Deconstructing Putin 644

I listened live to Putin’s speech yesterday with great interest.  Here is my own analysis, for what it is worth.

Putin was strongest in his accusations of western hypocrisy.  His ironic welcoming of the West having suddenly discovered the concept of international law was very well done.  His analysis of the might is right approach the West had previously adopted, and their contempt of the UN over Iraq and Afghanistan, was spot on. Putin also was absolutely right in describing the Kosovo situation as “highly analogous” to the situation in Crimea. That is indeed true, and attempts by the West – including the Guardian – to argue the cases are different are pathetic exercises in special pleading.

The problem is that Putin blithely ignored the enormous logical inconsistency in his argument.  He stated that the Crimean and Kosovo cases were highly analogous, but then used that to justify Russia’s action in Crimea, despite the fact that Russia has always maintained the NATO Kosovo intervention was illegal(and still refuses to recognize Kosovo).  In fact of course Russia was right over Kosovo, and thus is wrong over Crimea.

I was very interested that Putin made distinct reference to the appalling crimes against the Tartars in the 1930’s, but also to the terrible suffering of Ukrainians in that period.  His references were not detailed but their meaning was clear.  I was surprised because under Putin’s rule there has been a great deal of rehabilitation of Stalin.  Archives that were opened under glasnost have frozen over again, and history in Russian schools now portrays Stalin’s foreign policy achievement much more than his crimes (and it is now again  possible to complete your Russian school education with no knowledge the Stalin-Hitler pact ever happened).  So this was both surprising and positive.  Designed to be positive was his assurance that Crimea will be trilingual.  We will see what happens; Putin’s Russia is in fact not tolerant of its ethnic populations in majority Russian areas, and in fact contains a great many more far right thugs than Ukraine –  probably about the same  percentage of the population.

The 97% referendum figure is simply unbelievable to any reasonable person and is straight out of the Soviet playbook – it was strange to see Putin going in and out of modern media friendly mode and his audience, with their Soviet en brosse haircuts and synchronized clapping – obviously liked the Soviet bits best.

The attempt to downplay Russia’s diplomatic isolation was also a bit strange.  He thanked China, though China had very pointedly failed to support Russian in the Security Council.  When you are forced to thank people for abstaining, you are not in a strong position diplomatically.  He also thanked India, which is peculiar, because the Indian PM yesterday put out a press release saying Putin had called him, but the had urged Putin to engage diplomatically with the interim government in Kiev, which certainly would not be welcome to Putin.  I concluded that Putin was merely trying to tell his domestic audience Russia has support, even when it does not.

But what I find really strange is that the parts of the speech I found most interesting have not drawn any media comment I can see.  Putin plainly said that in his discussions with Kuchma on the boundaries of Ukraine after the collapse of the Soviet Union, they hadn’t wanted to open any dispute with what they expected to be a friendly neighbor, and that therefore the boundaries of Ukraine had never been finally demarcated.  He said twice the boundaries had not been demarcated.  That seemed to indicate a very general threat to Eastern Ukraine. He also spoke of the common heritage of Russia, Belarus and Ukraine in a way that indicated that he did not accept that Ukraine might choose a political future away from Russia.

Secondly, he said that on the day the Soviet Union broke up, Russians in many places had “woken up to find themselves in a foreign country.” Again from the context in which he said it, this referred not just to Crimea, and not just even to the rest of Ukraine, but to Russian nationals all over the Former Soviet Union.  I would be worrying a lot about this part of the speech if I was Kazakh, to give just one example.  Putin seemed to be outlining a clear agenda to bring Russian speaking areas of CIS countries back in to Mother Russia – indeed, I see no other possible interpretation of his actions in Georgia and Ukraine.

I think that we should start listening much more carefully to what he says. I also think that the weakness of the EU’s response to events gives Putin a very dangerous encouragement to pursue further aggrandizement.  I posted a few days ago:

The EU I expect to do nothing.  Sanctions will target a few individuals who are not too close to Putin and don’t keep too many of their interests in the West.  I don’t think Alisher Usmanov and Roman Abramovic need lose too much sleep, that Harrods need worry or that we will see any flats seized at One Hyde Park.  (It is among my dearest wishes one day to see One Hyde Park given out for council housing.)  Neither do I expect to see the United States do anything effective; its levers are limited.

The truth is of course that the global political elite are in the pockets of the global financial elite, and while ordinary Russians are still desperately poor, the money the oligarchs rip out of Russia’s backward commodity exporting economy is parceled around the world financial system in ways that make it impossible for the western political classes to do anything.  Whose funds would the hedge fund managers look after?  Whose yacht could Mandelson and Osborne holiday on?

Personally I should like to see a complete financial freeze on the entire Russian oligarchy.  The knock on effects would only hurt a few bankers, and city types and those who depend on them (cocaine dealers, lap dancers, Porsche dealers, illegal domestic servants).  Sadly we shan’t see anything happen. They won’t let Eton go bust.


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644 thoughts on “Deconstructing Putin

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  • Clark

    You can tell I’m a JTRIG sock-puppet because both my comments above were submitted within a minute… No.

    Actually, I just wrote one comment, opened an extra tab for this thread on Firefox, wrote the other comment so that both were prepared, and then submitted both within seconds of each other. I wanted to get messages to both “sides” to appear simultaneously.

    I haven’t refreshed the page since submitting them, so I don’t yet know whether anyone has noticed.

  • Resident Dissident

    “You are behind the curve on Seymour, he turned into another turncoat Neocon Apologist some time ago;”

    Well eight days ago according to the post you link to – but I suppose that is enough for him to be airbrushed out of history. And after he did all that good word dancing on the grave of Agent Hitchens – have you no sense of gratitude.

    Taxi for left unity!

  • technicolour

    I think the thing about the modern ‘left’ in fact is this idea of ‘unity’. Unity with the undertrodden, for sure, but unity with the leaders? In an authoritarian structure, which the ‘left’ still clings to, isn’t it just a cover for ‘you must think how I think’? There is, for me, a general decency and care for others traditionally involved in the left, which isn’t generally seen in people who call themselves ‘right’. But sometimes – see Mark Steel’s piece – this is an illusion, and sometimes, as in the cases of the late Earls of Onslow and Cardigan – both of whom came under fire from their own hierarchies – this duty of care also flourishes in ‘the right’.

    Moving beyond power structures would seem to be a reasonable aim in both cases. Currently we are facing a government, and world powers, who are acting like robbers, so it behoves everyone decent on all sides to analyse exactly what motivates them and what they can do about it.

  • Tony M

    There’s not much more than a fag paper between the shades of opinion and tactics of you (Resident Dissident), Habbadbuk thing, Anon, ESLO, N_, Kempe and a few other curious sock-puppets and trolls. As shady are one issue robots includin Uzbek-in-Uzbekistan and the work-experience YOPPER Fred (Bull) with his peculiar contorted foul-mouthed anti-nationalist British Nationalism. It’s an odd state of affairs indeed. Seasoned and casual observers might rightly infer they are all the same person, or reading the same mendacious script. In these days of unending austerity for the great majority, though with the idle rich still at play unchecked and unrepentant, if cuts there must be then surely it behoves the government to reduce the considerable sums wasted on duplication of these ineffectual disinfo warriors. Ultimately funded from ransoming the public like the execrable propaganda and blood dripping BBC, these lobotomised de-sensitised apologists for ruthless power have rapidly spread across the internet like some metastasising cancer. It would be far better to have just one official state approved, clearly identifiable troll per blog or site, saving the government’s black budget the salaries pensions and medical care costs of these burned-out surplus willing-idiot imbeciles.

    I am close to becoming an oligarch and may soon have my own herd of braying trolls.
    With just a few more needed, I will soon have cornered the market in double-filament stop/tail bulbs with one or more filaments gone.
    Fear me.

    Millicent Corsett.

  • technicolour

    Tony M; that was very funny, but you could say exactly the same about John Goss/Mary/Doug Scorgie. I hope both sides are being funded equally.

    Must say that at least John engages. But then so does RD.

  • Clark

    Technicolour, at my best guess, the problem the Left has with unity is that they advocate it but are not suited to it, being a collection of rebels and revolutionaries, so as soon as a consensus develops (read “authority”) some individuals and groups feel like breaking away from it or defeating it.

    The Right has no such problem as they agree to all be in competition with each other in the first place, and tacitly accept that authority flows from having more money or power, each always remembering that his own sufficient success in competition would change the pecking-order in his favour.

  • technicolour

    Perhaps it’s *because* they’re widely seen as rebels that they’re so terrified of rebellion…

  • Macky

    Resident Dissident; “Well eight days ago according to the post you link to”

    Err no; he started to go off the rails on Libya, around the time he starting writing for the Guardian; as always, follow the money. Now with Syria & the Ukraine, he has fully turned into a Slug, as Galloway famously describe the morally bankrupt drift to the Right,

  • Clark

    Technicolour, 8:58 pm; yes, I just read Mark Steele’s article; seems about right. As to 9/11, I felt that Resident Dissident should be informed that when he told John Goss that an enquiry had already been performed, he was referring to evidence extracted under torture.

    You are right that 9/11 was a tragedy. It was also a crime, and crimes should be properly investigated. Torture results in false confessions, which is why such “evidence” is unacceptable in any respectable court.

  • technicolour

    Clark, absolutely, thanks for background, didn’t know that about the ‘enquiry’. Have, as I said, kept away (mea culpa, probably)

  • Resident Dissident


    Perhaps your informants could tell me which bits of the Commission’s evidence were obtained under torture and might therefore be considered unreliable – surely not the whole lot? Could they also indicate which parts of the 9/11 truthers case was provided by those with political axes to grind against the US and might also therefore be considered somewhat less than neutral. I do so like someone who is prepared to exercise my own judgememt for me especially since I lack the necessary brainpower to make my own assessment of the evidence.

  • Clark

    There’s an aspect to all this that I haven’t seen anyone from either side address. What if the overthrow in Ukraine is both a popular movement and fascist/extreme Right?

    Something that’s been worrying me for a while is the similarity between current events and the situation in the 1930s before the Second World War: harsh economic conditions and a popular political move towards the extreme Right.

    People tend to forget that it wasn’t just Germany that moved to the Right in the 1930s. In Britain, eugenicists were popular, and Mosley and his Blackshirts were openly supported by the Daily Mail. Italy became fascist too, of course.

  • Sofia Kibo Noh


    You’ve been at it all day haven’t you?

    Convenient as it may be to construct a narrative where the evil Putin turns huge numbers of Russians into land-grabbing monsters there is a growing weight of undisputable facts which explain the unwillingness of millions of Ukrainians of all ethnicities to accept rule from the current Kiev regime.

    Just a few facts;

    Nuland’s boast about spending $5 billion on US agendas in Ukraine.

    Nuland’s recorded conversation with Pyatt clearly micromanaging the coup.

    Ashcroft’s recorded knowledge of snipers firing on both sides at Maidan and her subsequent failure to respond to this knowledge.

    Nato’s failure to keep it’s promise not to expand eastwards.

    The new Ukraine regime’s large proportion of ultra-right ministers.

    The new gregime’s prompt actions to downgrade the use of the Russian language, visa restrictions and failure to investigate the sniper issue.

    Righr Sector gangs brutalising public officials, media managers and ethnic Russians and showing anyone who wants to see them at work via Youtube.

    Obama, Kerry, Power and the rest huffing and puffing (“You can’t just invade another country under phoney pretexts….”) in ways so breathtakingly hypocritical that only the lobotomized can fail to notice.

    and on and on…

    So, leaving aside all the top-down focus let’s just consider what it must feel like for Ukrainians of all ethnicities, and for many who would have supported the early peaceful demonstrations in Kiev. Imagine if such things had happened in our own countries.

    Once even a few of these facts sink in, does anyone really believe that ordinary, intelligent people will still be seeing what has happened as a likely prelude to a bright, democratic future? Those who still believe the corporate media will, very soon start to experience what IMF servitude means. Do you think they won’t begin to ask why and be shocked and disgusted by what has been foisted on them?

    At this point wouldn’t a rational person opt for a future with the Russian federation, with all it’s imperfections, rather than indefinite indebtedness and IMF austerity, patrolled by Right Sector enforcers?

    Here’s a short piece of propaganda.

    I wonder whose parent feels proud and whose feels shamed. Judge for yourselves.


    RD. 6 16pm

    “The real KGB goons are pretty easy to spot.”

    I’m not as bright as you, so could you please help me with a name or two and some advice on how to spot them. Thanks

  • John Goss

    “People tend to forget that it wasn’t just Germany that moved to the Right in the 1930s. In Britain, eugenicists were popular, and Mosley and his Blackshirts were openly supported by the Daily Mail. Italy became fascist too, of course.”

    Yes, I’ve seen it on this blog. The place is crawling with ‘blackshirts’ except they are not wearing uniforms. They do however change their socks on a regular basis.

  • Clark

    Resident Dissident, I’m not too good at interpreting sarcasm; I find it difficult to tell where it begins and ends without non-verbal cues. If you could repost your requests as boringly direct questions I’ll have a go at answering them.

    As far as the “9/11 Truthers” are concerned, I think that the fact that there are so many of them (us?) is more an effect than a cause. Over twelve years on, and there has never been a proper investigation, despite war after war, loss of civil liberties, the huge expansion of private security and its incestuous relationship with government, and universal surveillance a la Orwell’s 1984 as revealed by Snowden all being based upon that one event.

    As to my “informants”, I’d consider the two co-chairs of the 9/11 Commission itself pretty authoritative sources; wouldn’t you? I’ll expand upon the section from my comment above:

    The two co-chairs of the Commission, Thomas Kean and Lee Hamilton, believe that the government established the Commission in a way that ensured that it would fail. In their book Without Precedent: The Inside Story of the 9/11 Commission describing their experience serving, Hamilton listed a number of reasons for reaching this conclusion, including: the late establishment of the Commission and the very short deadline imposed on its work; the insufficient funds (3 million dollars), initially allocated for conducting such an extensive investigation (later the Commission requested additional funds but received only a fraction of the funds requested and the chairs still felt hamstrung); the many politicians who opposed the establishment of the Commission; the continuing resistance and opposition to the work of the Commission by many politicians, particularly those who did not wish to be blamed for any of what happened; the deception of the Commission by various key government agencies, including the Department of Defense, NORAD and the FAA; and, the denial of access by various agencies to documents and witnesses. “So there were all kinds of reasons we thought we were set up to fail.”

    You can read the transcript of an interview on CBC here:

  • John Goss

    “As far as the “9/11 Truthers” are concerned, I think that the fact that there are so many of them (us?) is more an effect than a cause.”

    Don’t waste your keyboard skills Clark. RD has a good friend who lost a family member in 9/11 and that family friend does not want an Inquiry so as far as he’s concerned there should not be an Inquiry. At least that’s my understanding when I presented him with the following list of experts, survivors and families who do.

    220+ Senior Military, Intelligence Service, Law Enforcement, and Government Officials
    1,500+ Engineers and Architects
    250+ Pilots and Aviation Professionals
    400+ Professors Question 9/11
    300+ 9/11 Survivors and Family Members
    200+ Artists, Entertainers, and Media Professionals
    400+ Medical Professionals

  • Tony M

    Clark @10:23pm

    Do its origins matter so much, even if it’s ‘popular’, which is doubtful, it’s undoubtedly nasty, brutal, illegal, undemocratic and backed by the EU countries, US and NATO, which are every bit as nasty, brutal, illegal, undemocratic themselves. Power can and does so easily lead a people by the nose.

    Harsh economic conditions seem to have spared some sectors of the population, all around I see shameless display of wealth and conspicuous consumption, destruction of assets for mere amusement, continuing unaffected, from the lower-middle classes upwards. “What recession?” they might and do snigger. It is only when macro-economic conditions trigger hyper-inflation, devaluing their unearned loot, that those who consider themselves the anointed superiors, the middle and upper classes, begin squealing; so far this recession has only impinged on the poor masses in each society and country. Not all in it together.

    Germany’s move to the right took a long time, with those who were school children when the nazis seized power, forming through state organised indoctrination and training the bulk of the eventual armies that went on the rampage. I think those in power given time can drag a population in any direction, to extremes, without seeming conscious choice made by individuals, culminating in a government reflecting popular opinion as government easily prescribes public opinion. Characterising the thirties was a unique new factor -the power of mass-media: radio, cheap, dirt cheap print newspapers, combined with much wider literacy, all of which the right effectively controlled from its origins, telling the people what to think, and which was instrumental, rather than an infectious collective madness breaking out.

    I think what especially characterises the right if we must use these near meaningless left-right terms, of obscure French origin, is exceptionalism, ideas of racial superiority, manifest destiny: the US genocidaires, the Nazis, Zionists, British Empire mad elitists, and the Italian fascists having their essential myths of being special or chosen ones; combining this with for-profit narrow interest control of essentials to human survival by a powerful few, in whose pockets the politicians reside. For the left, anti-monopolism, state control of strategic, core industries, public services, production and supply of necessities like food and water, power/fuel, along with recognition that you, or any one person is of no more or less worthiness than any another person anywhere in the world living now. The left-right thing is really civilisation, progress from the left versus the essentially barbaric chaos, destruction and waste of the right.

    We’ve long been governed by the right uninterruptedly, completely and seemingly insolubly, if the people started goose-stepping, they’d still be miles further to the left than any western government they’ve ever known or had or heard of. If the German timeline is anything to learn from, the present illegal regime in Ukraine will get considerably less pleasant and entrench itself rather quickly, but with little or no immediate outward sign of any change. If Russia were to ‘invade’ Ukraine (ignoring the sad fact our media screams constantly untruthfully that they have, already), and right its usurpation by the right, I think we’d all breathe a sigh of relief and sleep easier on our park benches and doorways.

  • Sofia Kibo Noh

    И специальный спокойной ночи мой прекрасный житель Диссидент, эксперт по КГБ.

  • Macky

    Dave Lawton; “its not rocket science to work it out,that is unless you are thick.”

    Indeed,the problem is exactly the fools & knaves that Craig’s Russophobia has attracted.

  • mean mister mustard

    ” If the German timeline is anything to learn from, the present illegal regime in Ukraine will get considerably less pleasant and entrench itself rather quickly, but with little or no immediate outward sign of any change. If Russia were to ‘invade’ Ukraine (ignoring the sad fact our media screams constantly untruthfully that they have, already), and right its usurpation by the right, I think we’d all breathe a sigh of relief and sleep easier on our park benches and doorways.”

    As stately and perceptive as any Ambassador’s expectation of hisself/herself might/should have.

    The issue of how the public, in ostensibly fair elections, might react if their MP were suddenly found on the ‘wrong side’ of the polling.

    Now if the EU should promise free Wi-Fi, sans license or fees for the Public at Large, the average voter’s response, as always will hold sway, and we can predict a rapid victory for the promoters.

    It’s a simple matter of personal economics and the EU is the Pigford elephant whose presence can’t be ignored.

  • John Goss

    Thanks for «Ода к радости» Sofia. And there was me thinking they were all queuing for tomatoes. Oh, sorry, wrong era!

    In a school play I took the part of Theseus and one of my lines was:

    “Joy, gentle friends, joy, and fresh days of love accompany your gentle hearts..”

    Or something. You have to think of Beethoven! But then, wishing your friends joy is one thing. Your enemies another. I notice you extended your peaceful wishes to Resident Dissident which is much better than Francis Bacon’s selective good wishes.

    “To my real friends champagne, and to my sham friends real pain.”

    Or something.

  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella) a!

    Resident Dissident

    “I disagree I don’t think Putin would be daft enough to pay some of those you name – and if he did he would want his money back. The real KGB goons are pretty easy to spot.”

    I didn’t mean rasPutin, I was thinking about people nearer home who might want to see Craig’s blog discredited through the sheer zaniness/extremism of some of the posts.

  • Resident Dissident

    “The place is crawling with ‘blackshirts’ except they are not wearing uniforms.”

    The only person supporting fascists here is yourself – now kindly fuck off back to the your Rothschilds and Elders of Zion conspiracies you racist bigot.

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