Vladimir Putin’s fear of Ukraine goes way beyond NATO: Russian critic

Vladimir Putin’s fear of Ukraine goes way beyond NATO: Russian critic

In the United States, some of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s useful idiots on the far right have echoed the Kremlin talking point that Putin had legitimate security concerns when he ordered Russian troops to invade Ukraine — that if Ukraine eventually joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Russia’s security would be threatened. But according to software developer/techie Yevgeny Simkin, a Russian critic of Putin who now lives in Canada, Putin’s fear of Ukraine and President Volodymyr Zelensky goes way beyond NATO.

Simkin, in an article published by The Bulwark on March 15, explains, “Vladimir Putin’s stated concern about NATO is obviously a pretext, while his admission that he sees Ukraine as part of Russia and has a desire to reunite all the ex-Soviet states is entirely honest. This much is clear to pretty much everyone, or at least everyone outside of Russia.”

According to Simkin — who was born in the former Soviet Union — Putin fears that if liberal democracy is a success in Ukraine, more and more people in Russia may want it as well.

“Putin’s control of the Russian government is firm, but his hold over the Russian population is somewhat tenuous,” Simkin observes. “There have been waves of protests over the years, and Russians aren’t getting the life they feel they deserve or were promised. Putin has been squeezing the media tighter and tighter around his claims of western aggression, but the popularity of figures such as Aleksei Navalny proves that Putin’s not far from having the Russian people turn against him.”

Putin feels threatened by Zelensky and the Ukrainian democracy, according to Simkin, because he isn’t a puppet of the Kremlin. For many years, Simkin writes, Russia and Ukraine “had one strongman after another robbing the nation blind and subjugating the people.” But that was before “the young people of Ukraine had enough” and “managed to overthrow Putin’s puppet and elect someone with eyes squarely on the West.”

“If the Ukrainians can turn their nation into a prosperous, liberal, capitalist state,” Simkin observes, “then the blame for Russia not being capable of the same falls squarely at Putin’s feet. All of which leads me to believe that Putin didn’t miscalculate on Ukraine. Maybe he didn’t judge the relative strength of the armed forces properly or have a good plan of attack. But on the basic question: To subjugate or not subjugate? Here, Putin had no choice. He had to take back because Ukraine was making massive strides to becoming a democratic success story.”

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