Welcome to Yesterday’s World: A View of the War in Ukraine


I confess that in writing this text I cannot forget the moving article recently published by Anthony Fernandez Vicente under the title War and disenchantment in Stefan Zweig. Of course I still harbor the hope that most of the reflections that I am going to present will be misguided as soon as possible.

On many occasions, neither analysts nor politicians know or want to read the real intentions that lie in the statements made by those who handle geopolitics. Hardly anyone saw that Putin’s project was the restoration of the tsarist empire, the great russia or something as similar as possible to the USSRalthough many now point to this theory.

The day before yesterday, as they say, there was still talk that his aspiration was to ensure that Ukraine definitively renounced Crimea, to get closer to the West and to accept the separatists of the Donbas, to place it under Russian control, just as it did with Belarus and Georgia.

Putin’s symbols

Neither the declarations nor the acts of political leaders are casual and symbols, precisely because they are, have a fundamental communicative value that, since the world is a world, cannot be ignored.

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When Putin came to power he regained the anthem of the former USSR and adopted the tsarist imperial eagle as an emblem incorporated into the tricolor flag. Very few years later, in 2005, he described the disappearance of the USSR as the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the last century. He then marked the strategy that was going to preside over his policy during these almost twenty years.

dictators are people extraordinarily narcissistic and they consider themselves called to develop a project that will give them glory after their death. They are too busy executing that great plan to concern themselves with the lives of others and, above all, they remove any obstacle that might stand in the way of that transcendent ideal. Putin built an authoritarian regime because without public opinion it is easy to make decisions, and to that end One by one he eliminated all his opponents.. All this we have been seeing from the West.

Putin’s black hand in Europe

And not only this. He too has deployed a strategy aimed at undermining Western democracies, supporting anti-European, xenophobic and authoritarian parties. In Spain, several organizations have benefited directly or indirectly from the financial support of people or companies close to Putin. In the United States there is no need to remember its quibbles for boost support for trumpan authoritarian leader like him and with whom he had business in common.

Russian tanks have already entered Kiev. Especially at this time we cannot forget that many Russian companies have done business with countries and institutions in Europe that they are not showing all the firmness they should when adopting sanctions against Russia. Italy, for example, was not particularly in favor of expelling the Russian banking system from the swift code, which would mean the total isolation of these banks. Of course Hungary, at the moment, either. Putin has managed to generate a line of interests, not only political but also economic, within Western democracies that either did not perceive the danger or were more concerned with their profit than with defending the democratic values ​​of the West.

Protests against the war in Ukraine in the United Kingdom.
Gary Knight / Flickr, CC BY-SA

That is where we are, facing a Putin who intends to recover his lost vital space and strengthen his authoritarian regime, eliminating the exemplary power that Western democracies can mean for their population. How to tolerate these regimes next to their border?

Zelensky was democratically elected and, although Ukraine has yet to fulfill certain items to be a democracy at least imperfectwithout a doubt it is a country in which there is more freedom than in Russia.

The European Union is also a target to be destroyed and, for this reason, Putin encourages parties that defend nationalist and authoritarian values ​​and advocate greater weakness than they call brussels bureaucrats.

The sad thing is that many western voters are buying his speech. Very similar tune to that of the last century. That desire for living space to justify his expansionism is very similar to the goal that inspired Hitler. NATO troops are not going to act because Ukraine is not a member. What will happen if you turn your attention to the Baltic republics? Will we have to attend again a new Chamberlain and his appeasement policy?

The problem is that this time there is a different key: we are facing a nuclear superpower and facing a person who could use his atomic arsenal if necessary.

Personally, I consider that his existential mission is above everyone’s life, including his own. Just look at his eyes and his gaze: it’s all written there, like new lines from the work in which Zweig described what he and his generation suffered.

Manuel Torres-AguilarProfessor of the History of Law and Institutions and director of the UNESCO Chair in Conflict Resolution, University of Cordoba

This article was originally published on The Conversation. read the original.



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