Putin Should Not Be Allowed To Control Geopolitics (If Only Because No One Nation Should)
Yesterday, Russian President Vladimir Putin declared that the Ukrainian cities of Donetsk and Luhansk independent nations, and promised to use military action to make sure this decision was respected. This marks the third time that Putin has attempted to redraw the borders of Europe, the first two being his 2008 invasion of the nation of Georgia and his 2014 annexation of the Ukrainian city of Crimea.
It should be noted that Putin did not attempt to annex either of these two regions — separating this from his 2014 actions against Crimea. It should also be noted that both of these regions are highly in favor of session from Ukraine, with many of the locals even supporting rejoining Russia.
For that matter, it is not as if there are not legal ways to do what Putin wants. If Putin were to do this through treaties and diplomacy, I would see no issue. Even if I would not agree with the consequences — most notably seeing Putin control even more of Europe — I would also say that it’s what the people involved want and no other nation would have any right to intervene. However, Putin did not go the route of diplomacy, instead, he specifically wanted to use military methods to get his way.
On 8/2/1990, Iraqi President Saddam Hussein invaded the small neighboring nation of Kuwait, which he quickly conquered and set up a puppet government in, before directly annexing the nation a couple of days later. The end results was the 1990 and 1991 Gulf War, where multiple nations — led by the United States under the first George Bush — used military action to reclaim Kuwait for its people.
Mind you, Hussein had many reasons for this invasion aside from his blind imperial ambitions (although those also existed, make no mistake). Kuwait was an oil heavy nation, and controlling both it and the already oil rich Iraq would have given Hussein massive control over the global oil markets. Furthermore, Hussein had borrowed fourteen million dollars from Kuwait in order to fund his decade long war against Iran, which he was totally unable to pay back.
Either way, the international community stood up to Hussein, making it clear that he had no right to redraw the borders of the Middle East for any reason he wanted.
As I write this, multiple nations are currently attempting to take the role of regional empires. China is trying to take the role of Asian empire with its actions against Hong Kong, and Israel has spent the past decade making it clear it wants to be the hegemon of the Middle East. (Before Benjamin Netanyahu lost his role as Prime Minister in 2021, he had attempted to annex the Golan Heights of Syria and promised to do the same with the Jordan Valley.) Putin clearly has the same desire to be the emperor of Eastern Europe, and possibly Europe as a whole.
Putin is, of course, very good friends with Chinese leader Xi Jinping, even declaring a bond earlier this month. While what Putin wants is never quite made clear, it is very clear what Xi Jinping wants. Xi Jinping wants the one-China policy, or the ability to rule over all territory that he feels China has a historical claim to. With this in mind, it should not surprise anyone that Putin is currently talking about the historical nature of a Ukrainian statehood, he is simply speaking the same language as his best friend on the international stage.
But this leads us to another issue, and that’s that no nation should be allowed to draw the borders of the entire planet. Xi Jinping has no right to personally determine where the Chinese border ends, Putin has no right to personally determine where the Russian border ends, and Netanyahu had no right to personally determine where the Israeli border ends. Imperialism and military invasion are both wrong, and they are wrong regardless of what nation is engaging in it. This is the claim that the international community needs to be making, but commonly they have refused to. As such, all of these nations have been allowed to engage in their imperial ambitions with basically no opposition, which should concern everyone who does not want to live under a foreign empire.
Looking the other way against imperialism is not an effective strategy, as history has constantly shown. The only way to actually win the fight against those attempting to start empires is through constant and unapologetic opposition, with clear claims of moral authority against their enemies. Otherwise, it will not stop with Ukraine, even if the person doing the invasions is not necessarily Putin.
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