Putin’s so-called “special military operation” in Ukraine has forced all of us to take another look at the Russian ideology, on which the Kremlin’s foreign policy actions are based. If initially the “special operation” was presented by the Kremlin as a defence of “Donbass” and “liberation of Ukraine” from the “Nazis”, today Putin’s war is clearly seen as direct confrontation with the entire democratic world for the sake of Russian imperial revanchism. The reason for the militant and criminal behavior of the owner of the Kremlin is the collapse of the ideological foundation of the Putin regime – the “Russian world”, Russkiy Mir.
The term “Russian world” has long been used as the ideological foundation of Russia’s imperial geopolitics and justification for Putin’s desire to accumulate lands under Moscow’s control.
This project was popular in Russia in the early periods of his reign. Under it, entire departments were created and a massive propaganda machine was built. The last flash of recognition of the “Russian world” came with the annexation of Crimea. After that, his popularity began to noticeably decrease, which led to the loss of Moscow’s historical influence, as well as a decrease in dominance within Russia itself. The weakening of the main political core of the Kremlin began to threaten the stability of the regime. Putin could never allow this.
Russkiy Mir is based on past exploits and victory in World War II. His obsession with this historical event gave Putin a reason to boast of greatness and being a chosen leader. The main figure of the Russian world view was the will of its leader, the tsar, the emperor. The central subject of contemporary Russian ideology is Putin himself. He has single-handedly abrogated to himself the right to determine the fate of people, stigmatise his enemies or rank them as allies. He has ascribed power to himself in a scope that goes far beyond understanding and awareness.
The problem with Putin’s twisted world view is that during his years in power he has been trying to spread his influence across as wide a territory as possible. It does not matter to him that this territory will eventually be destroyed to the point that it has no economic value. Also secondary are the hegemony of the Russians as the titular nation of Russia or the establishment of a protectorate of Moscow over the vassal republics of the former Soviet Union. Paramount is Putin’s desire to subjugate states and territories personally to himself, and having acquired this power, to single-handedly determine their future.
In fact, there is nothing Russian in the “Russian world”. There is only a lust for power. There is a desire to conquer, kill and absorb. At the same time, achieving the goal has no price. For Putin, thousands of victims, mountains of corpses, sanctions, impoverishment, devastation are nothing more than side effects. He perceives the horrors of war as an inevitable price to pay on his route to omnipotence. Having no “soft power”, the owner of the Kremlin easily throws tens of thousands of his fellow citizens into the furnace of battles, calls for help from mercenaries from all over the world. He sends conscripts and cadets of military schools to their deaths.
The nationality of the invaders does not matter. Putin has turned the conquest of Ukraine into an international campaign of terror, where the references to “demilitarisation” and “denazification” in his vocabulary mean explicitly the complete elimination of Ukraine as a nation. The bombing of residential buildings and the massacre of civilians show that the dictator totally disregards the human element; he attempts to shock and horrify into submission those who disagree with his terms. This is also a threat about what may lie in store for other countries when they find themselves on the other side of the “red lines” in the future.
Today it is clear to everyone that the socio-ideological basis of the Putin regime is dead. Putin has lost the foundation of the ideological brainwashing of his population and the possibility of its expansion. To compensate for the failures, he has resorted to the most bloody scenario. However, given the avalanche of problems in Russia itself, which will rapidly lead to collapse of the nation, Putin needs a string of victorious wars merging into an unbroken series. After Ukraine, the turn of Sweden, Finland, the Baltic states, Poland, and Slovakia will follow.
A month ago, Putin was a political bankrupt. Now he is a political corpse, an outcast and an international criminal. Stopping him is the paramount task of the democratic world. He must be stopped without a hint of concessions, without the possibility of restoring strength, without the right to revenge. Otherwise, his Russian horde will continue its advance.