Ukraine has a chance to “finally get out from under the influence of Russia” because Vladimir Putin is going against the flow of history and attempting to re-establish a land-based empire, Aleksandr Paskhaver says. Were he a neo-imperialist using financial instruments, the situation would be “100 times worse for Ukraine.”
On the one hand, the Ukrainian economist says, shifting from a land-based to a financial empire would benefit the Russian economy and Russia’s attractiveness to others. And on the other, it would allow Moscow to maintain and even extend its influence in neighboring countries far more effectively.
But fortunately for Ukraine and the others, Paskhaver says, Putin has neither the inclination nor the resources to make this shift and consequently, he is beggaring his own country and at the same time alienating the peoples of the countries living around the periphery of Russia.
Two centuries ago, there were six major empires in Europe: the French, the British, the Russian, the German, the Austro-Hungarian and the Ottoman. In the 20th century, the economist says, “all these empires ceased their existence. Only Germany in the form of the Nazi Reich and Russia in the form of the Soviet Union tried to restore theirs.”
All the other imperial powers recognized that this form of rule was no longer benefiting them, and all the others experienced significant economic and social development as a result. Those that tried to restore a land empire lost out in that regard, Germany suffering an enormous loss in a war; and the Soviet Union disintegrating.
Today, only Russia under the rule of Vladimir Putin retains a land imperial project. “What is the source of its mistake? It is at a minimum late by some 80 years, because an empire of land, when you seize land, its population ceases then to be economically effective,” Paskhaver says.
“Land empires have passed into history,” the economist says. “In their place have arisen empires of assets, when strong countries purchase the best assets throughout the entire world. That is how the US behaves and that is how China does. Were Russia to follow that course, it would be 100 times more dangerous for Ukraine” than Moscow’s effort to restore a land empire.
“Thank God,” the Ukrainian economist says, Putin appeared among the Russians and tried to do something that is a century out of date.
He continues: “If you are late, if you go against historical trends, you will lose because the balance of forces does not have any significance.” History proceeds in its own way, and the Russian people are going to suffer as a result. Eventually, they will change direction and “quite likely become a well-off country as all without exception former empires have.”
As long as that does not happen too soon, he suggests, Ukraine will have a good chance to escape from Russia’s orbit and become part of Europe; and it is even “possible,” he suggests, “that in the future [Ukrainians] will erect a monument to Putin as the founder of the Ukrainian civic nation,” given his unintentional “role in the formation of today’s Ukraine.”