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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  • Herbie

    Habby says of potentially big Russian gas deal with China:

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

    How do you know?

    Which sources in Ben’s article are you disputing?

    And why are Citi saying the same thing:

    “We expect the contract to be signed in the course of 2014,” Ronald Smith, an oil and gas analyst at Citigroup Inc. in Moscow said by e-mail. “We continue to list the China contract as one of the three key catalysts for Gazprom in 2014.”

    This is precisely when the deal will be done because Russia’s under pressure/China gets the best price, and you know whose fault that is, eh brains?

    Teenage neocons!!


    Sell USD, EURO, the car, that nice flat in Paris…

  • BrianFujisan

    Russia Could Crush the Petrodollar

    Russia threatened to dump its U.S. treasuries if America imposed sanctions regarding Russia’s action in the Crimea.

    Zero Hedge argues that Russia has already done so.

    But veteran investor Jim Sinclair argues that Russia has a much scarier financial attack which Russia can use against the U.S.

    Specifically, Sinclair says that if Russia accepts payment for oil and gas in any currency other than the dollar – whether it’s gold, the Euro, the Ruble, the Rupee, or anything else – then the U.S. petrodollar system will collapse:

    Indeed, one of the main pillars for U.S. power is the petrodollar, and the U.S. is desperate for the dollar to maintain reserve status. Some wise commentators have argued that recent U.S. wars have really been about keeping the rest of the world on the petrodollar standard.

    The theory is that – after Nixon took the U.S. off the gold standard, which had made the dollar the world’s reserve currency – America salvaged that role by adopting the petrodollar. Specifically, the U.S. and Saudi Arabia agreed that all oil and gas would be priced in dollars, so the rest of the world had to use dollars for most transactions.

    But Reuters notes that Russia may be mere months away from signing a bilateral trade deal with China, where China would buy huge quantities of Russian oil and gas.

    Zero Hedge argues:

    Add bilateral trade denominated in either Rubles or Renminbi (or gold), add Iran, Iraq, India, and soon the Saudis (China’s largest foreign source of crude, whose crown prince also happened to meet president Xi Jinping last week to expand trade further) and wave goodbye to the petrodollar.

    In any event, a switch to pricing petroleum in anything other than dollars exclusively – whether a single alternative currency, gold, or even a mix of currencies or commodities – would spell the end of the dollar as the world’s reserve currency.

    For that reason, Sinclair – no fan of either Russia or Putin – urges American leaders to back away from an economic confrontation with Russia, arguing that the U.S. would be the loser.

    More From this Copy @


    Forcing home the symbolism of his trip, Igor Sechin gathered media in Tokyo the next day to warn Western governments that more sanctions over Moscow’s seizure of the Black Sea peninsula from Ukraine would be counter-productive.

    The underlying message from the head of Russia’s biggest oil company, Rosneft, was clear: If Europe and the United States isolate Russia, Moscow will look East for new business, energy deals, military contracts and political alliances.

    THE HOLY GRAIL FOR MOSCOW IS A NATURAL GAS SUPPLY DEAL WITH CHINA – that is apparently now close after years of negotiations. If it can be signed when Putin visits China in May, he will be able to hold it up to show that global power has shifted eastwards and he does not need the West.

    More @

  • Mary

    Now the Russians are being blamed for rising food prices.

    Supermarket And Restaurant Bills Set To Soar

    Prices are being driven up by a specific combination of factors, with the cost of fruit rising more than any other food.

    ‘Wheat prices are vulnerable to the current political uncertainties stemming from the crisis in Ukraine, a key grain producer.

    Mr Smith added: “If sanctions stop the Russians from exporting wheat and grains, or if the Russians choose to stop exporting, then wheat prices will inevitably go up.”‘

  • John Goss

    Sofia, thanks for the nostalgia, but if we all go back home they really will believe what they think about us. What is it they tell their chicks in Birmingham? Some sort of rhyme about the sight of a bird in flight? And then the bit about the gosling must have got them curious. I’m sure they’re onto us now.

  • BrianFujisan

    Jeeezo Mary… As if things aint bad enough for the poor…

    i was at an Indy-reff-Yes meeting last night, Where one of the Speakers – Jeanne Freeman – was telling of Schools in Dundee, where they have rows of lots of Toasters, and the teachers bring in bread …so that the kids can have something to eat for breakfast.

    That can only get worse methinks…way things are going….and M’P’s get what is it £70 a day for lunch.. now.. now…Brian… Temper.

  • BrianFujisan

    This is nice n healthy stuff….Bitch

    An audio recording of the conversation of the former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko and former Deputy Secretary of the National Security Council of Ukraine Nestor Shufrich about Russia’s actions in the Crimea leaked online. The former head of the Ukrainian government soon confirmed her participation in the notorious conversation, noting that one of the moments of the dialogue was edited.

    In the conversation, Tymoshenko and Shufrych discussed the situation in the Crimea. “It’s gone too far. Damn, one must take up arms and go get these goddamned goat-likes [Russians – ed.] along with their leader. I regret that I can not be there now – they would get a **** instead of the Crimea,” says the former prime minister.

    Shufrich then said that even if Tymoshenko had been involved in the endeavor to keep the Crimea, it would not have helped to change the situation. “Although, you know, we didn’t have the military capacity,” he said. Tymoshenko objected to that saying: “I would have found a way to get these assholes. I hope that I will get the whole world involved, do the best I can so that there is not even a scorched field left from Russia,” Tymoshenko shared her future plans.

    Shortly after the leak, the ex-prime minister confirmed her participation in the conversation. “The conversation did take place, but the bit about 8 million Russians in Ukraine was edited. I actually said that the Russians in Ukraine were Ukrainians. Hi, FSB 🙂 Sorry for being obscene,” Tymoshenko tweeted.

    Apparently, it goes about the moment when Shufrich asked her about the fate of eight million Russians in Ukraine, to which the ex-prime minister said: “Damn, one should shoot them from nuclear weapons.”

  • John Goss


    25 Mar, 2014 – 10:46 am

    Thanks for posting that story again Brian. I think it was posted on another thread by Herbie last night, but it needs to be kept in the public eye, to show that the west is supporting outright fascists and creating with its dollars potential holocausts.

  • Mary

    Quite Brian.


    I am pleased for the relatives of Cheryl James, one of four young soldiers found dead from gunshot wounds at Deepcut barracks. Grieve has granted a second inquest. You have to admire her relatives who have stuck with it.

    Deepcut barracks death: New inquest hope for family

    Surrey Police (Millie Dowler, Al Hilli, Guildford 4, etc, etc) investigated and found nothing suspicious.

    It is just a pity that Grieve refused to grant Dr David Kelly just one inquest.


    PS HMG cashing in. More of the state’s assets have been flogged off.

    Green light for 1,200-home Deepcut barracks scheme

    Poison Gove’s constituency. More Tory voters moving in on the ConDem Help to Buy scheme.
    Pete Seeger Little Boxes

  • John Goss

    “It is just a pity that Grieve refused to grant Dr David Kelly just one inquest.”

    I second that. Some forces are more powerful than the attorney general. As an opposition MP he was calling for an inquest into Dr David Kelly’s death.

  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella) !


    “Habby says of potentially big Russian gas deal with China:

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

    How do you know?”

    In the same way as I knew that your predictions of World War 3 starting in Syria were unfounded, Herbie.

    “Which sources in Ben’s article are you disputing?”


    There is only one source in Ben’s post. That one.


    “Why am I shoving my nose into someone else’s conversation?”


    Because you’ve nothing better to do or say, Herbie.

    (I made the last one up)


    La vita è bella, life is good!

  • Herbie

    Should WWIII ever come to pass, then historians, should there be any left, will cite Syria as a contributing event along that path. They’ll also cite Serbia and other events of course, the rape of Russia during the 1990s etc.

    It isn’t Syria in itself that causes the war.

    But anyway, enough education for you, for the moment.

    I and others have already said that Putin is likely working with elements in the west, so please don’t confuse the simple binaries you inhabit with what others are thinking.


    I’ve noticed that you’re being puerile and annoying to John in the other thread, and getting no satisfaction there, you’re over here talking nonsense.

    It’s like you’re a child always looking for attention. You’ve just never grown up.

    I’d imagine you’re used to having underlings forced to listen to you when you were employed, God help them, but now you’re retired and feeling rather redundant.

    That’s sad, but not uncommon.

    You need a “hinterland”, as Healey used to say. His was photography and plotting world domination. Yours is sadly much less ambitious.

    Anyway, there’s help out there. Making friends is a good start.

    Have you tried that?

    Here’s some other tips:

  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella) !


    And I’ve noted that you’re on here at all times of the day.

    Which in turn reminds me of a question you still haven’t answered, namely : are you presently in employment?

  • Sofia Kibo Noh

    Dad. 8 18pm


    And I’ve noted that you’re on here at all times of the day.

    Which in turn reminds me of a question you still haven’t answered, namely : are you presently in employment?”

    Is this an attempt to debate the Putin issue or an underhand attempt to imply that if a contributor isn’t in someone’s employment then their contribution is somehow weakened?

    Pathetic, either way!

    What about Putin (Prince of Darkness)?

  • Sofia Kibo Noh

    BTW. Herbie’s posts indicate he’s bright enough not to need to be anyone’s employee unless he chooses.

    Who employs Dad I wonder?

  • doug scorgie

    Resident Dissident
    21 Mar, 2014 – 9:12 pm

    “For all those who assured us that the Russians, including Putin in his recent speech, would protect the rights of the Crimean Tatars please note that their leader has now been declared persona non grata.”

    FFS ResDis why are you and others on this blog incapable of providing links; references or evidence for your claims so others can subject them to scrutiny?

  • doug scorgie

    Resident Dissident
    22 Mar, 2014 – 9:52 am

    “Am I the only one here who finds Macky’s twisting of Uzbek’s words (which are written in his second language) and his constant bullying somewhat unseemly.”

    ResDis most of the bullying I’ve noticed on this blog seems to be directed to a certain female poster.

    Also ResDis why do you accept without question that Uzbek is genuine and English is his second language?

    Could it not be a case of “me no speakedy English?”

  • BrianFujisan


    Is this an attempt to debate the Putin issue or an underhand attempt to imply that if a contributor isn’t in someone’s employment then their contribution is somehow weakened?

    Pathetic, either way!


    That’s pretty Low Even from H…but it’s certainly an attempt at a put down… if indeed Herbie were unfortunately unemployed… then H’s comment could be just cruelly stamping upon a soul who’s Moral Could already be Low…Possibly Struggling to make ends meet, and VERY upset about it… Attempting to belittle such… Could just add to a souls sadness.. it is Beneath contempt.

    Herbie is plainly far too intelligent to ever stoop to such crass insults

  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella) !

    Mr Scorgie

    Is Uzbek genuine?

    Does Mr Scorgie really exist?

    Is there a God?

    Weighty questions, Doug. Please provide links and references for any thoughts you might have on the above.

    Whether FFS or not FFS.

  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella) !

    “BTW. Herbie’s posts indicate he’s bright enough not to need to be anyone’s employee unless he chooses.”

    The above poster gets this week’s OBN (Order of the Brown Nose, as Private Eye readers will know). LOL

  • mike

    “Once again,” Obama said today, “we are confronted with the belief among some that bigger nations can bully smaller ones to get their way.”

    Down the rabbit hole. Through the looking glass. Different planet.

    Take your pick.

  • Macky

    “The editors added:

    ‘The aim of sanctions, in other words, would not be to save Crimea, but to deter Mr Putin from going further… Hence the overriding importance of making Mr Putin pay for Crimea.’

    What kind of nutbar working within the UK press establishment would conceive of proposing sanctions against Britain and America, or discuss ‘the overriding importance of making Mr Bush and Mr Blair pay for Iraq’?”

    Answer provided by Resident Dissident’s “commonsense”;

    “Yes I fear Putin will get away with it – but commonsense says that he needs to know that there is a price for doing so, if only to stop him and others doing it again”

  • Ben

    “Also ResDis why do you accept without question that Uzbek is genuine and English is his second language”

    Doug; I’ve wondered about this. I remember occasional threads where he shows up and was reasonable and measured. I think the feigned poor grammar and apparent linguistic confusion is a equine of a different political stripe compared to the original.

  • Ben

    “Who employs Dad I wonder?”

    Careful Sofia. The mystery of keywords continues to confound.

  • mike

    “The EU has blood on its hands.”

    Farage for PM!

    Only kidding. But he’s right.

    So Erdogan is mulling the old false flag routine in Syria. You don’t quite read as much on the BBC though, just a headline that tells you about YouTube being blocked.

  • Resident Dissident

    “Also ResDis why do you accept without question that Uzbek is genuine”

    Because I have been to Russia and Uzbekistan and what he says is entirely consistent with what I have seen and read from from other reliable sources. I don’t actually agree with him when he calls some here Mad lefties – I don’t think that those he criticise actually belong to the left, they just want to create the delusion that they do. Sadly I fear he has been driven away by the bullies.

  • Macky

    Resident Dissident; “Sadly I fear he has been driven away by the bullies”

    No, driven away by his own bigotry.

    BTW after arguing that the Crimean vote was invalid because it was at “gunpoint” & under “intimidation” due to European standard anti-fraud see-through ballot boxes (!), you finally agreed that this was a moronic argument as the result was inevitably going to be the same given the majority pro-Russian population,so no need at all for unnecessary & gifted Western beating stick, of the Russians fixing the vote; you then switch from that that non-argument to straight Russia bashing, by insisting that the Russians must be punished for the non-crime of ensuring a peaceful referendum (in contrast to the bloodbath in Kiev), therefore to be logical, and to ensure you are not pontificating as a result of Russo-phobia, if you want sanctions, etc on Russia for “annexing” the Crimea, you surely must then also support sanctions against Israel for the totally illegal annexations of the Golan Heights & Palestinian territories, also against Turkey for the ethnic cleansing & 40 year occupation of northern Cyprus ?

  • Resident Dissident

    One of the signs of bullies is thinking that they have the right to speak for their targets. As well as being a bully you really are just not that smart.

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