A New Soviet

TimeWatch Editorial
October 26, 2016

Marcel H. Van Herpen is a security expert specializing in Russia, Eastern Europe, and the post-Soviet states. In the year 2014, he published a book entitled, “Putin’s Wars, The Rise of Russia’s New Imperialism.” It is a rather exhaustive study on the agenda and ambition of Vladimir Putin. Van Herpen begins his narrative with the comparatively sudden demise of the Soviet Union in 1991. He makes the point that this event marked the dissolution of the last European Empire and compares it with the other colonial powers that had existed before like France, Britain, Belgium and the Netherlands. He however continues to make the point that the Russian Empire differed from the others mentioned since, the Soviet Union was contiguous and not far flung. This easy access allowed for a quick and decisive suppression of any and all rebellious activity. Also, the Russian Empire was not bound together by commercial interests, but was always intended to be a geopolitical safeguard against the possibility of invasion or incursion.

Van Herpen’s question then is whether or not this need to create a geopolitical barrier is presently returning in the minds of the leadership or whether it ever left their thoughts in the first place. The author makes the point that the lust for Empire has certainly not died, for since Putin’s rise to power, there has been cover organizations like “The Eurasian Customs Union,” “The Eurasian Economic Union,” and “The Eurasian Union,” that have surfaced as a means of bringing together a Eurasian combination. Marcel H. Van Herpen presents irrefutable evidence concerning the intent of Russian leadership. In 2003, Putin proposed that Belarus return to Russia and join the Russian Federation; Belarus refused. The Russian government then distributed Russian passports in the Russians living in Crimea and in Eastern Ukraine, in spite of the fact that the Ukrainian Constitution strictly forbade dual nationality. In August 2008, then President Medvedev’s introduced the right for the Kremlin to protect Russians wherever they might be and to intervene on their behalf.

“When mass protests against Russian President Vladimir Putin erupted in Moscow in December 2011, Putin made clear who he thought was really behind them: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. With the protesters accusing Putin of having rigged recent elections, the Russian leader pointed an angry finger at Clinton, who had issued a statement sharply critical of the voting results. “She said they were dishonest and unfair,” Putin fumed in public remarks, saying that Clinton gave “a signal” to demonstrators working “with the support of the U.S. State Department” to undermine his power. “We need to safeguard ourselves from this interference in our internal affairs,” Putin declared. Five years later, Putin may be seeking revenge against Clinton. At least that’s the implication of the view among some Cybersecurity experts that Russia was behind the recent hack of the Democratic National Committee’s email server, which has sowed confusion and dissent at the Democratic National Convention and undercut Clinton’s goal of party unity.”
Michael Crowley and Julia Ioffe, “Why Putin Hates Hilary” Politico.com, July 25, 2016

So it is clear then that the plan is to rebuild the Russian Empire and in order to accomplish that goal, whatever is necessary will be pursued. Van Herpen’s treatment of Putin’s ambition is extremely revealing and provides a clear background to the attitudes that he is presently displaying globally. As we shall see, the future will definitely be influenced by the actions taken by this nation. As Zoe Efstathiou writes in the Daily Express, on October 25, 2016 in his article entitled: “Putin blasts Clinton & tells US to STOP criticizing Russia or 'there will be Consequences'”

“The Russian president delivered the ominous threat as tensions between the West and Russia hit all-time highs over Russian airstrikes in Syria. In the clip, which was filmed at a Russian press conference, Mr Putin claimed the US is focusing on Russia and Iran "to distract voters from the country's problems" by creating "an enemy and uniting the nation against them". He said: "Jeopardizing Russian-American relations in order to gain brownie points internally – I consider this to be harmful and counterproductive.”It's not funny anymore. If somebody out there wants confrontation... This is not our choice but this means that there will be problems." Mr Putin weighed in on the US presidential race and criticized Hillary Clinton's "very aggressive" stance towards Russia. He said: "Mrs. Clinton has chosen to take up a very aggressive stance against our country, against Russia.”Would Mrs. Clinton deliver on the threats and harsh rhetoric against Russia if she became President? Or will she correct her position against us?" The Russian leader's criticism of Mrs. Clinton comes after the Democrat accused Russia of espionage over the hacking of Democrat emails.” Zoe Efstathiou , “Putin blasts Clinton & tells US to STOP criticizing Russia or 'there will be Consequences'”, the Daily Express, October 25, 2016

So what will be our next stop?

Cameron A. Bowen

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