Denationalization as a Secondary Option Geopolitical Tool

Vladimir Putin has miscalculated.

Undeniably, Putin is an adept in geopolitics, especially from the point of view of Russia in 1990. What he has done more often than not has exceeded the expectations of many. Be that as it may, his war in Ukraine has overestimated the capabilities of the Russian army and underestimated the aptitude of the Ukrainian force.

His biggest mistake was actually underestimating the power of the great Ukrainian people. In the clearest example, even a dramatic political leader like President Volodymyr Zelenskyy could be moved by the courage of his people and the history of the country, and becomes an extraordinary leader who is willing to sacrifice himself.

Putin’s mistakes will not be our discourse here, as we shall leave those to another occasion. What I wish to discuss here is the anger of the world towards his war in Ukraine and the sanctions resulted by it.

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

Take Putin’s Russia as an example. The geopolitical tool with the highest priority is war, i.e., hot war. The next level of geopolitical battle is sanctions. I believe Putin did expect that sanctions would take place, but he would not anticipate it to be that precise and effective.

There are five major things that can exert great pressure and inflict blow to Russia: 1. The UN and other international organizations can expel Russia from them. Even in the loose UN, there are chances for Russia to lose its seat despite having two-thirds majority; 2. Expulsion from the capitalist SWIFT system; 3. 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 will be fatal; 4. The global tracking and seizure of Russian funds, which is deadly from the perspective of the previous Russian financial structure; 5. Banning all technological exports to curb Russia’s future development potential.

From the perspective of geopolitical tools, if these five major acts are imposed, Russia will definitely lose. The next question is how will it lose? Will it resist to the end, or will it negotiate? Both are possible for Putin, but it would be a different story. What is certain now is that Putin’s Russia has lost. Russia, as a nation, no longer exists on earth and is extremely marginalized. The beautiful Russia, with its great history, has lost its significance as a nation because of Putin. Its connections with others have been cut off and become a mere blank spot on the world map. Under such situation, Russia can only exist as an organization, not a country.

Denationalization is a powerful geopolitical tool that the world has clearly seen from the crisis in Ukraine. Perhaps this will be further proven the future, that if needed, such an approach will continue to work.

Some might be of the opinion that Russia as a major nuclear power would 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 weapons, but many other countries possess them as well, so their practical significance would not be huge. Putin’s nuclear deterrence is more of a 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 need to remember that the possession of massive amount of nuclear weapons could not prevent the collapse of the Soviet Union. Judging from Russian culture and history, Russian people will not allow Putin to destroy the whole world, and that now it is the whole world who opposes Putin.

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 denationalization.

Writer by Chan Kung
Founder of ANBOUND Think Tank (established in 1993), Mr. Chan Kung is one of China’s renowned experts in information analysis. Most of Chan Kung‘s outstanding academic research activities are in economic information analysis, particularly in the area of public policy.

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ANBOUND is a multinational independent think tank, specializing in public policy research, incl. economy, urban and industry, geopolitical issues. Est. 1993.