I’ve done a couple of analyses of Putin’s earlier speeches. This interview confirms some things that have been hard to believe. There’s been, for example an ongoing argument among American and European historians and political scientists about the extent to which NATO expansion was a factor. That argument makes sense if Putin’s primary concerns have to do with Russia’s security. It’s convenient to assume that Putin thinks about security in terms of military alliances and bases. The “rational man” of foreign relations.
Putin has ranted a particular view of Russian history for a long time. His announcement of his war on Ukraine was full of it. His view does not coincide with most historians’. But surely this was stage-setting, only part of his thinking at most.
Putin shut Tucker Carlson down for a full half-hour to present that view of Russian history once again. He followed up with grievances that the world is not recognizing Russia’s (and presumably his) rightful place, which is deciding how the rest of the world should be run.
Carlson tried desperately to get Putin to say it was all NATO’s fault, and Putin stuck with Yaroslav the Wise and Peter the Great. NATO is a problem only in that it limits Russia’s necessary reach from Lisbon to Vladivostok, as he has said in earlier speeches. Ukraine’s sin is that it is not cooperating with that vision, so it must be destroyed.
Paul Poast has done one of his famous threads in which he recognizes this.
Mark Galieotti did a video.
Yes, they’re still posting on Twitter. Sorry ‘bout that.
There’s nothing new in Putin’s words in the interview. But the interview made clear that Putin subscribes to a view of history that puts Moscow in charge of a large swath of the world with a divinely ordered mission. All the world needs to do is recognize that and properly respect the empire. It’s hard to negotiate with someone with that viewpoint.