Tip of the hat to Henry who lives in a country in Europe that suffered greatly at the hands of a former empire. At times he gives me a European perspective on matters. He referred me to this site.
It is an article written by Timothy Garton Ash a professor at Oxford who met Putin back in 1994 when Putin was deputy mayor of St. Petersburg, Russia. He described him as: “a short, thickset man with a rather ratlike face.”
He tells how Putin said Russia:“had voluntarily given up “huge territories” to the former republics of the Soviet Union, including areas “which historically have always belonged to Russia.”
Putin went on to say:“Russia could not simply abandon to their fate those “25 million Russians” who now lived abroad. The world had to respect the interests of the Russian state “and of the Russian people as a great nation.”
Professor Ash said at that time it was impossible to imagine Putin rising to become “the uncrowned czar of all Russia” and pushing “his 19th-century völkisch vision as the policy of a 21st-century state.” He went on to say: “Today’s Kremlin has its own perverted version of the Western-developed and United Nations-sanctified humanitarian doctrine of the “responsibility to protect.” Russia, Mr. Putin insists, has a responsibility to protect all Russians abroad, and he gets to decide who is a Russian.”
Professor Ash went on to explain how Putin tried various means of dealing with the West which he found unsatisfactory despite the West’s accommodations before he returned to his: “resentment-fueled protector state doctrine . . . already there in 1994.”
He suggests the actions of Putin are “a threat not just to Russia’s Eastern European and Eurasian neighbors but to the whole post-1945 international order. Across the world, countries see men and women living in other countries whom they regard as in some sense “their people,”” noting in particular China concern for its citizens in Southeast Asia.
He called Putin’s statements in regard to the MH17 disaster: “hypocrisy on an Orwellian scale for Mr. Putin to maintain, as he did on Friday, that “the government over whose territory this happened bears the responsibility for this terrible tragedy.””
He ended by saying about the downing of the Malaysian airline: “It is precisely the ambiguous mixtures created by Mr. Putin’s völkisch version of the “responsibility to protect” that produce such disastrous possibilities. He subverts and calls into question the authority of the government of a sovereign territory, and then blames it for the result. So if an obscure deputy mayor starts sounding off in alarming terms at some conference you are attending, my advice is, Wake up. Of course, most such ranters do not rise to the top. But when they do, their ideologies of resentment may be written out in blood.” (my emphasis)
The article is well worth your time if you are confused about the motives and actions of Putin. I only hope Obama and Chancellor Merkel have a chance to read it.