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Ukrainians and Syrians are victims of Putin’s paranoia

Ukrainians and Syrians are victims of Putin’s paranoia
Article by: Vitaliy Portnikov
Translated by: Anna Mostovych

Russian and US officials are now discussing Syria and not Ukraine. This is logical because the situation in Syria has caused a new major global crisis: thousands of refugees in Europe, the actual collapse of the Syrian state, the arrival of Russian troops in Syria, and Moscow’s plans to create a new base in Latakia…The heads of American and Russian diplomatic and military agencies really do have something to discuss.

The crisis in Syria has become another proof that in Ukraine Putin has been fighting not with Ukrainians but with Americans. And in Syria he is fighting not with the Islamic State but with Americans. Kremlin’s main goal is to prove that Russia is still an empire and that other countries absolutely must respect its “spheres of influence.” The fact that the entire notion of “spheres of influence” is an anachronism and that the civilized world today is concerned about stability and development and not influence is not acceptable for the Russian leadership. Putin simply does not believe it.

This is why he viewed the collapse of the Yanukovych regime as a Western attempt to reduce Russia’s “sphere of influence” in a territory that Putin already considered conquered without firing a shot. He views the situation in Syria exactly the same way. The Americans had organized the overthrow of Moscow’s loyal ally the dictator Bashar al-Assad. And Putin will show that he does not abandon his own.

Not only Putin himself, but also many Russians will never believe that we are talking about popular uprisings –that Ukrainians no longer wanted to live under the regime of Yanukovych, and Syrians under the regime of Assad. But the decision to support dictators and demonstrate that Russia can still defy the US has had tragic consequences. The war in the Donbas became a tragedy not only for Ukraine but for Russia itself. The Russian citizens killed in this war cannot be brought back. The relations with Ukraine have been permanently destroyed. And there is a zone of instability on the Russian border.

It will be the same in Syria. Support for the Assad regime has led to the actual destruction of the state, the strengthening of radicalism, and the flow of refugees. And now Russian soldiers will die. And all this in order to prove what cannot be proven — the imperial power of Russia and its ability to imitate a “superstate.” Ukrainians and now Syrians are the victims of ordinary paranoia.

Translated by: Anna Mostovych
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