Sometimes people claim that Vladimir Putin is a geopolitical player with outstanding talent and achieve great success. But if history teaches something, this statement is very disputable.
Once Putin called the collapse of the Soviet Union the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century. In a very limited view of the Kremlin, that is the way it is. But the Soviet Union was not viable and thus collapsed. Appeared in its place a new Russia had to establish friendly and constructive relations that emerged in the former Soviet Union independent States.
The most important things was the relationship with Ukraine. Two people have a common origin, and the basis for them was the ancient Rus, which arose thousands of years ago around Kiev. These Nations went their own ways, but kept close ties of friendship. And their economy was firmly integrated. To speak Russian in Kiev, was as natural as Ukrainian. That is the firm resolve of Ukraine more than anything else determined in December 1991, the fate of the Soviet Union. Kiev and Moscow were to build a new geopolitical structure in the Eastern European space.
But when came to power Putin, everything went wrong.
Policy the Kremlin actively intervened in the presidential elections in Ukraine in 2004, supporting candidate Viktor Yanukovych. This gave rise to the orange revolution. Won the elections Viktor Yushchenko with great suspicion to the obvious machinations of Russia.
Putin miscalculated in Ukraine and in economic terms, when he decided that his Eurasian economic Union should be based on the Customs Union and what Ukraine must become a party to it. He made every effort to hinder its desire to conclude a free trade agreement with the European Union.
The course was put all the funds except for the military. A powerful propaganda offensive on Ukraine was accompanied by a brutal economic measures. Russia broke off trade relations with Ukraine, although this is going to harm her. Everything was done to ensure that Kiev changed course. Putin’s advisers have publicly warned Ukraine of “catastrophic consequences”. When the Ukrainian economy started going downhill, Yanukovych in a desperate attempt to reduce gas prices has postponed an agreement with the EU and distorted its contents, secretly pledging to join the Customs Union.
Thus began a popular movement on the Maidan. Yanukovych at the insistence of Putin brutally suppressed the uprising by force. As a result, the streets of Kiev killed more than 100 people. The result was a disaster for both leaders.
In early 2014, Yanukovych fled the country, and Putin invaded Crimea and annexed it. He also began attempts to find the southern regions of Ukraine territorial entity called “Novorossiya”. The Kremlin believed that all he will easily succeed. Powerful propaganda on TV, little green men, the actions of the hotheads among the nationalists, the supply of heavy weapons, the money — it’s a piece of cake!
But Putin has failed. In the fall of 2014, he was forced to send to Ukraine battalion group from the regular army to rescue his plan from complete failure. By the time he’s already caused one accident: a division of the Russian army in the summer the plane was shot down Malaysian airlines MH17.
Today using the support of the Kremlin, the separatists control about seven percent of Ukrainian territory, and they have to provide financial assistance in the billions of dollars. Against key sectors of the Russian economy imposed sanctions. During the conflict, around 10 thousand people died and three million were forced to leave their homes.
In early 2014, Ukraine has recovered from close to disaster to the financial situation, strengthen their democracy, the onset of stable and consistent reform process, and of course, signed with the EU an Association agreement and free trade. Meanwhile, the Eurasian economic Union is moribund, torn by disputes, and its members increasingly view him as dysfunctional and inappropriate.
And as for Putin, he had to learn the lesson he should have understood from the very beginning, looking at the history: the attack on a foreign country is not the best way to make friends. Ukraine, which has always been at varying degrees split, today, United in its opposition to Russia. A new generation of Ukrainians see Russia as an enemy, not a friend.
Of course, Putin wants to enter history as the leader who returned to Crimea. But let’s wait and see, because Crimea is not so clear.
And everything else Putin has lost. In the three Baltic States and Poland deployed NATO troops. Across Europe, the growing spending on defense. Georgia just got visa-free access to the EU. Even Belarus has come to the excitement.
And the great country of Ukraine will never be together with the Kremlin. I would not be surprised if future historians will see this as an even greater geopolitical catastrophe than the collapse of the Soviet Union. The collapse of the Soviet Union was inevitable. But the Ukrainian disaster was entirely avoidable. But the Kremlin itself gave birth to her.
Yes, Vladimir Putin is a brilliant geopolitical player. As you can see…
Carl Bildt is a former Prime Minister of Sweden and a freelance columnist for the Washington Post.