Tag Archives: Vladimir Putin

Moscow Draws a Religious Line in the Sand in Ukraine | The Jamestown Foundation

In his actions and statements, Vladimir Putin has long reflected the deep national antagonism toward Catholicism and Protestantism, viewing the first as one of the sources of Polish resistance to Russia and the latter, which at present is the fastest growing denomination in the Russian Federation, as a threat to the dominance of the Russian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate, with which the Kremlin leader has formed a close alliance.

Now, as the conflict continues in Ukraine, others are following Putin and Lavrov’s lead. Such critics suggest that what is going on in Ukraine is not just a political struggle between those in Ukraine who want to become part of Europe and those who oppose such a step by preferring to link their fates with Moscow. Rather, the defenders of this view argue that the Ukrainian crisis represents a clash of civilizations between Western Christianity and Russian-led Eastern Christianity.

Moscow Draws a Religious Line in the Sand in Ukraine | The Jamestown Foundation

The above religious argument neatly fits under the following banner: Protecting mother Russia from the fascist, Nazi western culture. If you’re not with Putin, then you must be a fascist. What about the Muslims in Russia?

Why, Oh Why, Didn’t We Listen to the Eastern Europeans? – Edward Lucas – POLITICO Magazine

That continued during much of the Putin era. Europe’s territorial defense was an issue was not just a non-subject; it was a career-killer. The conventional wisdom crystalized around the idea that Russia was not and would not be a threat. Anyone who thought differently in officialdom, especially in the foreign-policy, security, intelligence and military worlds, was wise to keep silent. Even as Russia became steadily more authoritarian and hostile, the West doubled down on its Russia policy. Even as Vladimir Putin adopted a more confrontational stance, NATO and the EU insisted that all was well and the answer to Russian snarls and sneers was yet more dialogue and integration, not confrontation or deterrence.

American policymakers failed to see that the planned missile-defense installations in Poland and the Czech Republic, though directed against a putative Iranian threat, were of vital importance as a symbol of continuing American commitment to the region. When the Obama administration cancelled those plans — clumsily and abruptly on the anniversary of the Soviet invasion of Poland in 1939 — it seemed not to realize that the “reset” of relations with Russia needed to be coupled with a big dose of reassurance to its most loyal European allies. It has been struggling to catch up ever since.

Why, Oh Why, Didn’t We Listen to the Eastern Europeans? – Edward Lucas – POLITICO Magazine

Globalism’s Failed Promise | The American Conservative

It’s clear they didn’t get the memo in Russia and Ukraine. They have been significant trading partners, yet economic realities did not trump nationalism. To be sure, many of the Maidan protestors coveted their own flag more than designer goods from the EU. It is a modern Western conceit to view human aspirations strictly through a materialistic lens. Alexander Solzhenitsyn decried Western society’s tendency to focus on the accumulation of material goods to the exclusion of all other human characteristics.

This stubborn insistence on seeing the world in purely economic terms blinded us to anticipating that Vladimir Putin could do exactly what he did. Putin wasn’t supposed to risk upsetting “the market”—but he did. He was supposed to fear sanctions and economic backlash—but he didn’t. The only possible explanation is that he is disconnected from reality, as Angela Merkel reportedly said.

Globalism’s Failed Promise | The American Conservative

Edward Lucas – Russia is fuelled by greed, paranoia, and deep resentment of the West [self-interest, fear and honor]

“The regime was funded by organised crime and big business and at its heart was the evil of the old Soviet KGB. It was bent on repression at home and aggression abroad. And it was fuelled by greed, paranoia, and deep resentment of the West.

“He will accept economic pain if he believes it is in Russia’s national interest. He is prepared to use force. And he is prepared to lie, blatantly and repeatedly.”

Ukraine — a European country — is facing the choice, forced on it by Russia, between dismemberment and civil war. What more will it take to wake up the world to the threat posed by Russia under its sinister strongman Vladimir Putin?

The Russian leader has torn up the rules on which European security has been based for decades.

He and his cronies loot tens of billions of dollars from Russia each year – and launder it in the City of London, corrupting our public life.

They bribe and bully to get their way. At home, they jail and persecute their opponents. Those who seriously cross their path end up dead.

One of them was my colleague Anna Politkovskaya, a gutsy campaigning journalist, who was shot dead in 2006.

Another was the defector Alexander Litvinenko, assassinated by Russian agents in the streets of London with a radioactive poison in 2007.

Edward Lucas – Why ‘The New Cold War’? | The Lithuania Tribune

HANSON: Why Putin grabs what isn’t his – Washington Times

‘The historian Thucydides wrote that the classical Athenians had won and kept their empire mostly out of “fear, honor and self-interest.”’

Putin grabs what isn’t his because of pride, respect and fear. Honor is defined as “respect that is given to someone who is admired” by the Merriam-Webster dictionary. Pride and self-interest are related words. This gets us back to the “fear, honor and self-interest” of the Athenians. Essentially, what drives Putin is similar to what drove the classical Athenians.

History’s aggressors motivated by fear and wounded pride

Doesn’t China have enough land without starting a beef with Japan over the uninhabited Senkaku Islands? While there may be some oil in the vicinity, apparently both sides see these desolate mountainous islets as symbols of more important issues of national prestige and will. Lose the Senkaku Islands and what larger island goes next?

We should stop trying to psychoanalyze Mr. Putin, arguing that he is really weak or is an adolescent showing off his machismo — much less that he has legitimate grievances.

Instead, Mr. Putin believes that the more he grabs from others, the prouder his otherwise downtrodden citizens will become, the more respect they will earn abroad, and the less likely others will fool with him.

HANSON: Why Putin grabs what isn’t his – Washington Times

Vladi­mir Putin’s new world order with the West

“In other words, we are witnessing a situation in which the Kremlin’s bid for survival is turning into a suicidal marathon.”

Vladimir Putin offers the West a Faustian bargain – The Washington Post

The post-Cold War order that emerged from the breakup of the Soviet Union was doomed to fail because it rested on a belief that post-Soviet Russia was no longer a problem. Even when Western leaders realized that Russia under Vladimir Putin was becoming a problem, they exchanged political acquiescence with the Kremlin for economic benefits. Liberal democracies agreed to play a game of “let’s pretend,” in which they viewed Russia as a “normal country” while the Russian elite became integrated into the West — and corrupted the Western system from within.

That trade-off, many Western observers hoped, would keep Moscow from stirring up trouble beyond Russia’s borders. How could people whose ill-gotten gains are kept in Western banks and whose children attend Western schools be ill-disposed toward the West?

Putin not only seeks to revisit the results of the end of the Cold War; he also wants a final say in establishing the new world order. Briefly, the Kremlin offers a new trade-off: In return for continued economic benefits for the West, Russia wants Western consent to its interpretation of the rules of the game.

This does not only undermine the Western vision of Kantian perpetual peace. It also creates new traps — for both sides.

Vladimir Putin offers the West a Faustian bargain – The Washington Post

It’s not helping that Putin is firing nuclear missiles over the Ukraine and preparing for nuclear war. Is that all part of the plan? The Kremlin will have a say in the new world order, or there will be nuclear war? In fact, one analyst pretty much said this exact thing:

This is very significant. Right now the present Russian leadership believes that a war with Nato is very much possible,” Pavel Felgenhauer, a Moscow-based defence analyst, told the Guardian. “This is the first time since the collapse of the Soviet Union that the Russian military is actually preparing for an all-out nuclear war with America.”

He added: “I believe we [the Russians] are sending the west a serious message. The message is treat us with respect, and if you don’t go into our backyard we won’t go into yours. Russia wants to divide the world into spheres of influence. If not, we will prepare for nuclear war.

Signs Russia Would Have No Problem Nuking America | 1913 Intel

And it’s obvious that Russia is preparing for nuclear war.

Vladimir Putin arrives in Crimea for Victory Day celebrations | World news | theguardian.com

Vladimir Putin has arrived in Crimea as the region holds its first Victory Day commemorations since Russia‘s takeover.

The day, marking victory over Nazi Germany in the second world war, has become a key display of Russian patriotism. It was marked in Moscow by a military parade in Red Square, where the Russian president had earlier told a crowd of soldiers and war veterans that those who defeated fascism must never be betrayed – a message with a poignant ring since Moscow has portrayed the interim government in Ukraine as being led by neo-fascists.

The patriotism reached fever pitch in Sevastopol before his arrival as Russian fighting vehicles, Putin’s favourite biker gang and militiamen who helped Crimea break away from Ukraine paraded through the city.

Vladimir Putin arrives in Crimea for Victory Day celebrations | World news | theguardian.com

Related articles (H/T – War News Updates):

Day of joy and grief: Russia marks 69th anniversary of WWII victory – RT
Russia stages big Victory Day parade amid Ukraine crisis – Reuters
Russia marks Victory Day with vast military parade as insurgents in Ukraine prepare referendum – FOX News/AP
Ukraine: Russia shows off its military might amid crisis – CBC/AP
Putin speaks at Russian Victory Day Parade in Moscow’s Red Square — Washington Post
Soviets saved Europe from fascism, says Vladimir Putin on war anniversary – The Guardian
President Vladimir Putin recalls heroic defence of Sevastopol at Victory Day Parade — Euronews
Putin hails ‘all-conquering’ Russian patriotism at Victory Day parade — AFP
Crowds in Moscow, Sevastopol, cheer parades as Ukraine crisis simmers — CNN
Ukraine crisis: Russian victory parade buoyed by Crimea — BBC
Putin praises Russia’s ‘all-conquering’ power – Al Jazeera
Russia Parades Military Might Amid Ukraine Crisis — Wall Street Journal
Russia Holds Victory Day Military Parade – Novinite
In pictures: Russia’s show of military might — BBC

Nicholas Eberstadt: Putin’s Hollowed-Out Homeland – WSJ.com

“In Russia today we see a much more unusual case: This increasingly menacing and ambitious geopolitical actor is a state in decline.”

Russia’s human capital is in steep decline. A 15-year-old boy there won’t even live as long as one in Afghanistan.

History is full of instances where a rising power, aggrieved and dissatisfied, acts aggressively to obtain new borders or other international concessions. In Russia today we see a much more unusual case: This increasingly menacing and ambitious geopolitical actor is a state in decline.

Notwithstanding Russia’s nuclear arsenal and its vast territories, the distinguishing feature of the country today is its striking economic underdevelopment and weakness. For all Russia’s oil and gas, the country’s international sales of goods and services last year only barely edged out Belgium’s—and were positively dwarfed by the Netherlands’. Remember, there has never been an “energy superpower”—anywhere, ever. In the modern era, the ultimate source of national wealth and power is not natural resources: It is human resources. And unfortunately for Russia, its human-resource situation is almost unrelievedly dismal—with worse likely in the years to come.

Despite Vladimir Putin’s posturing, he is leading a country in serious decline. If his dangerous new brinkmanship is a response to that bad news, then we should expect more of it in the future, possibly much more.

Nicholas Eberstadt: Putin’s Hollowed-Out Homeland – WSJ.com

Democracy’s Deepening Recession – Larry Diamond – The Atlantic

Around the world, the advance of freedom hinges on “swing states.” And they’re swinging in the wrong direction.

While the world’s attention has been riveted on Ukraine and what move an emboldened Vladimir Putin will make next, diverse threats to democracy have intensified on other fronts as well. The story is not new. According to Freedom House, 2013 was the eighth consecutive year in which more countries experienced declines in political rights or civil liberties than improvements. Since 2005, democracy has ceased its decades-long expansion, leveling off at about 60 percent of all independent states. And since the military coup in Pakistan in 1999, the rate of democratic breakdowns has accelerated, with about one in every five democracies failing.

Democracy’s Deepening Recession – Larry Diamond – The Atlantic

Speeches By Russian President Putin Betray Fascist Inspiration – SPIEGEL ONLINE

Some like to idealize Vladimir Putin as the ideological successor to the left-wing Soviet leaders, but that’s sheer nonsense. His speeches offer clear evidence that his points of reference originate in fascism.

There remains a tendency to view the Kremlin’s foreign policy primarily from a geopolitical perspective — namely that the country is seeking to recover some of the territory it lost when the Soviet Union dissolved. But when Putin speaks of the enemy of the Russian people, he is speaking about something deeper and more basic. The forces against which he has declared war are not only seeking to expand their influence further and further into the East — they are also going after the Russian soul. That’s what he means when he says that Russia must put up a fight against the West.

Speeches By Russian President Putin Betray Fascist Inspiration – SPIEGEL ONLINE

Fascism is really an economic system, but most people don’t seem to understand that.

The West – really modern liberalism (liberals) – is going after almost everyone, not just Russia. However, Putin seems to be particularly sensitive to it. If Russia weren’t a virtual mafia state with Putin as its godfather, then I might be cheering him on. But there is simply too much baggage attached to Russia and Putin. So no cheering for Putin.

 

 

Weaken Putin With a Russian Brain Drain – Wall Street Journal – WSJ.com

With Russia already suffering from capital flight amid economic sanctions and rising tensions over the Ukraine conflict, the U.S. has another option for ratcheting up financial pressure on the Putin regime: Start a brain drain too.

Call it an “anti-sanctions” approach. Blacklisting individuals and companies closely tied to Vladimir Putin is fine, but let’s also open America’s doors to Russia’s best and brightest. The instruments to do so are a pair of special U.S. visas that already exist—the O-1A and the EB-5.

The O-1A is a special visa for individuals of “extraordinary ability” in the sciences, education and business. It entitles them to reside and work for three years, can be followed by an unlimited number of one-year extensions, and often leads to citizenship. There is a parallel O-3 visa routinely issued to the spouses and children of O-1A holders, as well as O-1B visas for artists and entertainers. But these visas are now issued slowly, grudgingly, with only 22,080 O-visas of all types issued in 2013, and they usually require heaps of testimonials to prove extraordinary ability.

Weaken Putin With a Russian Brain Drain – Wall Street Journal – WSJ.com