De Koude Oorlog en de koude ontvangst

TBILISI – De crisis in Oekraïne heeft cruciale aannames van het Westen over Rusland in duizend stukken gebroken en veel analisten en beleidsmakers zijn teruggevallen op het geloof dat de Russische president wel irrationeel moet handelen. Maar het zijn de Westerse aannames die in twijfel getrokken moeten worden. In het bijzonder; wat heeft Rusland er zo happig op gemaakt om de huidige internationale orde te ondermijnen, eerst in Georgië in 2008 en nu in Oekraïne?

Aan de oppervlakte lijken deze campagnes op post-imperialistische territoriale conflicten. Rusland ziet volgens deze zienswijze in dat het zijn oude imperium niet terug kan krijgen dus snoept het in plaats daarvan naburige territoria af en rechtvaardigt het zijn acties met een mistig concept van etnische en historische rechtvaardigheid. En Poetin vermomt buitenlandse agressie net zoals de voormalige president van Servië Slobodan Milosevic als nationale verlossing om zijn binnenlandse populariteit te verstevigen en zijn vijanden te marginaliseren.

Poetins benadering lijkt zeer op de visie die de Russische Nobelprijswinnaar Alexander Solzjenitsyn in zijn essay uit 1990 ‘Hoe bouwen wij Rusland weer op?’ uiteenzette. Refererend aan de voormalige satellietstaten stelde hij voor om deze ‘ondankbare mensen’ te laten gaan, maar om de rechtmatige territoria van Rusland te behouden, zoals Oost-Oekraïne, Noord-Kazachstan en Oost-Estland met hun etnisch-Russische populaties, en Abchazië en Zuid-Ossetië in Georgië die culturele uitlopers zijn van de Russische Noord-Kaukasus.

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