The Platform

Russian President Vladimir Putin. (Gil Corzo/Shutterstock)

Undeniably, Vladimir Putin is an adept player in geopolitics, especially from the point of view of Russia, pre-Ukraine invasion. What he has done more often than not has exceeded the expectations of many. Be that as it may, his unprovoked war in Ukraine has overestimated the capabilities of the Russian military.

His single biggest mistake was actually underestimating the power of the Ukrainian people and Volodymyr Zelensky, that country’s president.

Putin’s mistakes will not be my discourse here. What I wish to discuss here is the anger of the world towards his war in Ukraine and the punishing sanctions imposed by the West.

I have to admit that I had never thought I would have a chance to see the day come when the whole world would launch an unprecedented wave of sanctions against Russia. This clearly points toward a single direction: denationization. Do not feel perplexed if you have never heard of this term, because I just conceived of it. It means depriving a country of its substantial status as a nation through the use of geopolitical tools, namely effective and punishing sanctions.

Take Putin’s Russia for example. The geopolitical tool with the highest priority is war. The next level of geopolitical battle are sanctions. I believe Putin did expect some sanctions would be imposed, but not the crushing sanctions that we are seeing today.

There are five major things that can exert great pressure and inflict a significant blow on Russia. The UN and other international organizations can expel Russia from them. Even in the UN, there are chances for Russia to lose its seat. Expulsion from the SWIFT banking system. Trade sanctions, which of course include one of the most important trades, namely energy transactions. If energy transactions are fully closed, the impact on the Russian economy would be fatal. The global tracking and seizure of Russian funds. Finally, banning all technological exports to Russia.

From the perspective of geopolitical tools, if these steps are imposed, Russia will definitely lose. The next question is how will it lose? Will it resist to the end, or will it negotiate? What is certain now is that Putin’s Russia has lost. Russia, as a nation, no longer exists and is extremely marginalized. Beautiful Russia, with its great history, has lost its significance as a nation because of Putin. Its connection with others has been cut off. Russia can only exist as an organization, not a country.

Denationization is a powerful geopolitical tool that the world has clearly seen as a result of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

Some might believe that Russia as a major nuclear power could not lose its status as a nation. The reality is that the real significance of nuclear weapons is often greatly exaggerated out of fear. It is true that Putin can threaten others with nuclear annihilation, but many other countries possess them as well, so their practical significance would not be huge. Putin’s nuclear deterrence is more of showmanship, and it is meant to placate the Russians. It was sometimes useful, but more often than not it would not exactly be effective. One just needs to remember that the possession of a massive number of nuclear weapons could not prevent the collapse of the Soviet Union. Judging from Russian culture and history, the Russian people will not allow Putin to destroy the whole world.

All in all, I believe that from a certain point of view, the Ukrainian crisis does indeed carry some benefits for the overall security of the world. Tragic benefits certainly, though after such a terrible war, the world will have a great secondary option, that is denationization.

Chan Kung is one of China’s renowned experts in information analysis. Most of Chan Kung‘s academic research activities are in economic information analysis, particularly in the area of public policy.