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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  • John Goss

    “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.”

    Tut, tut. Touched a nerve there.

  • Sofia Kibo Noh


    Ах! Резидент Диссидент, мой маленький цыпленок. Успокойтесь. Как говорится в Бирмингеме, Видна́ пти́ца по полёту.

    О, “The real KGB goons are pretty easy to spot.” Я все еще жду вам совет в этом серьезном вопросе.

  • Sofia Kibo Noh

    Товарищ Гослинг. Вы должны быть более осторожными. Я думаю, что они на нас. Нет больше советские мультфильмы стиля.

  • John Goss

    Sofia, I think it was the sentence that followed: “The place is crawling with ‘blackshirts’ except they are not wearing uniforms.” that really touched the nerve. A sentence which most people would have shrugged off as a bit of fun, a caricature of мультфильм, unless of course guilt played a part.

    This, after all you did with Beethoven to try and heal the wounds! What more can a paramedic do?

  • Macky

    John Goss; “A sentence which most people would have shrugged off as a bit of fun”

    Sadly people often lash out when on the ropes, especially when struggling to defend their positions.

  • Mary

    The trolls resort to using four letter expletives when they are challenged and cannot provide an answer.

  • John Goss

    “A week later, on March 12, Christine Lagarde, met the interim Prime Minister of Ukraine Arseniy Yatsenyuk at IMF headquarters in Washington. Lagarde reaffirmed the IMF’s commitment:

    “[to putting Ukraine back] on the path of sound economic governance and sustainable growth, while protecting the vulnerable in society. … We are keen to help Ukraine on its path to economic stability and prosperity.”(Press Release: Statement by IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde on Ukraine)

    The above statement is wrought with hypocrisy. In practice, the IMF does not wield “sound economic governance” nor does it protect the vulnerable. It impoverishes entire populations, while providing “prosperity” to a small corrupt and subservient political and economic elite.”

    Michel Chossudovsky

  • mike

    Owen Jones in today’s Guardian: “Libya will surely continue its descent into mayhem, and the region could be dragged into the mire with it.”

    This, I suspect, was precisely the plan. Plenty of scope for “humanitarian intervention” in the future. Plenty of Libyan weapons turning up in Syria, too — in the hands of the heart-eating crazies.

    Send in Big John (Simpson, not Wayne). He’ll re-liberate the place.

    Speaking of neocon shock-doctrine wars, today is the 15th anniversary of the Serbia bombing. Camp Bondsteel — the Butlins of the Balkans — singalong confessions, knobbly knees (broken) and plenty of heroin and harvested organs.


  • Sofia Kibo Noh

    No stone left unturned in the quest for an “incident”. Don’t they know they’ve been well sussed?

    “Earlier on Saturday, Crimean authorities reported a temporary seal-off of the border from the Ukrainian side, which they said also blockaded about 2,000 Ukrainian troops who had opted to leave the region. “

    From, “Ukraine turmoil LIVE UPDATES”

    Incidentally, of course RT promote a Russian perspective and a person needs to look at other sources, but I’ve noticed with this thread since the start, that it’s details more often than not correspond with what emerges, later from unrelated sources. Details from MSM sources, often just repeating Ukraine junta briefings, tend to sink without trace soon after colliding with observable, verifiable reality.

  • mike

    Yep, Sofia. The truth is that Crimea has been “returned” to Russia (oh I can feel a salvo of brickbats coming on!) was achieved with very little bloodshed. A sniper shot one from each side. Now THERE’S a familiar M.O.

    Not quite shock and awe. Don’t the Russian know they have to put on a spectacular fireworks display for the cameras?

  • Ben

    Check out the lead thread folks. It’s happening here too.

    WTF? Keywords? What are they? Craig is buying ball-gags by the gross to make the discourse sterile or emasculated? Enquiring minds want to know.

    Whazzup with the thuggery?

  • ESLO

    “Incidentally, of course RT promote a Russian perspective and a person needs to look at other sources, but I’ve noticed with this thread since the start, that it’s details more often than not correspond with what emerges, later from unrelated sources. Details from MSM sources, often just repeating Ukraine junta briefings, tend to sink without trace soon after colliding with observable, verifiable reality.”

    What you mean of course is that most people are satisfied with the observable verifiable reality reported at the time by those on the ground don’t need to go back and challenge it – while those that aren’t have to invent an alternative reality to fit in with their prejudices. Those who were actually at Euromaidan and the other protests in the Ukraine from November onwards have little doubt about the brutality of Yanukovych’s thugs – and there are plenty of photos and films to verify what happened. Did you know that the entire HIV/AIDs budget of the Ukraine was stolen by Yanukovych and his accomplices?

  • mike

    Shock and awe — 500,000 to 1 million dead.

    Crimean takeover — 2

    Those feral, power-mad Rooskies…

  • Ben

    The death throes of Petrodollar?

    “While Europe is furiously scrambling to find alternative sources of energy should Gazprom pull the plug on natgas exports to Germany and Europe (the imminent surge in Ukraine gas prices by 40% is probably the best indication of what the outcome would be), Russia is preparing the announcement of the “Holy Grail” energy deal with none other than China, a move which would send geopolitical shockwaves around the world and bind the two nations in a commodity-backed axis. One which, as some especially on these pages, have suggested would lay the groundwork for a new joint, commodity-backed reserve currency that bypasses the dollar, something which Russia implied moments ago when its finance minister Siluanov said that Russia may refrain from foreign borrowing this year. Translated: bypass western purchases of Russian debt, funded by Chinese purchases of US Treasurys, and go straight to the source.”

  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella) a!

    “Russia is preparing the announcement of the “Holy Grail” energy deal with none other than China,…”

    This is just dis-information from the source Ben’s using. There will be no such deal.

  • Sofia Kibo Noh

    ELSO. 4 25pm

    Enough observable verifiable reality for you Sofia?”

    Well, no. Not really.

    Don’t you think the Tatars may be being used a convenient stick to beat Russia with? Just a thought.

    There’s no excuse for the appalling treatment of the Tatars of Crimea by the Stalinist regime, but then neither is there any excuse for the Golden Horde’s treatment of the people’s they overran. How far do you want to go back?

    Despite the return of Tatars to Crimea, the emotional scars carried by the Tatar community will likely take generations to heal. So it’s hardly surprising that few of them show much desire to return to government from Moscow. They are caught between fears old enemies and the unpleasantness of the puppet government in Kiev. No doubt when the Palestinians return there will be similar residual suspicions and bad feeling on both sides. I wish them all well.

    There are signs that the new Crimean government is making an effort to protect the human rights an culture of Tatar people.

    My bet is that the unpleasantness of the new Crimean government towards Tatars will be consistent with the violence of the “Russian Invasion”. Time will tell.


    BTW. Can you get your mate Res Dis to return and tell us how to spot the KGB goons he says infest this blog. It’s a bit cruel of him to tell us he knows who they are and then abandon us to whatever horrors they have planned for us.

  • Resident Dissident


    “The trolls resort to using four letter expletives when they are challenged and cannot provide an answer.”

    Mary I used an expletive when the deplorable and dishonest Goss called me a blackshirt after failing to address my previous challenge as to when I had ever expressed support for Svoboda as he claimed (see my post of 23 March 7:47pm) – I have more than answered any serious and diversionary questions answered by the evasive Goss.

    And I must say I did smile at the thought of this point being raised by someone who is not exactly forthcoming when her own views are challenged.

  • Resident Dissident

    Asked by Goss – not answered in the last post – though it hardly needs to be said.

  • Sofia Kibo Noh

    Mike. 9 58pm

    Re return home of Palestinians.

    “We can only hope, but I think Israel would rather the world burns than have that happen.”

    “Several studies in Israel and one conducted by AIPAC and another by the Jewish National  Fund in Germany show that perhaps as many as half of the Jews living in Israel will consider leaving Palestine in the next few years if current political and social trends continue.”

    It strikes me that the roots of the settler people in the lands of Palestine are shallow and weak compared to the ancient deep roots of Palestinians.

    The survival of the Palestinian culture through all these years of dispossession and brutality augurs well for the eventual return, though I, like you fear that the madness of it’s current rulers may leave a wasteland to return to.

  • Sofia Kibo Noh


    Good to see you back.

    Please let me in on your way to spot “KGB stooges” who you say post here.

    Aren’t they a bit like the Japanese soldiers who emerged from the jungles decades after WW2 ended?

    Do you think we should tell them the Soviet Union no longer exists? Would that be cruel?

  • Gegenbeispiel

    Kenneth Sorensen wrote >”Either its me or you. Do you understand? Either you close this website down in recognition that you’re just a nut case, or I’ll be leaving. Which will you prefer?”

    Please, please leave and shut up. You’re a despicable right-wing fool who has no time for freedom of speech. Go to hell – or to whoever employs you: CIA ? Foggy Bottom ? AEI ? AIPAC? !!

  • Sofia Kibo Noh


    Come on. Who are they? I’m a bit thick you see so I can’t get by on hints.

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