Putin and Solzhenitsyn

Miriam Elder and Robert Coalson argue that Putin has been influenced by Solzhenitsyn’s view of Russia’s proper borders. That’s plausible, but Solzhenitsyn was a proponent of grassroots democracy of the sort he witnessed in Vermont. He probably had in mind an honest plebiscite in post-Soviet Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan, hardly a hybrid war.

In addition, Solzhenitsyn’s essay known as Rebuilding Russia in English was written in the late 1980s and published in 1990, when redrawing internal Soviet border lines was at least thinkable.

That train has left. Russia has recognized its neighbors’ boundaries. No, Soviet borders were neither sensible nor fair and yes, the treatment of Russian speakers by post-Soviet dictators in Central Asia has been deplorable. But a politician’s or a nation’s idea of a fair world order and the price they are prepared to pay for breaking through to that ideal are not one and the same.

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