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.

 


644 thoughts on “Deconstructing Putin

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  • Squasha

    CIA has been banging on Russia with their self-determination hammer ever since Gates wrangled Carter for them. Never occurred to them that self-determination could also serve to agglomerate the empire that it splintered. I wish Putin would foment some cultural separatism in the civilized enclaves of the USA. By some counts you could break it up into 11 distinct nations. Think how much safer the world would be.

  • Herbie

    Uzzie

    “Russians when smell weakness of their adversary will not stop at anything.”

    Isn’t that exactly what the Americans have been doing very openly since 1990, and way back to the Munroe doctrine.

    Irony free, as I say.

    There’s little point in terms of understanding to throw accusations of “air-breathing”. We all do it.

    It’s just cheap delusional propaganda. It’s of no value.

  • Uzbek in the UK

    Following your logic, every street in large megapolysis (like London, Paris or NYC) could be broken up into separate individual houses/nations. Most streets I have been to have houses with occupants belonging to different cultures. In London house of Hindu’s, right next to house Pakistani, right next to house of Pol, right next to house of White Anglo Saxon etc. So do you suggest to break streets in London into over 200 different separate nations.

  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella!

    Herbie

    “The very power that rules the planet today is a product of the greatest displacement of peoples in all human history.”
    ______________________-

    Ah, I see. Silly me! You’re drawing a parallel between (European) emigration into the USA and the forced displacement of populations within the USSR by Stalin and his henchmen.

  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella!

    “They know that Europe’s future lies east, rather than west.”
    __________________

    Good to know you’re privy to their thoughts, Herbie.

  • passerby

    truth is of course that the global political elite are in the pockets of the global financial elite

    Ergo the cloak and dagger kabuki unfolding before us all is only a spat between the relevant bunch of greedy over bloated super class that has descended into a turf war as is common with any two bit gangster outfits.

    The fact remains however; either Russians had to stop the long march of the western carpetbaggers in Ukraine, Georgia, etc, or start preparations for fighting them in the outskirts of Moscow.

    We all know that the current thrust of the “consolidations/acquisitions and mergers” albeit at the point of bayonets and under the hail of machine gun fire is ceaseless “wave of progress/birth pangs of the newest of the new world order” that is the legacy of the morally bankrupt, financially bankrupt, economically bankrupt, and ideologically bankrupt western super class, who are too busy gambling away for all or nothing. After all it is not any skin off their noses, it is only few million wogs/sand niggers/coloureds/potential asylum seekers/etc who are getting killed and maimed anyway!

  • Ed

    @Uzbek –

    I’d like to make one thing abundantly clear up front. I place no faith or trust in Putin or his motives, and he fully acknowledge the fear that exists under his leadership.

    What I am questioning is an assumption that Putin is increasingly emboldened to cut loose the Red Army with the aim of reconstructing the old USSR. I’m not buying that, not yet.

    My take is that his preferred course is to buy-off the likes of Yanukovich and Lukashenko, and accumulate power and influence this way. I don’t see how what has happened in the Ukraine will cause Putin to alter his preferred course. Yes, he has a military he can use, but it’s a last resort. He’s still a KGB man to the core, and he’d rather keep the military in its box.

  • Uzbek in the UK

    You see how simple omission of ‘forced’ allows some to overlook greatest human tragedies in modern history. When Stalin was forcing thousands Chechens and Crimea Tatars into trains (like Hitler was doing with Jews), the least he was concerned is opportunities that will open up before these deported ethno groups. It was effective extermination, physical but more importantly moral.

  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella!

    Uzbek

    Herby has been appointed point man on this particular thread, Uzbek.

    Having looked at his various posts, I’d advise you not to let him wind you up.

    Just keep making your points – which are in almost all cases valid and informative ones – and don’t try to reply seriously to someone who’s not serious and is just fooling around. He’s just an I’ve got talent version of Tovarish Goss 🙂

  • Ben

    “However, there were indications that it was the separatist Crimean government’s recently created “Self Defence Forces” who had actually carried out the fatal attack. Local officials, meanwhile, claimed that “fascist snipers” had fired the first shot from a residential building and one of the injured was one of the defence force members.”

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/crimea-crisis-fears-of-war-grow-after-ukrainian-officer-is-killed-at-military-base-in-simferopol-9200203.html

  • mark golding

    Quite so Ben BRICS is on the back-channel.

    I myself was very interested that Putin made distinct reference to the appalling crimes against the Tartars in the 1930′s and also to the terrible suffering of Ukrainians in that period.

    Agony and pain pervade the event horizon with past crimes of the global financial elite. That pain can be relived here and intention called up:

    http://kehilalinks.jewishgen.org/drohobycz/history/petroleum.asp

    and here:

    http://www.drohobycz-boryslaw.org/en/drohobycz-boryslaw-and-vicinity/history

    Putin’s distinct reference to this memory of appalling crimes does indeed give some hope to future generations; the sackcloth and ashes though is eminently high; curiously the planet is left staring down the barrel of a gun or at worse viewing the radiance of a thousand suns.

  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella!

    Ed

    “What I am questioning is an assumption that Putin is increasingly emboldened to cut loose the Red Army with the aim of reconstructing the old USSR. I’m not buying that, not yet.”
    ___________________

    I note your “not yet”, Ed. A wise and prudent approach. Let us wait for a while and see what happens with eastern Ukraine, Moldova and the Baltic states in the fullness of time.

  • Herbie

    Habby

    “You’re drawing a parallel between (European) emigration into the USA and the forced displacement of populations within the USSR by Stalin and his henchmen.”

    Noop.

    I’m thinking of the violent displacement of native peoples across the planet, which you rather quaintly call “emigration”.

    Bit too close to home, perhaps.

  • Tony M

    Schooling or what passes for it in Britain didn’t and doesn’t, dwell on Britain’s inglorious and continuing despicable and treacherous affairs. You forget Poland hadn’t existed since Chopin was in short trousers until the Versailles carve-up post WW1.

    Why should we care which set of oligarchs rule over us much less over Ukranians. A pox on all of their razor-wire and cctv’d tasteless castles and keeps, their place in the country and their bling. I think all this Russia versus ‘the West’ baloney is like the fake left-right paradigm, just a bun-fight amongst the ruling psychopaths. We’re being led up the garden path again. Like World War One, a Battenburg-Windsor-Guelph family squabble with our ‘King’, the German Kaiser and Russian Tsar, all not too distant relations, between them effecting a cull of the masses. In France during world war one, more people – pacifists and conscientious objectors were killed by over-worked firing squads than Robespierres terror or the Spanish Inquisition ever despatched. Here’s to self-determination for all people and an end to massed ranks of pawns being slaughtered for some rich man’s ego and as an end in itself.

    It’s so pleasing that the our media’s latest bogeyman over there, is, on the streets, pubs and clapped-out omnibus -the bad boy anti-hero, the enlightened human that said enough is enough what’s past is past, we all go forward together, we rebuild each our new societies not on the ashes or on the graves of our forebears but on living growing hopes for a better world. The time is now before the poison that is capitalism destroys and devours the whole planet, before nuclear follies or natural disaster of our own making destroys all.

    There’s only one Vlad Putin! Come the hour, come the man.

  • Uzbek in the UK

    On the matter of western response. Just read one very accurate description from Mr Leontyev. Mad lefties are no doubt familiar with one of Putin’s ‘Dr Goebbels’ who was recently (after years of pro-putin rants on TV) promoted to the PR Directors or Rosneft (Russia’s largest Oil company).

    Leontyev said that western reaction is like attempt to stop “wild tiger with a toothbrush”.

  • Ben

    The breadth of your knowledge takes my breath away, Mark.

    Wheels within the wheels of triangulation makes occam’s razor simply infer….Follow the money.

  • Marlin

    Craig: “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”.

    Personally, I would like to see a complete financial freeze on the entire US and UK oligarchy, especially the ones who engaged in regime change operations in Libya, Egypt, Iraq, Ukraine, Sudan, Afganistan and, of course, the attempt on Syria. better yet, it would be great to not only freeze the assets of the Kagans, Nuland, Bush, Feith, Wolfowitz, Pojo Zabludovich, Aipac etc (just to mention a few of the parties involved) but actually confiscate and use as compensation to the millions of victims they left in their wake. I would love to see freeze of the asset of that idiot Robert ford who did more damage to human beings than 5 Putins combined.

    As for Ukraine, we are just beginning to see the outlines of what a fascist dominated state might look like. But hey, this must be ‘democracy” because by definition they are “our” fascists, just like in Syria, the cuddly, lovable Al Nusra were “our “Al Queda” (oops that must be ISIS).

    And while we are at it, may be it’s time to bring the house of saud, that most despotic of regimes to justice? surely they have a few billions spare as compensation for the good people of Egypt? or gaza?

    It’s really something when people use twists of the English language to redefine meanings. So the military “coup” in Egypt was not a coup because, well, the people wanted it. And in Ukraine, it wasn’t a coup d’etat, supported by those regime change artists (Nuland et al) because, well, the people of Ukraine wanted “freedom”. It would be laughable were it not so tragic.

    While no one denies Putin is a nationalist, he is by far the sanest leader around. he did what he had to do because no one doubts what the plan was all about. His speech was pretty good all in all. While not denying a touch of hypocricy, that’s something Obama/Kerry have first dibs on.

    Congratulations to the people of Crimea for their courage and perseverance in voting the bums out (cf Yat’s, the hoodlums et al).

  • Ed

    @Uzbek – Very confused by your last comment.

    You say, and I see no reason to disagree, that for years, Leontyev was a Putin apparatchik, spewing ludicrous pro-Kremlin proganda. And now, he spews further obvious pro-Kremlin talking points, yet this time we are supposed to take him seriously?

    Either you are now being taken in by the same propaganda you say dopy leftists were long duped by, or suddenly Leontyev is not the propagandist you claim he is.

    Please elaborate.

  • doug scorgie

    Uzbek in the UK
    19 Mar, 2014 – 2:30 pm

    “…but as many western lefties claim, putin is a good guy.”

    Uzbek, who are these “many western lefties” you claim that Putin is a good guy?

    Why do you not give links or references for your claims?

  • Marlin

    An aside: re the reference to the suffering of the Ukrainians during the famine: history records the name one of the primary agents of the holodomor as Kaganovich. History will also record one of the key agents of the war crimes against Iraq (nearly 1 Million dead and country destroyed) as a certain Kagan. And now, when it comes to the handover of the Ukrainian people to a fascist regime (+a new selection of favored oligarchs) we have another kagan in the shadows (right next to Nuland).

    just keeping the records straight – for the history books, you know…..

  • Herbie

    Uzzie

    ‘Dr Goebbels’ was a student of Edward Bernays who more or less constructed the propaganda model for the Americans.

    I know you like to throw this propaganda about but it doesn’t aid understanding.

    In fact, you remind me very much of that rather piss poor propaganda the Soviets used to put out.

    We’re more amused than impressed, and especially so when you do it in a funny voice.

  • Uzbek in the UK

    Mark Golding

    How cheaply you were bought by Putin’s propaganda. Back in times Stalin announced to the world that Soviet Jews were given their own autonomy. By accident it was further away from inhabitable lands of vast soviet empire than Gulag. Try finding Jewish autonomous region on Russian map, and you will get what I mean. It did not stop Stalin from unleashing terror on Jews in Doctors Case and other less known murders. It is irony how western lefties keep buying KGB propaganda throughout generations. I assume it is a case of what one wants to believe in then what one is actually hearing.

  • Uzbek in the UK

    Ed

    Make your judgment on Leontyev yourself. I just said what he said about western reaction on Crimean Anschluss. It pretty much describes how little influence west have over putin.

  • Ben

    “How cheaply you were bought by Putin’s propaganda. Back in times Stalin announced to the world that Soviet Jews were given their own autonomy. By accident it was further away from inhabitable lands of vast soviet empire than Gulag. Try finding Jewish autonomous region on Russian map, and you will get what I mean. It did not stop Stalin from unleashing terror on Jews in Doctors Case and other less known murders. It is irony how western lefties keep buying KGB propaganda throughout generations. I assume it is a case of what one wants to believe in then what one is actually hearing.”

    You have many assumptions supported with anecdotes.

  • Kenneth Sorensen

    Craig writes:

    Here is my own analysis, for what it is worth.

    It’s absolutely worth NOTHING, and I’d appreciate that you’d email these rants beforehand to us free people living in some of the worlds free enclaves, befor you publish this rubbish. It’s important for all free men and women to recognbise: Craig Murray is a nut-case, and a nullity, which should be ignored at all tumes.. He really needs to ask for PERMISSION from the free peoples of the world before he publish anything. What have the world come to if buts like these just think they can punlish anything that springs to their perverted minds?

  • John Goss

    I agree, Ben and Mark, about BRICS. My first thought when I read this much more measured blog-post, like the Craig Murray of old, was Putin’s reason for keeping those countries sweet. However, China’s abstention, while not being an endorsement of Crimea’s referendum, was not an opposition to it. China has a lot of investment in the US, as well as elsewhere, and in the good old fashion of Henry Kissinger’s triangular diplomacy, was probably the prudent move. It only takes one veto to veto something, and I believe the UK abstained over a resolution regarding Guantanamo Bay.

  • Uzbek in the UK

    doug scorgie

    Do your own reading. Nobody provided me references when I wanted to learn something. I presume you are elder (and hopefully more intelligent) than A-level student.

    I could not even speak English until few years ago (and still have issues with it as evident from my writing) but it did not stop me from learning, researching and thinking.

    What I am trying to say is that pro-putin propaganda is not the only source. There are different opinions on those matters, different histories just like in case with intervention to Iraq. Why in one case you read from different sources (rather than ZBBC or SKY) and in another you blindly believe information coming from one single source (KGB)?

    Does it make you MAD leftie? Judge for yourself (proportionately to your level of intelligence)

  • Uzbek in the UK

    Ben

    Read mate. If this is anecdote for you than I am sorry for western education (or more precise) for the school and university (if any) you attended.

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