Has Putin’s Hour Come?

Russian President Vladimir Putin
Mikhail Klimentyev\TASS via Getty Images

Has Putin’s Hour Come?

Crises in the former Soviet world could give Vladimir Putin the opportunity of a lifetime.

Violent protests in the aftermath of a disputed parliamentary election are shaking the former Soviet republic of Kyrgyzstan. Parties supportive of Kyrgyzian President Sooronbai Jeenbekov won a majority on October 4 amid allegations of vote rigging.

The next day, rioters stormed government buildings, forcing the president into hiding and freeing political prisoners. While in hiding, President Jeenbekov declared a state of emergency, annulled the election results, removed Kyrgyzstan’s unpopular prime minister from office, and stated that he would resign from the presidency once a new cabinet had been appointed to keep the country functioning.

Jeenbekov nominated Sadir Japarov as prime minister on October 10. Japarov, a former nationalist member of Parliament who was, until a few days ago, serving a jail sentence for kidnapping (which may or may not have been politically motivated), has support among some of the Kyrgyz people, but not all. The streets of Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan’s capital city, have been the scenes of street brawls between the supporters of rival contenders for the prime ministry.

It is yet to be seen whether President Jeenbekov will keep his word about resigning; he has since come out of hiding and has been using the Kyrgyzian law enforcement to fight back against the protesters.

Kyrgyzstan, which is under a semi-presidential system of government with both a president and prime minister, has healthier democratic institutions than other post-Soviet states in Central Asia. Nevertheless, it has been dealing with the problems of government corruption and civil unrest that other former ussr constituent republics have been dealing with since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

Popular uprisings taking down governments have been common in recent Kyrgyzian history; two former presidential administrations have been previously ousted, and Jeenbekov’s predecessor was imprisoned immediately after his term ended.

This Kyrgyzian uprising is only the latest in a series of crises affecting the successor states of the former Soviet Union. Since August, the people of Belarus have been staging massive protests to pressure Alexander Lukashenko, Belarus’s dictator since the 1990s, to resign. In the latest Belarussian election, Lukashenko declared victory in gaining for himself a sixth term as president; the results were almost certainly rigged, and the Belarussian people know it and are fed up with Lukashenko’s dictatorship.

Meanwhile, Armenia and Azerbaijan have restarted a war that has been simmering ever since a fragile peace was implemented in the 1990s. When the Soviet Union collapsed, Armenia seized Nagorno-Karabakh, a majority Armenian region, from Azerbaijan. The Azerbaijanis have been trying to get it back ever since. Complicating the situation even more is that Azerbaijanis are a Turkic people who are historically hostile to Armenians, mainly because of the Armenian genocide that took place in World War i at the hands of the Ottoman Turks.

What remains to be seen is how Russia responds to all of this. Although Russia hasn’t technically ruled these regions since the ussr collapsed, it still maintains a heavy influence—especially so in Belarus, Armenia and Kyrgyzstan.

Russia and Belarus belong to an international agreement known as the “Union State,” where the hard border between the two countries has been removed and citizens of both nations have the right to live and work within each other, similar to how the European Union functions.

Belarus also belongs to the Eurasian Economic Union (eaeu), an equivalent of the EU single market within several ex-Soviet states, and the Collective Security Treaty Organization (csto), a military alliance serving as Russia’s equivalent to nato. Armenia and Kyrgyzstan are also members of both organizations, and all three countries host Russian military bases.

The turmoil in these countries therefore must be giving Russian President Vladimir Putin a headache.

Western nations are already capitalizing on what they may perceive as Putin losing control of the situations. Major international players like the United States and the EU have already withdrawn recognition of Alexander Lukashenko as Belarus’s legitimate president and are in the process of placing sanctions on Belarus. Turkey—a nuclear state with the second-largest military in nato, just across the Black Sea from Russia—has been egging on Azerbaijan in its war with Armenia, with many speculating that Ankara may increase its involvement in the conflict.

Russia mediated a ceasefire between Armenia and Azerbaijan just a few days ago, but the ceasefire collapsed almost immediately with both sides blaming the other, making Moscow’s efforts at mediation look bad.

Meanwhile, Moscow has pledged to support President Jeenbekov’s administration. In a face-to-face meeting in Sochi last month, Putin told Jeenbekov that Russia “will do everything to support [him] as the head of state” of Kyrgyzstan. Jeenbekov responded by calling Putin a “sincere, great friend of Kyrgyzstan” and Russia a “true friend, ally and strategic partner.” Jeenbekov’s rule as president is now in doubt.

The chief of the Federal Security Service (fsb), Russia’s domestic successor to the kgb, offered the acting head of Kyrgyzstan’s security apparatus, Omurbek Suvanaliyev, help to quell some of the instability; Suvanaliyev was fired from his position on October 8, not long after the offer was made.

It seems like everything Moscow is trying to do to deescalate the situations isn’t working.

The question remains: What will Vladimir Putin do next?

The last time massive political crises occurred within Russia’s sphere of influence was in the 1980s and early 1990s, when pro-democracy protests took place en masse within both the Soviet Union and its Warsaw Pact satellite states. Gigantic protests from East Germany to Poland to Czechoslovakia demanded that the Soviet-controlled Communist governments leave and that their nations become Western-oriented democracies. The 1989 opening of the Berlin Wall galvanized East Europeans to stand up to mother Russia.

Many of the people in power in these countries were alarmed by what was happening and requested Soviet military intervention. However, Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev made it clear that the era of the Soviet’s militarily interfering in the domestic politics of other Communist nations was over.

The rest is history. Every single one of the countries that belonged to the Warsaw Pact in 1989 outside of the Soviet Union—and even the Baltic States, former Soviet constituent republics—are now democracies (at least in theory for some) belonging to both the EU and to nato.

Putin remembers this history well. In 2005, he called the Soviet Union’s collapse the “greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century.” The 20th century gave humanity geopolitical bloodbaths like World War i, World War ii and the Chinese Civil War; yet President Putin considers the ussr’s collapse as being worse than any of those—never mind the fact that many if not most of the people from the former Communist world probably think the opposite.

But this can be explained by the fact that Vladimir Putin’s main goal throughout his time as Russia’s leader was and is to resurrect the Soviet empire.

He demonstrated this in 2008, when Russia invaded the former Soviet republic of Georgia and recognized the breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, annexing them to Russia in all but name. Georgia looked like it might have been a candidate for nato membership at the time.

In 2014, when revolutionaries in Ukraine ousted President Viktor Yanukovych (who was viewed as being too close to Moscow) and made efforts to join the EU, Putin sent Russian troops to intervene, this time in the Crimean Peninsula. Crimea has a majority Russian population and declared independence from Ukraine following Moscow’s invasion; shortly thereafter, Putin formally annexed Crimea to the Russian Federation. To this day, Ukraine is fighting a Russia-backed insurgency in its eastern regions.

Putin could be planning something similar today, using the chaos in the old Soviet sphere as an opportunity. Given his beliefs and track record, it’s unlikely he’ll allow 1989 to happen again.

But this article isn’t intended to give mere guesses, possibilities, maybes or likelihoods. There is a source that we can turn to that tells us exactly what will happen in the near future for Russia.

That source, regardless of whether people accept it, is the Holy Bible.

Russia has been extremely influential—geopolitically and otherwise—in the course of Western and even world history for centuries. Russia is the largest country in the world. It has one of the top 10 largest populations in the world, is among the most powerful militaries of any state, and has a hefty nuclear arsenal.

Historically, Russia has been seen as the unofficial spiritual leader of Orthodox Christians around the world and later as the leader of the worldwide Communist movement. Russia’s contributions to Western culture—especially regarding literature and classical music—are enormous. Moscow’s nickname is the “Third Rome,” with the “Second Rome” being Constantinople (today’s Istanbul).

Other great empires of history, from Alexander the Great’s Greeks to the Roman Empire, have prophecies written about them in the Bible—prophecies recorded before their empires came to pass (for more information, request our free booklet The Proof of the Bible, by Herbert W. Armstrong). Could a nation that has been so powerful and influential for so long as Russia be ignored in Bible prophecy?

The answer is an emphatic no! The Prophet Ezekiel was given a message about what Russia would be doing in the future. The prophecy is recorded in Ezekiel 38: “Now the word of the Lord came to me, saying, ‘Son of man, set your face against Gog, of the land of Magog, the prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal, and prophesy against him’” (verses 1-2; New King James Version). Verse 8 shows us that this prophecy is for the “latter years”—a time far away from when this prophecy was first penned; in fact, it is for our time now.

Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry wrote about this passage in his free booklet The Prophesied ‘Prince of Russia’:

Scholars generally agree that “Gog” is Russia, and that “the land of Magog” includes China. The descendants of Meshech and Tubal have been found together throughout history. In Assyrian and Greek histories, Meshech appears as Musku, Muski or Mushki–all names related to the Russian spelling of Moscow, as you can read in the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. What about Tubal? On the eastern side of the Ural Mountains lies the city of Tobolsk, named after the Tobol River, a name derived from Tubal. Tobolsk was once the seat of Russian government over Siberia and was basically considered Russia’s Asian capital.

There is also a name for all of the Russian people in Ezekiel 38:2 … Rosh.

Rosh was the ancient name of Russia, once called Rus.

And, it may be added, Russians today call their country Rossiya, which is very similar to the Hebrew name Rosh.

But the prophecy in Ezekiel 38 doesn’t just refer to the nation of Russia in general; it also refers to a specific personality, a “prince of Rosh” (verses 2-3; New King James Version) who governs the Russian people in these “latter years.” Mr. Flurry wrote about that:

In Ezekiel chapter 38, verse 9 referes to “the latter years”–the time we are living in now. This chapter contains some world-staggering news about the powerful Russian empire and its widely feared “prince.” …

The use of all three names (Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal) shows that this is an individual ruler of all the peoples of Russia, from the west to the east. The reference to the cities of Moscow and Tobolsk helps us see how vast Russian territory is in these latter days.

This giant swath of land indicates the prince will probably conquer more nations of the former Soviet Union.

We believe that this “prince of Russia” is none other than Vladimir Putin.

And if Putin is the man of this prophecy, then we can expect him to be conquering even more old Soviet lands in his efforts to rectify, in his view, “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century.” (The Prophesied ‘Prince of Russia’ was written after the wars with Georgia and Ukraine.)

It will remain to be seen whether President Putin takes advantage of the situations in Kyrgyzstan, Belarus and Armenia to accomplish this. But he will accomplish it somehow, and the current problems facing these three countries may give him the perfect opportunity to do so. The political climate today, with most of the world focused primarily on international problems like the covid-19 epidemic and the Black Lives Matter protests, could be the perfect distraction for the West while Moscow launches a foreign invasion or some similar geopolitical escapade.

But the prophecies don’t end there. Revelation 9:16 and 16:12 describe a conglomerate of Asian nations called the “kings of the east” that assemble a 200 million-man army. This group, while it will include nations like China, India and Japan, will be led primarily by Russia (please see our booklet Russia and China in Prophecy for more details). This power bloc, together with a rival bloc based in Europe, will take part in the bloodiest war of human history—to occur in our lifetime. Blood will flow up to horses’ bridles (Revelation 14:20). And Vladimir Putin will be at the helm of this Eurasian military colossus.

Soon, events in Russia are going to lead to the worst period of suffering that man has ever known. You cannot afford to be ignorant about what is going to happen in the near future. To learn more about Russia’s role in the coming global catastrophe, please request our free booklet The Prophesied ‘Prince of Russia.’