Dear Patrice, in your article you compare Putin’s acts to those of Hitler and William II and see danger of war. Let me add here the links to articles i wrote about these dictators;
Even if Putin do has tendency to become a fascistic dictator I still would see him more like Napoleon than those two. Napoleon as Putin took over his country in time of huge crisis, when people became tired of revolutionary changes and looked for stability, And both leaders due to their success became immediately heroes. But then the inevitable happened, they became victims of their own success, and did not know when to stop. The result of Napoleon losing the unnecessary war against Russia was loss of France dominant position in Europe, the France revolutionary ideas lost their legitimacy and momentum, that enabled continuous reactionary autocratic regimes in Germany, Austria, Russia and France itself at least until 1848.
On the other hand judging Putin’s act in Crimea it seems to me rather an act of despair, while everyone understands, that when Khrushchev gave Crimea to Ukraine, it was an administrative act, while no one thought about possibility that it will become a non Russian territory, Yes with the collapse of USSR and rediscovery of the crimes of this regime against Ukrainians, Georgians, Chechens, Jews and you name the rest, new nationalistic feelings dominate the region and they became the dominant political idea also in Russia. But Russia today is not France in 1800, or Germany at 1914 or 1939. Its population is about 140 million but about 30 million are not Russians but mostly Muslims, Tatars etc.Other big demographic problem of Russia is far east, where half of the population and almost all the business activity is in Chinese hands. Russian sovereignty of these lands is only political, and with very gloom perspective from the Russian point of view.
Its GDP is about 2.5 trillion US$ compared to 3.5 trillion of Germany and 15 trillion of EU. Above all its economy is not produced by its population but out of exploiting its natural resources, and it leaves its economy very vulnerable and dependent on its main market, the EU.
Yes you can rightly say economic interests were never an obstacle to start a war, and the Russian vulnerability can make them nervous and aggressive, as it happened in Germany before WWI. But i don’t see Putin has mood to defend Russian position as superpower, but rather trying to continue its recovery and modernization to become one of the main European nations taking part in the political game in European level. To my opinion Putin has to understand that Russia as Europe, with their declining and aging population is in process of marginalization, while Russia on its backyard has to try to cope with the new emerging China, and better if it have the support of Europe than its enmity.
But what about Ukraine? To my opinion Europe has a lot to do about it. The most obvious act would be to invite Ukraine to EU membership. This act would help not only to Ukraine but also to Europe, its economy is stagnating due to luck of investment opportunities. By the way i suggested few years ago, viz my article;
I know this idea will have many enemies among those who look only on their short term interests, but the only alternative for Europe to stop its slow but steady degradation is expanding to the east, and not only to Dnieper but even farther to the east. One day the nationalistic sentiments and Putin will be gone and most of the post USSR countries will understand that the best solution for them is to join the EU, and so it is also for EU. Russia was always part of the European civilization, and wanted to see itself as such. I believe the advantages for Russia and EU from joining forces are to obvious not to let it happen.