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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  • Kenneth Sorensen

    What have the world come to if nuts like these just think they can publish anything that springs to their perverted minds? And on their own websites! Well, I’ve never. On their own websites! And these jerks thinks that they can just publish all the rubbish that befell their perverted minds! Is that it?

    Well it will be without me then. 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?

  • Uzbek in the UK


    Do you think that Chechens, Dagestanies, Tatars and Bashkirs have to be given the same opportunity, as Crimean Russians? For the sake of Russian domination over them being tested against strong rule of popular vote?

  • CanSpeccy

    And here we have finger pointing about racist thugs in Russia without a passing mention of the Nato-US State Dept-Chatham House-backed Nazi regime in Kyiv.

    What did Jesus say about moats and beams? LOL.

    And if “Russia was right over Kosovo, and thus is wrong over Crimea”, then the West though right about Crimea, must have been wrong about Kosovo, so Putin is playing tit-for-tat, an elementary rule of the game of international politics.

    Nazi-NATO committed an act of murderous aggression in Kyiv with the aim, among other things, of putting nukes on Russia’s Ukraine border. What’s a competent Russian leader supposed to do? Nothing?

    O’Barmy and co. must have known that Russia would respond by taking back the Russian territory of Crimea: that’s why it’s happened without a shot fired. The whole thing was probably scripted in advance by a joint US-Russian working group.

    On the face of it, Russia has gained much less than the West, but Putin is probably betting that the addition of one more large and economically non-functional state to the Eurozone will finish the European Union.

  • amanfromMars

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

    Well …. doesn’t just stop there whenever you have only just got started, Craig. Go on please, and finish the progression, or at least progress it to the next spooky level …… and the global financial elite are in whose pockets filled to overflowing with sensitive intelligence and juicy information?

    Invariably it will not be what/who you think it is, for such is the true nature of the intelligence beast in Great Games Play ….. it protects itself from live discovery, and leaves the deserving to deal with the chaos and madness that sub-prime systems mal-administration collapse delivers with the presentation of catastrophic systemic flaws.

  • Uzbek in the UK

    Kenneth Sorensen

    What is wrong with you? I met no one who has more courage and more integrity than Mr Murray. You can argue with him, but dismissing his thoughts as rubbish does not make you any good.

    Even MAD lefties on this blog are right (correct) sometimes. Just not in this particular case.

  • Uzbek in the UK


    One could look at it and see that precisely because of putin’s reaction over Ukrainian revolution many former soviet colonies in eastern Europe are very encouraged to bring US nukes onto their territory. Something that did not exist before.

    In fact Putin made NATO very relevant again and will push European nations into military spending again. Something western lefties have been opposing for ages.

  • John Goss

    Gilbert Mercier, Editor in Chief of News Junkie Post, has done a telephone interview on PressTV in which he says Russia has sold off 80% of its US treasury bonds. If China sold its remaining bonds, amounting to $1.3 trillion, it would amount to half the holdings of foreign investors.

    To my mind it seems ludicrous that any foreign country would want to buy another country’s debt, even in times of prosperity – but today even more so – of course they did not buy them yesterday. This too might be a reason why China abstained in the veto.

  • Kenneth Sorensen

    Craig Murray is a nut case. Just look at his photo! He needs to close this websitw down in recognition that he’s a nut case who has NO rights in addressing free peoples of this world. Indeed its an isult every time he does.

  • CanSpeccy

    “because of putin’s reaction over Ukrainian revolution many former soviet colonies in eastern Europe are very encouraged to bring US nukes onto their territory.”

    For which claim you offer no evidence whatever.

    Anyone with nukes will be targeted with nukes, so what’s the big attraction?

    Anyway, the US already has 480 nukes in Europe. Isn’t that enough to reduce Russia to radioactive ash?

    In fact, the missiles, if any, that NATO will deploy in Ukraine will be designed to destroy Russia’s second-strike capability, following a Nazi-Nato first strike, as in the case of missiles already on the Russian border in Poland. Such missile installations will, naturally, be targeted by Russian missiles.

  • Kenneth Sorensen

    Just look at his longt blog post. I have never understood any of them. Lesson one in any blogging is that you try — in every day words – to address current problems that ordinary men and women care about. But this bloke just cannot speak in a language that ordinary men and women understands! He’s a nut case, that shall be ignored. He is in this world due to our mercy, and he need to act accordingly.

  • Squasha

    “broken up into separate individual houses/nations…”

    Uz, that’s reductive. The cultures dividing the US are not ethnic but historical. The cultures are distinct in terms of their propensity for violence, psychological makeup (particularly intellect and neuroticism) and tolerance for authoritarianism. Some nations, like New England, are remarkably cohesive in terms of intra/inter communication patterns, and others like Dixie are xenophobic even toward their nominal compatriots.

    So when it’s time for the US to implode like its mirror image the USSR, it could bust up several different ways:

    Just don’t be in Texas when it happens, they’ll string you up!

  • CanSpeccy

    “it seems ludicrous that any foreign country would want to buy another country’s debt”

    Which shows just how much you know!

    China bought US debt as part of its merchantilist trade policy. By accepting paper for real goods, China speeded the hollowing out of the American economy. At the same time it gave China a powerful economic weapon against the US should it ever be needed.

    China could, for example, wade into the stock market and buy all of America’s defense contractors. Well of course the government of the free market US of A would have to prohibit that by law. But at least China could buy, say, Apple, Exxon, IBM and Google for cash anytime they like.

  • fool

    Its interesting that the BBC are giving such prominence to the right wing group who have forced the TV boss to resign because he showed Putin’s speech. I saw this on RT and wondered if it was just staged Russian PR but now I see it on the BBC (of course after years of conditioning when I see it on the BBC I believe it). Anyway I couldn’t but surmise that this, i.e. intimidation of a TV boss, is really what gets the BBC’s goat and gets it to come off message.

    Why on earth did that group film themselves doing it? Are they really that thug’ish. Do they think that by filming and broadcasting themselves they will intimidate others and not calculate that the negative foreign press can take second place to the immediate fear generated. Anyway have to be surprised that it has also resulted in the BBC, previously pretty much on message, going off message and broadcasting the very Kiev face which Putin is pointing at and which we have hitherto been ignoring. Curious.

  • Herbie

    “Why on earth did that group film themselves doing it?”

    There’s a big network of these fascists all over Europe, and they’re quite proud of themselves and wish to share.

    They believe that fascism is the future and within their own groups it feels like that.

    I’m afraid we’ve become much too complacent, and there’s plenty of complacency and outright stupidity in this blog, so far as events in Ukraine are concerned.

  • fool

    Herbie – its not easy to know what is going on. Information is limited and its difficult to evaluate.

  • Ben

    The UK, US and japan can clone currency. Not so much, the Ukraine, so austerity has even less chance of working.

  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella!


    I have already advised you how to deal with Herbie, the junior Tovarish Goss.

    Regarding Doug Scorgie, I’d give you similar advice. His favorite trick is to ask people for “references and links”. This is strange from someone to whom I once supplied a link on request and who then told me, upon interogation, that “he couldn’t be arsed to read it”.

    So keep making your points, but ignore him. He’s not serious either.

  • craig Post author


    To me the BBC has been pretty notably changing round to a pro-Russian position the last few days, cheer led by Jon Simpson’s utterly uncritical reporting of the “97%” nonsense. I think the word has got round that sanctions might hit Mandelson’s yacht opportunities or Boris Johnson’s mates in the City, so it’s all to be played down.

  • technicolour

    (Uzbek) “There was no ethnic cleansing or even any sort of danger to Russians in Crimea. Completely opposite to Kosovars”

    This is true, isn’t it? As ‘Fool’ says “its not easy to know what is going on. Information is limited and its difficult to evaluate”

    Where’s the social media from Ukraine? With Turkey (where I disagreed with Craig’s analysis actually) reports from the ground were everywhere.

  • Herbie


    “To me the BBC has been pretty notably changing round to a pro-Russian position the last few days, cheer led by Jon Simpson’s utterly uncritical reporting of the “97%” nonsense. I think the word has got round that sanctions might hit Mandelson’s yacht opportunities or Boris Johnson’s mates in the City, so it’s all to be played down.”

    You’re partially correct, but that’s not good enough.

    The BBC is certainly playing down the sanctions end of things because that could hurt Britain, just as the EU is playing them down too.

    They’re however not playing down the political propaganda.

  • technicolour

    Not ‘pro Russian’ in our parliament, though, according to the Times’ sketch writer. One dissident voice, Edward Leigh ‘We must stop playing power games. The West cannot tear Ukraine away from Russia”.

  • CanSpeccy

    The central bank. Would that be this one then Canspeccy?

    Don’t know what your link is all about.

    My point, that if you have a central bank you can repay your debts, was that the US Fed, or any other central bank, can print money without limit. (That’s why Greece and Spain are in deep shit, as soon will Ukraine also be. They cannot print away their deficits.) So any country with a central bank can always repay it’s loans. If the US Fed were to repay all US Government debts that way overnight there’d be a spot of hyper-inflation. But I assume you don’t owe that much.

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