Why Putin can’t allow Ukraine to succeed and why the West must make sure it does

The Friendship of Nations Arch, an old Soviet monument in Kyiv, painted as a rainbow for the 2017 Eurovision Song Contest. The painting is unfinished to symbolize Ukraine's incomplete liberation from Russia. (Image: @DaveKeating via Twitter)

The Friendship of Nations Arch, an old Soviet monument in Kyiv, painted as a rainbow for the 2017 Eurovision Song Contest. The painting is unfinished to symbolize Ukraine's incomplete liberation from Russia. (Image: @DaveKeating via Twitter) 

Analysis & Opinion, Russia, Ukraine

In the course of a wide-ranging discussion in advance of the release of his new book on Russia now, Moscow economist Vladislav Inozemtsev provides perhaps the most compelling argument yet on why Vladimir Putin will do everything he can to ensure that Ukraine fails in its efforts to become a modern state and why the West must make sure it does.

Arguing that Russia at present is not threatened by disintegration and that as a result, the Kremlin may not feel compelled to make major changes in its manner of rule, the commentator says that Russia may only “begin to change if an attractive example of what such changes could bring were to appear.”

“Only Ukraine,” he says, could play that role and “’shake up’ Russia;” but it could do so only if it were to be rapidly “transformed into a developed Western country, become a member of the European Union by 2025, and thus become ‘a new Jerusalem’” showing the way to the future for former Soviet republics.

But so far, Inozemtsev continues, the Kremlin has been “lucky,” in that in Kyiv, one kleptocrat has replaced another in power while “talented young people flee” and there is “complete stagnation, as far as reforms are concerned.” And growing Ukrainian Russophobia which Putin has sponsored by his actions works to the Kremlin leader’s advantage.

As a result, for Russians as Putin intends, “Ukraine “has become an example of how not to act – and this is the most powerful factor which in our days strengthens the Russian regime,” the commentator says, adding that in his view, “all the members of the Kyiv council of ministers should be awarded order ‘For services to the [Russian] fatherland’ of various degrees.”

At a time when many in Western capitals seem to have grown tired of the Ukrainian crisis brought on by the Russian Anschluss of Crimea and invasion of the Donbas and want to focus on Moscow alone, Inozemtsev’s argument is critical: If the West really wants Russia to change in the ways it says it does, then the West must make sure Ukraine succeeds.

That won’t be easy, but the Moscow commentator has performed a useful service by reminding everyone that what is at stake in Ukraine is not just Ukraine and its heroic people but the fate of Russia and much else.


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Edited by: A. N.

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  • Dagwood Bumstead

    The dwarf’s problem is that both time and money are running out. Dwarfstan’s Reserve Fund will be empty some time this year, leaving only the Welfare Fund to be plundered for the dwarf’s senseless wars in Syria and the Donbas. What happens when THAT’s empty? No more pensions? Even more cuts in the funding for what passes as health care and education in Dwarfstan?

    Or are the dwarf and his crooked chums- Medvedev, Rogozin, Lozhvrov, Siluanov, Shoigu, Miller, Sechin and Co- going to pay for Dwarfstan’s health care, education etc using the umpteen billions they stole from the country? They could, but how likely is that?

    • Fortranz

      “- his crooked chums- Medvedev, Rogozin, Lozhvrov, Siluanov, Shoigu, Miller, Sechin and Co- going to pay for Dwarfstan’s health care, education etc using the umpteen billions they stole from the country? -”

      They will most likely just sell out more of Russia’s natural resources and financial [banking/currency] control to China and India.

      • Alex George

        Their natural resource operations get less profitable each year, because they have not been refurbishing and replacing infrastructure, or developing new fields.

        • Eddy Verhaeghe

          The powers that be in Russia don’t understand the notion of rent. As the rent for a house is only partially an income for it’s owner and partially the money to keep the house in good state of repair, the rent in a resource economy should only partially be used as an income. Economics 101…
          And just as a property owner should even use part or most of the income part of the rent if he wants to build a portfolio of properties, in a resource economy the powers that be should make sure that part or most of the income part of the rent is invested to grow the economy. Economics 101…
          But can one expect more of the oligarchs and the siloviki that grabbed what they could and can? Very few of them turned themselves into real businessmen. Mikhail Khodorkovsky being an example and look at what happened to him.
          In the end Russia’s wealth is being squandered by the powers that be, the siloviki and the oligarchs.
          And even one of the few good things that intelligent people like Alexei Kudrin did – the creation of the Reserve Fund and the Welfare fund – are now being destroyed by the senseless policies of the powers that be in the Kremlin.
          Poor Russia, poor Russians…

          • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G%C3%B6del%27s_ontological_proof Styx

            Keep your sympathy to yourself, condescending creep.

            The bottom line is – judging by this and every other comment you made about Russia on Disqus – you know next to nothing about the country and proud of it.

            if only you could learn how to mind your own business, instead of winding up mentally – deranged “activists” who are actively seeking confrontation with Russia by any means possible ..

          • Dagwood Bumstead

            I don’t have the slightest bit of sympathy for Dwarfstan and the Dwarfstanians whatsoever. They elected a third-rate Chekist as President, and not once but three times, despite knowing perfectly well what the Cheka and its successors stood for, and the FSB still does.
            As for actively seeking Dwarfstan’s destruction, we don’t need to. Your fascist demented pedophile dwarf leader is managing to do that very nicely on his own without us so much as lifting a finger.

          • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G%C3%B6del%27s_ontological_proof Styx

            Tell your small time idiot-in-chief boss Eddy Verhaeghe that I don’t have the slightest possible damn about what a mentally deranged bloodsucking murderous parasite like you think or doesn’t think.

            You are a hard core criminal and will be dealt with accordingly in due course.

  • zorbatheturk

    RuSSia is going backwards fast. With Putin, the siloviki, and the mafia in charge, the RuSSia has no future whatsoever. It should be dismantled.

  • Ihor Dawydiak

    Putin might be able to put up roadblocks but he cannot stop the inevitable. Russia has already lost Ukraine and as for the tyrant, his days are numbered.

  • Alex George

    While his heart seems to be in the right place, Mr Inozemtsev really needs to learn more about Ukraine before writing about it. It is not remotely true to say that there is “complete stagnation, as far as reforms are concerned.” A lot of reform has happened since 2014, and continues to happen, but there are three or four key areas where the old nomenklatura are holding out or even reversing some reforms. The pressure on the Poroshenko government to maintain reform continues.

    As for “Russophobia”, Mr Inozemtsev needs to come to terms with reality. Ukrainian attitudes towards Russia have profoundly changed over three years of being bombarded. And centuries of other persecution laid a very strong foundation of anti-Russian sentiment. So even when Putin and his oligarchs are gone, I suspect Russians will have to eat some very humble pie if they want to start restoring relations