The existence of the Soviet Union was a major source of risk to the democratic world and determined the parameters and structure of the security system on the European continent during the second half of the 20th century, forcing Western nations to establish a collective defense institution in the form of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
The policy of the USSR also posed constant threats to the independent development of Central and Eastern European (СEE) countries that were part of the socialist camp. It is worth mentioning the suppression of the workers’ uprising in East Germany in 1953; the bloody massacre of the Hungarian Revolution of 1956; forceful cessation of the experiment to “ennoble” communism in Czechoslovakia in 1968 etc. The result of the Soviet intervention were not only the numerous casualties among the population of the conquered countries, but also the long-term preservation of their economic and social backwardness from their Western European neighbors.
After the collapse of the USSR, the CEE countries became part of a stable and fairly reliable security system thanks to the United States and NATO, as a result of which Russia lost the ability to significantly influence this area and could no longer generate threats across the continent. However, the Kremlin became a source of threat to post-Soviet countries because it had sufficient resources for destructive influence in the region. From the very beginning, the Russian leadership laid the groundwork for future neo-imperial reintegration in its most aggressive forms. To this end, systematic subversive activities were carried out on the territory of the newly independent countries and the preconditions for armed intervention were created. We can mention the Russian war against Georgia in 1992 and 2008, the intervention in the Transnistrian conflict in Moldova in 1992. The last striking example of imperial aggression was Russia’s war against Ukraine, which has been going on since 2014.
It has already become clear to everyone that under any circumstances, Russia will always remain a threat to its neighbors and European states in general within the current geographical boundaries and with the presence of the existing potential for aggression. No “good tsar” will make Russian society less charged with external violence and geopolitical expansion that have been laid down for centuries in Russian history.
Therefore, in order to form a stable security system on the continent, it is necessary to localize Russia within its internationally recognized borders. At the moment, there are two ways of localization: gradual and radical. The gradual way of localization involves the application of tough sanctions as a result of which the country will lose economic and military potential to pose a threat to post-Soviet countries. This process is quite long and seems to be safer for the world’s leading powers. However, this option is not entirely acceptable to its close neighbors, as they will remain potential targets of Russia’s threat for a long time. The radical way means the fragmentation of Russia into a number of small states, but it is assessed by the democratic community as one that carries significant risks, as it is unknown what will happen to nuclear weapons. A natural question arises – who will directly “crush” Russia.
Thus, international community is facing a problem that does not currently have a reliable solution. We can only say that the keys to launching the process of eliminating the Russian threat to the European security system are in the hands of the Ukrainian people and its armed forces.