Staunton, September 26 – In his speech to the United Nations as on many other occasions, Vadim Shtepa says, Vladimir Putin demonstrated that he differs from other world leaders in one critical way and that difference drives his approach at home, toward his neighbors and toward countries further afield.
Other world leaders define the contemporary era from the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, but Putin defines it as being from the defeated Berlin of 1945, an event in which the Soviet Union was deferred to as an ally of the other major powers and recognized as their equal in the UN Security Council (epl.delfi.ee/arvamus/vadim-stepa-kui-putin-ise-oma-vaktsiini-usuks-miks-ta-siis-ikka-veel-punkris-istub?id=91160377, in Russian at region.expert/ocean/).
“It is possible,” the editor of the Tallinn-based Region.Expert portal says, that Putin’s own “psychological trauma” explains this. In 1989, “he was a KGB officer in East Germany and the unification of Germany destroyed his entire career. But having become president of Russia, he for a long time already has been attempting to take his historical revenge.”
Putin’s view about the two anniversaries explains why he has promoted the cult of the Soviet victory in World War II at home, why he calls for summit meetings of the representatives of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, and why he is constantly trying to “restore ‘the Berlin Wall,’ even though the historical era now is entirely different.”
He wants recognition of spheres of influence, or at least of Russia’s own, much as was extended by the West at the end of World War II.
The Kremlin leader views Russia “not as one of the post-Soviet countries whose economy in reality forms only three percent of the world’s but rather as a direct continuation of the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union” and worthy of the same level of deference the West showed to Stalin’s USSR in 1945.
Because Putin is trapped in a world he sees as descending without change from 1945, he often makes mistakes because the world has changed a great deal as others have recognized in particular because of the events of 1989 and their follow on in 1991, Shtepa suggests.
Window on Eurasia — New Series