Putting Up With Putin

Russia is the largest state on Earth. This colossus spread across eleven time zones, until Putin a few years ago reduced it to nine, by putting more zones under Moscow time.

Russia is 70% larger than the other very large countries: Canada, China, and the USA. With a bit more than twice the French population, Russia controls more than 30 times the land area, with a total wealth that is not even half that of France.

Russia, as a state, is superior mostly in weapons and military power. Aside from its supergiant empire, and its oil and gas, sheer physical force, threatened or applied, is what makes Russia powerful. That, and the conquests of imperial Russia.

Saint Michael Cathedral, Kiev. It Survived the Mongols, Not Putin's Soviet Teachers

Saint Michael Cathedral, Kiev. It Survived the Mongols, Not Putin’s Soviet Teachers

[The cathedral was destroyed by Stalin in 1935, and rebuilt identically in the 1990s. Although against religious fanaticism, or precisely because of that, I am for the safeguard of beautiful religious buildings, and that includes a lot of magnificent mosques.]

On the face of it, one should say that Russia is a classical example of military imperial overstretch: bloated land control, vast military, little else.

On April 17, 2015, Putin just gave a public conference that lasted 4 hours. Then he talks some more informally with the press outside. He denied his aim was to reconstitute the Russian empire. The bear denied he would ever eat again.

Old nations such as Russia have long traditions. Ukraine is more than a millennium old, and was launched as a Christian state in Crimea, by Vladimir of Kiev around 990 CE.

Ivan III, a bit more than 5 centuries ago, beat the Mongols, and united Moscow with Novgorod and Tver. This makes the Muscovite state half the age of Ukraine (although it is possible to argue Russian history descended from Alexander Nevsky, and the republic of Novgorod; Nevsky’s son founded Moscow).

Ivan III’s grandson, Ivan The Terrible launched many of the Russian state’s worst traditions. The growth of the Muscovite state was spectacular. Many died horribly, and unsavory ways got enshrined as normal, or destiny (in particular torturing to death and otherwise killing individuals next of kin to the ruler). That was all more terrible, because Ivan was successful in creating an enormous empire. Ever since then, Russian rulers come to rule, persuaded that Ivan’s ways are intrinsically Russian, intrinsically good, and on objective grounds, how to have a successful nation. Indeed, which nation is bigger? Ivan is now being rehabilitated under Putin.

Russian propagandists now say that official history about Ivan the Terrible, was only terrible “Western” propaganda against Russia.

Why such bad faith? Another Russian tradition is the West’s bad faith. The fall of Ukraine and elements of Russia, to the Mongols, in the Thirteenth Century, without any West European attempt to save it, is still resented.

(According to the Mongol generals themselves, they could not beat the Franks in Western Europe, in part because of the unfavorable ecology, which did not allow the Mongols to use their bows, or to maneuver around the heavily armored knights. Once the Franks/French got their hands on gunpowder, they quickly evolved field guns… That is how the “English” were thrown back to the sea… All the more as the knights had previously surprised and annihilated the Welsh archers.

The fact remains that the Franks were (mostly) allied to the Mongols (!) and an expedition to free Ukraine from the Mongols was not suggested.

Moreover, the conquest of Constantinople by the Franks in 1204 weakened Kievan Rus. The Mongols attacked in 1236.)

In some ways, Putin is more xenophobic than the worst leaders of the USSR.

Stalin treated Crimea very badly: he threw out most of its Natives, the Tartars, and exiled them far away. Yet, Putin dared do what even Stalin had not dared to do: invade and annex Crimea.

Putin has created trouble in many zones peripheral to his supergiant empire. Not just south of the Caucasus (where he occupies parts of Georgia, a nation much older than Russia), but all the way to the Carpathians (West of Ukraine).

The obvious reason is that Putin’s regime is unstable if not united by the fascist instinct of rising against a common enemy. So Putin’s regime is stable, if, and only if, it has enemies.

Thus, the more one tries to accommodate Putin, the more one reduces the enmity he faces, and thus the more anti-Putin one is. That therefore requires Putin to attack, threaten, and invade more, to re-establish the enmity he needs to reign.

So it has been with many tyrannical regimes in the past. However, Russia has profited from this, so far. This is why it is Earth largest empire, by far.

Just like Hitler was the more popular, the more Nazism he engaged in, because the Germans thought they did not have a choice, but to abandon themselves to hatred, expect the same with the nationalist regime in the Kremlin.

Putin said in his call-in that the USA “doesn’t need allies, they only need vassals” and that Russia would never accept that role.

Well, the Republican Congress just gave full powers to is president Obama full powers to negotiate fast (“fast track”) the TPP, the Trans-Pacific-Partnership. From what I hear, that treaty, which excludes China, in its present version, would allow corporations to sue the government of the USA (something corporations cannot do now).

So who is the boss, Putin? The “USA”, or the plutocrats and their corporations? And tell me how your crony plutocracy differ from that?

Some would argue that Russia became Russia, that giant empire, well, precisely because it had all the traditions of an empire, and that means the ability to get down to the hard and dirty. American traditions say the same. This is why both Russia and the USA ended with forts in California. Since then the American power has grown, propelled by the will to empire, and helped by more democracy than in Russia.

Democracy is not a luxury. It’s a weapon. Just go ask the Spartans (the Lacedaemonians and their civilization mostly disappeared). Or just ask the giant, multi-ethnic plutocracy of plutocracies, Persia. At Marathon, the giant Persian army was charged by the Athenian phalanx. Athens was a direct democracy, with around a tenth of one percent of the Persian empire directly charging, the elite units of the undefeated largest empire in the world. And Athens won. Not just that day, but that way. The way that became the way of the world.

It would be smarter for Russia to get over its Mongol complex, and join the way that wins, instead of embracing the desperate way of losers.

Patrice Ayme’

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37 Responses to “Putting Up With Putin”

  1. observer48 Says:

    Very well said.

    One also needs to add that Putin has walked and keeps walking even deeper into the trap he has set by himself. His continuous wielding of the nuclear club and consecutive military adventures into Russia’s neighbour states’ territories followed by annexations have eventually woken up the West and its military what will eventually lead to another round of of the arms race Russia cannot afford economically and technologically without introducing capital controls and nationalisation of key industries. If it happens, the Venezuela scenario will start unfolding.

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Indeed. That, if accidents do not happen. Accidents are entirely possible. In any case the only thing to do is not to repeat the mistake of 1936 with the Spanish Republic attacked by the fascists. It was promised weapons by France (and only France). However screaming by the UK and the USA made it so that France got cold feet. And the weapons never came. We know what happen next.

    • guest-olwllee Says:

      in reply to observer48
      Apr 18th, 18:57

      Wishful thinking. Russia has a legal right to its historical Russian-settled territories after the collapse of the Soviet Union. No arms race will be needed, the existing deterrent is quite sufficient. Nationalisation is not the end of the world, look at Norway, Singapore and Saudi Arabia.

      • Observer48 Says:

        to guest-olwllee
        Apr 18th, 19:33

        Well, the best of luck and good riddance to the bottom of the cesspool of your own making. Now, over the weekend, try to contemplate this scenario: http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2014/07/03/where-do-borders-need-to-be-redrawn?
        It seems that it won’t be the Russians who will nationalise the key industries and introduce capital controls.

        As far as the arms race is concerned, can Russia afford this, especially in the wake of the delays in launching new ABM defence satellites to space and being practically left without its space-deployed early warning systems, as all old satellites have died (system “Oko”). http://carnegie.ru/publications/?fa=53597
        This system is fully deployed and has been fully operational for almost a year now.

        There are two more space-deployed by the US and fully independent from each other non-nuclear ABM defence systems, so Russia has quite a bit to do in order to catch up.

      • Patrice Ayme Says:

        Historical settled territories like the Kaliningrad Oblast?
        Let’s get the Muscovites out of Prussia!

  2. gmax Says:

    So it’s more than a clash of empires, it’s a clash of civilizations?

    Was not Peter the Great already of that persuasion? He went west, and even to France and Dutch shipyards, no? And fought to death the “Old Believers”?

  3. ianmillerblog Says:

    Patrice, what I don’t understand is why you pick on poor old Vlad. The rise of Vlad is a direct consequence of American academic economists persuading the drunken Yeltsin to install a plutocratic kleptocracy with rampant crime thrown in for good measure. Now I know you seem to dislike plutocrats, but here you are, supporting them fully, and including in the Ukraine, where so many governors in the western Ukraine are plutocrats helping themselves nicely thank you. Given the mess Yeltsin got Russia into, what else could have happened? Given the west’s desire to missiles on Russia’s back door (something Kennedy was prepared to risk outright annihilation to prevent on the USAs back door) guess why Putin has the foreign policy he has. What are his alternatives, other than to let the robber barons get even more?

  4. guest-olwllee Says:

    guest-olwllee in reply to Tyranosopher
    Apr 18th 18:43

    Nationalist regime? With more than 100 nations in Russia, including most explosive Islamic nations, what do you mean – waiving of black-yellow-white flags? killings of non-Russians? torch marches at night?
    You are just repeating the nonsense you have heard on Fox News or invented yourself. Check before you speak – or you maybe think in the case of Russia anything goes – there will be nobody to shame you?

  5. Patrice Ayme Says:

    [From the 2014 NYT article linked by Observer 48.]

    Moscow recently restored the Imperial Arch in the Far Eastern frontier town of Blagoveshchensk, declaring: “The earth along the Amur was, is and always will be Russian.” But Russia’s title to all of the land is only about 150 years old. And the sprawl of highrises in Heihe, the Chinese boomtown on the south bank of the Amur, right across from Blagoveshchensk, casts doubt on the “always will be” part of the old czarist slogan.

    Like love, a border is real only if both sides believe in it. And on both sides of the Sino-Russian border, that belief is wavering.

    Siberia – the Asian part of Russia, east of the Ural Mountains – is immense. It takes up three-quarters of Russia’s land mass, the equivalent of the entire U.S. and India put together. It’s hard to imagine such a vast area changing hands. But like love, a border is real only if both sides believe in it. And on both sides of the Sino-Russian border, that belief is wavering.

    The border, all 2,738 miles of it, is the legacy of the Convention of Peking of 1860 and other unequal pacts between a strong, expanding Russia and a weakened China after the Second Opium War. (Other European powers similarly encroached upon China, but from the south. Hence the former British foothold in Hong Kong, for example.)

    The 1.35 billion Chinese people south of the border outnumber Russia’s 144 million almost 10 to 1. The discrepancy is even starker for Siberia on its own, home to barely 38 million people, and especially the border area, where only 6 million Russians face over 90 million Chinese. With intermarriage, trade and investment across that border, Siberians have realized that, for better or for worse, Beijing is a lot closer than Moscow.

    The vast expanses of Siberia would provide not just room for China’s huddled masses, now squeezed into the coastal half of their country by the mountains and deserts of western China. The land is already providing China, “the factory of the world,” with much of its raw materials, especially oil, gas and timber. Increasingly, Chinese-owned factories in Siberia churn out finished goods, as if the region already were a part of the Middle Kingdom’s economy.

    One day, China might want the globe to match the reality. In fact, Beijing could use Russia’s own strategy: hand out passports to sympathizers in contested areas, then move in militarily to “protect its citizens.” The Kremlin has tried that in Transnistria, Abkhazia, South Ossetia and most recently the Crimea, all formally part of other post-Soviet states, but controlled by Moscow. And if Beijing chose to take Siberia by force, the only way Moscow could stop would be using nuclear weapons.

  6. Mighty Mohawk Says:

    Mighty Mohawk
    in reply to Tyranosopher

    After the bloody coup d’etat of February 2014 installed Poroshhenko as Victoria Nuland’s choice for the United States’ new puppet regime in kiev,one of the first decrees the billionaire confectioner announced as President was the ban on the use of Russian as an official language in all the Ukraine,even in the east of the country where Russian is the mother tongue for the majority of the citizens.

    The people of the Donbass had been denied a vote in the election that Barack Obama had declared as valid and therefore a separate referendum on the issue of independence was held in that region.
    The result was a unanimous vote in favour of independence.
    Likewise in the Crimea-a vote was held in the regional parliament that resulted in an overwhelming majority of representatives voting for secession from the post coup regime in Kiev and a further referendum was held which confirmed that over 90 % of Crimeans wished to join the Russian Federation.

    The cost of Poroshenko’s brutal military offensive against the ethnic Russian people of eastern Ukraine is hard to calculate-thousands killed,many more seriously injured and hundreds of public buildings including schools and hospitals deliberately targeted by the Ukrainian military and neo-Nazi paramilitary groups such as the Right Sektor and the Azov Brigade that have been engaged in close combat fighting with the defense militia of the Donbass with reports of ethnic cleansing against Russian speakers being perpetrated by those ideologically motivated extremists.

    By accommodating the brutal neo-fascist regime in Kiev,the West has betrayed its own espoused values of democracy and the rule of law and brought the world to the brink of a nuclear war with Russia.

    The recent spate of killings in the Ukraine of opposition figures has barely even made it onto the back let alone the front pages of the mainstream media in the West.
    However, the assassination of Boris Nemtsov was almost immediately blamed on Putin by the West and therefore looks all the more suspicious.A murder that was probably carried out in order to frame Putin as part of the campaign of propaganda and false accusations that have been levelled at him ever since the CIA -backed coup d’etat in Kiev installed the current regime there.

    On July 17 flight MH-17 was shot down over rebel-held territory in the Donbass and then blamed by the Ukrainian, British and United states leaderships ,along with most of the western mainstream media, on the Russian-backed separatists without a shred of proof.
    The evidence gathered thus far proves that the airliner came under sustained machine-gun fire consistent with the armament of an Su25 fighter jet which is armed with a double- barrelled 30mm cannon that fires explosive rounds.For further information on the MH-17 disaster read the report made by Peter Haisenko,a former Lufthansa pilot .
    As the Nazis blamed the Jews for the burning of the Reichstag and then carried out a false-flag attack on their own positions by men dressed as Polish troops to justify the invasion ofPoland,so too the MH-17 disaster was immediately blamed on the victims of the West’s brutal military campaign against the ethnic Russian people of the Donbass in order to garner public support for a further offensive by the Ukrainian military campaign that was already floundering by then.

    It should come as no surprise to any one that the only European country to have voted against the anti-Nazi bill in the UN on Nov22 2014 was the Ukraine.
    What should come as no surprise to those of us who have been following events closely but might shock many who rely on the mainstream media for their understanding of events is that the United States and Canada also voted against the anti-Nazi bill.

    Whilst Britain and all the other EU member states abstained on voting,the only European country to support the the anti-Nazi bill that was proposed by Russia was Serbia.
    The text of the bill warns against the glorification of extremist ideologies and specifically mentions glorification of the Nazis and the Waffen SS.
    The Bill unequivocably condemns Holocaust denial and calls for the implementation of the International Convention on the Elimination of all forms of racial discrimination.
    The bill was supported by 115 nations,55 abstained and 3 voted against it.

    It was during the German Operation Barbarossa that hundreds of western Ukrainians joined the Einsatzgruppen mobile killing squads that rounded up thousands of Jews and slavs and murdered them in the shooting pits of Babai Yar and Polmar.
    The Russian -speaking resistance fighters of the Donbass held up the Nazi killing machine for 5 months in the summer and early autumn of 1941 which meant that the Panzer divisions were thus fatally delayed in their push eastwards.

    The time has come for Europe to stop accommodating the governments of Ukraine,The United States and Canada before their leaderships drag us all into a conflagration that could annihilate us all.

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Mighty Mohawk (or Mighty Kremlin?): You make a mishmash of reality, chronology, and wishful thinking.

      The present president was elected by the People of Ukraine.
      He had nothing to do with the EPHEMERAL edict against the Russian language (several months before). That law was passed by the Parliament which had ejected the preceding, corrupt president, who had fled to Russia with Putin’s help (Putin himself admitted). The anti-Russian law was ridiculous and offensive, but it lasted only a few days.

      That the Jumbo Jet was destroyed by a missile fired by Russian operators will probably be proven in the fullness of time (the detailed enquiry is still on-going, but the primary results are clear already). Your assertion that “sustained machine gun fire” caused the shooting denies facts (the impacts are only compatible with a particular type of Russian missile that was seen on various videos in the immediate area). It also denies reality: machine gun fire can not reach FL 350 (where the jet was).

      Methinks your masters in the Kremlin fight reality, and reality will prove harder.

    • EugenR Says:

      Who wrote this Comunistic style ptopoganda? Ptobably some aid of Putin. The truth is, Russia instead of helping Ukraine ( and the same is happening in Bieloruss) to establish a normal regime, that could make from Ukraine a normal state. it supported without any restraint corupt regimes ( including that of Timishenko) who’s legitimacy was based on Communistic style top bottom bossism system, where the coruption and arbitrary abuse of power hirarchically is everywhere. The poor Ukrainians put all their hope in joining to EU, not because they expected economic advantages out of it. They probably know about egoism of European politicians, but because they hoped that EU will hopefully enforce on the Ukraenian regime legislation agains the corruption and abuse of power.

      • EugenR Says:

        Russian as always are paying for deeds of their government, that acts as always out of its own plutocratic interests, with only instrument it knows to use, brute force.

        • Patrice Ayme Says:

          The Russian empire was founded on Satanic ways, the Western empire (the Franks) on unifying ways. Both these paths were necessary, at the time. Hence Russia’s for a while bloated, and now sad fate.

        • Patrice Ayme Says:

          Satanism for the ones, union, for the others. Hence Russia’s for a while bright, yet bloated empire, and now whizzing out into a sad fate.

      • Patrice Ayme Says:

        Yes, that’s obviously a Kremlin piece, full of carefully contrived disinformation replying to my own on the Internet (including The Economist, which wrote an article that mouthed word for word what I said for quite a while; I did not mind, that was good, but the Kremlin thought I deserved my own blast as “Tyranosopher”). There were others…

        The EU is no good, as it is, but is infinitely better than the USSR style plutocracy of Putin…

    • gmax Says:

      Putin has spoken. What a pack of lies! Is there just one true lie in the whole discourse? OK, the language thingie, for a few days… but that was the old (2014) PARLIAMENT which passed, and then withdrew it.

  7. EugenR Says:

    Historically Russia without Ivan Grosny wouldn’t be Russia, and maybe it would be good, but Ivan Grosny and his criminal acts, including murdering of his own son out of rage, caused also conquered Kazan from the Tatars, who for generations devastated Russian teritories. He also annexed Siberia.
    As to Putins neo imperial policy, it is the last song of imperial swan, and I am sure Putin knows it. After all half of the population of far east are Chinese, but 95% of businesses are Chinese. I don’t think the Chinese need to fight militarily for something they got peacefully. As to Russia, out of 144 million declining population only 115 are Russians. Other 20 million Russians live out of Russia.
    The Stalinistic regimes of 80 years destroyed most of the Russian elites. Even so the reservoir of Russian talents seemed to be for long nonexhaustible. But not anymore. the fontiers are opened and the Russian elits vote with legs. Putins policy of limited cooperation with the intelectual elits is also not very helpful. So to where all this leads too? To an impoverished nation, with very little to hope for, except of a slip of vodka.

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Dear Eugen: Yes, I actually know two Russians who married French citizens (from the upper upper middle class), and could obviously have been great assets to Russia…
      It’s hard to believe that the USSR used to be 300 millions…
      Anyway we agree on all points…

      The funny thing is that the rescue of Russia lies with the EU. Otherwise China will indeed devour it. Right now China is just thinking South China Sea, because it perceives weakness there. It’s calmly waiting to get Siberia the way you said (already partly is). South China Sea is on a clock, though, because of the wily USA policy (the TPP), Vietnam, Philippines, Indonesia, that’s about 500 million people, are on a strongly ascending trajectory.

      Putin’s greatest failure is turning the EU into an enemy. That’s quite an achievement, as Europe is a dumb, soft, will deprived blob… With the rare exception of traces of willpower mostly in France, and a bit in Britain…
      PA

  8. Laurent Coq Says:

    Haaaaaaa Crimea :)~
    You might [or not] be French native BUT that wouldn’t stop you to have a desk job as one of those analysts @ Langley lol

    – Anywhoooo ……. did the CIA hard toasted M.S. Gorbachev with heavy liquors adding a zest of Serum Veritas to later on handing him deals on a Silver Tray, Golden Plater and what not … OR NOT!!!?

    (I am writing this bcs the drunkard offered this piece of land without consulting anyone … i.e. Putin had from it’s very beginning at the KGB pledged that he would give back Crimea to mother Russia. The infamous “printemps” generated by *we all know who* was a honey trap and the bear felt for it)

    Please and if answering, refrain yourself at bragging about Byzantine, Roman or Mongol Empires … try to keep it real for once.

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Crimea has been Ukrainian since the Tenth Century, even Stalin knew that. If Putin pledged it, I guess you should goose step behind, indeed, seems to be your job.

      • ianmillerblog Says:

        Unfortunately, a case can be made that Rus started in Kiev, so what was Russia and what was Ukraine in the tenth century borders on the definition of terms. As I understand it, Crimea was Russian following Catherine, it was Russian during the Crimean war, and was ceded to Kiev for administrative reasons by Khrushchev, who, as an aside, was Ukrainian. However, at the time, Kiev was ruled from Moscow, so by this logic, all of Ukraine should return to Russia!

        Just the same way the US should be returned to Britain, as a consequence of an illegal revolution. Which I raise solely to point out these arguments based on history are silly. We are here. That is there. Let’s get used to it.

        • Patrice Ayme Says:

          OK, so Kiev should annex Moscow. I agree! Let’s go! (Got to run!)

        • Patrice Ayme Says:

          Also Catherine was German, so “Little Russia” should be German? Putin can’t go around, grabbing stuff, while reigning already over 17 million square kilometers

        • Patrice Ayme Says:

          This is the main line served by Putin. Vlad forgets to mention that Catherine’s goons were also 80 kilometers (50 miles) from Berlin, so logically Putin ought to conquer Poland too. Vladimir takes himself for Catherine, no wonder Angela looks grim. I wonder if Vlad goes around the Kremlin, picking up large officers from his army to sleep with at night, too, in his grim impersonification of the “Great” Catherine. Greatly nymphomaniac and murderous, that is.

  9. Laurent Coq Says:

    “willpower mostly in France, and a bit in Britain…”

    To my humble opinion I wouldn’t have my own shadow trusting a single Brit.

    French? A willpower?
    This is straight from insanity, and not going back to history like WWI, WWII, Indochina and Algeria which were all failures… but only looking from Mai 68 (which was organized by the CIA in the purpose to kick De Gaulle out of power) Mitterrand, a man that persistently lied on his associations with M. Petain, which controlled the media on so many affairs – there too I don’t know from where to start with – Real TV subliminal images and camera axes during his debate with J. Chirac, government members assassinated but explained as suicides, WWII gas trade to S. Hussein against oil and other contracts – see the Kurdistan – The making of Europe without any approvals, the banking system 100% controlling France, a man that repudiated his daughter and menaced with imprisonment reporters, MSF contently called as controversial bully, the ecologists been harassed, persecuted, spied and executed up to the shameful Rainbow Warrior ops …….. Red carpet to all Chinese imports, red carpet to uncontrolled immigrations, closing of northern France metallurgies… Eta, Carlos, Mesrine, several Mafia all over France, how and why did this happened?

    J. Chirac, which did absolutely nothing for France-DOM TOM beside several serious paybacks for controlling Paris for +18 years… A man that in the 60’s mysteriously ended up in a “castle” which was declared in the 80’s something like “partimoine national”. Assassination of a lawyer that delivered him -right into his office- a 1 millions Euros bonus in cash … and I better stop right there…

    N. Sarkozy, well I am not going to write his real resume in details for we all know the charismatic individualistic phenomenon …

    F. Hollande, to start with, an imposter, a pathetic liar and which -by law- should have never been able to postulate as president …

    All succeeding French Govt.. appertaining to different Masonic GL, most not recognized worldwide and this bcs of internal/external corruptions. Govts tainted with paedophilia, black mass, etc… etc… etc… l’ENA being rigged, ENS, Polytechnic, Les Mines, HEC, Siences Po tapped, etc… etc… etc…

    And the French is all that mess? Beside complaining about “it’s too low-it’s too high, it’s to long-it’s too short, it’s too cold-it’s too hot” have just wakeup and about to realised that they all have Maghrebins sodomizing their entire family by law!

    You are completely deluding about French Willpower for they have none what so ever. They prove it and illustrated it every single day of the year.

  10. Laurent Coq Says:

    *and illustrate it

  11. Laurent Coq Says:

    The more I am reading Patrice Ayme, the more I am coming up with the strong believe that we are dealing with writers (S as plural)
    Anyway…….

    “That the Jumbo Jet was destroyed by a missile fired by Russian operators will probably be proven in the fullness of time”
    – Interesting point for actually the trustful version is that the MH17 (another 7, interesting no?) was shoot down by a Ukrainian jet Air-canon.

  12. De Brunet d'Ambiallet Says:

    What the West Gets Wrong About Russia
    AUG. 12, 2015
    Photo

    Vladimir Putin at a sporting event in Kazan, Russia, in July. Credit Pool photo by Mikhail Klimentyev/Ria Novosti/Kremlin
    Advertisement

    Contributing Op-Ed Writer
    By IVAN KRASTEV

    SOFIA, Bulgaria — WHEN George Kennan wrote his famous “Long Telegram,” his 1946 letter to Secretary of State James F. Byrnes that laid the foundation for America’s containment policy against the Soviet Union, he mentioned Joseph Stalin just three times — despite the fact that, by then, the Russian leader ran his country like an emperor.

    Seven decades on, Stalin’s current heir, Vladimir V. Putin, finds his name emblazoned on nearly every page of the myriad memos and papers struggling to understand the mind-set driving Russia’s strategic behavior. To understand Mr. Putin, the thinking goes, is to understand Russia. But is that quite right?

    In the heady days of the Cold War, Americans tended to view Soviet decision making as a black box: You know what goes in, you know what comes out, but you are clueless about what is happening inside. Soviet policy was thus believed to be both enigmatic and strategic. There was little room for personality or personal philosophy; understanding the system was the only way.

    According to Gleb Pavlovsky, Mr. Putin’s former spin doctor extraordinaire, these days the Kremlin is still enigmatic, but no longer strategic. For Mr. Pavlovsky, Kremlin policy is fashioned rather like the music of a jazz group; its continuing improvisation is an attempt to survive the latest crisis.

    Mr. Pavlovsky may not be a household name in the West, but he’s worth listening to. An erstwhile Soviet dissident trained as a historian who transformed himself into one of the interior designers of Mr. Putin’s regime, he performed in the Kremlin’s “jazz band” for over a decade. This year he published “The System of the Russian Federation,” which relies heavily on Mr. Kennan’s ideas to offer a timely critique of the West’s assumptions about Mr. Putin’s Russia (for now, it’s available only in Russian).

    Contrary to conventional wisdom, Mr. Pavlovsky insists, after Mr. Putin took personal responsibility for the annexation of Crimea and won the support of more than 80 percent of the population, he lost interest in day-to-day decision making. He wants to be informed about everything, but is reluctant to play national housekeeper.

    Ministers, Mr. Pavlovsky writes, spend endless hours waiting by Mr. Putin’s office to take orders, but in the end he doesn’t order, he only listens. What runs the Kremlin today is not Mr. Putin’s will but his ambiguity. Wars among different power factions, as a result, have escalated.

    In Mr. Pavlovsky’s reading, Russia today is neither an ideological warrior seeking to remake the world order nor a hard-nosed realist desperately defending its sphere of influence. Far from grand strategy, what animates Mr. Putin’s Kremlin is the assertion of its right to break international rules. In fact, breaking the rules without being punished is the Kremlin’s peculiar definition of being a great power.

    Russia, to Mr. Pavlovsky, is driven not by a search for external power but by internal weakness — a lack of vision for its impending post-Putin existence. Mr. Putin has successfully made any political alternative unthinkable, and his entire country is now trapped by his success. In other words, Mr. Putin’s enormous popular support is a weakness, not a strength — and Russia’s leaders know it.

    The Kremlin’s deputy chief of staff, Vyacheslav Volodin, concisely summed things up when he explained to international analysts at a private forum in Valdai last year, “There is no Russia today if there is no Putin.” The Russian political system implicitly functions on the assumption that its president is immortal.

    But while Mr. Putin may be a czar, Russia is no monarchy. His daughters will not succeed him in the Kremlin. Mr. Putin is a popularly elected president whose political system has destroyed the legitimacy of elections as an instrument for the peaceful change of power. His United Russia party is a valuable instrument for winning rigged elections, but unlike the Chinese Communist Party, it lacks the autonomy and ideological coherence needed for securing power succession.

    Deprived of a vision for the future, Russian elites are tempted by conspiracy theories and apocalyptic pronouncements. As Aleksandr A. Prokhanov, a writer and leading voice of Russian imperial nationalists, lamented, the elites know that if they attempt a Perestroika II, they will fail. Better, he said, to provoke another world war than try to dismantle Mr. Putin’s designs.

    Reading Mr. Pavlovsky’s book, one realizes that what is totally absent in the Western analyses of today’s Russia is this “end of the world” mentality among Mr. Putin’s political and intellectual elites. In Mr. Pavlovsky’s view, the experience of the catastrophic collapse of the Soviet Union, rather than geopolitical interests or values, is the key for understanding Russia’s strategic behavior and the inner logic of Mr. Putin’s regime.

    The Kremlin is populated not by mere survivors of the post-Soviet transition but by survivalists, people who think in terms of worst-case scenarios, who believe that the next disaster is just around the corner, who thrive on crises, who are addicted to extraordinary situations and no-rules politics.

    That complex and unpredictable context, rather than the vagaries of Mr. Putin’s mind alone, is the key to understanding contemporary Russian politics.

    Ivan Krastev is the chairman of the Center for Liberal Strategies in Sofia, a permanent fellow at the Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna and a contributing opinion writer.

    A version of this op-ed appears in print on August 13, 2015, on page A21 of the New York edition with the headline: Kremlinology 2.0. Today’s Paper|Subscribe

    Ivan Krastev

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Very interesting, thanks! The identification of great power status with violating international law, and the preference for a world war to regime change are troubling aspects, no doubt! ;-)!

  13. Patrice Ayme Says:

    Putin is actually in serious trouble
    Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
    BRIAN WHITMORE, RADIO FREE EUROPE/RADIO LIBERTY
    Aug. 11, 2015, 10:26 AM 171,109 176
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    putinReuters/Carlos BarriaRussia’s President Vladimir Putin listens as members of his delegation present to the International Olympic Committee his country’s campaign for them to elect Sochi as the host city of the 2014 Winter Olympics, during the IOC’s meeting in downtown Guatemala City, July 4, 2007.

    Are little green men about to appear on the North Pole?

    Russia’s claim last week, using an extremely creative interpretation of international law, to exclusive economic rights to nearly half a million square miles of the Arctic Sea, was certainly a head scratcher.

    Sure the territory is valuable due to its untapped reserves of fossil fuels and for the shipping lanes that will open as Arctic ice melts. But the claim is likely to ultimately be rejected by the United Nations.

    At the same time, sparking a manufactured international crisis over the Arctic, one that pits Russia against the United States and Canada, might be just what the doctor ordered.

    Why? Because Vladimir Putin badly needs to make a new action movie to distract his people.

    The Kremlin leader is boxed in on so many fronts right now that he badly needs to change the subject.

    The Donbas quagmire
    For starters, Putin has no good options in eastern Ukraine.

    The old fantasies about seizing so-called Novorossia, the strip of land from Kharkiv to Odesa, and establishing a land bridge to Crimea are dead. And the more modest goal expanding the territory Russia and its proxies currently hold, perhaps with a push to Mariupol, is probably out of the question too.

    Either campaign would be costly in terms of blood and treasure, it would certainly spark a fresh round of sanctions, and it would involve occupying hostile territory. The recent uptick in fighting this week reeks more of desperation than of a serious move to acquire more territory.

    Russia could, of course, just annex the territories controlled by Moscow’s proxies; or it could freeze the conflict and establish a Russian protectorate there.

    But in this case, Moscow would be shouldered with the burden of financing an economically unproductive enclave whose infrastructure has been destroyed. And do so while Russia’s economy is sinking into an ever deeper recession.

    A woman walks near a residential building and a car, which locals said were damaged during recent shelling, in Donetsk, Ukraine, August 7, 2015. REUTERS/Alexander ErmochenkoThomson ReutersWoman walks near a residential building and a car, which locals said were damaged during recent shelling, in Donetsk, Ukraine

    Moreover, Russia would lose any leverage over the remainder of Ukraine, which would quickly move West. Sanctions would be continued, and possibly escalated.

    The Kremlin’s preferred option, given these limitations, is to force the territories back into Ukraine on Moscow’s terms — with broad autonomy and the ability to veto decisions by the Kiev government. But Ukraine and the West appear unwilling to let this happen.

    Putin has boxed himself into a corner in Ukraine, and it is difficult to see how he is going to get out of the quagmire he has created.

    Trapped at home
    It’s also difficult to imagine how Putin is going to extract himself from the quagmire he has created at home.

    The Kremlin leader is caught in a trap of his own making, between economic and political imperatives.

    With the economy sinking deeper into recession, inflation spiking, oil prices dipping below $50 a barrel, and the ruble approaching the lows it reached earlier in the year, Putin badly needs sanctions eased to give the economy breathing space.

    But for that to happen, he would need to climb down in Ukraine, a move that would undermine the whole rationale for his rule and infuriate the nationalist supporters who make up his base.

    putin bullets bless itAPIn this photo taken on Wednesday, July 22, 2015, a portrait of Russian President Vladimir Putin, made by Ukrainian artist Dasha Marchenko out of cartridge cases, is seen in the artist’s studio in Kiev, Ukraine.

    “Putin’s return to the presidential seat heralded a rather sudden pivot towards a deep-seated domestic nationalism,” Moscow-based journalist Anna Arutunyan wrote recently.

    “Yet nationalism as a state policy and identity, initially implemented to shore up Kremlin power, now has the Kremlin itself trapped and threatened by forces that it initially nurtured, but can no longer fully control.”

    A recent report in Novaya Gazeta, for example, claimed that the war in eastern Ukraine risks “metastasizing” as volunteer fighters have been returning to Russia with large quantities of heavy weapons.

    During his first two terms in the Kremlin, Putin’s team — and most notably his chief political operator, Vladislav Surkov — very skilfully co-opted and manipulated both liberal and nationalist groups.

    That strategy caught up with him in 2011-12, when liberal disappointment resulted in the largest anti-Kremlin street protests Russia has seen since the breakup of the Soviet Union — leaving him no place else to turn but toward the nationalists.

    “Given the higher prevalence of nationalist views — especially among members of the security services — a sense of betrayal could have much bigger consequences for the Kremlin than simply mass protests,” Arutunyan wrote.

    russia soldiers bless itSergei Karpukhin/ReutersRussian servicemen, dressed in historical uniform, take part in a military parade rehearsal in Red Square, with St. Basil’s Cathedral seen in the background, in Moscow November 5, 2012. The

    Losing the energy card
    And on top of it all, Putin has an energy problem. It’s not just that oil prices are low, and will remain so for sometime — although that certainly is a problem.

    But the real essence of Putin’s energy woes are structural, not cyclical. The global energy game is changing — and it is not changing in Moscow’s favor.

    Shale, liquified natural gas (LNG), and renewables — three areas where Russia is extremely weak — are ascendant and are dramatically altering the market.

    The potential for ending sanctions on Iran puts a powerful new player and competitor — the world’s third largest natural gas producer — in the game.

    And the Ukraine conflict and Moscow’s aggressive posture toward the West have led Europe — Russia’s most important market — to change its energy policies and seek alternative suppliers.

    Moreover, rather than looking the other way as Gazprom repeatedly flouted the European Union’s antitrust laws, now Brussels is now cracking down.

    If one looks at Gazprom as a barometer of Russia’s fortunes, one statistic says it all: in 2008, the company had a market value of $360 billion; today it is worth just $55 billion.

    Energy has always been Putin’s trump card. He has been able to use it to bully former neighbors into submission and bribe and blackmail the Europeans.

    Now it’s become a trump card he is losing fast.

    Propaganda can’t buy you love
    But at least Putin is still winning the battle for hearts and minds, right?

    Vladimir PutinLaurence Griffiths/Getty Images

    For more than a year, we’ve been hearing about how Russia’s slick propaganda machine is crushing the West in the information war.

    Moscow has no doubt been very effective mounting guerrilla marketing campaigns aim at sowing doubt and confusion in the West. And they have been skilfull in manipulating and surreptitiously influencing media narratives on issues like the Ukraine war and the downing of flight MH17.

    But guess what? After spending nearly half a billion dollars to get its message out to the world, after unleashing armies of trolls to disrupt Western news sites, after launching the most widespread disinformation campaign since the end of the Cold War, after all this, Russia’s global image is in the toilet.

    According to the Pew Research Center’s new report, only three countries in the world have a net positive opinion of Russia: China, Vietnam, and Ghana. Worldwide, a median of just 30 percent view Russia favorably.

    Writing in Bloomberg View, political commentator Leonid Bershidsky quipped that “the money might be spent just as wisely buying more $600,000 watches for Putin’s press secretary, Dmitry Peskov.”

    And the numbers are dismal across the board. In Europe, just 26% view Russia favorably, in the Middle East, only 25% do. In Latin America, it’s only 29%. In the regions most favorably inclined toward Russia — Asia and Africa — it’s just 37%.

    And if Russia’s global image is bad, Putin’s is dismal. Worldwide, just 24% trust him. In Europe, just 15% do.

    To be sure, Russia’s propaganda machine is working wonders at home, where Putin’s popularity is stratospheric despite a flailing economy. But one has to wonder how much long that that can last.

    Read the original article on Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Reprinted with the permission of RFE/RL, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036. Copyright 2015. Follow Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty on Twitter.

    Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/putin-is-actually-in-serious-trouble-2015-8#ixzz3ijK0FceC

  14. Patrice Ayme Says:

    [Sent to Ian Miller blog, March 2, 2016.]

    The fact is Putin is an invader, and a liar. He invaded Crimea, which had become part of Ukraine, logically enough, in the Tenth Century, after conquest by Vladimir I of Kiev (who then converted to Christianism). The primitive colony known as Russia was created later.

    Stalin ejected the Crimean Tartars, partly committing genocide against them. Putin is enforcing that further.

    The details are unimportant. Vladimir from the KGB is the first invader in Europe since Hitler (and arguably Stalin, as Stalin invaded Poland shortly after his ally Hitler did). Vladimir from the KGB is a rogue and dangerous man, who also invaded, and occupies 20% of Georgia. In Georgia he was only stopped, because American troops were put in harm’s way, and the French president Sarkozy intervened with whatever Sarkozy does which fascinates other little men.

    In Chechnya, Putin killed at least 10% of the population, and put in place another crazed maniac, Kadirov. Only Depardieu loves it, as Kadirov offered him a luxury apartment on top of a big tower.

    Confronted with an invader and liar, one can only suppose the worst. It’s just cautious and wise, it’s ethical.

    That we are led by rotten people in the West does not mean that we should close our eyes to other rotten people.

    https://ianmillerblog.wordpress.com/2016/03/02/what-brought-down-mh-17-how-to-analyse-data/

    • Ian Miller Says:

      Ianmillerblog
      on March 3, 2016 at 4:03 am said:

      Hello Patrice. I am not suggesting Putin is good, and my post really has nothing to do with him. What I am protesting about is the almost pathological desire to avoid the obvious aspects of evidence.

      I an a bit suspicious of deep historical claims. You could argue Russia should be part of Ukraine, or Ukraine be part of Russia because the Rus started at Kiev.

      • Patrice Ayme Says:

        Thanks Belzebuth that you do not laud Putin! Putin is a real danger, even to himself. I love deep historical claims. Present day Russian, or I should say, Muscovite, mentality is pretty much explained by history. It’s a son, the youngest, of Alexander Nevski, who founded Moscow.
        The rest is history, including the unsavory to and fro with the Tartars…

        The Putinists shot down another plane shortly before, that one a military transport full of elite Ukrainian special forces… All dead. No doubt the Putinists did not realize they were firing on Malaysian civilian plane.

  15. Patrice Ayme Says:

    Lenin —->> John Lennon!
    From French Figaro, today
    Ukraine: la rue Lénine devient la rue Lennon
    02/03/2016 à 23:50

    La rue Lénine d’un petit village de la région ukrainienne de Transcarpatie a été renommée rue John Lennon en l’honneur de l’ex-Beatles, dans le cadre des lois sur la “désoviétisation” du pays, ont annoncé mercredi les autorités régionales. Plusieurs rues portant des noms à la gloire de personnalités ou de faits rappelant l’époque soviétique ont été renommées, selon un décret signé par le gouverneur de la région, Guennadi Moskal.

    La rue Chtchors, du nom d’un commandant de l’Armée rouge, dans le village de Mijguiria, a ainsi été renommée rue Viktor Markouss, en l’honneur d’un soldat originaire de ce village tué en février 2015 alors qu’il combattait les rebelles prorusses dans l’est de l’Ukraine. La rue John Lennon se trouve quant à elle dans le village de Kaliny, à la frontière avec l’Union européenne. Dans certains cas, les rues ont changé de nom sur proposition des communautés locales, mais dans d’autres cas, notamment pour la rue John Lennnon, c’est le gouverneur lui-même qui en a eu l’initiative.

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