Igor Boțan: Russia has always had imperialistic ambitions

Russia has always had expansionist ambitions, and the armed forces have been a tool for achieving this goal, says the political commentator Igor Boțan. During an IPN debate, he stated that now Russia aims to restore the territories lost after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

According to the expert, the expansionist claims of today’s Russia date back to the First World War. Tsarist Russia, Soviet Russia, and today's Russia are created on the same model of terror and repression with the help of military forces.

“Russia has always had imperialistic ambitions. The First World War began after Russia started mobilization. Germany had to react to this and so the First World War broke out, after the conflict between the governments in Vienna and Belgrade. Hitler’s invasion of Poland followed, and two weeks later under the pretext of saving the civilian population of Ukrainian and Belarusian origin, the USSR invaded the eastern part of Poland, celebrated with a joint military parade of Soviet and Nazi troops in the city of Brest. Later there were claims against Finland. An alternative government to the one in Helsinki was prepared, the invasion of Finland generated a shameful war for the Soviet forces. In 1940 followed the annexation of Bessarabia, the Sovietization of the Baltic countries. The USSR, like Tsarist Russia, was set up for expansion”, said Igor Boțan.

He says that after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russian elites made sure to create separatist pockets, which would prevent the ex-Soviet states from progressing and keep them in the Russian orbit.

“After communism collapsed in Europe and the USSR, now there are other propaganda narratives. Now it’s about Russia’s interest in recapturing its lost territories after the collapse of the Soviet Union. The Soviet army has always been an instrument of expansion. The communist idea has collapsed and now Russian ideologues say that the links of Russian history must be put together. Putin is now laying the groundwork for a new phase of expansion into territories once held by the Russian Empire and the Soviet Empire. The war in Ukraine is based on this ideological approach, but before that they created separatist enclaves in Transnistria, Ossetia, Abkhazia, Crimea, Donbas, which they would keep frozen, to prevent the respective countries from joining NATO and unfreeze them at the right time ", Igor Boțan also said.

Igor Boțan also says that the nostalgia of some Moldovans for the Soviet period is based on the feeling of perceived inferiority caused by the breakup of a massive entity such as the Soviet Union and belonging to a smaller state, such as the Republic of Moldova.

"While part of the USSR and after its disintegration, two great injustices were done to the citizens of the Republic of Moldova. First, the Soviets destroyed the intelligentsia and the managerial class. And the second great injustice, when the USSR fell apart, after three generations in which managerial skills disappeared, everything was solved by the state, Independence came. And everyone thought that they were better off in the USSR because then the decisions were made in their place. This made people who had no entrepreneurial spirit become nostalgic. In addition, it’s one thing to feel like a citizen of the country that decided the fate of the world, and a completely different thing to feel like a citizen of the poorest country in Europe”, the expert said.

The debate titled “Nostalgia for military grandeur of USSR as explanation for approval of current invasions” was the fifth installment of IPN’s series “100 years with USSR and 31 years without USSR: Nostalgia for Chimeras”, held with support from the Hanns Seidel Foundation.

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