(UnitedVoice.com) – On December 26, 1991, the former Soviet Union dissolved. Russian experts believed the former communist state fell swiftly and harshly after decades of spreading communism to countries around the globe for many reasons. Some believe President Ronald Reagan’s aggressive military spending throughout the 1980s bankrupted the country as Russia tried to keep up with US military spending. In addition, USSR leader Mikhail Gorbachev began a slow movement toward democratization that destabilized communist control of the government.
For nearly 20 years, former KGB agent and Russian President Vladimir Putin has reigned supreme in Russia in one fashion or another. In 2012, then-Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney warned Russia was an imminent threat, but Democrats and the media mocked him as out-of-touch. By 2014, numerous Democratic appointees began singing a different tune. Now that Russia has invaded Ukraine, if he’s successful, there could be other countries in his sights.
Putin Dreams of Reviving the Soviet Union
In 2016, former Defense Secretary and CIA Director Leon Panetta said restoring the USSR was Putin’s driving motivation. He stated Putin didn’t want former Soviet bloc countries to join NATO under any circumstances. Some in the media chimed in on the warnings as well. The BBC detailed Putin’s history, ambition to restore Russia to prestige on the world stage, and how he obtained control of Russia’s oligarchs, media, and the government. The media outlet said Putin’s ultimate goal was to rebuild Soviet Russia.
It’s 2022, and President Joe Biden seems to concur with past analyses of Putin. Recently, the president said Russia has larger ambitions than Ukraine. He stated Putin wants to reestablish the former Soviet Union. If so, Ukraine is just one piece of a much larger puzzle.
Several Russian experts agree with the sentiment. Three former Soviet bloc countries could be Putin’s next targets. The Baltic states of Estonia, Lithuania, and Latvia sit between Russia and its ally Belarus. Plus, the bloc of countries sits on top of the Baltic Sea, giving the Russian Navy tactical advantages. Still, the problem for Putin is the three countries are NATO members, and Russia may not be willing to strike them aggressively to provoke a war.
Plausible Next Targets to Revive the USSR
On the other hand, Putin could target several countries that aren’t NATO members but which he believes are ripe for the taking, including Finland and Sweden. Other post-Soviet states might be even more inviting. Moldova and Georgia could be the more immediate interests for Putin. Neither is a member of NATO, there is a dispute about territories in each country, and they are militarily and economically vulnerable.
Russian peacekeeping soldiers are already in both countries. The only thing holding him back for the moment is the large Russian military presence in Ukraine as Putin tries to take the country back. Until he resolves the military situation there, experts believe Putin will restrain from advancing any further.
So, what will Russia do next? It will likely depend on whether the Russians are successful in Ukraine. At this point, it could be an all-in or all-out proposition for Putin.
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