Russia is not doomed to be a wannabe imperialist power, seeking to dominate its neighbors, note Maria Popova and Oxana Shevel. It is a mistake to equate Putin’s views on Ukraine and Russia’s relations with the West with the stable preferences of Russian society, they write for Foreign Affairs:
To be sure, for now, Putin’s authoritarian rule has destroyed parliamentary opposition and pushed civil society opposition into exile or prison, giving Putin leeway to act unilaterally. Even in this highly repressive climate, however, thousands of Russians, including former military officials, have called on Putin not to attack Ukraine.
Ukraine’s strength lies in being a pluralist alternative to Russian authoritarianism, add Popova and Oxana, authors of a must-read analysis in the NED’s Journal of Democracy. By strengthening and deepening democracy, Ukraine would deny Putin his objective to turn the former Soviet state into a “little Russia.” RTWT
Of course, Putin wants to prevent Ukraine from joining NATO and interrupt current
military cooperation between Ukraine and NATO countries, adds Stanford’s Michael McFaul. But his revisionist agenda is much larger than that.
For as long as he rules Russia, Putin will continue to normalize annexation, deny sovereignty to neighbors, undermine democratic regimes, ideas, and societies, and undo the liberal international order, he said in testimony to the U.S. House Oversight Committee hearing on Defending U.S. Allies and Interests Against Russian Aggression in Eastern Europe.
Today, on Ukrainian Unity Day (February 16), @NEDemocracy stands in unity and solidarity with all Ukrainians as they work to protect their country and build a vibrant, democratic Ukraine. #UAразом #NEDemocracy #StandWithUkraine pic.twitter.com/J3r0Xj1Zs7
— NEDemocracy (@NEDemocracy) February 16, 2022