On October 22 (November 2), 1721, the Russian Empire was proclaimed. Peter the Great became its first emperor. The meaning of the transformation of the kingdom into an empire was that Peter carried out a number of reforms: in particular, he “cut a window to Europe.” In other words, Russia gained access to the ice-free ports of the Baltic Sea and seized a number of lands around the new imperial capital, St. Petersburg. Later, the Russian Empire gained access to the Black and Caspian Seas. And after the conquest of the Far East – also access to the Pacific Ocean. With access to each next sea, the status of the empire was strengthened. The Russian Federation declared itself the legal successor of the Soviet Union, which itself, in turn, was the heir to the Russian Empire. Both arrogated to themselves the “historical rights” of the Russian Empire.
To understand what is happening, let’s recall Russia’s stated goals in Ukraine. After five months of “special operation” we see that at least one of them – “demilitarization” – has failed. Instead of “demilitarization”, the number of weapons and ammunition in Ukraine, thanks to the help of the West, has increased by several orders of magnitude. What about the second goal – “denazification”? The level of “Nazification” – if we mean the opposition to Putin’s Russia – on the territory of Ukraine has increased significantly due to the actions of its “liberators”. By arrogating to itself the rule of deciding who is a Nazi and who is not, the Russian Federation has exposed all the weakness of its moral character in relation to the civilian population of Ukraine.
The fighting in Ukraine continues much longer than the initiators of the conflict expected. How and under what circumstances can it end? Russia can stop hostilities if it fully takes Donbass and Novorossiya under its control. The “Novorossiya” project (literally: “new Russia”) implies the “liberation” of Ukraine from a number of territories that were once part of the Russian Empire. The cities of Dnepropetrovsk, Kherson, Melitopol, Mariupol, Berdyansk, Nikolaev, Zaporozhye, Tiraspol (on the territory of the Moldavian Transnistria occupied by Russian troops) – all of them were once part of Novorossia, a province of the Russian Empire. Their return is the goal of the liberation conflict. “Liberation” is accompanied by the creation of a new region of the Russian Federation with the name of the former province of the Russian Empire, Novorossiya.
But the Russian Federation is not the Russian Empire, but a new state created in 1991 after the collapse of the USSR, which included the RSFSR as one republic. Putin’s claim to Novorossiya means that the new country, the Russian Federation, claims the territory of a completely different country that no longer exists – the Russian Empire. According to Putin, Ukraine is an artificially created state. And Russia is natural? 190 peoples live on the territory of the Russian Federation. The capture of Siberia, the Far East, Kamchatka and Chukotka is referred to in Russian history as the “development” of lands inhabited by 189 non-Russian peoples. As in the period of the Russian Empire, “development” and “attachment” are taking place in Ukraine. Only this time the former tsar’s lands are being “mastered” by a new tsar, called the “president”. New Russia is being conquered by a new autocrat who believes that he is “returning”, “gathering”, “developing” and “liberating” the lands of the former empire in order to strengthen the new one.
According to Putin’s ideology, “natural” Novorossiya will replace “artificial” Ukraine. One of the goals of Russian colonization of new lands is to provide access to the sea and keep Ukrainian rivals out. The Russian Federation has already deprived Ukraine of access to the Sea of Azov by occupying the ports of Mariupol and Berdyansk. The Russian Federation is true to its imperial strategy of accessing the sea in all strategically important places where it is possible. It has already reached the Mediterranean, having acquired the Tartus naval base in Syria at its disposal.
The key to understanding the goals of Putin’s “special military operation” is his desire to correct “historical anomalies”: first of all, to “develop” those regions of Ukraine whose names contain something Russian (Novorossiya and Kievan Rus, “the mother of Russian cities”) and deprive Ukraine of access to the Black Sea. In general, a natural phenomenon is taking place in Ukraine: the first act of the imperial “development” of lands. What will happen next? The next, already post-Ukrainian, phase of the conflict is inevitable, because the Russian Federation is the legal successor of the USSR, and there are still many “unliberated” Soviet territories as part of other states. The Russian Federation will also “develop” other “occupied” lands of the Russian Empire. The USSR and the Russian Empire left the Russian Federation a legacy of many problems in “development”, “conquest”, “liberation”, “attachment” and “collection” of territories. New Russia is not a new country, but the same Russian Federation, burdened with a great historical mission to expand its possessions.