It seems that the end of the war in Ukraine is out of the question at the moment, but sooner or later it will come. What should happen to Russia in this situation? This is the question that worries Arend Jan Boekestijn and defense analyst Peter Wijninga of The Hague Center for Strategic Studies at Boekestijn & De Wijk.
Boekestijn compares it to Germany after World War I. In 1918, Wilson offered Germany a way out of the war without reparations. This was the best option for Germany, which was struggling with declining troop morale and American involvement in the war. The condition was that the German Kaiser should leave.
“But the problem with historical comparisons is that they always fail,” Boekstein continues. The difference between 1918 and 2023 is that Germany had active political parties, and there are no real political parties in Russia, only parties that support Putin or slightly support him. Moreover, Putin is a strong leader, while the Tsar was a very weak leader.
Wijninga agrees with Boekestijn’s analysis. Almost all Germans were spared, parts of Germany were occupied by the Allies, and reparations and other punitive measures had to be introduced. This laid the foundation for the rise of the Nazi Party and all the misery that resulted. This should be avoided in Russia.
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According to Wijinga, Putin’s departure, by any means, is the only way to end the war. But this must be done by the Russian people themselves. If you try to stimulate it from the outside, I think you will achieve the opposite.
Boykstein believes that anti-Western sentiment in Russia is at the root of this. This feeling is already great, but it will only get worse. In return, you may get a hardline nationalist. So if Putin is going to impeach, the people should do it.
Wijninga doubts that Russia can continue to exist as a kind of large North Korea after that. You cannot ignore Russia as the world did with North Korea. But something needs to change in Russia, and I think Chinese support is needed for this. You have to create a situation with China, Europe and the United States where there is peaceful coexistence.
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