Putin Doctrine – It’s about national security

President Vladimir Putin addresses the nation at the Kremlin in Moscow (Feb. 24 2022)

Great nations have risen and fallen. Some nations since ancient times were called Assyria, Babylon, and later, Rome. They had risen and fallen. Nations do not stay great forever. Russia was formerly a great nation under its Soviet Communist system. Political leaders can become nostalgic but when reality sets in, they will be reminded that history will remain history.

The Putin Doctrine: This is a theory that puts forth the idea that Putin wants to restore today’s Russia back to its old glory days to have its rightful place in the world (but without the communism and Bolshevik oppression). Since the downfall of Soviet Russia and its collapse, Russia’s aura has waned. Political hacks and journalists have written lots of articles, blog posts and books (e.g., here) about this Putin Doctrine. He is patriotic and loves his country, but I’m not so convinced he’s that nostalgic and focused on restoring glory. I believe it has more to do with national security.

Putin said in 2005: “The greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century was the dissolution of the Soviet Union.” Angela Stent said this of the doctrine:

The core element of this doctrine is getting the West to treat Russia as if it were the Soviet Union, a power to be respected and feared, with special rights in its neighborhood and a voice in every serious international matter. The doctrine holds that only a few states should have this kind of authority, along with complete sovereignty, and that others must bow to their wishes. It entails defending incumbent authoritarian regimes and undermining democracies. And the doctrine is tied together by Putin’s overarching aim: reversing the consequences of the Soviet collapse, splitting the transatlantic alliance, and renegotiating the geographic settlement that ended the Cold War.

Angela Stent, Foreign Affairs. https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/ukraine/2022-01-27/putin-doctrine

It’s about National Security: Despite what the west thinks of Russia, Russia sees itself as a target of the West. Putin has a case for protecting Russia from being attacked by the West and is based on real historical concerns. Stent continues stating: “Russia, after all, has been repeatedly invaded from the West. In the twentieth century, it was invaded by anti-Bolshevik allied forces, including some from the United States, during its civil war from 1917 to 1922. Germany invaded twice, leading to the loss of 26 million Soviet citizens in World War II.”

Putin is primarily concerned about Russia’s security–not about a land grab of Ukraine for his own glory. We should take Putin at his word because he did do what he said he was going to do, due to NATO’s eastward expansion. Putin is making his case clear. He will remind the west that it has reneged on its promises it made when the Soviet Union was dissolved to end the cold war.

Putin doesn’t care about what the west thinks about him. He sees through the fake news and propaganda from the west. Putin continues to move, walk and talk with a strong sense of self-confidence in his beliefs and in the actions he has taken thus far in order to protect Russia’s national security.

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