Tuesday, March 8, 2022

Russia / Ukraine War in Terms of Empires

It is easy to take the rhetoric from Putin as the bluster of an attacker, but maybe it's more. Let's try putting this in the context of Empires. We do this because Putin through actions and iconography seems to miss the Russian Empire. In words and deeds, he misses the Soviet Union and their sphere of influence.  

Russian Empire Pre-WWI

If you look at the war as a continuation of the control of the near abroad by Putin to reestablish the Russia / Soviet Union it makes a bit more sense. Many countries went to war to create or save their Empire. 

The United States, a very minor Empire, let Philippines and Cuba slip out of our control, only after we secured military rights. We let many of the Micronesian Islands in the Pacific gain liberation, but those were mainly given to the US to administer after Germany lost in WWI. And we maintained (and still do) the Western Hemisphere governments should not operate under the influence of "foreign powers" - which is why we continue actions of isolation or regime change in Cuba and Venezuela.

Other Empires had major wars of liberation (although usually subjugation) in different times. 

The British fought South Africans in the late 1800s early 1900s. The fought to keep control of India (including Pakistan and Bangladesh) up until 1947. The French fought to keep Algeria after WWII from 1954 - 1962. Portugal did not yield its African until 1975.

Sphere of Influences in 1975 (Soviets in Red, NATO plus in Blue)


The rebellions in the Russian Empire and Sphere of Influence lasted even longer. After WWI, Russia lost Finland, the Baltic Countries and East Poland (and for a time Ukraine). After the fall of the Soviet Union Russia lost approximately 15 regions to national forces in those regions. They also lost the sphere of influence over the Warsaw Pact of 6 countries in Eastern Europe. But it is important to remember that after WWII, Russian regained the Baltic Countries as well as more territory in Eastern Europe. So losing these territories again was humiliating.

Looking at it that way doesn't make the actions of Russia any less  illegal and heartless. But it does explain how Putin can twist nationalistic feelings of Russians into useful propaganda.

Detailed European map; Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact in pale red.

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