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OPINION AND ANALYSIS | 10-03-2022 16:06

Vladimir Putin is dragging the world back to the 19th century by force

The president of the Russian Federation dreams of restoring the empire of yesteryear with himself as the new czar.

Vladimir Putin is not mad – his way of thinking simply follows other lines. 

He dreams of  restoring what once was Imperial Russia. It is true that the last czars were a weaker version of absolutism and the Soviet Union restored that power, but Putin pursues the former more than the latter.

But to recover such power, he needs resources. Today his country has a gross domestic product similar to Brazil in a country of colossal dimensions and Brazil with less territory suffers from enormous inequalities. War could unleash a chain reaction, bleeding an economy which already has its bank accounts frozen.

While capitalism is only for a few in Russia, the Europeanised Russians of the West want to maintain their standard of living. And on the other hand, the promise of a Blitzkrieg invasion which would dominate Ukraine in a few days has evaporated – Ukraine did not lay down and die as Moscow had predicted.

Furthermore, China, the main ally of Putin, resents this course of events. They see their own construction of superpower status as via respectability and prestige.

In contrast, the European reaction has been too lukewarm. And it has become clear that over and above their empathy, Europeans do not want to die for Ukraine. They still live under the shadow of two world wars which killed over 60 million soldiers and civilians, along with over six million Jews.

Putin has not encountered heavyweight rivals who can oppose him and move ahead. He then comes across as a madman when he shows himself determined. And in a single blow he is dragging the world back to the 19th century, to raise himself up to be a new czar.

It is possible that this may change the global architecture, although not from one day to the next. Other kinds of leaders may emerge in his image. Because the archetype of multilateralism which the United Nations represents, with all its bureaucracy and its multi-billion budget, again has been of no use.

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Jorge Faurie

Jorge Faurie

* Foreign minister in the Mauricio Macri administration, 2017 to 2019

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