Russian military buildup at the Ukrainian border and recent military intervention of the Russian Military in Kazakistan has raised the question over President Putin’s intentions. Putin is one of the intriguing World leaders; thus, his actions have raised concerns about the motive of the Kremlin. A few weeks ago in an interview, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken says Putin wants to restore the Soviet Union. He added that the Russian President strives to re-exert his influence over the countries that were part of the Soviet Union.
Putin desired to restore the USSR.
According to Vladimir Putin, the collapse of the Soviet Union was a tragedy for historical Russia. After the collapse, he spent his life driving a taxi at the time. In a recent TV documentary, he claimed that the USSR was the historical Russian Empire that the Russian Tsar gradually acquired over time.
After the fall of the USSR, 40% of the territory accumulated over a thousand years was lost. This statement is noteworthy; he is conveying the idea that the countries currently independent but not associated with the Russian Federation historically belonged to Russia. Such is the same position China holds in defense of its aggressive actions.
In 2020 we had seen the outlook of Putin’s desire when he proposed Central Asian Countries to merge back in the USSR, stating that the unification benefits everyone is inevitably prevailing. But his comment of reviving the USSR provoked a backlash in Central Asia.
Moreover, recent data released by statistics agency Rosstat show that Russia loses a million people in historic population fall. But unlike Western nations, Russia does not have the luxury of immigration to attract immigrants. Therefore, the population decline in the next few years may be so severe that the Kremlin will no longer have the demographic necessary to protect their national security and maintain their military.
Path of Soviet Restoration
It’s going to be very difficult for Mr. Putin to restore the Soviet Empire, especially if he wants to convince the Central Asian countries to integrate with the Russian Federation. Nonetheless, Central Asian countries already said they did not want to become part of the USSR and are now independent countries. So, the plan to revive the Soviet Union can be carried out in two directions, the first being south of Russia, namely in Central Asia, although, absorbing those countries is rather difficult unless Putin attempted an invasion, which is highly unlikely. Therefore, Eurasian is the most convenient front.
However, Belarus is most likely to become a part of the Russian Federation on the western front in the near future. Since the Baltic states are already members of NATO, it is unlikely that Russia will go after them. Lastly, we have Ukraine where tensions are at a high point right now. There is a strong historical connection between Ukraine and the Russian Federation and 30% of Ukrainians speak Russian, especially in eastern Ukraine. Currently, Ukraine wants to become a member of NATO, something the Kremlin cannot allow to happen since Ukraine would not only pose a direct threat to Moscow but also prevent the return of Ukraine to the federation.
The Russian president, Vladimir Putin, has been in office for 22 years, and he wants to leave a legacy. During the last few years, we have seen an up-rise against him, especially when the Kremlin arrested Alexi Navalny. As the Afghan withdrawal showed last year, the Biden administration has a weak hand and US power is waning, and the recent Ukraine standoff shows the fractures within the EU. This might inspire Putin to take over Ukraine, perhaps restoring the former glory of the Russian Federation.