What does Vladimir Putin want?

Ukraine and several Eastern European countries affirm that the President of Russia, Vladimir Putin, wants to revive the former Soviet Union, which disappeared in 1991. Putin, however, assures that this is not his objective, but rather to prevent Ukraine from joining the NATO.

But the truth is that Putin’s move to recognize the independence of the Ukrainian breakaway regions of Donatsk and Lugansk and send troops to that area raises fears of the Russian president’s expansionist plans.

For the Ukrainian Minister of Defense, Oleksii Reznikov, Putin has just taken another step to revive the Soviet Union. In a speech addressed to the Ukrainian Army, the Minister of Defense stated that Russia wants the rebirth of the USSR “with a new Warsaw Pact”, the military agreement created in response to NATO, and “a new Berlin wall”.

For his part, the Polish Minister of Defense, Mariusz Blaszczak, called for “serious, not symbolic sanctions” against Moscow, because according to him “only in this way will the “return of the Soviet empire” be prevented.

Blaszczak emphasized that Putin intends to “rebuild the Soviet empire” and recalled statements by then-Polish President Lech Kaczynski, who stated in 2008 that the Russian invasion of Georgia would be followed by those of Ukraine, the Baltic states and Poland.

Czech Defense Minister Jana Cernochova also interpreted the Russian president’s decision to recognize the independence of the Ukrainian regions of Donetsk and Luhansk as an attempt to rebuild the former Soviet Union.

“Putin’s recognition of the breakaway republics in Eastern Ukraine is an attempt to renew the Soviet Union to the detriment of free and sovereign countries,” Cernochova said on her Twitter account.

From Moscow, Putin responded to all these reactions. The Russian president stated on Tuesday that the “best solution” to resolve the crisis around Ukraine would be for this country to renounce its desire to join NATO, and “demilitarize”.

“The best solution … would be for the authorities currently in power in Kiev to refuse to join NATO by themselves and remain neutral,” Putin said.

Russia demands guarantees from Western countries that the Atlantic Alliance will not continue to extend to its borders. The Russian president also advocated the “demilitarization” of Ukraine, claiming that it receives weapons from its Western allies.

Putin also denied that he intends to restore the Russian empire after recognizing the breakaway republics of Donetsk and Lugansk.

“I had anticipated that there would be speculation on that topic, that of the restoration of the Russian empire,” Putin said during a meeting in Moscow with his Azerbaijani counterpart Ilham Aliev.

The head of the Kremlin assured that these statements “do not correspond to reality at all”.

He added that after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Russia accepted the new geopolitical reality.

However, on Monday night, at the UN Security Council, US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield said that “Putin is testing the international system and seeing how far he can push the UN.” . (With information from the EFE and AFP agencies).

The Czech minister assured that “not only Ukraine is on that chessboard, but also us”, referring to the former communist Czechoslovakia that, for four decades, between 1948 and 1989, was part of the Eastern bloc controlled by Moscow.

For their part, the Baltic countries, which were occupied in the 1940s by the Soviet Union and regained their sovereignty with its dissolution in 1991, ask that NATO’s eastern flank be strengthened, after the “attack on sovereignty”. and the territorial integrity of Ukraine” derived from the recognition by Russia of the self-proclaimed separatist republics of Donbas.

The head of the Estonian Government, Kaja Kallas, condemned the Ukrainian “attack on territorial integrity”.

Meanwhile, the president of Lithuania, Gitanas Nauseda, described Russia’s recognition of the Ukrainian breakaway republics as an “unacceptable violation of international law.”

“What we are witnessing may seem surreal to the democratic world, but what happens to the next generations will depend on our reaction to it,” said the head of the Lithuanian government, Ingrida Simonyte.

Also Latvia, a member of NATO and the European Union, like the rest of the Baltic republics, urged the strengthening of the eastern flank of the Atlantic Alliance in a statement signed by the Presidency of the country, the Parliament and the government.

The Georgian president, Salomé Zurabishvili, denounced on Tuesday that Russia is repeating in Ukraine the same script of 2008 in Georgia to violate its territorial integrity by recognizing the self-proclaimed pro-Russian separatist republics of Lugansk and Donetsk.

“Everyone remembers the experience of Georgia in 2008. Russia is now repeating this script in Ukraine. I have the feeling of a ‘deja vu’ “, she declared at a press conference. According to the president, Georgia “is linked to the issue of Ukraine, therefore, when it comes to finding a way out of the crisis, it is clear that everyone must also think of Georgia.”

Both Ukraine and Georgia aspire to join NATO, something that Russia has described as a “red line” for its security due to the approach of the Atlantic Alliance to its borders.

Zurabishvili said that she does not see “on the part of Russia any intention of dialogue on the restoration of the territorial integrity of Georgia”, lost after the recognition by Moscow in 2008 of the separatist territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, where there are bases. Russian military. “Russia has no desire to behave diplomatically,” she said, also referring to Ukraine.

The president commented that she spoke with her counterparts from Poland and France, to whom she asked that during their talks on Ukraine “not forget about Georgia.”

The president called for imposing sanctions on Russia that represent a high “moral, political and financial” cost.

Paulo Bentu

Non-Resident Fellow

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