More than three decades ago, Aleksander Solzhenitsyn, who is respected by Putin, wrote in “How We Can Build Russia”: “We don’t have the power to build an empire!—And we don’t need it, and it will roll off our shoulders: it is crushing us, sucking us dry, and hastening our demise.” In principle, Putin was in agreement with this—until February 24, 2022, that is. On February 22, he said, “Russia decided to recognize the sovereignty of the two people’s republics of Donbass. We foresaw speculation on this topic, on the idea that Russia was going to restore the empire within its imperial borders. This is absolutely untrue.”
It is likely that Putin either lied, or that the plan has changed. The idea of an empire has become material accepted as ready for implementation.A Latter-Day Peter the Great
“Return and strengthen!” is now the slogan of the Putin era. These were the words of the current Russian autocrat on the occasion of the 350th anniversary of Tsar Peter the Great’s birth, in the sense that the first Emperor of All the Russias did not seize anything, but only returned it to Russia and strengthened it. So Putin is a new Peter the Great for a new age
— and also an emperor, because he is restoring the empire.
This is a relatively new motif being used in order to justify a “special military operation” in Ukraine, although the imperial component in Putin’s personal ideology is dominant. He is primarily a Russian imperialist and only secondarily a Russian nationalist and ultra-conservative.
The real Emperor had cut open a window looking onto Europe, while the fake one has boarded it up with some rotten planks left over from the time of Ivan the Terrible, with whom it only makes sense to compare the present Russian autocrat. Peter was a modernizer, while the Russian president is a counter-modernizer.