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Russia is the most nationalized and bureaucratic country in the world. In Russia, everything can be transformed into a political tool. The Russian people have created the strongest tool in the world, the largest empire… The Russian people have made great sacrifices and shed so much blood in order to create the Russian state; however, they are still in a powerless position in the vast and boundless country . Imperialism in the Western and bourgeois sense is alien to the Russian people, but the Russian people are obediently committed to building an imperialism to which they are indifferent. Here lies the secret of Russian history and the Russian soul. ——Berdyaev: “The Fate of Russia”
Russia’s long-term fate will depend on its ability to embrace a post-imperial mindset that sees the republics of the Soviet Union as sovereign equals rather than Russian domains. ——”The Lonely Empire”
The Russo-Ukrainian War has changed Russia’s national destiny. This war can not only be regarded as a continuation of the Cold War, but also may reset the post-World War II order. Russia’s national status, role, and authority accumulated during World War II were greatly consumed by this war, and the confrontation and confrontation between Russia and the West are also at the most intense moment since Peter the Great. Russia currently has almost no friends and partners in the West. The assembled Europe and the West have imposed unprecedented sanctions on Russia. This is an unprecedented isolation that has never occurred since Russia intervened in the European international system in the 18th century. A fierce war within the East Slavic civilization not only led to a break between the two “brother” nations of Russia and Ukraine, but also had a major impact on the geopolitical space around Russia. Putin’s strategic accumulation and attempts over the past 20 years since he took office have been “reset”. The Putinist strategy of governing the country has proven unable to make Russia stronger. The efforts to return or rebuild the empire just sounded the death knell for the empire. The Russo-Ukrainian war may accelerate Russia’s The great transformation of China established the post-imperial political order.
After World War I, the Russian philosopher Berdyaev published The Destiny of Russia, which made an in-depth analysis and reflection on Russia’s national character. He stated at the beginning: “The world war sharply raised the issue of Russia’s national self-consciousness. The Russian nation’s ideological circles feel the need and responsibility to uncover the mystery of Russia, understand Russia’s ideas, and determine its mission and status in the world. .” The outbreak of the Russo-Ukraine war and the course of the war have triggered Russians to rethink the proposition of “Russia’s destiny”. Russian scholar Trenin believes that version 1.0 of the Russian Federation may be over. He hopes that the Russian Federation 2.0 will have such characteristics: a more feasible and self-sustaining economic system, a more independent and stable finance, a stronger scientific and technological foundation, and a fairer society. A social contract, a political system more accountable to its citizens, an elite that serves the state rather than individuals, independence from nuclear weapons and a stronger military, and a foreign policy that works closely with the rising majority of non-Western nations around the globe, and ultimately Find a satisfactory basis for new relations with Western Europe and North America. Of course, this is Trenin’s expectation. As for Russia’s fate, there is no clear outline yet, but there is no doubt that Russia’s fate has been reversed due to this war, and Russia’s foundation as a world power has been shaken.
The fate of Russia and the fate of President Putin may be separated by this war. Putin has governed Russia for more than 20 years. Although the phrase “Give me twenty years and give you back a strong Russia” was not original to President Putin, it is a contract between Putin and the Russian people to give the Russian people a strong country. The Russo-Ukraine War is Putin’s attempt to realize a strong Russia, but this bet has encountered unprecedented resistance. The war has been going on for almost a year, and the prospects of the Russian army winning are slim. Trenin believes that the impact of the Russo-Ukrainian War has surpassed the Crimean War in the 19th century and the Russo-Japanese War in the 20th century, and is getting closer and closer to World War I. The First World War was a major turning point for the fate of Russia. The defeat, surrender, civil war, and the end of the Tsarist Empire.
In the past 20 years, Putin has gradually formed a power system with himself as the core, and established the most personal power system after Stalin. bigger. The investigative report published by the US media on why Putin launched the war against Ukraine revealed the contradictions and conflicts between Putin’s power system and Russia’s national strategy. Before launching the war, Putin hardly discussed it in the government, especially at the top level. Putin’s will and ideas “kidnapped” Russia’s national strategy. Foreign wars are a major event related to the country’s future and destiny, but Putin’s decision-making is almost child’s play, and he has always refused to admit that The war, but the so-called “special military operations”, have not disclosed the goal of the war, but insisted that everything is in the “plan”. The Russia-Ukraine war itself is a fierce confrontation and conflict between Putin’s power system and Russia’s national strategy, which will determine Putin’s fate, and in turn will affect the fate of Russia.
There is a huge contrast between Putin’s world and the real world. In the past 20 years, Putin has achieved a series of victories with tactical breakthroughs, but at the same time created a closed world of individuals who are increasingly divorced from Russia’s real status and the real world. The accumulation of tactical victories has actually led to strategic Failure, this cannot but be said to be a turning point in Putin’s fate. It is undeniable that Putin is tactically shrewd, which may be related to his KGB experience. He was able to seize local tactical opportunities and win victories with explosive effects, from combating oligarchs, strengthening energy weapons, to using foreign troops many times , each of Putin’s tactical victories also creates potential costs and losses, just like the shadows under the sun, such as the occupation and annexation of the Crimea peninsula, which made Putin’s political popularity explode, but also paid a huge cost and price . Looking back, Putin suddenly ordered the occupation and annexation of the Crimea Peninsula in 2014, which was already the pinnacle of Putin’s tactical operations. The transition between victory and defeat often happened overnight, and the so-called “black swan” The event is nothing but a concentrated outbreak of systemic risk, and even leads to a crash.
The core of Putinism is Russia’s status and dignity as a world power. Russia’s status and glory as a major power are tied to Putin’s personal destiny. Based on the interpretation of Russian history, especially the history of the expansion of the Russian Empire since Peter I, more and more historical factors have been added to Putin’s strategy. Historical rights and historical territories are mixed with Russian messianism. Russia’s “sacred rights” and great power status can be realized by restoring and rebuilding historical territories and influences. Since Putin announced his re-election for the presidency in 2011, the concept of modernization has basically been removed from Putin’s discourse. Strengthening military power, especially nuclear power to strengthen Russia’s status as a world power, has almost become Putin’s “habit.” Russia’s trump card is more focused on nuclear weapons and energy. Russia’s state power is in a state of “distortion”, and its economic and social development has stagnated or even regressed. Russia’s power base has not strengthened, but has become more fragile. There is a stark contrast between the pursuit of the status of a world power and Russia’s fragile power structure. The coercive policies of the former Soviet republics have indeed created “fear” of Putin, and fear itself is also a source of power. Based on the “fear” of Putin and Russia, Russia’s status as a great power has also been maintained.
The Russia-Ukraine war was a watershed for Putin. It can even be said that this war was first a duel of will between Putin and Zelensky, and it was also a change of roles and status between the two on the world political stage. Zelensky used to be an actor who played the president, and his performance after the outbreak of the Russian-Ukrainian war was even more exciting than any script could have imagined. Putin’s “misjudgment” of Zelensky may be the biggest failure. Putin thinks he has a good understanding of the Ukrainian issue, and of course he is full of contempt for Zelensky. In the past 20 years, Putin’s manipulation of Ukraine’s political situation may not be considered smooth, but it can be regarded as successful. It is also difficult for the Ukrainian president to confront Putin, especially the success of the tactical raid in Crimea in 2014, which may have greatly affected Putin’s judgment on Ukraine and Zelensky. As some scholars have assessed, “It is difficult to identify a consistent Russian strategy toward Ukraine. Its strategy is a curious mixture of arcane expectations, historical and geopolitical anxieties, a sense of strategic power, intuition, and tactical flexibility. Putin’s approach reflects a more The contradictory influence of two worlds in which its foreign policy is generally shaped. On the one hand, the Kremlin envisions Ukraine and its relationship with Russia with historical inevitability; The true situation.”
Putin’s style and success in governing the country for more than 20 years have finally created a power system with Putin as the only one. The seemingly strong and rigid power system has actually fallen into extreme rigidity. Almost every step of the Russo-Ukrainian war was diametrically opposed to Putin’s expectations, which is enough to reflect that Putin’s system has moved away from the real world, and he has launched a war concerning the destiny of the country without knowing himself or the enemy.
Talking about the fate of a country needs to be under a specific time and space framework, and only in a longer period of time can we see the transformation of fate, or periodic changes. The rise and fall of nations is a constant, like the ebb and flow of the tide. The impact of the Russo-Ukrainian War on Russia’s fate may be as Trenin said, which can be compared to World War I.
First of all, the Russo-Ukraine War did end the international situation in the post-Cold War era, especially the geopolitical situation in Europe, but from another perspective, the Russo-Ukraine War may be the end of the Cold War, or the Russo-Ukraine War may be regarded as an extension of the Cold War , It can even be said that the Russia-Ukraine War turned the Cold War into a “hot war”. The Cold War began with the Marshall Plan and the establishment of the Communist Intelligence Bureau. The deep-rooted reason was that the Soviet Union and the United States divided power boundaries in Central Europe. China and Europe have been at the forefront of the Cold War, which ended in a so-called no post-war agreement. If the Russo-Ukraine War is a continuation and conclusion of the Cold War, it means that the “victory results” that Russia obtained after World War II and maintained during the Cold War will be greatly changed. After World War II, the Soviet Union was the victor, and the long-term confrontation of the Cold War made Russia a loser. After World War II and during the Cold War, the Soviet Union became the most powerful country in Russian history and established itself as a great power on a par with the United States. But Putin never forgets the historical glory of the Soviet Union’s penetration into the hinterland of Central Europe and its equal status with the United States. In the order arrangement after the Russo-Ukraine War, Russia’s status as a great power after World War II may be reset. An obvious sign is the United Nations Security Council and Russia’s role in the Security Council. Based on the judgment that the Russo-Ukraine War is part of the “Long Cold War,” the Russo-Ukrainian War will mean that Russia continues to decline on the path of decline following the disintegration of the Soviet Union in the 1990s. During Putin’s first decade in power, when Russia’s decline was reversed, Putin worried that Russia would become a second Yugoslavia. After the Russo-Ukrainian War, Russia may enter the second channel of decline. The post-war order and the peace agreement will define Russia’s status and role in a legal sense, and Russia’s status in international organizations will be greatly reduced. The exclusion from the Security Council is evident.