Russian President Vladimir Putin is positioning himself as the new Tsar of Russia. He is on an empire-building spree. So, while the West remains fixated on Ukraine, Putin has set his eyes on six more countries as his next target.
Putin administration eyeing six European countries
According to the NEXTA news organisation, a Moscow City Duma deputy has proposed ‘denazification’ of six more European countries- Kazakhstan, Moldova, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia. Except for Poland, all these countries are former Soviet Republics.
Russia seems to be targeting countries that are connected to it through different angles- physical proximity, cultural linkages, presence of a Russian minority and dependency. Moldova already faces a peculiar situation with pro-Russia separatists holding Transnistria in eastern Moldova, just like Donbas is controlled by Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine.
The Baltic countries of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia may be members of the EU and NATO, but they run the risk of getting encircled by Russian troops after the Ukraine invasion. And then, we have seen simply how ineffective NATO can get in a moment of crisis.
What also puts Moldova and the Baltic countries at greater risk is their indiscretion of voting against Russia on a UN resolution earlier this month. This puts them directly at crossroads with an expanding Russia.
What does ‘de-Nazification’ mean?
The Moscow official used the term ‘de-Nazification’ for the six countries. Now, what could this mean?
Well, it’s all connected to the Ukraine invasion. When a special military operation to invade Ukraine was launched by Russia, President Putin had spelt out the main objective of the operation as “demilitarization and de-Nazification of Ukraine, as well as bringing to justice those who committed numerous bloody crimes against civilians”.
So, Russia could be creating a template here. While eyeing new military objectives, it could kickstart military operations and invasions by describing them as ‘de-Nazification’ campaigns. This helps Putin mobilize national sentiment within Russia while going to new wars and also serve as a signal that Moscow is going to continue ‘de-Nazification’ until all its military objectives are met.
Tsar Putin’s empire-building spree
If you want to understand what Putin’s ‘de-Nazification’ campaigns really mean, you have to get into his mind.
Putin is not a Communist per se. In fact, Russians openly debate the drawbacks of Lenin and Stalin today, without any fear of being condemned by the State or being put behind the bars. So, if Lenin and Stalin aren’t infallible national icons in Russia today, it is because Putin is not a Communist per se. He is more of Imperial Russian czarist.
Putin idolises Imperial Russian leaders like Peter the Great and Catherine The Great. Ever since he became the Russian President, Putin has had portraits of Peter the Great hung in several important meeting rooms.
By looking towards imperial rulers like Catherine II for inspiration, Putin is trying to bring back the Golden Age of Russia of the mid-18th century, when the borders of the Russian Empire were extended some 520,000 square kilometres, absorbing New Russia, Crimea, Northern Caucasus, Right-bank Ukraine, Belarus, Lithuania, and Courland.
This was the time when Russian culture was revitalized and Russia became one of the greatest European powers.
And now, Putin is looking to revive Russia’s imperial glory. This is why we are hearing about more ‘de-Nazification’ campaigns and plans to expand Russia into a huge Empire.