be viewed as sub-races. But the Romance and the Germanic races seem to be on a different plane of sophistication and socio-economic progress.

Slavs are subdivided into East Slavs (chiefly Russians), Ukrainians and Belarusians. West Slavs are majorly Poles, Czechs, Slovaks and Wends—or Sorbs—while South Slavs are mainly Serbs, Croats, Bosnians, Slovenes, Macedonians and Montenegrins. They were not part of the scramble and partition of Africa nor was any of them part of the great European empires of the modern age. The Russian nation is the shining light of the Slavic race.

In Europe, Slavophobia is real. This refers to various racist and xenophobic attitudes towards Slavic peoples, the most common manifestation being the claim that the inhabitants of Slavic nations are inferior to other ethnic groups. Anti-Slavism reached its peak during World War II, when Nazi Germany officially declared Slavs to be subhuman (German Untermensch) and planned to exterminate the majority of Slavic people.

One can then see why some historians describe the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 (in Russia) as a Slavic revolution. It resulted in the overthrow of Tsar Nichols II and the establishment of a communist government. Factory control was given to workers and farmland was distributed among peasants, the groundwork for the rapid industrialisation of Russia.

Interestingly, in the early stages of Bolshevik rule, when world revolution seemed around the corner, Vladimir Lenin and his followers denied that there could be any special relation between Communism and the Slavs. They expected the entire labouring class of the world to swing into their orbit. But at the end of the day, aided by Joseph Stalin’s ruthlessness during World War II, the Soviet Union became a political force for Slavic prominence in the comity of nations. The Red Army stopped the Nazi and their official Slavophobic activities.

In my view, Putin is the Slavic champion of this modern age, in the mould of Lenin and Stalin. But as communism is no longer in vogue, he struggles to design another political philosophy to serve his imperialistic purposes. According to Stephen White, under the presidency of Putin, Russia made it clear that it had no intention of establishing a “second edition” of the American or British political system but rather a system that was closer to Russia’s own traditions and circumstances. Some commentators have described Putin’s administration as a “sovereign democracy.”

According to academic Andrei Tsygankov, many members of the international community assumed that Putin’s annexation of Crimea had initiated a completely new kind of Russian foreign policy, shifting from “state-driven foreign policy” to taking an offensive stance to recreate the Soviet Union by trying to defend nations in Russia’s sphere of influence from “encroaching western power.”

Putin has promoted explicitly conservative policies in social, cultural and political matters, both at home and abroad. He has attacked globalism and neoliberalism and is identified by scholars with Russian conservatism—focused on Russian nationalism, the restoration of Russia’s historical greatness and systematic opposition to liberal ideas and policies. He has a close relationship with the Russian Orthodox Church.

Nevertheless, Putin will fail in his imperialistic war because nature is never kind to gods living in human flesh. In this modern times, no race can fulfil the imperial whims of its toughest warriors. Evolution has taught us that the God of all creation wants the world to continue tottering on the democratic path until we get it right. On her part, the West must recognise that its brand of democracy is flawed and open new windows for other democratic models—for compromise and consensus, the defence of human rights, the preservation of the environment and the pursuit of happiness.


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