The Russian Crime(a)

Russia has now officially annexed Crimea. Is Russia the world’s next superpower, or is another global hegemon about to arise?

We live in a time of great international confusion. This is not new in history but rather part of an ongoing cycle of instability. International instability typically exists until a geopolitical power emerges to enforce stability. The dominant power eventually weakens, thus sparking the next round of instability and crisis.

The most recent indicator that world stability is deteriorating began on Feb. 27, when Russia began moving troops into Crimea with the stated reason being to “protect” ethnic Russians in the region (58 percent of Crimea is ethnically Russian).

Crimea was a part of the Russian Empire for a long period of time, and it should not surprise us that Russia wanted it back. This, for the time being, has happened. As of March 21, Crimea has been officially annexed by the Russian Federation.

In the same way that the world watched Hitler then, it is looking at Vladimir Putin today and wondering how far he will go. Recollections of the past

The Russian action in Crimea has sparked fears due to its eerie resemblance to German expansion under Hitler in the 1930s. Hitler’s justification for expanding into the Rhineland, Austria, Czechoslovakia and even into Poland was for the protection of ethnic Germans. As we all know, those actions led to one of the most destructive wars in human history.

In the same way that the world watched Hitler then, it is looking at Vladimir Putin today and wondering how far he will go. He has built an image based on aggressive and over-the-top masculinity. This would seem to indicate that he has ambitions that may extend beyond the Crimean Peninsula. Indeed, commentators are now referring to Russia’s invasion of Crimea as “Putin’s Anschluss.” This is a reference to Hitler’s “peaceful” invasion of Austria, which he called the Anschluss (German for “union”).

The other eerie similarity to the 1930s is the lack of a great power willing to keep leaders like Putin from running wild. Prior to Hitler’s expansion, France and Great Britain were considered the stabilizing powers of Europe. However, in reality they were much weaker than was believed. Their efforts to appease Hitler did not lead to “peace in our time,” but to millions of casualties.

Similarly, America has been the stabilizing power since the conclusion of World War II, succeeding in its efforts to fight off the spread of communism (which emanated mainly from Russia).

But it is clear to most observers that the United States is a weakening power. With their internal moral values decaying, Americans seem no longer able or willing to “pay any price” (as John Kennedy said) to maintain order in the world. Rather, Americans seem more concerned with paying whatever price is necessary to have the material comforts and sensual entertainment to which they have become accustomed.

However, the result of this living beyond their means is an accumulation of debt beyond anything the world has ever seen. The acknowledged debt of the U.S. is roughly $17.5 trillion. This is the amount owed in actual payable bonds. But if you add to this the unfunded liabilities (monies that the government has promised to pay minus expected tax collection), the real debt is somewhere between $70 and 100 trillion. America is also extremely war-weary and polls indicate it is returning to an isolationist mentality.

The next global superpower?

So, the real question for the future is not will the U.S. maintain its status as the world’s superpower, but who will replace it?

Some have speculated that it could be Russia. Putin’s bravado and boldness may lead people to think that he leads the world’s emerging superpower, but a closer look at the Russian economy shows that to be very unlikely. Russia is heavily dependent on one natural resource: oil. Oil makes up 50 percent of the Kremlin’s revenue. Sanctions on Russian oil would debilitate its government. It simply is not diversified enough to survive without this income stream.

There really is only one region in the world that has the financial, intellectual and historical capital to grow into the role of the world’s stabilizing force: Europe. While it is true that the European Union is dealing with a debt crisis of its own, it is also true that the beating heart of the E.U.—Germany—continues to grow in economic power. Indeed, in many ways, German Chancellor Angela Merkel is the de facto leader of Europe.

One thing that is missing for the EU to become the world’s new superpower is a strong military. While individual nations have their own militaries, the EU has only a very small nucleus of a military called the EuroCorps. This is where the Russian invasion of Ukraine may well have its biggest impact.

The fact is that Europe has relied on America and NATO for its defense against Russia (and other threats) for the last 70 years. But NATO is a shadow of what it was when the Cold War was at its peak, and America seems unable—and unwilling—to respond to growing threats. With its American protector in decline, it seems likely that the EU will be forced to respond to growing threats with a powerful military of its own.

Bible prophecies reveal the decline of America as a world power and the rise of Europe as the end-time superpower. The decline of America is well under way. The rise of Europe has been slowly progressing since the Treaty of Rome was signed in 1957. Most of the infrastructure is in place and requires only the awakening of the European people and leadership to put the prophecy on the fast track to fruition.

This is why a crisis such as the Russian invasion of Ukraine may be of greater impact than first meets the eye.

For past Life, Hope & Truth coverage on Putin and Russia, read:

(Photo by Evgeniy Roginskiy/CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Topics Covered: News and Trends

About the Author

M. Noland Morris

M. Noland Morris holds a Ph.D. in history. He teaches history on the high school and college level in Texas.