Putin’s War On The ’90s

Vladimir Putin file photo with VOA logo; screen shot from video still

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Brian Whitmore – January 25, 2017)

Vladimir Putin wants to relitigate the 1990s.

He seems determined to erase an entire decade.

He wants a do-over. He wants backsies.

And this, I believe, is one of the keys to understanding the Kremlin leader’s behavior.

It explains Putin’s memorable comments that Ukraine, which like the rest of the U.S.S.R. won its independence in 1991, isn’t even a real country — and his subsequent use of Russia’s military to try to make this so.

It also explains Russia’s invasion of Georgia, its saber-rattling in the Baltics, and its efforts to undermine NATO.

But the latest example of Putin’s war on the ’90s can be found in the Balkans.

The West’s intervention in the Balkan wars of the 1990s, and its prevention of the creation of a Greater Serbia under Slobodan Milosevic, has long been sore point for the Kremlin.

It often seems that Moscow views Serbia’s dominance over the former Yugoslavia as a metaphor for Russia’s dominance over the former Soviet Union.

And now Moscow is trying to restart the Balkan game.

The Kremlin appears to be encouraging separatism in Bosnia’s Republika Srpska and in northern Kosovo.

It’s pushing to eliminate the UN-appointed high representative that oversees Bosnia-Herzegovina.

It’s encouraged militant nationalism in Serbia.

And it was allegedly involved in a coup attempt by Serbian nationalists in Montenegro.

Putin’s games in the Balkans are disturbing, but they’re also very predictable.

They’re just the latest battle in his ongoing war with the 1990s.

Article from Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – ©2017 RFE/RL, Inc. Article also appeared at rferl.org/a/daily-vertical-transcript-putin-war-on-the-1990s/28256424.html