Putin’s Desperate Attempt at Regaining Lost Glory

I have written several articles on postings related to politics. A list of links have been provided at bottom of this article for your convenience. This article will, however address different aspects on these political events.

There has through our recorded history many glorious empires, many no longer even exist. For those that still exist, they are mere shadows of themselves. Once a empire has slid into oblivion, the chances that its leaders will ever be able to reclaim its past glories are next to none. History is against them. History does not lie. I will include a brief history of these empires to so you that I am not making this up.

Greatest Empires in the History of the World

British Empire

Strongest Era: 19th and 20th Century
Land Area: 33 million sq. km.

The largest empire in human history, the humungous British Empire spanned all 6 habitable continents, as well as the British Antarctic Territory. Due to its size and importance, the sun famously never set on it, both allegorically, signifying its everlasting strength, and practically, because it would always be daytime in at least one of its territories.

The British Empire can be divided in two distinct eras. The first was when Britain was focused on America, and was battling Spain and France for the domination of the two western continents. After the USA became independent in 1783, having first declared independence in 1776, Britain focused on Asia, Africa, and Australia. After Britain quelled the first Indian Rebellion in 1857, the Asian nation became the jewel in Britain’s imperial crown, while their influence in Africa grew without respite. At its height in the 1920s, Britain controlled almost the entire world through military and economic strategy.

After the Second World War, an increasingly strong nationalist movement forced British Prime Minister Clement Attlee to concede its main asset, the Indian subcontinent. The 1950s and ’60s also saw the decolonization of Africa. The British left lasting imprints on their territories, including numerous social and technological advancements, and the English language, which is now considered the language of the world.

Mongol Empire

Strongest Era: 13th Century
Land Area: 33 million sq. km.

The largest contiguous empire ever created by mankind was borne out of one man’s furious desire to conquer the world. Genghis Khan, born as Temujin, stretched the borders of Mongolia to the Mediterranean, creating an unbroken link from the Pacific to the Mediterranean (and thus the Atlantic), and violently conquered the flourishing kingdoms in China, Korea, Persia, and Russia in the process.

The nomadic Mongol hordes relied on their lightning-fast cavalry attacks, developing a terrible reputation after their victory over the strong Persian Empire. Their march to Europe didn’t just etch Genghis Khan’s name in history, but also helped transmit Asian technology to Europe, chief among which was the Chinese invention of gunpowder.

After Genghis Khan’s death, the empire was divided among his sons. The factions couldn’t survive for long without the fierce vision of the Great Khan, but yielded considerable power over Eurasia for a number of years.

Russian Empire

Strongest Era: 19th Century
Land Area: 23 million sq. km.

The Tsardom of Russia, renamed as the Russian Empire by Peter the Great, stretched from eastern Europe to Alaska. It is the second-largest contiguous empire in history, and third overall.

It was reduced in 1867, when Alaska was sold to the USA. It became a constitutional monarchy after the 1905 Russian Revolution, and eventually became the Soviet Union after the second Russian Revolution in 1917. Russia, the principal nation of the Soviet Union, is the largest country in the world.

Spanish Empire

Strongest Era: 17th-18th Century
Land Area: 20 million sq. km.

The first truly global empire, the Spanish Empire was the original land of the eternal sunshine. In its heyday, Spain held South America’s entire Western seaboard, continuing on into North America up to present-day California, Florida, Philippines, and numerous small colonies in Africa.

By the end of the 19th century, Spain was a shattered reflection of its glorious past. Its South and Central American colonies had become independent, and Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines had been taken over by the US. Only its African colonies remained, the last of which was liberated in 1975.

The Spanish Empire’s success introduced the Americas to Christianity, and also promoted the Spanish language. Spanish is now the second-most widely spoken mother tongue in the world, and the third-most widely spoken language. Christianity is now the major religion on both American continents.

Umayyad Caliphate

Strongest Era: 8th Century
Land Area: 15 million sq. km.

The Umayyad Caliphate created the largest empire the world had ever seen, stretching from Persia, to Andalucia, through North Africa.

Despite their Islamic origin, the Umayyad Caliphate is said to have twisted and bent the tenets of Islam to their benefit. They converted a religious institution (the caliphate) into a dynastic, tyrannical empire. This is best explained by the Umayyad rulers’ referring to themselves as ‘deputies of God’, rather than the traditional (and humbler) ‘successors of the messenger of God’.

Umayyad rule raised the popularity of the Arabic language, and they were also responsible for some famous constructions, such as the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem. Their rule initiated the dominance of Islam in North Africa, seen even today.

Qing Dynasty

Strongest Era: 18th Century
Land Area: 15 million sq. km.

The Qing Dynasty comprised the last emperors of China. This dynasty was formed by the Aisin Gioro tribe of Jurchen people in Manchuria. The tribe formed an alliance with the divided – but still powerful – Mongol tribes in the west, and united Jurchen clans to create a united Manchu political entity. The confederation overpowered the ruling Ming Dynasty in the mid-17th century.

The Manchu Qing Dynasty was successful in mixing the Han-dominated population with the united Manchu people. It was overthrown in 1912, and was replaced by the Republic of China.

Yuan Dynasty

Strongest Era: 14th Century
Land Area: 14 million sq. km.

The Yuan Dynasty was formed by Kublai Khan, a grandson of Genghis Khan. This dynasty was the link between the divided and weakened Mongol forces in the rest of Asia, and the imperial system of governance that would continue in China until 1912. It is considered a successor of the 13th-century Mongol Empire, as well as the first royal dynasty of China.

Kublai Khan’s rule was popularized in Europe by the annals of the famous traveler Marco Polo. Kublai Khan was a smart ruler, bringing back the old Chinese system of royal governance, with modifications that made him an absolute monarch. He was a supporter of the exchange of mercantile and technology between the Orient and Europe, and strongly backed the Silk Road. The Yuan Dynasty, notably, was the first Chinese dynasty to use paper notes as the main form of currency.

The dynasty was plagued by infighting as well as discontent among the populace after Kublai Khan’s death, and were usurped by the Ming Dynasty. The Yuan, meanwhile, emigrated to Mongolia, and became known as the Northern Yuan Dynasty.

French Colonial Empire

Strongest Era: 19th Century
Land Area: 13 million sq. km.

The French Colonial Empire was one of the largest empires in the world at its height, only being hindered first by Spain’s and then Britain’s dominance.

In its first era, France established colonies in North America, India, and the Caribbean, in response to the increasing British influence in the same regions. Thanks to diplomatic ties with the First Nations, France was able to extend a web of influence far beyond their actual territory of Eastern Canada and Louisiana (central North America). After the Napoleonic Wars, France was left with little colonial hold on either American continent, and joined the ‘Scramble for Africa’. The second era of the French Colonial Empire consisted of their large North and sub-Saharan African colonies, Madagascar, small colonies in India, Indochina, and French Guiana which remains an overseas region of France.

Many French colonies were occupied by Axis powers in the Second World War, but were restored afterwards. France was involved in two fierce wars over decolonization, the First Indochina War and the Algerian War. Both regions eventually became independent.

Like the British and Spanish Empires, the large spread of the French Empire helped the French language spread beyond Europe. Today, French is spoken by a significant percentage of the population in Canada, Gabon, Senegal, Algeria, Mauritius, Ivory Coast, etc.

Mughal Empire

Strongest Era: 17th Century
Land Area: 5 million sq. km.

The history of the Mughal Empire is inextricably linked to the history of India. The empire’s founder, Babur Begh, was a descendant of Timur and Genghis Khan, and ruled the Farghana (Fergana) region in Uzbekistan. After being driven out by treacherous relatives and soldiers in the early 1500s, he came to India, where he beat Ibrahim Lodi in the first battle of Panipat, and established Mughal rule in Delhi and Agra.

The Empire was expanded by a succession of rulers, viz. Humayun, Akbar, Jahangir, Shah Jahan, and Aurangzeb. It reached its zenith under Aurangzeb, stretching from Central Asian plateaus to Assam and Bengal. After Aurangzeb’s death, the Mughal Empire was overrun by the Maratha Empire, who conquered much of India, and was ended after the 1857 Indian Rebellion at the hands of the British.

The Mughal style of architecture, art, and cuisine was crafted through a mutually beneficial cultural exchange with Indian traditions. Traditional Indian music underwent a stunning metamorphosis and assumed its present form, many famous Indian architectural landmarks were constructed in the Mughal period, and Mughlai-Indian cuisine, including the universally popular chicken tikka masala and tandoori chicken, is an evergreen favorite all over the world.

These were 15 of the greatest empires ever. All of these left indelible footprints on the sands of time, and influenced history in more ways than one can imagine.

Portuguese Empire

Strongest Era: 16th Century
Land Area: 10.5 million sq. km.

The Portuguese Empire was the very first intercontinental empire in the world. The empire depended largely on Brazil, which even served as the seat of administration of the empire when Napoleon entered Portugal itself. The empire was crippled by Brazil gaining independence in 1825, and turned to Africa as the only other option. In this second era, the Portuguese didn’t call their enterprise an ’empire’, but a ‘pluricontinental nation’. Its African territories, namely Angola, Mozambique, and Benin, were freed in 1975.

Despite being the first Europeans to arrive in the lucrative land of India, Portugal was never the most dominant power in India, and were kept in check first by the Maratha Empire, and then by Britain. Even so, Portugal retained the territory of Goa until 1961, when it was reclaimed through military action by India.

Largely due to Brazil’s large population, Portuguese is among the most-spoken languages in the world, and both Angola and Mozambique have Portuguese as their official language.

Oldest Empires in the World

While the Roman Empire was one the longest empires (lasted about 1,500 years) and is probably the most famous, in the span of human history, it is fairly modern. The earliest empires precede the Roman Empire by over 2,000 years. These early empires were formed by the early civilizations of Ancient Mesopotamia and the surrounding areas. As these civilizations grew, so did their sphere of power and their desire to conquer near and distant lands. Many of these first empires ruled over the same lands, eventually replacing one another as they fell.

Roman Empire

Strongest Era: 2nd Century
Land Area: 6.5 million sq. km.

Centered around the Mediterranean Sea, the Roman Empire became the strongest power in Europe and western Asia. Before its division into the East and West Roman Empires, the unified Roman Empire, under Trajan, stretched from Portugal to Mesopotamia, and from Britain to Egypt.

After the division, the Eastern Roman Empire, better known as the Byzantine Empire, flourished for another 1,000 years, before finally collapsing after the fall of Constantinople in 1453.

The Roman Empire arguably had the most impact on modern culture when compared to contemporaneous empires. Roman law was adapted and adopted in many countries, while Roman art and architecture, which influenced centuries of artistic evolution, is still popular.

Maurya Empire

Strongest Era: 3rd Century BC
Land Area: 6 million sq. km.

The Maurya Empire is the largest empire in the history of the Indian subcontinent, and was one of the largest and most powerful in the world at the time. Founded by Chandragupta Maurya, it was expanded by Bimbisara and Ashoka the Great, before collapsing after the latter’s reign.

At its peak, the Maurya Empire had a population of 68 million – more than 43% of the global population at the time.

The Mauryan Empire – Emperor Ashoka in particular – played an important role in the spread of Buddhism across Asia. Saddened by the gore and violence in the Kalinga War, Ashoka the Great embraced Buddhism, and sent Buddhist emissaries to all major kingdoms in Asia, as well as some in Europe.

Macedonian Empire

Strongest Era: 4th Century BC
Land Area: 5 million sq. km.

Despite the association of the Macedonian Empire with Alexander the Great, its rise actually began with Alexander’s father, Philip II. He defeated Macedon’s local enemies, a coalition of various Greek city-states, consolidating Macedon’s position in the region, and laying the groundwork for Alexander’s famous march into Asia.

Under Alexander, the Macedonian army conquered Egypt, founding the city of Alexandria in the process, and defeated the impregnable, and numerically superior, Persian army. They conquered various kingdoms on the outskirts of India, but were forced to retreat due to the soldiers being tired and homesick. After Alexander’s death, various regional heads of his empire, called satraps, rebelled against the central Macedonian powers, and declared independence. These fiefdoms were later conquered by the Parthian Empire and the Maurya Empire.

Achaemenid Empire

 Year Established and Ended: c.550 BCE – 330 BCE
 Duration: 220 years Land Area: 8 million sq. km.
 Founding Country: Ancient Near East (modern-day Iraq, southeast Turkey, southwest Iran, northeastern Syria, and Kuwait)
 Capital City: Several, but Babylon was the main capital

Achaemenid Empire

Achaemenid Empire

The Achaemenid Empire was the first Persian Empires and one of the largest empires ever in history. The empire was founded around 550 BCE by Cyrus the Great. Under his rule the empire expanded from the Ancient Near East to most of Southwest Asia, much of Central Asia, and the Caucasus, making it a larger empire than any previous empire.

In addition to its military prowess, the Achaemenid Empire is notable for its successful model of a centralized, bureaucratic administration, for building infrastructure such as road systems as well as a postal system, the use of an official language across its territories, and the development of civil services. The decline of the empire is attributed to heavy tax burdens and the failure to create a national identity among its subjects from different nations.

Carthaginian Empire

 Year Established and Ended: 650 BCE – 146 BCE
 Duration: 504 years
 Founding Country: North Africa
 Capital City: Carthage

Carthaginian Empire

Carthaginian Empire

The Phoenician city-state of Carthage was founded in 814 BCE. It gained its independence in 650 BCE and established its control over the other Phoenician settlements in the western Mediterranean – this was the start of the Carthaginian Empire. At its peak, the empire’s capital city of Carthage served as a major trading hub and was called the “shining city”, which ruled over 300 other cities.

Throughout most of the empire’s history, it was at war with the Greeks in Sicily as well as the Roman Republic. These hostilities led to a series of armed conflicts known as the Greek-Punic Wars (c.600 BCE – 265 BCE) and the Punic Wars (264 BCE – 146 BCE). After the third and final Punic War sometime in 146 BCE, Carthage fell to the Roman Republic.

Kushite Empire (Nubian Dynasty)

 Year Established and Ended: 760 BCE – 656 BCE
 Duration: 94 years
 Founding Country: Ancient Egypt ruled by the Nubians from the Kingdom of Kush (modern-day northern Sudan and southern Egypt)
 Capital City: Napata

Kushite Empire

Kushite Empire

The Kushite Empire, also known as the 25th Dynasty of Egypt and the Nubian Dynasty, occurred when the Nubians successfully invaded Ancient Egypt. The first king of the Kushite Empire was Piye, whose father Kashta had started the invasion of Upper Egypt. Their war brought together Upper Egypt, Lower Egypt, and Kush, forming the largest Egyptian empire since the New Kingdom (c.1550 BCE – c.1077 BCE).

Under Piye, the construction of pyramids was revived and he built the oldest pyramid at the royal burial site of El-Kurru and also expanded the Temple of Amun at Jebel Barkal. The rulers after Piye also took interest in restoring Egyptian monuments and building some of their own. They also attempted to regain parts of Egypt from the Assyrians, but were unsuccessful.

Egyptian Empire (New Kingdom of Egypt)

 Year Established and Ended: c.1550 BCE – c.1077 BCE
 Duration: 473 years
 Founding Country: Ancient Egypt
 Capital City: Several cities throughout duration: Thebes, Akhetaten, Thebes again, Pi-Ramesses, and Memphis

Egyptian Empire

Egyptian Empire

Although the ancient Egyptians had first established its kingdom around 2686 BCE, the New Kingdom is the only era known as the Egyptian Empire. This period of ancient Egyptian history spans over the 18th, 19th , and 20th Dynasties of Egypt, which lasted from around 1550 BCE until 1077 BCE. During the Egyptian Empire, Egypt was at the height of its power and prosperity.

Some of Egypt’s most well-known Pharaohs ruled during this time including Ahmose I, Hatshepsut, Thutmose III, Amenhotep III, Akhenaten, Tutankhamun, and Ramesses II (“the Great”). Also under the Egyptian Empire, art and architecture flourished. The Valley of the Kings was built around this time – it is Egypt’s largest funerary complex containing the tombs of several Pharaohs and powerful nobles.

Hittite Empire

 Year Established and Ended: c.1600 BCE – 1178 BCE
 Duration: 422 years
 Founding Country: north-central Anatolia (parts of modern-day Turkey)
 Capital City: Hattusa

Hittite Empire

Hittite Empire

The Hittite Empire was established sometime around 1600 BCE and at its peak, encompassed most of Anatolia as well as parts of northern Levant (modern-day Syria) and Upper Mesopotamia (northwestern Iraq, northeastern Syria, and southeastern Turkey). Due to its geographic location, the Hittite Empire often came into fought with the Egyptian Empire, the Middle Assyrian Empire, and the Kingdom of Mitanni for control of the area.

Eventually, the Assyrians dominated the area and annexed most of the Hittite Empire’s lands. With so much competition from surrounding empires, the Hittite Empire had several weak periods with insignificant rulers and reduced areas of control. Not much about these weaker periods is known because the Hittites kept less precise records during these times.

Babylonian Empire (First Babylonian Dynasty)

 Year Established and Ended: c.1894 BCE – c.1595 BCE
 Duration: 300 years
 Founding Country: central-southern Mesopotamia (modern-day Iraq)
 Capital City: Babylon

Babylonian Empire

Babylonian Empire

The First Babylonian Dynasty lasted from about 1894 BCE – 1595 BCE. This first era in the Babylonian Empire emerged when an Amorite (a Northwest Semitic-speaking people from the northern Levant – the historical region of Syria) king established a small kingdom that included Babylon, which was a minor town at the time. Eventually, Babylon grew in size and power and reached its peak under the reign of Hammurabi (c. 1728—1686 BCE).

After Hammurabi’s death, the Babylonian Empire began to rapidly decline and eventually reverted back into a small kingdom. Sometime around the end of the First Babylonian Dynasty, the capital city of Babylon was sacked by the Hittites under king Mursili I.

Assyrian Empire

 Year Established and Ended: c.2025 BCE – c.605 BCE
 Duration: 1,420 years
 Founding Country: Assyria (parts of modern-day Iraq, Turkey, Syria, and Iran)
 Capital City: several throughout different periods – first capital city was Aššur

Assyrian Empire

Assyrian Empire

The Assyrian Empire is typically divided into four eras: the Early Assyrian Period, the Old Assyrian Empire, the Middle Assyrian Period, and the New Assyrian Period. Although the first capital city of  Aššur was first established around 2600 BCE, during the Early Period, Assyrians were under the rule of the Akkadian Empire.

While it was a kingdom during this time, the Assyrian Empire did not emerge until after the fall of the Akkadian Empire. During the height of the Assyrian Empire, it ruled over what the ancient Mesopotamian religion called the “Four Corners of the World”: as far north as the Caucasus Mountains, as far east as the Zargos Mountains, as far west as Cyrpus in the Mediterranean Sea, and as far south as the Arabian desert.

Akkadian Empire

 Year Established and Ended: c.2334 BCE – c.2154 BCE
 Duration: 180 years Land Area: 8 million sq. km.
 Founding Country: Ancient Mesopotamia – around modern-day Iraq
 Capital City: Akkad

Akkadian Empire

Akkadian Empire

The Akkadian Empire was the first empire of ancient Mesopotamia, which makes it the oldest empire in the world. Under the empire, Akkadians and Sumerians were united and many people were bilingual, speaking both the Akkadian and Sumerian language. There were eight kings over the duration of the Akkadian Empire: Sargon, Rimush, Manishtushu, Naram-Sin, Shar-Kali-Sharri, Interregnum, Dudu, and Shu-turul.

Although scholars have documented over 7,000 texts detailing the Akkadian Empire, they have not yet located the capital city of Akkad. Most of the archaeological research related to the Akkadian Empire comes from an area in modern northeastern Syria, which became part of Assyria after the fall of Akkad.

Sassanid Empire

Strongest Era: 7th Century
Land Area: 6.5 million sq. km.

The Sassanids, which flourished in the same period as the Romans, was the major power in Caucasus and western Asia. Stretching from Egypt to the outskirts of India, the Sassanids were an important cultural bridge between Europe and the Orient, and were vital in the development of medieval art.

The prosperous empire was defeated and assimilated into the Abbasid Caliphate within 5 years, 632 – 637 AD. The population wasn’t forced to convert to Islam, but gradually accepted it, as the Islamic Caliphate began to exert more influence.

List of empires

At great risk for Ukraine and Russia, Putin signals a dark endgame

MOSCOW — Russian President Vladimir Putin, posing one of the biggest security threats to Europe since World War II, is staking his legacy on an irredentist invasion of Ukraine that poses significant risks to his own country and raises worrisome questions about his ambitions to bring Kyiv to heel.

Putin’s defiant decision to use full-fledged military force represents an unprecedented level of risk-taking for the Russian leader and threatens to isolate his country even further from the West and its allies. Punishments being leveled by Western nations could land Washington in an escalatory cycle with Moscow, if Russia responds to the measures in kind.

The attack also carries a direct challenge to the post-Cold War global order. Putin’s sweeping ambition involves hammering out a new international balance, setting the scene for a club of powerful nuclear powers to dominate smaller states and carve out spheres of influence — by force if they see fit.

On the eve of his attack, Putin invoked Russian battles against invaders going back to the 1612 Battle of Moscow to depict a Ukrainian nation taken hostage by the United States and its European allies and in need of liberation. A day earlier, he remarked that using military might to resolve problems was a good thing. The main thing, he added, was to avoid weakness.

“Well, why do you think that the good must always be frail and helpless? I do not think that is true,” Putin said at a news conference Tuesday, after gaining lawmakers’ approval for military action abroad. “I think good means being able to defend oneself.”Default Mono Sans Mono Serif Sans Serif Comic Fancy Small CapsDefault X-Small Small Medium Large X-Large XX-LargeDefault Outline Dark Outline Light Outline Dark Bold Outline Light Bold Shadow Dark Shadow Light Shadow Dark Bold Shadow Light BoldDefault Black Silver Gray White Maroon Red Purple Fuchsia Green Lime Olive Yellow Navy Blue Teal Aqua OrangeDefault 100% 75% 50% 25% 0%Default Black Silver Gray White Maroon Red Purple Fuchsia Green Lime Olive Yellow Navy Blue Teal Aqua OrangeDefault 100% 75% 50% 25% 0%

Putin declares military operation in UkraineRussian President Vladimir Putin declared on state television on Feb. 24 that Russia was beginning a military operation in eastern Ukraine. (Reuters)

He has multiple goals in his sights: not just toppling Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky, but also securing Ukraine’s capitulation to become a modern version of a Soviet-style satellite state, such as neighboring Belarus.

More broadly, he remains determined to reshape European security to suit Moscow and put NATO forces on the back foot through his display of military force against Ukraine. Russia’s military assault has communicated to Ukrainians that their choice isn’t between Russia and NATO — but between Russia and destruction.

On a global level, Putin seeks to communicate to U.S. partners that Washington will go only so far in backing them against existential threats.

Putin’s ‘risk tolerance’

“Our prior assumptions about his risk tolerance need to go out the window,” said Samuel Charap, a senior political scientist at the Rand Corp. think tank. He noted that Putin had taken on a “qualitatively different level of risk” with his full-scale invasion of Ukraine that would force Western capitals to recalibrate.

For years, the Russian leader has sensed the decline in the relative power of the United States and come to believe he has spotted a widening geopolitical vacuum that he can fill — in the Middle East, Africa and the Arctic, as well as closer to home.

His actions reflect a man steeped in Soviet geopolitics and traditional Russian Orthodox conservatism, fired with an almost spiritual view of his historical mission to transform his vast nation. At home, that has come with increasing repression — with his government removing opponents, quashing dissent, and hobbling Internet and press freedom with ever more vigor as his government ages.

Putin may be betting that his forces can take control of the bulk of Ukraine without significant urban fighting that could leave thousands of civilians dead. Already, his military has struck dozens of Ukrainian military targets across the country and crossed the Ukrainian border with relative ease. Zelensky said Thursday that 137 Ukrainian citizens had died in the hostilities so far. Russia did not give casualty figures, but the United Kingdom said there were “heavy casualties” on both sides.

But the initial “shock and awe” stage of a military conflict is often less difficult for an attacker than the stage that follows — as the American military learned in its invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. Upon completing his military offensive, Putin will then need to carry out his political objective to end Western influence in Ukraine and return the former Soviet republic firmly to Moscow’s domain.

Ukraine’s Western path

One critical obstacle to that is a Kyiv political elite that has grown deeply pro-Western.

How Putin intends to replace the leadership with a group of pro-Russian Ukrainians is unclear. But U.S. intelligence has suggested as much and he signaled his possible intention to do so in his speech Thursday, when he vowed to “denazify” Ukraine and hold accountable those responsible for Ukraine’s “crimes.” He talked of a new Ukraine that can turn the page on its relationship with Russia.

While Putin said Russia does not intend to occupy Ukrainian territory, he strongly suggested that his aim was to elevate authorities allied with Moscow and possibly carve up the country using referendums similar to the one the Kremlin organized in Crimea in 2014.

Fear and confusion in eastern Ukraine after Russian attacks

Following a night of explosions in Kharkiv, a family with a 5-month-old baby wondered what they should do next, and where they could go to find safety. (Whitney Leaming, Erin Patrick O’Connor/The Washington Post)

Russian forces are concentrated in the east, north and south, suggesting they may seek to cut off the western part of Ukraine, a region that didn’t fall within the country’s borders before World War II. That portion of the country — which includes the cities of Lviv, Uzhgorod and Ivano-Frankivsk — has long been an epicenter of anti-Moscow sentiment in Ukraine. Without that territory, Russia may see the country as controllable by a Moscow-friendly government installed by Russia.

Keith Darden, a professor at American University who studies Ukraine, said that kind of territorial change would completely reorder the politics of the nation as a whole in a way Moscow would see as favorable.

Putin could go further. Russian state television on Wednesday aired a map of Ukraine with the territorial “presents” gifted to Kyiv by czars, Bolsheviks and Soviets. His military campaign may entail slicing away Ukraine’s coast and eastern industrialized regions, in addition to the west, leaving a small, unviable rump state, while annexing parts of the country to Russia.

Darden said Putin is risking a full-fledged break with the West. For example, he said, Russia could respond to harsh Western sanctions with a cyberattack against the United States, which would then force Washington to respond again, bringing the United States closer to a direct conflict with Moscow.

“We don’t want to go to war over Ukraine, and we have made that very explicit, but we also don’t want the war against Ukraine to go unpunished, but those two things might not be compatible,” Darden said. “It is hard to contain an escalatory cycle like this.”

Launching a war on Ukraine will isolate Russia’s economy, damage its trade and hinder technological development. It could also potentially trigger an exodus of young urban Russians and tech engineers uncomfortable with Putin’s revanchist vision who aspire to live in a modern, open world.

Isolated by choice

One of the pretexts Putin cited — the need to “denazify” Ukraine’s leadership and save the people from the Western governments that had taken them hostage — horrified many Russian liberals. It risks leaving Putin a global pariah isolated from all but the handful of autocrats he has cultivated. On Wednesday, several antiwar protests broke out across Russia, but security forces in many cases detained demonstrators.

If there was any hope that someone in Putin’s inner circle would challenge him over the wisdom of an open war with Ukraine, it was dashed during the extraordinary spectacle of his Security Council meeting on Tuesday. Putin barked “Speak directly!” at his trembling foreign spy chief, Sergei Naryshkin, who fumbled his words like a boy in front of a schoolmaster, eyes bulging with fear.

Putin used the carefully staged televised episode to co-opt Russia’s entire political leadership group in a war for which there was no legal basis. In his speech, Putin cited Article 51 of the U.N. charter, which enshrines a nation’s right to self-defense if attacked.

Over the past two years, under the veil of the coronavirus pandemic that kept him isolated and brooding, Putin has made a profound shift.

Russians had been contemplating a possible political transition in 2024, when Putin conceivably could step down or bring on a clear heir to replace him in Russian politics. Few thought he would try to cling to power until 2036, when he would turn 84. But he engineered a vote changing the constitution in 2020, allowing him to stay that long.

He also grasped for a more forceful set of tools — to subdue opposition at home and also in Russia’s neighborhood.

In Belarus, he bailed out another autocrat, President Alexander Lukashenko, when he faced anti-government street protests. Putin leveraged that political debt to co-opt Belarus as a staging ground for his military operation against Ukraine.

Ukraine is a far greater challenge, with its jostling, often chaotic political and business rivalries and its class of pro-Western activists.

Putin tried multiple approaches to undermine Ukraine’s growing Western bonds over the years. When one failed, he escalated. He had political allies ensconced in Kyiv for years. But Ukrainians launched two uprisings in 2004 and 2013 to oust them and build ties with the West.

After the Maidan uprising eight years ago, Russia annexed Crimea and fomented a separatist rebellion in eastern Ukraine. It foisted a 2015 peace deal on Kyiv, forcing it to give two regions autonomy, meaning they could veto Ukraine’s pro-Western shift.

That didn’t work either, because the deal was never implemented. From 2019, Russia issued 800,000 Russian passports to Ukrainians in the separatist regions, forming a pretext for military action to defend them.

In a final escalation, Putin declared that Ukraine was committing “genocide” against the separatists, called the rebel regions independent countries and launched a battle to topple Zelensky, a former comedian who played the Ukrainian president in a popular TV series.

Jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny posted on Twitter in an English-language thread that Putin resembled a drunken grandfather who spoiled family celebrations.

Navalny, who is facing another Russian trial that could add 15 years to his more than two-year prison sentence, wrote: “It would be funny if the drunk grandfather was not a man of 69 who holds power in a country with nuclear weapons.”

Here’s Why Putin Invaded Ukraine – And How He Just Shattered The World Order

So, Russia has now invaded Ukraine.

The invasion has been a long time in the making. Contrary to Putin’s protestations – and those of his apologists – the invasion of Ukraine was never about concerns over Ukraine joining NATO. First off, the claim that Ukrainian membership would threaten Russia’s borders is absurd on its face: Estonia and Latvia have been members of NATO for years, and both border Russia.

Furthermore, the question of Ukrainian membership in NATO has been a relative dead letter since approximately 2010, when Viktor Yanukovych took over the presidency of the country. “Entry into NATO is not realistic for our country today,” Yanukovych stated at the time. In 2016, president of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker estimated it would take 20-25 years for Ukraine to join NATO and the EU. Yanukovych’s successor, Petro Poroshenko, signed a constitutional amendment dedicating the country to seeking membership in NATO and the EU in 2019, but acknowledged that the country was a “long way” from meeting membership criteria. In reality, Ukraine has flirted with both NATO and Russia for a long time, maintaining a stance of strategic independence.

So, what drove Putin?

The answer comes from Putin’s own mouth. Just days ago, he gave a militant speech in which he said, “Ukraine is not just a neighboring country for us. It is an inalienable part of our own history, culture, and spiritual space. Since time immemorial, the people living in the south-west of what has historically been Russian land have called themselves Russians.” He added that Ukraine had been created by the Soviets, and that it was time to reconstitute the Russian empire. “The disintegration of our united country was brought about by the historic, strategic mistakes on the part of Bolshevik and Soviet leaders,” Putin said. “[T]he collapse of the historical Russia known as the USSR is on their conscience.” According to Putin, Ukrainians are being subjected to tyranny by Western powers:

Ukraine itself was placed under external control, directed not only from the Western capitals, but also on the ground, as the saying goes, through an entire network of foreign advisors, NGOs and other institutions present in Ukraine….Are the Ukrainian people aware that this is how their country is managed? Do they realise that their country has turned not even into a political or economic protectorate but has been reduced to a colony with a puppet regime?

Why now?

Putin has offered a variety of excuses for his action. He says that he has been welcomed into Ukraine by separatists in Eastern Ukraine – but he is invading Kiev itself. He says that Ukraine wants its own nuclear weapons – a wild accusation given that Ukraine gave up its 5,000 nuclear weapons in 1994 at the behest of both Russia and the United States. He says that America does “not need a big and independent country like Russia around. This is the answer to all questions.”

The real reason Putin is moving now is threefold.

First, Russia has a major advantage right now: natural gas and oil. Europe has spent the last decade destroying its own energy capacity at the behest of Greta Thunberg and company. Simultaneously, they have shipped in enormous amounts of Russian carbon-based fossil fuel. One-third of all EU natural gas is provided by Russia at this point – and the price of natural gas, which was low in the 2015-2020 period, has now skyrocketed, giving him tremendous bargaining power. Indeed, Deputy Chair of the Security Council for Russia Dmitry Medvedev tweeted, “German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has issued an order to halt the process of certifying the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline. Well. Welcome to the brave new world where Europeans are very soon going to pay €2.000 for 1.000 cubic meters of natural gas!” There is a reason that the West has thus far exempted Russian energy markets from sanctions – according to the State Department, it would do too much economic damage.

Second, the West has demonstrated utter incapacity to challenge Putin’s prior predations. He invaded Georgia in 2008, to no serious consequences. He invaded Crimea and Luhansk and Donetsk in 2014, to no serious consequences. Even while the United States complains about Putin’s Ukrainian adventure, special climate envoy John Kerry maintains that we must work with Russia on climate change: “I hope President Putin will help us to stay on track with respect to what we need to do with the climate.” Even as President Biden condemns Putin, the United States continues to broker with the Russian government to come to a conclusion on an ill-advised nuclear deal with the Iranian mullahs. Putin has no reason to think that any consequences will be either long-lasting or significant. And on a broader level, Putin has watched as the West surrenders to aggressive dictatorial powers repeatedly, from Hong Kong (2020) to Afghanistan (2021).

Third, Putin envisions a reimagined world order. He clearly lusts for a return to Russian glory, and he sees that China has oriented itself under Xi Jinping toward a similar purpose. Both Russia and China see themselves as enemies of the United States, and are acting accordingly. Putin believes that if he takes Ukraine and Xi takes Taiwan, the West will be put back on its heels – the unipolar era of American power will be effectively ended, and a multipolar world in which Russia plays its historic role will re-emerge.

It is this most important rationale that the West simply cannot understand. As it turns out, cultures around the world value more than access to bank accounts and McDonald’s. Putin and Xi and the mullahs all think in terms of historic greatness, empire, and national glory. This is particularly true in Russia, where Stalin still bears a 70 percent approval rating. In Svetlana Alexievich’s Nobel Prize-winning book, Secondhand Time, she tells the story of a factory worker imprisoned and tortured by the communist regime. After the end of the Cold War, this factory worker told Alexievich, “When I go into my grandchildren’s room, everything there is foreign: the shirts, the jeans, the books, the music…Savages! I want to die a Communist. That’s my final wish.”

This sentiment was well understood by George Orwell. In 1940, he wrote of Hitler’s appeal:

[H]e has grasped the falsity of the hedonistic attitude to life. Nearly all western thought since the last war, certainly all ‘progressive’ thought, has assumed tacitly that human beings desire nothing beyond ease, security and avoidance of pain. In such a view of life there is no room, for instance, for patriotism and the military virtues. The Socialist who finds his children playing with soldiers is usually upset, but he is never able to think of a substitute for the tin soldiers; tin pacifists somehow won’t do. Hitler, because in his own joyless mind he feels it with exceptional strength, knows that human beings don’t only want comfort, safety, short working-hours, hygiene, birth-control and, in general, common sense; they also, at least intermittently, want struggle and self-sacrifice, not to mention drums, flags and loyalty-parades. However they may be as economic theories, Fascism and Nazism are psychologically far sounder than any hedonistic conception of life. The same is probably true of Stalin’s militarised version of Socialism. All three of the great dictators have enhanced their power by imposing intolerable burdens on their peoples. Whereas Socialism, and even capitalism in a more grudging way, have said to people ‘I offer you a good time,’ Hitler has said to them ‘I offer you struggle, danger and death,’ and as a result a whole nation flings itself at his feet.

Many other cultures and countries understand that appeal. In fact, Americans used to believe in a higher purpose for themselves than mere increases in GDP. No longer. In the West, we’re not concerned with things as base as national mission or the legacy of Western civilization,. We are, in other words, a weak horse.

Putin knows that. Xi knows that. The mullahs know that.

All of which means that Putin’s invasion of Ukraine is merely the first crack in the dam that holds back the floodtides of global chaos. Our material comforts are premised on a global order with the United States at its unchallenged head. Putin has challenged that order. The West seems unlikely to respond. We’re too busy blowing out our debt and naval-gazing about climate change, with gender fluidity, with supposed systemic racism, with income inequality. Russia and China can’t touch the West in terms of wealth or military might. But without a higher purpose, no country of any GDP can stand up to the naked aggression of nations animated by grim purpose of its own.

Conclusion

I have included a description of the most important of the most important empires in our history and also a fairly complete list of all the known empires.

I challenge the reader to name even 10 of the empires on the list. I consider myself to be fairly well read in history. However, I think I would be hard pressed to do it myself. On this list you will find very few duplicate names indicating a rebirth of an empire, so I have shown you that most empires once they fail, very seldom every recover their former glory. So I want to ask you what the hell Putin thinks he is doing by invading Ukraine. A country firmly entrenched in capitalism. I have been watching the news since Russia invaded that sovereign country, and I have not heard one Ukrainian say he was happy that Russia was coming. As a matter of fact, many have indicated that they would fight to the death to stop them from taking their country over. Governments are supposed to govern at the pleasure of the people, not the other way around. It seems that in the last few years our governments have forgotten this little detail. It also seems when they are reminded of it, like say in Canada, they fight back. I think it is about time that the people stand up for their rights and open up a “can of whoopass”. Why do you think governments try to take away our rights to bare arms? They do so, so that we cannot protect our freedoms, our families and our way of life. Too many people have died to give us those rights. As the self proclaimed guardians of the people’s rights around the world, we owe our brethren those rights too. There are far too few democracies left, for us to let dictatorships take any of them over. We may wake up one day to find that we are the sole democracy left. Take a look at the once capitalist mainstays Canada, New Zealand and Australia for instance, they are now fast turning into socialist countries. Yes Ukraine, may not matter much in the grand scheme of things, but that is precisely why it is so important. Because that is where it all starts.

Resources

oldest.org,”8 Oldest Empires in the World.” By Victor Eaton; historyplex.com, “Greatest Empires in the History of the World”; en.wikipedia.org, “List of empires.” By Wikipedia editors; washingtonpost.com, “At great risk for Ukraine and Russia, Putin signals a dark endgame.” By Robyn Dixon and Paul Sonne; dailywire.com, “Here’s Why Putin Invaded Ukraine – And How He Just Shattered The World Order.” By Ben Shapiro;

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