In order to understand Russia’s aims towards Ukraine, we have to know two things.
First is to focus not on Vladimir Putin as an individual or on “What Putin Wants”, but on the modus operandi of Putin’s Russia, which is encapsulated in the term “political technology”.
Second is to recognise that Russia, therefore, has few real core beliefs. But one of these core beliefs is Putin’s repeated assertion that Ukraine is not a real country. We cannot always know Putin’s next step. But we should assume this is the general plan: Russia will go as far as it can to prove that assertion, but it will work within the paradigms of “political technology”.
Russia’s root problems include corruption and an explicit “great power” disdain for small states’ sovereignty. But what is unique about Russia is its political culture. Not “inevitable authoritarianism”, which is a myth spun by that culture – the Western myth that Russia is doomed to autocracy is the mirror-image of the Russian myth that the country can only be governed by a strong leader – but the manipulative culture of the many types of “political technology”.
For the full article, please visit the website of the European Council on Foreign Relations.