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German media analysis: Putin is shaking Europe, not just Ukraine

German media analysis: Putin is shaking Europe, not just Ukraine

The Russian president boasted that he alone decided to invade Crimea. Now more than 100,000 soldiers are waiting for his orders to march on the border with Ukraine. Will he give it?

Putin has been strictly protected since the beginning of the pandemic, access to him is strictly limited and those few people allowed to meet him should be quarantined for days in advance.

But what is his plan for Russia and the world now?

Russia demands an end to NATO enlargement, the withdrawal of US nuclear weapons from Europe, and no further military exercises near Russia. At his annual press conference in late December, Putin warned that NATO was advancing and building bases with new weapons systems: "East, south, north and west, of course." A look at the map does not confirm this. The last NATO enlargement to the east was almost 18 years ago. Today, Russia shares 800 kilometers of its 57,680 kilometers of external border with NATO members Norway, Estonia and Latvia. Poland and Lithuania border the Kaliningrad enclave for about 400 kilometers. The siege looks different.

Many believe Putin is only reacting to the US and NATO. If the West behaved differently, showed understanding, and responded to Putin's concerns, then it would act very differently. This is a false assumption and underestimates Russia. Russia is a world power large enough not to react to others, but to act as it pleases. This is exactly what Putin is doing. He has broad plans, sees the West as weak, and would like to establish another order in Europe, without the US.

You can only understand Putin's foreign policy if you look at how deliberately the Russian president has transformed his country over the last twenty years. The security services, the armed forces and the propaganda machine assisted in this. Together they started a revolt: against the 1990s and everything that was created then. Against an open Russia with free elections halfway, which committed itself to treaties for peaceful coexistence and respect for borders in Europe. That was once. Putin and his allies returned to their homeland before beginning to explore the limits of his external power. And because Putin does not rule a small country, but a nuclear superpower, today he is shaking Europe and the world in which we have felt safe for three decades.

Translated by Zeit.de

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