Putin’s Identity Crisis

Carey Rowland
5 min readFeb 25, 2022


If you read Putin’s speech, delivered a few days ago before he assaulted the people of Ukraine, you may surmise that he sees himself as a deliverer upholding what Russia traditionally stood for in past centuries. . . up until the damn Bolsheviks took control.

His severe criticism of the Bolsheviks seems to be sincere. Putin sees himself as an historical deliverer who will deliver the (entire) Russian world from the curse of Bolshevism and then redirect the path of Rus spirituality back to the Orthodox church.

In his mind, strategically, he’s a 21st-century Peter the Great. At the moment, however, he’s Ivan the Terrible.

This is, in fact, a delusion of grandeur, which will ultimately be destroyed, whether by his own people or by Free Europe, which, by the way, has its own existential crisis like Romulus and Remus fighting in the womb of a mother wolf, or. . . going further back, Esau and Jacob.

Almost two centuries ago, a Frenchman who had a genius for military strategy came along and revolutionized the entire European way of life, redirecting it from royal authoritarianism to Enlightenment republicanism. Napoleon rescued the Jacobin revolutionaries from their own destruction. Subsequently, the French followed him down the path of “Enlightened” militarism until Napoleon met his Waterloo.

And although Napoleon was a Frenchman, Putin, it seems, sees in Napoleon’s militarizing precedent his own identity as the strongman who will deliver Russia from Bolshevism back to its Orthodox roots.

But someone needs to explain to Vlad that military conquest is not the appropriate way to honor the legacy of the founder of Christianity, the Prince of Peace. That’s Middle Ages stuff of fantasy.

I’ll volunteer to instruct him. Send me a ticket to Moscow.

These deep identity motives within Vladimir are probably more important to him than the trivia of mere rubles, euros, dollars and political sense.

Oh, and then there’s the gas and oil thing, the pipeline etc. Sure, that’s a factor, as we’re living in the real world.

The big question is: which border line (literally) is his ultimate goal?

Is it the line between Ukraine and, say, Poland? Or is it the line that Winston Churchill identified in a Missouri speech, the line of the “iron curtain?” which represents the high-water mark of Russian expansionism in Europe.

Whichever line it is, the Europeans will have to contend against him to maintain their own blood and soil, and Euro identity.

Are the Europeans up to the task? Maybe, maybe not. But one thing is for sure, just like the three previous continent-wide struggles of the 20th-century (I, II, and the Coldwar) the Europeans will need our help and our leadership.

Why is that? the reason is mainly geographical. America has the very large advantage of an ocean to the west, an ocean to the east, and friendly neighbors north and southward.

And that’s where America, and our President (like him or not) Joe Biden come in.

As the Originator of the Free World, we must do our duty, sir.

As President Kennedy challenged the Soviets when he visited Berlin in 1963 . . .

“ There are many people in the world who really don’t understand, or say they don’t, what is the great issue between the free world and the Communist world.. . . Let them come to Berlin.”

To put it more plainly . . . let them come to witness the hard truth that communism requires a wall to keep the people inside of it.

Twenty-four years later, President Reagan further challenged the Soviets with an imperative challenge.

“Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”

I do think that Putin actually did get the memo about the failure of Trotsky/Lenin/Stalin communism.

But in his zeal, Vlad has over-reacted; he has overstepped the bounds of acceptable statesmanship.

So Joe Biden is saying, appropriately, Reagan-like: Mr. Putin, get out of Ukraine.

To correct Putin’s aggressive blunder, our Congress and our Allies will have to decide where we draw the line against Russia, and then enforce it.

My humble opinion is that we should draw the line between West Ukraine and the East, Donbas. Then let the people of East Ukraine decide to whom they owe their allegiance. That way, if the East people choose an allegiance to Russia, the Russians have their warm water port, their traditional naval launch point, and what may turn out to be a Russian-identifying majority.

Likewise, let the Ukrainians of the West decide their own destiny. But they have already done that, n’est-ce que pas?However, this decision is one that is not easily manifested as long as Vlad the Mad and his forces are occupying Ukraine. The Russians should withdraw.

Yeah, right.

The problem with that is deep-seated in Russian identity, which goes all the way back to 988 a.d. when King Vladimir of the Rus people, whose royal house was in Kyiv, gave his heart to the Lord and thereby led those ancient Rus people into Christianity, the Greek Orthodox version.

I’m hoping that Vlad will allow the Ukrainians to make their own decision. But that’s a long shot, not looking very likely at this point. If they decide to be Ukrainians and not Russians, the Russians will have to mentally transplant their spiritual roots from tenth-century Rus to present day Petrograd.

Petrograd, or St. Petersburg in English, is named for, presumably, St. Peter, who, long ago, trod the paths of this earth with Jesus. Or maybe the capital city was named for Peter the Great of Russia. Maybe both, what a coincidence.

Let the Russians decide who is, in their history, more important, Peter the Apostle, Peter the Great, or Vlad the Mad?

Or maybe they wanna go back to Josef Stalin? God forbid.

But let the Ukrainians decide their own identity.

And let the people of Donbas decide which identity they prefer.

And, God willing, let Vladimir Putin honor their decision.

Yeah, I know. Good luck with that. I’m just a frustrated baby boomer who has benefited greatly through seventy years in the land of the free, home of the brave, having a starry-eyed TV-looking glass way of viewing the world.

God bless America. And God bless Ukraine, if they can bring it up to His standards. God’s standards, that is, not Putin’s.




Carey Rowland

Author and Publisher of 4 novels: Glass half-Full, Glass Chimera, Smoke, King of Soul; 1200+ blogs, musician, songwriter, poet, 43-year husband and father.