Russian President Vladimir Putin, Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev and Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev arrive for a Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) leaders working breakfast in Moscow, Russia May 9, 2023.
Vladimir Smirnov | sputnik | Reuters
Russian President Vladimir Putin has slammed countries he says try to “impose their rule” and rules on others, saying on Wednesday that those who do so destabilize the world and “completely ignore sovereignty, national interests and rights.” traditions of other states”.
Speaking at a security issues conference on Wednesday, Putin said the world was becoming increasingly unstable and “new hotbeds of tension were emerging”.
He blamed this new era of turbulence on unspecified “individual countries and associations” – widely understood to refer to Russia’s rivals in the West and in NATO – which he said were trying to ” preserve, maintain their dominance, impose their own rules, completely ignoring the sovereignty, national interests, traditions of other states”.
“All this is accompanied by a buildup of military potential, unceremonious interference in the internal affairs of other countries,” Putin said, “as well as attempts to extract unilateral benefits from the energy and food crises. provoked by a number of Western states.
There was not a shred of irony from Putin, a leader who, during his 23 years in power in Russia, oversaw a systematic program of interference in the internal affairs and sovereignty of other country, most recently during Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine 15 months ago.
Russian President Vladimir Putin on a screen in Red Square as he addresses a rally and concert marking the annexation of four regions of Ukraine – Lugansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia – in central Moscow September 30, 2022.
Alexander Nemenov | AFP | Getty Images
Servicemen wearing protective suits remove a police car and other vehicles from a public car park as they continue their investigations into the poisoning of Sergei Skripal on March 11, 2018 in Salisbury, England.
Chris J. Ratcliffe/Getty Images
Ignoring Ukraine’s Sovereignty
However, it was Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year that is widely seen as one of the most egregious examples of another country’s “ignoring sovereignty” in the 21st century.
When Russia launched its invasion, Putin tried to justify the decision to a domestic audience, saying Russia wanted to “denazify” and “demilitarize” Ukraine, a country that has a Jewish president and is not part of NATO.
Yet most onlookers understood that the stated goals hid Moscow’s true intention which was (and is) to overthrow the pro-Western government in Kiev and regain its influence over the former Soviet republic.
Ukraine has been moving steadily towards its European neighbors for years, despite Russia’s attempts to maintain pro-Kremlin leadership in the country. A pro-European uprising in Ukraine in 2014 led to the overthrow of then Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, Russia’s favorite man in Kyiv.
Yanukovych fled to Russia in the ensuing political crisis, an event Russia still calls a US-orchestrated “coup” without presenting evidence. The uprising, or Maidan revolution as Ukrainians know it, led to the start of armed hostilities between Russia and Ukraine, with Russia invading Crimea in March 2014 and fomenting pro-Russian unrest – and an armed separatist movement – in the east of the country.
A giant mural showing a map of the Crimean peninsula filled with the flag of the Russian Federation, in Moscow, Russia, Friday, March 28, 2014.
Bloomberg | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Russia’s perception of the shift of Ukraine and other former Soviet states to the West, and its sphere of influence, has troubled Moscow and it has tried to maintain influence over its neighbors by hook or by crook. .
As with eastern Ukraine and the two pro-Russian separatist “republics” backed by Moscow, the same playbook has been used in Georgia. Russia recognized ‘independence’ from the country’s pro-Russian breakaway parts of Abkhazia and South Ossetia in 2008 in a move that led to war, albeit on a much shorter scale than the one we saw in Ukraine. Georgia still considers Russia to occupy 20% of its territory. In Moldova, the restive and pro-Russian territory of Transnistria is also seen as a potential target for Russian annexation.
While Ukraine is mounting much more resistance than Russia expected, the conflict is feared to last for years, with immense human and economic cost. Putin said on Tuesday that Russia was going through “difficult times” as it continued its military campaign in Ukraine, but said national pride was growing.
Russia has seen punishment after punishment for its geopolitical interference and misdemeanors, but its full-scale invasion of Ukraine and the latest outbreak of war on European territory has prompted NATO to act decisively, Western countries rallying to Kiev to provide it with military means and financial aid to help it defend itself against its neighbour.
Western leaders have repeatedly warned that there are broader safeguards at stake and that Russia must not be allowed to win in its invasion, fearing other former Soviet states may be next as Putin attempts apparently to rebuild a Soviet empire; Putin publicly lamented the loss of the USSR, calling it one of the greatest geopolitical disasters Russia has known the last century.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov looks on alongside Russian President Vladimir Putin as he awaits the US-Russia summit at Villa La Grange in Geneva on June 16, 2021.
Brendan Smialowski | AFP | Getty Images
Speaking at the same event on Wednesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the West wanted to inflict a strategic defeat on Russia and claimed NATO weapons intended for Ukraine were deployed beyond the country’s borders.
“The collective West does not hide its intention to inflict a strategic defeat on us. The Kiev regime is used as an anti-Russian battering ram, which is inflated with NATO weapons. At the same time, part of the Western supply – and a growing share – is spreading out of control around the world,” he told the news agency. TASS reported.