Second, Putin has had to scale back dramatically his ambitions for a Novaya Rossiya (New Russia) extending from the Donbass in east Ukraine, through the major Black Sea ports, to the Romanian border as part of Russia or under Russia’s tutelage. In its even more ambitious variants, Russia’s territorial control would extend to Belarus and large swaths of Kazakhstan, while destabilizing large Russian populations in the Baltic States, most notably Latvia. Putin’s New Russia, as popularized by Putin’s favored Eurasian fascist, Alexander Dugin, has been humbled to a tenuous destabilization of the Donbass. From a grand new empire to a declining rust belt that can only survive on subsidies – what a humiliation!
As explained by a Russian analyst on Forum-MSK (See Paul Goble, Window on Eurasia) Putin’s and Ukraine’s fates are intertwined. Russia cannot stand by and watch Ukraine restore order. “Ukraine could become a most powerful weapon against Russia” and rebels inside Russia (like those in Maiden) would be intent on “destroying Russian power.” Putin could suffer the same fate as Milosevic in Serbia.
Paul Gregory serves on the International Academic Advisory Board of the Kiev School of Economics. His views do not represent those of the school. His latest book is Women of the Gulag: Portraits of Five Remarkable Lives.