Russian leader’s expansionist ambitions absolutely unacceptable

Is this tantamount to Russian President Vladimir Putin admitting of his own accord that the purpose of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is territorial expansion? This imperialistic idea of negating the international order is absolutely unacceptable.

Citing the victory of Peter I of the Russian Empire in the Great Northern War against Sweden in 1721, Putin said it is Russia’s mission to regain and consolidate territory. His intention to justify the invasion of Ukraine is obvious.

This is a sheer anachronism. Until the 19th century, empires fought against each other for territory and control over other ethnic groups, but in the 20th century, empires disappeared one after another, and international law prohibited the expansion of territory by force.

Peter I is also known as a monarch who became keenly aware of Russia’s underdevelopment after witnessing the progress of Western Europe and tried to modernize the country. Putin seems to be preoccupied only with the great power of the “emperor” without being aware of such aspects.

In fact, Putin has stayed in power for more than 20 years and has managed to prolong his reign through a series of constitutional revisions, creating a system to suppress dissent.

The final decision-making power is entirely in Putin’s hands, with no parliamentary or judicial checks functioning. The Federal Council, the upper house of the Russian Federal Assembly, approved the Putin administration’s policy without discussing the invasion in earnest.

When the invasion began in February, Putin claimed that he was defending Russia against the eastward expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and he also used the “protection of residents” of Ukraine as a pretext.

Now, more than 100 days after the invasion started, Ukraine is fiercely fighting back, and the United States, Europe and Japan are united in their support for Kyiv. Two northern European countries are moving to join NATO. These developments are the opposite of what Putin had intended.

A special live TV program broadcast every June in which Putin responds directly to questions and requests from the public reportedly will not be held for the time being. Putin must have been concerned that unfavorable questions about the invasion might be asked.

In various parts of Russia, there have been arson attacks on facilities where military draft procedures are carried out. A Russian diplomat stationed in Geneva has resigned in protest. There has also been a reported exodus abroad of experts in information technology as well as science and technology.

A prolonged invasion will not only destroy Ukraine, but also diminish Russia’s national strength.

The international community must continue to provide military assistance to Ukraine and impose sanctions against Russia to stop the foolish actions of Putin, who seems to be obsessed with the delusion of “the resurgence of the empire.”

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 14, 2022)