In June, just over three months after Russia’s invasion of neighboring Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin compared himself to Russia’s Tsar Peter the Great.
In a speech during the 350th birthday of the Russian Tsar, he also spoke of the need to “take back lands and defend ourselves.”
He believed that Peter the Great’s founding of St. Petersburg was like his government’s annexation of territory. The speech was an apparent reference to Ukraine’s Crimea, delivered months before Russia held illegal referendums on annexing the provinces of Kherson, Zaporizhia, Luhansk and Donetsk.
Therefore, many have speculated whether Putin’s main goal is to restore the entire Soviet Union, which fell in 1991. The former US Secretary of Defense is convinced of this.
– Without Ukraine, there can be no Russian Empire
Robert Gates, a former US Secretary of Defense under both George W. Bush and Barack Obama, says that Putin believes his “destiny” is to restore the Russian Empire.
Putin believes it is his destiny to recreate the Russian Empire. As my old mentor, Zbig Brzezinski (Zbigniew Brzeziński, security policy advisor to US President Jimmy Carter, journal.anm) used to say: “Without Ukraine, there can be no Russian empire.” So he is obsessed with taking back Ukraine, Gates tells NBC News Newsweek.
– I think he thinks time is on his side, and support for Ukraine will erode in the West and decline, he adds.
Military support for the West has been the subject of heated debate in recent weeks.
NATO President Jens Stoltenberg and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky have long pressured Western countries to donate more high-tech military equipment.
After a long period of pressure, Germany and the United States recently agreed to send Leopard 2 and Abrams tanks, respectively.
Britain also sends 14 Challenger 2 tanks.
The West and Ukraine hope the handover will give Ukrainian forces a major boost against the Russians.
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