Putin not interested in Russian empire, as he interested in recapturing Soviet position on world's stage, - Anne Applebaum

Author : Elina Beketova

Respondent : Anne Applebaum

Source : 112 Ukraine

Putin's biggest concern about Ukraine is actually ideological
12:26, 21 November 2017

112 Agency

Anne Applebaum, the American journalist, Pulitzer Prize-winning author spoke of the tension between Ukraine and Poland, Putin’s intentions and UN peacekeeping mission to the 112 Ukraine TV channel’s Elina Beketova.

Have you heard of tensions between Poland and Ukraine about historical past? Why do you think it appeared and how to stop it?

I think this is one of the stupidest arguments going on in Europe right now. If there are 2 countries that have common interests and should be working together and should see that they have a lot in common - this is Poland and Ukraine. You have parallel relations with Europe, you have similar relations with Russia, you should be working together as you have done for the past 25 years. And in particular, over the past 5 years, Poland was the country that created the idea of a path to Europe for Ukraine, which launched the Association idea for Ukraine, which was the center of negotiations between Ukraine and Europe over the last decade. And the idea that you would have kind of a conflict with Poland is ridiculous. I know there are nationalists, and people who for their own purpose, political reasons, want to make a big impression, or prove they are defending the country on the world's stage...

Is it a reason why it appeared right now?

So, I mean, there is no other good explanation for it. There is no movement in Poland against Ukrainians, there is no previous anger at Ukraine. Let's get over it, let move on and let's discuss all the positive things two countries can do together. You have so much in common, it's very important that you work together in the future.

Speaking about Ukraine and Russia, from your perspective, does Putin still want to rebuild Russian Empire or does he refuse it?

I don't know so much that he is interested in the Russian empire, as he is interested in recapturing the Soviet position on the world's stage. So, let's be a little bit more precise. And yes - I do think, he is interested in that. And he is trying to do that in several different ways.  And remember he is operating from a position of weakness. Since his country relatively speaking is a small economy, comparable to perhaps Italy, but not certainly comparable to the size of EU or to the United States, using more limited tools he has, he is trying to play a role on the world's stage, that is greater than his economic impact and he is trying to do it through his war in Ukraine, through his war in Syria, this I believe, his goal. So, if you want to call it recreating the empire - yes, it's not quite to say, that it's a Russian empire, but yes, I do think he wants to play a kind of super role in the world.

What is his biggest fear and concern about Ukraine?

I think Putin's biggest concern about Ukraine is actually ideological. Look, if Ukraine became a prosperous democratic successful country  where rules of law respected, where the civil service is neutral, where corruption is limited and was integrated into the rest of the European continent,  economically and politically, then I think Russians would say, if Ukraine can do it, this country is so close to us, then why not us? I think Putin sees this idea of a democratic Ukraine of the European Ukraine - he sees it as an ideological threat to himself.

Does Ukraine need a peacekeeping mission? You know that there is a great discussion right now. Because Russia wants it on several parts of Donbas, Ukraine wants it on the whole territory. How to find this compromise?

My impression is that Russia beginning to understand that this war in Ukraine is a mistake, that it is not good for Russia, it's not popular anymore in Russia, one of the reasons why he is negotiating it right now  - they don't talk about it anymore in Russia, and I think, we are at the beginning of that will be very very long period of negotiations, I think, it's very good news that you have Kurt Volker, involved in and who is sympathetic to your way of seeing a world. And that is very fortunate to have somebody like this is the American Administration. I don't have an exact formula for compromise, I don't know how it is going to look like, but I don't think, it's impossible anymore, I think, it's conceivable we could get to the stage of talking about a change in a situation in the next year or two.

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