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Putin’s war in Ukraine may destroy Russia

The Western media for decades has hailed Vladimir Putin as a great strategist. But if the past eight months have proved one thing, it’s that this strategic wizard often achieves the opposite of his intentions.

Mr. Putin has promised many things, including to make Russia an attractive place to live by 2020. Instead, millions of Russians have left and settled in the West. Russia’s economy remains largely dependent on oil and gas – and gross domestic product per capita income has fallen nearly 60% since 2013. Government efforts to slow demographic decline have failed, and the Kremlin’s military mobilization for its war in Ukraine has pushed more than 300,000 Russians to flee the country. Many of those unable to escape or bribe their way out of the draft are non-Russians from remote and impoverished regions in the east and south.

These factors paint a grim picture with clear implications: Rather than resurrecting his country’s greatness, Mr. Putin might be presiding over the collapse of the last Russian empire.

Russia has always been a colonial power in denial. While conquering and ruling multitudes, it insisted that – in contrast with violent...

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