He regretted the loss of ties between former countrymen and the distress of millions of Russians who were left outside independent Russia
This is an excerpt from an article that originally appeared at The Unz Review
As Professor Lynch [Allen C. Lynch, Vladimir Putin and Russian Statecraft, 2011] recounts:
Putin accepted the irreversibility of the Soviet Union’s collapse and came to terms with the market and private property as the proper foundations of the Russian economy. [Lynch, p.28]
It is true that Putin lamented the break-up of the old Soviet Union, but not because he regretted the disappearance of the Soviets, but, rather, because of the numerous and intimate economic, linguistic, social, and cultural connections that interrelated most of the fifteen constituent republics of the old USSR.
His comments on the topic were very clear, but have been selectively taken out of context by the Putin haters. [See the book-length interview with Putin, with comments from other Russian leaders, First Person: An Astonishing Frank Self-Portrait by Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, New York, 2000, pp. 165-190]
Much like the break-up of the Austro-Hungarian empire after World War I, which left significant ethnic minorities cut off from their historic former homelands — for example, millions of Austro-German Sudetens in Czechoslovakia, Hungarian Transylvanians in Romania, etc. — and a number of economically non-viable states in the Balkans, the dissolution of the Soviet Union created the same situation in Eastern Europe.
The present intractable crisis in Ukraine is a clear example of what can happen and has happened as a result. It was this situation that Putin rightly lamented; it was this break-up that he foresaw correctly as a tragedy.
The much-criticized—by the American press—secession of Crimea from Ukraine and its subsequent re-union with Russia clearly illustrates this.
What too many so-called “experts” in America fail to understand (or, if they do, skillfully omit in their reports) is that Crimea was an integral part of Russia for hundreds of years until Communist Nikita Khrushchev sliced it off from Russia and gave it to Ukraine in 1954, despite the fact that 60% of its population is ethnically Russian and its culture and language completely Russian. [See the Wikipedia article, “Crimea”]
Moreover, the Ukrainian “oblasts,” or provinces, of Lugansk and Donetsk, have a similar history and ethno-cultural make-up. They were arbitrarily added to the Ukrainian socialist republic in the 1920s after the Communist revolution, despite being historically part of Mother Russia for centuries.
Interestingly, at the same time Putin made the “break-up” of the Soviet Russia comment, he visited Poland to denounce and condemn the Communist massacre and crimes in the Katyn Forest at the beginning of World War II, as well as the horrid Soviet gulags. On more than one occasion, especially at the meetings of the international Valdai Discussion Forum in 2013 and 2014, he has harshly condemned in the strongest terms Communism and the atrocious crimes committed by Communists.
Boyd D. Cathey holds a doctorate in European intellectual history from the Catholic University of Navarra, Pamplona, Spain and an MA in American intellectual history from the University of Virginia. He was assistant to conservative author and philosopher the late Russell Kirk. He has published in French, Spanish, and English on historical subjects as well as classical music and opera. He is active in the Sons of Confederate Veterans and various historical, archival, and genealogical organizations.