Russia Vs Ukraine
For years President Vladimir Putin has had a fundamental interest in undermining democracy and suppressing the political independence of Ukraine, a neighboring Slavic country that he sees as a potential threat to his own power and influence. He tried to do so through covert political actions and, since 2014, by promoting forces of separatism in the country’s eastern regions. But when those limited tactics proved insufficient, he launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine because he erroneously believed that it would enable him to quickly establish a Kremlin-controlled puppet regime in Kyiv.
In truth, he misjudged the strength of Ukraine’s willingness to fight for its national autonomy in the face of an enemy that was far more sophisticated than Ukraine’s military and had a tremendous advantage in weaponry. He also failed to recognize that Ukrainians’ deep resolve to fight for their nation’s independence was the single most important factor that has driven the success of their war against Russian aggression.
The salience he and other members of Russia’s elite have assigned to the idea that Ukrainian (and Belarusian) identities are artificial and fragile echoes an approach that has been a default view of many Russian thinkers since the era of imperial conquest when ideas about “Russian unity” were promoted by writers such as Innokenty Gizel. These theories, which emphasized the organic unity of Great Russian, Little Russian, and White (Belarusian) peoples, were intended to deny the agency of people seeking to break away from tsarist or Soviet domination.