In an interview broadcast in December, Putin lamented the fall of the Soviet Union, which he had previously called “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe” of the 20th century. “It was a disintegration of historic Russia,” he said in the interview. “We have become a completely different country. And what had been built for 1,000 years was largely lost.
Putin wants it back. The invasion of Ukraine is part of this vision.
Putin confessed in the interview that soon after the fall of the Soviet Union, when inflation in Russia was in double digits, he sometimes moonlighted as a taxi driver to supplement his income. “It’s unpleasant to talk about it,” he said, “but, unfortunately, it also happened.”
Now he has reversed the humiliation of those difficult times. Some experts believe he could now be the richest man in the world. I believe that makes the 69-year-old more dangerous, not less.
Putin no longer needs the superficial pleasure he would get from collecting more material objects than he already owns. Instead, he can now be absorbed in what many of the world’s greatest men and women care about later in life: building a legacy, creating history, casting a long shadow.
Putin doesn’t just want to win a war or take a region, he wants to score a point, he wants to be the wings on which Russia rises. His ego feeds his aggressiveness, and that’s why it’s hard to imagine him accepting a defeat in Ukraine.
Any form of victory for him will only add to his appetite. Why would he stop at Ukraine, or part of Ukraine?
And, of course, the West is limited by the fact that Russia is not only a nuclear power, with around 6,000 nuclear warheads, but also has the largest nuclear stockpile in the world, an even greater arsenal larger than that of the United States.