Putin's Wars: The Rise of Russia's New Imperialism

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9781442253575: Putin's Wars: The Rise of Russia's New Imperialism
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This fully updated book offers the first systematic analysis of Putin’s three wars, placing the Second Chechen War, the war with Georgia of 2008, and the war with Ukraine of 2014–2015 in their broader historical context. Drawing on extensive original Russian sources, Marcel H. Van Herpen analyzes in detail how Putin’s wars were prepared and conducted, and why they led to allegations of war crimes and genocide. He shows how the conflicts functioned to consolidate and legitimate Putin’s regime and explores how they were connected to a fourth, hidden, “internal war” waged by the Kremlin against the opposition. The author convincingly argues that the Kremlin—relying on the secret services, the Orthodox Church, the Kremlin youth “Nashi,” and the rehabilitated Cossacks—is preparing for an imperial revival, most recently in the form of a “Eurasian Union.”

An essential book for understanding the dynamics of Putin’s regime, this study digs deep into the Kremlin’s secret long-term strategies. Readable and clearly argued, it makes a compelling case that Putin’s regime emulates an established Russian paradigm in which empire building and despotic rule are mutually reinforcing. As the first comprehensive exploration of the historical antecedents and political continuity of the Kremlin’s contemporary policies, Van Herpen’s work will make a valuable contribution to the literature on post-Soviet Russia, and his arguments will stimulate a fascinating and vigorous debate.

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About the Author:

Marcel H. Van Herpen is director of the Cicero Foundation, Maastricht. His personal website is http://www.marcelhvanherpen.com.

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The author analyzes the phenomenon of Russian imperialism, its origins, evolution, ideological foundations, and reciprocal ties with despotic rule in general. Van Herpen gives a detailed account of Putin’s revival of imperial doctrine and the related neocolonialist project of reintegrating post-Soviet space under the aegis of the Kremlin. . . . The book concludes with reflections on the Russian leadership’s ‘obsession’ with the ‘Ukrainian problem’ and its efforts to coerce Ukraine into joining the Eurasian Union by force. . . . The author’s logic is impeccable. (East/West: Journal of Ukranian Studies)

In this sobering book, Marcel van Herpen ... reminds us that Russia’s actions, unlike those of other former European empires, demonstrate that decolonization is not an irreversible process. (Survival: Global Politics and Strategy)

It is amazing that a book published in February could so accurately predict the way the war in Ukraine has unfolded in the half year since. (San Francisco Review of Books)

Marcel Van Herpen's warnings of a new Russian empire in the making became reality in early 2014 just after the publication of the first edition of this book, when Vladimir Putin organized a clandestine takeover of the Crimea, while likewise secretly backing separatist movements in the eastern Ukraine. Putin's Wars argues incisively that Russian actions are primarily offensive and driven by domestic factors in the quest to rebuild a new Russian empire after Soviet collapse, rather than primarily defensive, and driven in response to external factors such as the uncoordinated NATO and European Union enlargements. Whether or not one sees the new Russian imperialism as essentially offensive or defensive, the book raises thought-provoking questions as to how the United States and Europe should best respond to Russian pan-nationalist militancy and Putin's quest to forge a Eurasian alliance.
(Hall Gardner, author of Crimea, Global Rivalry, and the Vengeance of History)

This fully updated book offers the first systematic analysis of Putin’s three wars, placing the Second Chechen War, the war with Georgia of 2008, and the war with Ukraine of 2014–2015 in their broader historical context. Drawing on extensive original Russian sources, Marcel H. Van Herpen analyzes in detail how Putin’s wars were prepared and conducted, and why they led to allegations of war crimes and genocide. He shows how the conflicts functioned to consolidate and legitimate Putin’s regime and explores how they were connected to a fourth, hidden, “internal war” waged by the Kremlin against the opposition. An essential book for understanding the dynamics of Putin’s regime, this study digs deep into the Kremlin’s secret long-term strategies. Readable and clearly argued, it makes a compelling case that Putin’s regime emulates an established Russian paradigm in which empire building and despotic rule are mutually reinforcing.

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