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Soviet Union - the end of a "totalitarian empire"

Soviet Union – the end of a “totalitarian empire”

Shortly before the 30th anniversary of the collapse of the Soviet Union, Kremlin President Vladimir Putin once again mourned the state of the lost superpower. He complained on Russian state television that Russia had lost 40 percent of its historical territory at that time. On December 25, the Soviet flag was withdrawn from the Kremlin. President Mikhail Gorbachev resigned after failed reform attempts. December 26, 1991 is officially considered the end of the state.

In memory of the anniversary, Putin talks about a “tragedy” in the TV documentary. “A large part of what we have achieved over 1,000 years has been lost,” he says, referring to the Russian Empire, from which the Soviet Union and its fifteen republics emerged five years later after the October Revolution of 1917.

The head of the Kremlin says that Russia, the main raw material power, threatened to collapse after the end of the USSR. But in his more than 20 years in power, Putin has not only done everything to unite the world’s largest country by area. It also greatly restricted the liberties gained under Gorbachev, and more recently Alexei Navalny’s gallery structures have been smashed.

Citizens have forgotten the dark side

A survey conducted by the State Polling Institute WZIOM on the 30th anniversary of the end of the Soviet Union showed that people remember above all social security, stability and the status of the superpower under communism. But the dark sides – such as the lack of an economy with empty shelves and long queues as well as political persecution – are forgotten by many. The Russian Deputy Prime Minister in 1991, Gennady Porbilis, pointed out that the Soviet Union was a totalitarian empire built on terrorism. in a Happened in Vienna in November “The collapse of the empire was historically necessary,” he said. On the other hand, former KGB agent Putin described the collapse of the Soviet Union as “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century”.

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Especially since the annexation of Crimea by the Ukrainian Black Sea in 2014, he is suspected of wanting to restore the old empire. US foreign policy chief Victoria Nuland said there were concerns that the 69-year-old Putin would try to be a legacy of “rebuilding the Soviet Union”. Nuland mainly referred to the deployment of Russian forces near the Ukrainian border. The United States and NATO accuse Russia of planning an attack on Ukraine.

The West fears an invasion of Ukraine by Russian forces.

– © AFP / Maxar Technologies

The Kremlin strongly rejects this. But Moscow is demanding The end of NATO’s eastward expansion towards Ukraine, which also has ambitions to join the European Union. The United States responded that all countries have the right to determine their own future and foreign policy without outside interference. From January onwards, Russia expects to hold talks with the United States about the required security guarantees. NATO has already increased the operational readiness of its rapid reaction force.

caught in the past

But the West is not only interested in Ukraine. In Belarus, the crisis surrounding Governor Alexander Lukashenko was not resolved. Western sanctions push the former Soviet republic into the arms of Russia. Lukashenko assured that Belarus will remain independent. But the state of the union in both countries, which for a long time existed only on paper, is increasingly taking shape. According to Lukashenko, it was about two independent states on a common economic basis, having a foreign and defense policy and “in fact one army”.

The state of the Belarusian Russian Federation is only a project of Putin. For years, the head of the Kremlin has tried to fill the Russian-dominated Eurasian Economic Union with life. Several former Soviet republics are members there – as well as in the post-Soviet Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). Real content or even EU competition is not in sight here. The CIS has lost two members over the years, Georgia and Ukraine.

Under Putin, Russia is flexing its muscles, particularly in geopolitical terms. But critics say the Kremlin chief is stuck in the past – and unprepared for big future tasks like climate protection. The strength of raw materials continues to depend mainly on income from the sale of oil, gas and coal. British expert Barry Buzan wrote in an article for the Moscow magazine “Russia in World Politics” that the country had failed to renew itself.

Buzan says Russia is economically weak compared to its neighbor China – and today, as in the past, it can only defend its status as a highly armed nuclear power. The giant empire has “great potential” as an aggressor, for example in the cyber world, but it no longer has any economic and ideological tools for influence. This, Buzan recommends, should give the country some thought three decades after the end of the Soviet Union.(dpa/red)