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Freedom Heart Ukraine

Putin’s Russian Empire is collapsing like its Soviet predecessor

Sep 21, 2022 | Opinion, Featured

Taras Kuzio for Atlantic Council / UkraineAlert.

As Vladimir Putin’s disastrous invasion of Ukraine continues to unravel, growing numbers of Western experts are predicting the breakup of the Russian Federation itself. While Russia may yet survive the debacle in Ukraine, it is already apparent that the Kremlin has suffered an historic loss of influence in the wider post-Soviet region. As in 1991, this collapse has been brought about by Ukraine’s drive to escape Moscow’s control.

Since the early 1990s, the Kremlin has insisted that the West recognize the former Soviet Union as Russia’s exclusive sphere of influence. This demand predates Vladimir Putin’s rise to power by nearly a decade and is one of the central pillars of modern Russian foreign policy. In other words, Moscow never truly accepted the verdict of 1991 and has always sought to retain its imperial influence throughout the former USSR.

Beginning in the early 1990s, Russia used the vast army it inherited from the USSR to impose frozen conflicts and military bases on its weaker post-Soviet neighbors, while also forcing them to maintain deep economic ties and join Russian-led political and security structures. This Russian dominance is now finally being challenged. The reason is simple: Ukraine’s military victories have debunked Moscow’s claims to great power status and shattered the myth of Russian military might.

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