Henry Kissinger once pointed out that since Peter the Great, Russia had been expanding at the rate of one Belgium per year. All undone, of course, by the collapse of the Soviet Union, which Russian President Vladimir Putin called “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the [20th] century.”

Putin’s mission is restoration. First, restore traditional Russian despotism by dismantling its nascent democracy. And then, having created iron-fisted “stability,” march.

 

Use the 2008 war with Georgia to detach two of its provinces, returning them to the bosom of Mother Russia (by way of Potemkin independence). Then late last year, pressure Ukraine to reject a long-negotiated deal for association with the European Union, to draw Ukraine into Putin’s planned “Eurasian Union” as the core of a new Russian mini-empire.