Author Topic: Russian and Chinese Leaders (Putin, Xi, Oligarchs, etc)  (Read 23155 times)

Russ

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Russian and Chinese Leaders (Putin, Xi, Oligarchs, etc)
« on: December 11, 2007, 06:47:15 AM »
Heavy Metal Fanatic To Succeed PUTIN As Russian Leader

Russia's RIA Novosti reports: The man backed by Vladimir Putin for next year's presidential election is a heavy-metal-loving 42-year-old whose surname comes from the Russian word for 'bear'.

First Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev was nominated by the ruling United Russia party and three other smaller pro-Kremlin parties on Monday afternoon. President Putin later said on national television: "I have known Dmitry Medvedev well for over 17 years, and I completely and fully support his candidature."

The man who may well become leader of the largest nation on Earth said he had spent much of his youth compiling cassettes of popular Western groups, "Endlessly making copies of BLACK SABBATH, LED ZEPPELIN and DEEP PURPLE."

All these groups were on state-issued blacklists during Medvedev's Soviet-era schooldays.

"The quality was awful, but my interest colossal," he said.

Medvedev went on to boast of his collection of DEEP PURPLE LPs, saying that he had searched for the albums for many years.

"Not reissues, but the original albums," he added, concluding that, "If you set yourself a goal you can achieve it."

Read more RIA Novosti.
« Last Edit: May 14, 2022, 01:49:35 PM by Crafty_Dog »
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Crafty_Dog

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Re: Heavy Metal Fanatic To Succeed PUTIN As Russian Leader
« Reply #1 on: December 11, 2007, 07:31:31 AM »
Woof Russ:

That is some fascinating personal data on the new man.

Here's Strat on the big picture as they see it:

Marc
---------------

Geopolitical Diary: The Course of Russia

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday ended the mystery by formally endorsing First Deputy Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev as his successor. Given Putin's genuine popularity with a majority of the population, along with his hammerlock to the levers of power, his endorsement is tantamount to Medvedev's election. Now the speculation has turned to precisely whether Putin will continue to pull the strings, and if so how he will do it.

We suspect that Putin will continue to pull the strings and that he is smart enough to figure out how he will do it. These are interesting but ultimately not important questions. The reason is that the process Putin initiated when he replaced Boris Yeltsin was inevitable. If Putin had not done it, someone else would have. And given the dynamics of Russia during that period, the only place that person would have come from was the intelligence community. To take control of the catastrophic reality of Russia, you had to be closely linked to at least some of the oligarchs, have control of the only institution that was really functioning in Russia at the time -- the security and intelligence apparatus -- and have the proper mix of ruthlessness and patience that it took to consolidate power within the state and then use state power to bring the rest of Russia under control.

The Soviet Union was a disaster. The only thing worse was Russia in the 1990s. The situation in Russia was untenable. Workers were not being paid, social services had collapsed, poverty was endemic. The countryside was in shambles. By the end of the 1990s Russia was either going to disintegrate or the state would reassert itself. The functional heart of the Soviet system, the KGB, now called the FSB, did reassert itself, not in a straight line. Much of the FSB was deeply involved in the criminality and corruption that was Russia in the 1990s. But just as the KGB had recognized first that the Soviet system was in danger of collapse, so the heirs of the KGB had recognized that Russia itself was in danger of collapse. Putin acted and succeeded. But it was the system reacting to chaos, not simply one man.

Which means that while the personal fate of Putin is an interesting question, it is not an important one. The course has been set and Medvedev, with or without Putin, will not change it. First, the state is again in the hands of the apparatus. Second, the state is in control of Russia. Third, Russia is seeking to regain control of its sphere of influence. Medvedev, or any Russian leader who could emerge, is not going to change this, because it has become institutionalized; it became institutionalized because there was no alternative course for Russia, the fantasies of the 1990s notwithstanding.

It is important to remember one of the major factors that propelled Putin to power -- the Kosovo war. The United States went to war with Serbia against Russian wishes. Russia was ignored. Then at the end, the Russians helped negotiate the Serb capitulation. Under the agreement the occupation of Kosovo was not supposed to take place only under NATO aegis. The Serbs had agreed to withdraw from Kosovo under the understanding that the Russians would participate in the occupation. From the beginning that did not happen. Yeltsin's credibility, already in tatters, was shattered by the contemptuous attitude toward Russia shown by NATO members.

It is interesting to note that on the same day Putin picked Medvedev, the situation in Kosovo is again heating up. NATO is trying to create an independent Kosovo with the agreement of Serbia. The Serbs are not agreeing and neither is their Russian ally. Putin, who still holds power, is not going to compromise on this issue. For him, Kosovo is a minor matter, except that it is a test of whether Russia will be treated as a great power.

Whether Putin is there, Medvedev is there, or it is a player to be named later, the Russians are not kidding on Kosovo. They do not plan to be rolled over as they were in 1999. Nor are they kidding about a sphere of influence in the former Soviet Union. They are certainly not kidding about state domination of the economy or of the need for a strong leader to control the state.

The point is that the situation in Russia, down to a detail like Kosovo, is very much part of a single, coherent fabric that goes well beyond personalities. The response that Russia made to its near-death experience was pretty much its only option, and having chosen that option, the rest unfolds regardless of personalities. Putin has played his role well. He could continue to play it. But the focus should be on Russia as a great power seeking to resume its role, and not on the personalities, not even one as powerful as Putin, and certainly not Medvedev.

Crafty_Dog

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Re: Heavy Metal Fanatic To Succeed PUTIN As Russian Leader
« Reply #2 on: December 11, 2007, 09:07:44 AM »
I just noticed that this is NOT the Russia thread :oops: 

I have locked this thread and posted its contents on the Russia thread.


Crafty_Dog

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Re: Russian Leaders (Putin, Medvedev, Oligarchs, etc)
« Reply #4 on: March 15, 2014, 10:24:42 AM »
thread now unlocked.

Crafty_Dog

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Re: Russian Leaders (Putin, Medvedev, Oligarchs, etc)
« Reply #5 on: March 15, 2014, 10:48:02 AM »
OK, NOW it should show up.


BTW, this could be a good thread for those humorous comparison fotos of Putin and His Glibness.

ccp

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Re: Russian Leaders (Putin, Medvedev, Oligarchs, etc)
« Reply #6 on: March 15, 2014, 11:01:38 AM »
Works now.  I was going to note 50 of the 150 K is tax money.  It is amazing.  Guy gets 150 K and the government moves in and says 50 of them is "mine".

To think these guys fight like this for a measly 6K.

If any athletes deserve a big payday for a days work it is these people.

For certain many will wind up like Jerry Quarry.

It is amazing how much these guys can take.  The only way to stop them is to knock or strangle them unconscious or break or nearly break an arm or leg.

Crafty_Dog

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WSJ on Putin
« Reply #7 on: March 19, 2014, 01:02:06 PM »
With his speech annexing Crimea and saying Russia had no more territorial ambitions, the markets breathed a sigh of relief. But don't get your hopes up in the long run. Vladimir Putin needs conflict with the outside world, specifically the United States.

He has lived a more dangerous political life than is appreciated. His first two elections were manipulated but not entirely unfree. He felt obliged to honor the Russian constitution to step down in 2008, though he managed to install a flunky in the presidency and then win the office back in a 2012 election widely seen as fraudulent, bringing thousands of protesters into the street.

President Putin hails the treaty making Crimea part of Russia, March. 18. Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

At any point had these machinations gone wrong, he would have been out and the sine qua non of legitimacy for any successor government almost certainly would have been to bring him up on murder charges, the most serious involving the 1999 apartment bombings that killed nearly 300 ordinary Russians, blamed at the time on Chechen terrorists. Few believe that story anymore.

Mr. Putin long ago gave up the option of happy retirement from politics.

Which brings us to the oligarchs. Mikhail Prokhorov owns the Brooklyn Nets. Alexey Mordashov owns a Pennsylvania coal mine and steel mills in Michigan and Mississippi. Vagit Alekperov and Leonid Fedun own the LUKoil chain of U.S. gas stations. Dmitry Rybolovlev owns Donald Trump's former palace in Miami.

Russia's oligarchs own even more property in Europe, from London mansions to European football clubs to large industrial complexes and airlines, not to mention yachts and personal aircraft and bank accounts. These assets are also assets for Western leaders looking to corral Mr. Putin, but they are wasting assets given the direction Russia is heading.

Mr. Putin is using the Ukrainian crisis to crack down on the last of the independent media at home. He has jailed or intimidated dissenters and potential political rivals. He sent out word years ago to his entourage to reduce their overseas holdings to reduce foreign leverage over his regime.

If the West wants to do more than just go along for the ride—the policy of the past 15 years—the time to act is now while some semblance of an independent elite still exists. Block Russia's energy exports. Freeze its overseas holdings. Piecemeal actions just play into Mr. Putin's hands, giving him a cost-free Great Satan to justify his deepening dictatorship.

Forgive a Hitler analogy. In November 1941, engineer Fritz Todt, whom Hitler greatly admired, told the führer the war no longer could be won militarily and must be ended politically. As Hitler biographer Ian Kershaw tells it, Hitler listened carefully and then answered: "I can scarcely still see a way of coming politically to an end."

He meant he could scarcely see a political solution that wouldn't be an end to Hitler. Luckily for Hitler, by the time Todt spoke, German society was fully militarized. The secret police were everywhere. All media were under Nazi control. The only elite left were an elite fully compromised by their own participation in Nazi crimes.

As far as we know Hitler has not been reincarnated in Vladimir Putin. Indeed, part of Mr. Putin's dialogue with the West has been a sotto voce claim to be a bulwark against a greater evil. In his press conference the other day, he might have been speaking of Russia, not Ukraine, when he warned-slash-pleaded: "This kind of chaos is the worst possible thing for countries with a shaky economy and unstable political system. You never know what kind of people events will bring to the fore. . . . Some upstart nationalist or semi-fascist lot [will] sprout up."

But look for the ride to get increasingly bumpy from here on. Mr. Putin faces election in 2018—and it's hard to believe he won't try to avoid it. Too many indicators are headed the wrong way: a decline in Russia's energy clout, capital flight and a failure to create a modern economy welcoming to global investors. He will also likely try to negate the constitution that would end his rule in 2024.

He can't kid himself that the apartment-bombing mystery will not at some point reignite, despite the murder or disappearance of Russian officials and dissidents who insisted on investigating an alleged ex-KGB role. And don't overinvest in talk of Russia's "legitimate interests." Russia's regime has interests but those interests are dictated by the nature of its regime. Its neighbors would not clamor for NATO membership if Russia were not ruled by an unpredictable kleptocracy. Mr. Putin would not fear his neighbors becoming prosperous and modern if he didn't fear his own citizens' demands for the same.

Even the most hard-headed (and forgiving) realist by now must suspect that Mr. Putin is destined to become increasingly a source of instability rather than of stability.

DougMacG

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From the previous post, WSJ:  "Even the most hard-headed (and forgiving) realist by now must suspect that Mr. Putin is destined to become increasingly a source of instability rather than of stability."

Interesting POTH today: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/24/world/europe/3-presidents-and-a-riddle-named-putin.html?_r=0  
"3 Presidents and a Riddle Named Putin"

I would note that it was not one of the three Presidents, but a VP named Cheney who got him right from the start.

Pres. Reagan said: Mr. Gorbchev, if you seek peace, prosperity... open this gate... Tear Down.This Wall!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WjWDrTXMgF8

Pres. Obama said: We who lead the United States and the free world are committed to unilateral disarmament and drawing meaningless, rhetorical lines in sands.  Mr. Putin, I will have more flexibility after my reelection.  Have At Our Allies!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XsFR8DbSRQE
« Last Edit: March 24, 2014, 11:18:21 AM by DougMacG »

Crafty_Dog

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POTH Friedman" The morning after the morning after.
« Reply #10 on: March 26, 2014, 08:16:48 AM »
One thing I learned covering the Middle East for many years is that there is “the morning after” and there is “the morning after the morning after.” Never confuse the two.

 The morning after a big event is when fools rush in and declare that someone’s victory or defeat in a single battle has “changed everything forever.” The morning after the morning after, the laws of gravity start to apply themselves; things often don’t look as good or as bad as you thought. And that brings me to Vladimir Putin’s annexation of Crimea.

The morning after, he was the hero of Russia. Some moronic commentators here even expressed the wish that we had such a “decisive” leader. Well, let’s see what Putin looks like the morning after the morning after, say, in six months. I make no predictions, but I will point out this. Putin is challenging three of the most powerful forces on the planet all at once: human nature, Mother Nature and Moore’s Law. Good luck with that.

Putin’s seizure of Crimea certainly underscores the enduring power of geography in geopolitics. Russia is a continental country, stretching across a huge landmass, with few natural barriers to protect it. Every Kremlin leader — from the czars to the commissars to the crooks — has been obsessed about protecting Russia’s periphery from would-be invaders. Russia has legitimate security interests, but this episode is not about them.

 This recent Ukraine drama did not start with geography — with an outside power trying to get into Russia, as much as Putin wants to pretend that it did. This story started with people inside Russia’s orbit trying to get out. A large number of Ukrainians wanted to hitch their economic future to the European Union not to Putin’s Potemkin Eurasian Union. This story, at its core, was ignited and propelled by human nature — the enduring quest by people to realize a better future for themselves and their kids — not by geopolitics, or even that much nationalism. This is not an “invasion” story. This is an “Exodus” story.

 And no wonder. A recent article in Bloomberg Businessweek noted that, in 2012, G.D.P. per person in Ukraine was $6,394 — some 25 percent below its level of nearly a quarter-century earlier. But if you compare Ukraine with four of its former Communist neighbors to the west who joined the European Union — Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania — “the average G.D.P. per person in those nations is around $17,000.” Can you blame Ukrainians for wanting to join a different club?

 But Putin is also counting on the world doing nothing about Mother Nature, and Mother Nature taking that in stride. Some 70 percent of Russia’s exports are oil and gas, and they make up half of all state revenue. (When was the last time you bought something that was labeled “Made in Russia”?) Putin has basically bet his country’s economic present and future on hydrocarbons at a time when the chief economist of the International Energy Agency has declared that “about two-thirds of all proven reserves of oil, gas and coal will have to be left undeveloped if the world is to achieve the goal of limiting global warming at two degrees Celsius” since the Industrial Revolution. Crossing that two-degrees line, say climate scientists, will dramatically increase the likelihood of melting the Arctic, dangerous sea level rises, more disruptive superstorms and unmanageable climate change.


The former Saudi oil minister, Sheik Ahmed Zaki Yamani, once warned his OPEC colleagues something Putin should remember: “The Stone Age didn’t end because we ran out of stones.” It ended because we invented bronze tools, which were more productive. The hydrocarbon age will also have to end with a lot of oil, coal and gas left in the ground, replaced by cleaner forms of power generation, or Mother Nature will have her way with us. Putin is betting otherwise.




How do you say Moore’s Law in Russian? That’s the theorem posited by Gordon Moore, an Intel co-founder, that the processing power of microchips will double roughly every two years. Anyone following the clean power industry today can tell you that there is something of a Moore’s Law now at work around solar power, the price of which is falling so fast that more and more homes and even utilities are finding it as cheap to install as natural gas. Wind is on a similar trajectory, as is energy efficiency. China alone is on a track to be getting 15 percent of its total electricity production by 2020 from renewables, and it’s not stopping there. It can’t or its people can’t breathe. If America and Europe were to give even just a little more policy push now to renewables to reduce Putin’s oil income, these actions could pay dividends much sooner and bigger than people realize.

The legitimacy of China’s leaders today depends, in part, on their ability to make their country’s power system greener so their people can breathe. Putin’s legitimacy depends on keeping Russia and the world addicted to oil and gas. Whom do you want to bet on?

So, before we crown Putin the Time Person of the Year again, let’s wait and see how the morning after the morning after plays out.

DougMacG

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Re: POTH Friedman" The morning after the morning after.
« Reply #11 on: March 26, 2014, 10:04:27 AM »
"The morning after the morning after."  A cliche on a cliche.  I can't read NYT Thomas Friedman from the old neighborhood without wondering if this column is really his or from this random generated Friedman column site:  http://thomasfriedmanopedgenerator.com/about.php  Go back and click Generate column more than once to get the humor in it.

"How do you say Moore’s Law in Russian? ... solar power, the price of which is falling so fast that more and more homes and even utilities are finding it as cheap to install as natural gas. Wind is on a similar trajectory, as is energy efficiency."  

Moore's law involved a doubling of price-performance every 18 months.  There is no similarity here.  Most (all?) solar manufacturers in the US are bankrupt while gas and oil producers are growing by leaps and bounds.  It was the surge in natural gas production that brought down US CO2 emissions!  A little irony for the global warming crowd.

Europe needs gas.  Ukraine needs gas.  Natural gas from Russia is Ukraine's no. 1 import.  Russia escalates the price and we give the difference in financial aid.  Our money goes to Russia and finances cross border tyranny.  Sound familiar?!





Ukraine Sees Gazprom (Russian energy) Charging 37% More for Gas in Q2
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-03-09/ukraine-sees-gazprom-charging-37-more-for-gas-in-second-quarter.html

Let's just replace that with solar panels and windmills.  The weather forecast in Kiev is cloudy with a light wind diminishing during the coldest part of the night.  Good luck cooking your meals and heating your homes with wishful thinking.

How does such a great thinker, 3 time Pulitzer Prize winner, not see the leverage Russia has right now over Europe with energy?
« Last Edit: March 26, 2014, 10:57:28 AM by DougMacG »

Crafty_Dog

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Comparing Putin and Baraq
« Reply #12 on: March 26, 2014, 09:22:54 PM »
A few of these are cheap shots but overall rather potent:

http://www.tomatobubble.com/putin_obama.html

G M

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Re: Comparing Putin and Baraq
« Reply #13 on: March 26, 2014, 09:53:05 PM »

Crafty_Dog

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WSJ: The Putin Temptation
« Reply #14 on: April 10, 2014, 08:19:07 AM »
The Putin Temptation
Admiring a demagogue because he looks 'decisive' is dangerous.
By
Daniel Henninger

April 9, 2014 7:31 p.m. ET

The most dangerous word in human discourse is "but." What lies on the other side of "but" can be a place one doesn't want to be. So it is with some of the post-Crimea thinking about Vladimir Putin.

Nigel Farage is the leader of the United Kingdom's Independence Party. Speaking of Russia's Putin recently, Mr. Farage said: "I don't like him, I wouldn't trust him and I wouldn't want to live in his country. But compared to the kids who run foreign policy in this country, I've got more respect for him than our lot."

It is a view one hears, often sotto voce, among sophisticated people in the U.S. and Europe. "I don't approve of what Vladimir Putin is doing in Crimea and Ukraine, but . . . he is decisive."

Was there ever an indecisive demagogue?

Others go further: Mr. Putin's decisive seizure of Crimea was "understandable." This is the view expressed by former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and former German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt.

The Putin temptation is a toxic but familiar political virus that is infecting reactions to the crisis in Ukraine. The virus often appears when it looks like the democracies have become too disorganized or weak to . . . make decisions. Hitler and Mussolini, after all, had admirers in the U.S. and England in the early stages of their resolute careers. That was before their centrifugal aggressions passed beyond the realm of manly respect.


The temptation to admire a Vladimir Putin for what looks like decisiveness reflects a tension between the performance limits of democratic systems and those governments that are no longer answerable to their populations.

It is easy to appear to be a decisive national leader if, like Mr. Putin, the head of state is able to tell those who disagree with him to shut up or get beaten up or imprisoned or killed. Ignoring the crude truths of political life in Moscow today, or Berlin and Rome back then, is another variant of the same temptation to admire a demagogue's monomania.

Further evidence of Mr. Putin's fantastic leadership skills is also found in the results of independent polls, which report that his illegal annexation of Crimea and threats against independent Ukraine have the overwhelming support of the Russian people. And that they also admire Mr. Putin, who is restoring "respect" for Russia.

The weight of public opinion in Russia is no accident. Mr. Putin's decisive actions on behalf of his imperiled, Russian-speaking victims in Crimea, Ukraine, Moldova, and soon the Baltics are being supplemented in Moscow by a sophisticated, Goebbels-like brainwashing operation.

Over the years, Mr. Putin has put virtually all media, especially television, under his effective control. What the Russian people read, hear and see is a nonstop river of anti-U.S. and anti-European propaganda. People who have lived in Russia recently say there has never been anything like the virulence of this invective, not even during the Cold War years.

No one in the free world should want to be party to such massive falsity.

Still, there is the reality: The demagogues show up when the democrats become weak. Since the end of World War II, the traditional political leader of the Western democracies has been the president of the United States. Policy differences aside, U.S. presidents from Truman through George W. Bush have been willing to lead, period. Now comes Barack Obama.

The famous oxymoron, "leading from behind," emerged from the White House foreign-policy shop during the Libyan crisis. This notion is sometimes attributed to Mr. Obama's leadership idiosyncrasies. That's wrong. It summarizes the explicit, thought-out strategy of the Democratic Party's current generation of foreign-policy intellectuals.

The U.S. "leads" by stepping aside and letting others—the Europeans, the United Nations—organize major foreign-policy initiatives. The Obama administration assigned Europe the task of weaning Ukraine away from Russia and bringing it into the European Union. The non-result was predictable: Western Europe's leadership didn't do it because they can't.

They are too militarily weak, and too economically selfish and politically disorganized to lead as one. So no one leads. Now, instead of fashioning a substantive response to the threat Vladimir Putin poses, the Western democracies are blaming each other for their failure to respond.

Yes, no serious person actually admires a country that is run with thugs, a controlled media and opponents in prison, but. . . .

But nothing. There are two systems of government available: some version of ours or some version of propagandized authoritarianism—Mr. Putin's system. If you want to live in a country with one foot in both systems, move to Turkey. For the rest of us, the answer is: Elect a democratic leader more appropriate to the times we live in.

The reality remains that only one country's people elect a leader in no small part for the role he will play beyond its borders—the United States. For a frustrated world grasping at desperate solutions, the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign to succeed Barack Obama can't start soon enough.

Crafty_Dog

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DougMacG

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Re: Interesting interview w Putin (check out comments on Hillary)
« Reply #17 on: June 05, 2014, 12:20:19 PM »
http://eng.kremlin.ru/news/22441

Spoiler alert.

" It’s better not to argue with women. But Ms Clinton has never been too graceful in her statements. Still, we always met afterwards and had cordial conversations at various international events. I think even in this case we could reach an agreement. When people push boundaries too far, it’s not because they are strong but because they are weak. But maybe weakness is not the worst quality for a woman."
...
"Someday I will indulge myself and we will laugh together at some good joke. But when I hear such extreme statements[comparing Russia now to Hitler in the 1930s], to me it only means that they don’t have any valid arguments."

Crafty_Dog

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Can Putin Survive?
« Reply #18 on: July 23, 2014, 06:30:44 AM »
Can Putin survive?
Russia's strongman is far from finished, but events in Ukraine have weakened his position.
George Friedman | 23 July 2014
comment 6 | print |

There is a general view that Vladimir Putin governs the Russian Federation as a dictator, that he has defeated and intimidated his opponents and that he has marshaled a powerful threat to surrounding countries. This is a reasonable view, but perhaps it should be re-evaluated in the context of recent events.

Ukraine is, of course, the place to start. The country is vital to Russia as a buffer against the West and as a route for delivering energy to Europe, which is the foundation of the Russian economy. On Jan. 1, Ukraine's president was Viktor Yanukovich, generally regarded as favorably inclined to Russia. Given the complexity of Ukrainian society and politics, it would be unreasonable to say Ukraine under him was merely a Russian puppet. But it is fair to say that under Yanukovich and his supporters, fundamental Russian interests in Ukraine were secure.

This was extremely important to Putin. Part of the reason Putin had replaced Boris Yeltsin in 2000 was Yeltsin's performance during the Kosovo war. Russia was allied with the Serbs and had not wanted NATO to launch a war against Serbia. Russian wishes were disregarded. The Russian views simply didn't matter to the West. Still, when the air war failed to force Belgrade's capitulation, the Russians negotiated a settlement that allowed U.S. and other NATO troops to enter and administer Kosovo. As part of that settlement, Russian troops were promised a significant part in peacekeeping in Kosovo. But the Russians were never allowed to take up that role, and Yeltsin proved unable to respond to the insult.

Putin also replaced Yeltsin because of the disastrous state of the Russian economy. Though Russia had always been poor, there was a pervasive sense that it been a force to be reckoned with in international affairs. Under Yeltsin, however, Russia had become even poorer and was now held in contempt in international affairs. Putin had to deal with both issues. He took a long time before moving to recreate Russian power, though he said early on that the fall of the Soviet Union had been the greatest geopolitical disaster of the 20th century. This did not mean he wanted to resurrect the Soviet Union in its failed form, but rather that he wanted Russian power to be taken seriously again, and he wanted to protect and enhance Russian national interests.

The breaking point came in Ukraine during the Orange Revolution of 2004. Yanukovich was elected president that year under dubious circumstances, but demonstrators forced him to submit to a second election. He lost, and a pro-Western government took office. At that time, Putin accused the CIA and other Western intelligence agencies of having organized the demonstrations. Fairly publicly, this was the point when Putin became convinced that the West intended to destroy the Russian Federation, sending it the way of the Soviet Union. For him, Ukraine's importance to Russia was self-evident. He therefore believed that the CIA organized the demonstration to put Russia in a dangerous position, and that the only reason for this was the overarching desire to cripple or destroy Russia. Following the Kosovo affair, Putin publicly moved from suspicion to hostility to the West.

The Russians worked from 2004 to 2010 to undo the Orange Revolution. They worked to rebuild the Russian military, focus their intelligence apparatus and use whatever economic influence they had to reshape their relationship with Ukraine. If they couldn't control Ukraine, they did not want it to be controlled by the United States and Europe. This was, of course, not their only international interest, but it was the pivotal one.

Russia's invasion of Georgia had more to do with Ukraine than it had to do with the Caucasus. At the time, the United States was still bogged down in Iraq and Afghanistan. While Washington had no formal obligation to Georgia, there were close ties and implicit guarantees. The invasion of Georgia was designed to do two things. The first was to show the region that the Russian military, which had been in shambles in 2000, was able to act decisively in 2008. The second was to demonstrate to the region, and particularly to Kiev, that American guarantees, explicit or implicit, had no value. In 2010, Yanukovich was elected president of Ukraine, reversing the Orange Revolution and limiting Western influence in the country.

Recognizing the rift that was developing with Russia and the general trend against the United States in the region, the Obama administration tried to recreate older models of relationships when Hillary Clinton presented Putin with a "restart" button in 2009. But Washington wanted to restore the relationship in place during what Putin regarded as the "bad old days." He naturally had no interest in such a restart. Instead, he saw the United States as having adopted a defensive posture, and he intended to exploit his advantage.

One place he did so was in Europe, using EU dependence on Russian energy to grow closer to the Continent, particularly Germany. But his high point came during the Syrian affair, when the Obama administration threatened airstrikes after Damascus used chemical weapons only to back off from its threat. The Russians aggressively opposed Obama's move, proposing a process of negotiations instead. The Russians emerged from the crisis appearing decisive and capable, the United States indecisive and feckless. Russian power accordingly appeared on the rise, and in spite of a weakening economy, this boosted Putin's standing.

The Tide Turns Against Putin

Events in Ukraine this year, by contrast, have proved devastating to Putin. In January, Russia dominated Ukraine. By February, Yanukovich had fled the country and a pro-Western government had taken power. The general uprising against Kiev that Putin had been expecting in eastern Ukraine after Yanukovich's ouster never happened. Meanwhile, the Kiev government, with Western advisers, implanted itself more firmly. By July, the Russians controlled only small parts of Ukraine. These included Crimea, where the Russians had always held overwhelming military force by virtue of treaty, and a triangle of territory from Donetsk to Luhansk to Severodonetsk, where a small number of insurgents apparently supported by Russian special operations forces controlled a dozen or so towns.

If no Ukrainian uprising occurred, Putin's strategy was to allow the government in Kiev to unravel of its own accord and to split the United States from Europe by exploiting Russia's strong trade and energy ties with the Continent. And this is where the crash of the Malaysia Airlines jet is crucial. If it turns out -- as appears to be the case -- that Russia supplied air defense systems to the separatists and sent crews to man them (since operating those systems requires extensive training), Russia could be held responsible for shooting down the plane. And this means Moscow's ability to divide the Europeans from the Americans would decline. Putin then moves from being an effective, sophisticated ruler who ruthlessly uses power to being a dangerous incompetent supporting a hopeless insurrection with wholly inappropriate weapons. And the West, no matter how opposed some countries might be to a split with Putin, must come to grips with how effective and rational he really is.

Meanwhile, Putin must consider the fate of his predecessors. Nikita Khrushchev returned from vacation in October 1964 to find himself replaced by his protege, Leonid Brezhnev, and facing charges of, among other things, "harebrained scheming." Khrushchev had recently been humiliated in the Cuban missile crisis. This plus his failure to move the economy forward after about a decade in power saw his closest colleagues "retire" him. A massive setback in foreign affairs and economic failures had resulted in an apparently unassailable figure being deposed.

Russia's economic situation is nowhere near as catastrophic as it was under Khrushchev or Yeltsin, but it has deteriorated substantially recently, and perhaps more important, has failed to meet expectations. After recovering from the 2008 crisis, Russia has seen several years of declining gross domestic product growth rates, and its central bank is forecasting zero growth this year. Given current pressures, we would guess the Russian economy will slide into recession sometime in 2014. The debt levels of regional governments have doubled in the past four years, and several regions are close to bankruptcy. Moreover, some metals and mining firms are facing bankruptcy. The Ukrainian crisis has made things worse. Capital flight from Russia in the first six months stood at $76 billion, compared to $63 billion for all of 2013. Foreign direct investment fell 50 percent in the first half of 2014 compared to the same period in 2013. And all this happened in spite of oil prices remaining higher than $100 per barrel.

Putin's popularity at home soared after the successful Sochi Winter Olympics and after the Western media made him look like the aggressor in Crimea. He has, after all, built his reputation on being tough and aggressive. But as the reality of the situation in Ukraine becomes more obvious, the great victory will be seen as covering a retreat coming at a time of serious economic problems. For many leaders, the events in Ukraine would not represent such an immense challenge. But Putin has built his image on a tough foreign policy, and the economy meant his ratings were not very high before Ukraine.

Imagining Russia After Putin

In the sort of regime that Putin has helped craft, the democratic process may not be the key to understanding what will happen next. Putin has restored Soviet elements to the structure of the government, even using the term "Politburo" for his inner Cabinets. These are all men of his choosing, of course, and so one might assume they would be loyal to him. But in the Soviet-style Politburo, close colleagues were frequently the most feared.

The Politburo model is designed for a leader to build coalitions among factions. Putin has been very good at doing that, but then he has been very successful at all the things he has done until now. His ability to hold things together declines as trust in his abilities declines and various factions concerned about the consequences of remaining closely tied to a failing leader start to maneuver. Like Khrushchev, who was failing in economic and foreign policy, Putin could have his colleagues remove him.

It is difficult to know how a succession crisis would play out, given that the constitutional process of succession exists alongside the informal government Putin has created. From a democratic standpoint, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin are as popular as Putin is, and I suspect they both will become more popular in time. In a Soviet-style struggle, Chief of Staff Sergei Ivanov and Security Council Chief Nicolai Patryushev would be possible contenders. But there are others. Who, after all, expected the emergence of Mikhail Gorbachev?

Ultimately, politicians who miscalculate and mismanage tend not to survive. Putin miscalculated in Ukraine, failing to anticipate the fall of an ally, failing to respond effectively and then stumbling badly in trying to recoup. His management of the economy has not been exemplary of late either, to say the least. He has colleagues who believe they could do a better job, and now there are important people in Europe who would be glad to see him go. He must reverse this tide rapidly, or he may be replaced.

Putin is far from finished. But he has governed for 14 years counting the time Dmitri Medvedev was officially in charge, and that is a long time. He may well regain his footing, but as things stand at the moment, I would expect quiet thoughts to be stirring in his colleagues' minds. Putin himself must be re-examining his options daily. Retreating in the face of the West and accepting the status quo in Ukraine would be difficult, given that the Kosovo issue that helped propel him to power and given what he has said about Ukraine over the years. But the current situation cannot sustain itself. The wild card in this situation is that if Putin finds himself in serious political trouble, he might become more rather than less aggressive. Whether Putin is in real trouble is not something I can be certain of, but too many things have gone wrong for him lately for me not to consider the possibility. And as in any political crisis, more and more extreme options are contemplated if the situation deteriorates.

Those who think that Putin is both the most repressive and aggressive Russian leader imaginable should bear in mind that this is far from the case. Lenin, for example, was fearsome. But Stalin was much worse. There may similarly come a time when the world looks at the Putin era as a time of liberality. For if the struggle by Putin to survive, and by his challengers to displace him, becomes more intense, the willingness of all to become more brutal might well increase.

George Friedman is the founder and CEO of Stratfor, the global intelligence website. This article has been republished with permission of Stratfor.

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The Putin Murders
« Reply #19 on: August 09, 2014, 09:04:52 PM »
Reliability of this site completely unknown:

http://larussophobe.wordpress.com/putinmurders/

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Putin eyes some , , ,
« Reply #20 on: November 20, 2015, 02:12:11 PM »

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Putin & Prospect Theory
« Reply #21 on: February 15, 2016, 09:24:35 AM »
Interesting look at Putin and the risks he takes.

http://smallwarsjournal.com/jrnl/art/putin’s-prospects-vladimir-putin’s-decision-making-through-the-lens-of-prospect-theory



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Putin with his Akita
« Reply #24 on: December 14, 2016, 10:38:48 PM »
https://www.rt.com/news/370170-akita-dog-putin-yume/

I forget, what kind of dog does Obama have?  Do we have any pictures or footage of the two of them together?

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Re: Putin with his Akita
« Reply #25 on: December 18, 2016, 12:58:55 PM »
https://www.rt.com/news/370170-akita-dog-putin-yume/

I forget, what kind of dog does Obama have?  Do we have any pictures or footage of the two of them together?




Looks more like a pitbull to me.



Couldn't find a more recent picture of Obama and his dog for some reason...
« Last Edit: December 18, 2016, 01:03:48 PM by G M »


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WSJ: The Real Vladimir Putin
« Reply #27 on: February 08, 2017, 01:48:26 PM »

By Holman W. Jenkins, Jr.
Updated Feb. 7, 2017 7:08 p.m. ET
165 COMMENTS

While Donald Trump is at it, he might do Vladimir Putin the additional favor of endorsing December’s Rosneft deal.

That transaction was supposed to be a spectacular demonstration of Russia’s appeal for Western investors despite sanctions. It hasn’t exactly worked as planned. Murky though the details are, Russian pockets appear to have supplied much of the money and taken much of the risk to elicit the participation of two big outsiders, the Qatar Investment Authority and Anglo-Swiss mining giant Glencore.

But Mr. Trump could always pipe up and say the deal passes the smell test. After all, the West engages in some dodgy deals too.

OK, that was a joke. But Rosneft matters. The deal is part of Mr. Putin’s strategy, more desperate than it seems, to renormalize relations with the world after Russia’s invasion of its neighbor Ukraine.

We’ll differ slightly from those who think Mr. Trump’s comments to Fox’s Bill O’Reilly, in which he pooh-poohed Mr. Putin’s reputation as an alleged murderer, reflect some consistent and coherent Trumpian worldview.

The comments were just unwise, spoken by somebody with a thin grasp of his circumstances. Mr. Trump, clumsily, was actually keeping up a longstanding U.S. policy of covering up for Mr. Putin.

Yet here’s the ironic result. Mr. Trump has himself become the occasion for sliding sideways into the official public realm the most explosive Putin secret of all. How many CIA chiefs and top diplomats have passed before Congress since 1999 and yet never were asked about Ryazan? That’s the Russian city where an alleged Chechen terrorist bombing campaign came to an abrupt end after Mr. Putin’s own security officials were caught planting a bomb in the basement of an apartment block.

A search of congressional hearing transcripts finds only three mentions of Ryazan over the decades. When I once put the question informally to an ex-top national security official, all I got was a studiously blank stare and a claim not to remember seeing any reports on the subject.

Then came President Trump. Lo, in a nationally broadcast hearing, Florida Republican Marco Rubio put to Secretary of State nominee Rex Tillerson a direct question on the “incredible body of reporting” suggesting the apartment bombings were carried out by the Putin regime.

Mr. Tillerson, a private citizen, was exactly the wrong person to ask. But he gamely admitted to being aware of the reports. “Those are very, very serious charges to make,” he said, adding, “I understand there is a body of record in the public domain. I’m sure there’s a body of record in the classified domain.”

Now confirmed as secretary of state, Mr. Tillerson will be back many times before the Senate, and presumably Mr. Rubio will ask him what he now believes after seeing classified documents.

This may be a turning point.

Presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama all wanted things from Mr. Putin and had a firm policy of ignoring Ryazan. They needed to preserve Mr. Putin’s acceptability as somebody Western leaders could meet and deal with.

Suddenly, a major U.S. political party, the Democrats, has a direct partisan incentive to dispense with the shroud of silence. Nancy Pelosi said on Sunday: “I want to know what the Russians have on Donald Trump.”

She and her colleagues, especially members of the Democratic foreign-policy establishment, will eventually figure out the real question they should be asking is what the CIA has on Mr. Putin that can be used now to tar Mr. Trump.

The emergence of ugly truths, let’s be clear, would be a profound inconvenience to Western leaders, who, on balance, have preferred being able to deal with Mr. Putin rather than having to treat him as untouchable.

Mr. Trump turns out not to be such a break from his predecessors after all. He wants to do deals with Mr. Putin too. But with his untamed, careless mouth, he has contributed to what was probably inevitable anyway. The murders of Alexander Litvinenko, Anna Politkovskaya and Boris Nemtsov, the apartment bombings that killed 293 and injured hundreds more, all this was not going to be swept under the rug forever. Mr. Putin’s bid for rehabilitation is not going well. Witness Russia’s weak and counterproductive but necessary demand that Fox News “apologize” for the O’Reilly comments. Witness the recent and comical dog-and-pony meeting between Mr. Putin and Western parties in the Rosneft deal, aimed at manufacturing an impression that everything is hunky dory for investors in Russia.

Read a certain way, Mr. Trump’s comments make him the first U.S. president to admit Mr. Putin’s real nature. One theory is that Russian power grouplets are committed to Mr. Putin come hell or high water. This is debatable. If Mr. Putin’s fate is pariah-hood, quite a few powerful Russians may wish not to share it.



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Putin and the Moscow bombings
« Reply #30 on: July 23, 2018, 08:12:27 AM »
moscow-bombings-mikhail-trepashkin-and-putin


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WSJ: Putin's Assassination Playbook
« Reply #32 on: February 19, 2020, 10:52:35 AM »
Putin’s Foreign Assassination Playbook
Evidence shows the FSB organized a daytime killing in Berlin.
By The Editorial Board
Feb. 18, 2020 7:25 pm ET

When rogue states like Russia wreak havoc on foreign soil, they often work through proxies and deny responsibility. But occasionally the veil slips, as when evidence emerged this week that Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) planned and carried out an assassination in Germany last summer.

Last August German authorities arrested a Russian citizen after he murdered a Chechen separatist seeking asylum in Berlin. On Monday the investigative outlet Bellingcat published a report, based primarily on cell phone metadata, showing that “the main security service of the Russian state plotted, prepared, and perpetrated the 2019 extraterritorial assassination.” Further, “both the FSB and Russian police were aware of the true identity of the detained killer but chose to lie to the German authorities.” The investigators also argue persuasively that the assassin, who spent significant time at FSB installations, is a former Spetsnaz officer.

A German federal prosecutor pinned the killing on Moscow in December, and Berlin expelled two Russian diplomats as punishment. Russia denies involvement and retaliated by expelling a pair of German diplomats. The two countries are still cooperating on the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, which would deepen Europe’s dependence on Russian energy. By contrast Western countries expelled more than 100 Russians diplomats after the 2018 poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal in the United Kingdom. That attack left an innocent Briton dead and several hospitalized.

Some in Europe, notably French President Emmanuel Macron, are portraying Moscow as a reliable diplomatic partner after years of isolation brought about by its 2014 invasion of Ukraine. Donald Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo are also courting Moscow. Mr. Trump even wants to invite authoritarian President Vladimir Putin back into the G-7 club of democracies.

The timing couldn’t be worse. Mr. Putin’s approval rating—registering at a relatively low 68% in January, according to the Levada poll—gets a lot of attention. But only 35% of Russians say they trust Mr. Putin, down from 59% in November 2017.

As the Russian people sour on his rule and he schemes to stay in power beyond his current term, which ends in 2024, Mr. Putin may try to rally domestic support with more imperialism abroad. Rewarding Moscow now without meaningful concessions or changes to its behavior will encourage more recklessness.


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GPF: Rumors of Putin ill health
« Reply #33 on: January 27, 2021, 01:45:34 PM »
January 27, 2021
View On Website
Open as PDF

    
Brief: Rumors of Putin’s Health
Though he plans to run in the presidential election in 2024, he can’t stay in power forever.
By: Geopolitical Futures

Background: Russian President Vladimir Putin has been the official and sometimes unofficial head of state for some time now. And though he plans to run in the presidential election in 2024, he can’t stay in power forever. The question of succession is therefore on the minds of many Russians, especially as rumors swirl about Putin’s health.

What Happened: Ukrainian intelligence said in a recent document that Putin was having physical difficulty performing basic public functions, leading to an unofficial transfer of power to an eventual successor. This isn’t the first time the topic of Putin's health has been raised in the media. Just last November, British tabloids published pictures of the president looking sickly, which the Kremlin denied.

Bottom Line: The Ukrainian intelligence service also noted the obvious – that Putinism will outlast Putin, and that Russia’s security needs are such that anyone who succeeds him will still try to keep Ukraine in Russia’s sphere of influence and thus out of the West’s. But the issue of succession is still important inside Russia. A Czech news agency recently published an opinion that Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin is likely to become president after Putin. Putin himself never answers questions about his succession, and even though he is legally allowed to run again, social tension fueled by the attacks on Alexei Navalny is growing, his health concerns notwithstanding. Either way, Moscow will need to make sure the power transfer is as painless as possible







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Re: Russian Leaders (Putin, Medvedev, Oligarchs, etc)
« Reply #40 on: April 02, 2022, 09:34:38 AM »
History never repeats...but rhymes. Might explain a few things.


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Re: Russian Leaders (Putin, Medvedev, Oligarchs, etc)
« Reply #41 on: April 02, 2022, 09:52:17 AM »
History never repeats...but rhymes. Might explain a few things.



Chinless still runs Syria.

Vladi has the world’s biggest nuclear Arsenal.



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Could Uke War trigger revolution in Russia?
« Reply #43 on: April 20, 2022, 03:38:07 PM »
ON GEOPOLITICS
Could the Ukraine War Trigger Another Revolution in Russia?
undefined and Stratfor Middle East and North Africa Analyst at RANE
Ryan Bohl
Stratfor Middle East and North Africa Analyst at RANE, Stratfor
9 MIN READApr 20, 2022 | 21:19 GMT

Just how popular is the Ukraine conflict in Russia?

A survey conducted by the state-run pollster VTsIOM released on March 5 said that 71% of Russians supported the war effort. And according to a more recent VTsIOM poll published on April 8, domestic support for Vladimir Putin has only grown since Russian troops began entering Ukraine, with 81.6% of Russians saying they trusted their president compared with the 67.2% who said the same prior to the Feb. 24 invasion.

But while those figures may be exaggerated (as respondents answer in the way Russian state media has told them is acceptable), it's nevertheless indicative that, barring no major anti-war movement, the Kremlin's domestic front is currently secure. How long it will stay that way is less certain, though Russian history shows it could be a while. Repression at home and foreign confrontation abroad didn't preserve the Czarist or Soviet systems in the long run. Though that formula, despite its autocratic inefficiencies and corruptions, gave Russian leaders the ability to weather multiple major setbacks before the inherent dysfunctions of their political models pulled them down.

If there is to be a crack that gives way to a larger political revolt, it will only come after a series of failures by President Vladimir Putin and other Russian leaders — and possibly years of sacrifice by the Russian people, who will increasingly feel the weight of the war at home the longer it drags on, through the loss of both national blood and treasure.

The Importance of the Domestic Front

In long wars, domestic support for the conflict often emerges as a major factor in determining the victor. The United States never lost a major battle in Afghanistan or Vietnam, yet the collapse of support at home ultimately compelled the U.S. military's withdrawal and subsequent defeat in both conflicts. If a population cannot be convinced to keep up the fight, there are little even advanced militaries can do to succeed.

With the retreat from Kyiv, Russia will now clearly endure a longer military campaign than originally planned — and the bite of sanctions that come with it. Some observers have assumed this will mean the steady erosion of Putin's base of support, paving the way for his eventual overthrow. This view, however, assumes three key factors:

The Russian people will value their material welfare over the nationalist ideology Putin is now pushing.
Russians will be casualty averse (as Western countries now are), and will react badly as the body count rises.
Russians will find some way to organize a serious anti-Putin uprising, possibly in collusion with elites.
While all these assumptions are questionable under the current circumstances in Russia, they are not wholly without merit, given the country's history.

Russia's last czar, Czar Nicholas II, so disastrously managed World War I that not only did he lose to the Germans, but his own military and citizens turned on him. An improvised Soviet coup by would-be Stalinists in 1991 fell apart when soldiers refused to open fire on defiant crowds, acting as the final nail in the coffin of the Soviet Union. In other words, there's an established record of Russians turning on poor leadership who think too little of their blood and treasure.

Now, Ukraine's military doggedness has battered the Russian military superiority narrative; even the Kremlin now admits to ''painful'' losses. Russian families will be receiving thousands of war death notifications. And even with state media peddling firmly pro-war propaganda, these losses will be impossible to conceal the loss of Russian troops from the general public. Meanwhile, the standard of living in Russia is set to drop even further as the full weight of sanctions sinks in. The U.S. government estimates that Russia's GDP could contract anywhere from 10-20% this year. Modern goods like iPhones and computer chips, meanwhile, are becoming increasingly difficult to find in Russia as the ruble remains volatile and more countries cut their business ties with Moscow.

To make Putin the next Nicholas II, Russia's current situation will at the least have to continue for a prolonged period. However, if Europe (or at least major parts of it) decides to bite the bullet and cut some or all Russian energy exports, it could trigger a major current accounts crisis that even Russian state media could not conceal. Such a drastic and obvious deterioration of Russia's domestic stability would increase the likelihood of a combination of oligarchs, military leaders, and the general public turning on Putin — a revolution of sorts, either bloody (like in 1917) or peaceful (like in 1991).

Putting Putin's Strength in Context

But it will probably take more time, as well as more setbacks on Putin's part, for such a revolution to unfold in Russia. First, if we are to keep the comparison to Czar Nicholas II, it's important to remember that he made a series of major mistakes during his reign — from the crushing defeat in the Russo-Japanese War to the bungling of reforms after the abortive Russian Revolution of 1905. And these mistakes also followed centuries of Czarist misrule. It was thus not a single trigger that pushed Russian citizens and soldiers to revolt during World War I, but many piled on top of one another.

Putin, in comparison, does not have the same kind of record. While the outcome of the Ukraine invasion remains undetermined, each of his previous military interventions was successful: Chechnya, Georgia, Syria, and even the previous invasion of Ukraine in 2014 that culminated in the annexation of Crimea were all widely supported by Russians and achieved Moscow's strategic objectives. While the current war against Ukraine is proving to be a greater test than anticipated, the invasion has not yet discredited Putin's military leadership. Indeed, there's still a chance for Putin to come out relatively unscathed — especially if he can eke out a victory that looks credible in Ukraine.

Until the recent sanctions were imposed, Putin also oversaw an economic record that was much stronger compared with the volatility of the 1990s; at least Putin's economic strategies provided for a gradually growing standard of living and overcame the chaotic ''shock treatment'' that followed the fall of the Soviet Union.

Once more, it will take time for the full weight of sanctions to hit the Russian public, and for the Russian public to then decide that such material sacrifice is Putin's fault. Given Putin's current strength as a leader, the dreams of a generals' coup, or at the very least of an army that might let anti-Putin protestors crawl on their tanks (like the anti-Soviet protestors did in Red Square in 1991), are currently unlikely to manifest.

Systematic Barriers to Change

But even if the military or public were to grow disgruntled with Putin, they currently have no credible political options for change. Russians, of course, have no free elections in which they can democratically choose a new government. But the Kremlin's sweeping crackdown on dissent over the past two years has also left Russians with no organized opposition to join, or even an underground movement to lead. Hundreds of thousands of potential Russian dissidents have already fled the country, and more may well flee as the situation at home becomes even more unsustainable. Many of the dissidents who remain in Russia, meanwhile, are now behind bars — including imprisoned opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who survived a suspected assassination attempt by Russian security services in August 2020 only to be arrested several months later in Moscow. This, combined with the thousands of arrests in the initial days following the recent Ukraine invasion, suggest that the boldest elements of the Russian opposition have already been defanged.

Perhaps more importantly, however, is the fact that the members of Russia's internal elite are currently wedded to the system. For a revolution to work, elites must either be divided or in disarray. The generals who would be counted on for a military coup know they could be held responsible for the reported war crimes in Ukraine and elsewhere; overthrowing the system exposes them to accountability and, as they know from Russian history, the potential of another break-up of the Russian Federation and perhaps civil war. The oligarchs, meanwhile, have grown rich off state patronage and corruption. And going against the Kremlin would put that wealth at risk, especially if the final result is a more accountable, democratic government or a civil war. Both sets of elites will also know that now is a time where loyalty is the ultimate prize. In their own internal rivalries, they will hope to portray their rivals as disloyal, seeking to oust them from power and seize their positions and riches. Behind closed doors, turning in rich ''traitors'' could well be lucrative. To get elites to a point of revolt, economic and military conditions would have to deteriorate much more than they already have, to the point of threatening their own lives.

Standing the Test of Time

For now, the Russian system is well-positioned to keep the domestic front in check. But how much longer it will stay that way is less certain. For one, it's not clear whether Russians are prepared to fight another drawn-out Cold War with the West (especially knowing that they lost the first one), or how they would react to a potentially humiliating withdrawal from Ukraine (the battle for the eastern Donbas region looms, but after Russia's failed drive for Kyiv, no longer does the world assume Ukraine's army is outmatched). It's also uncertain how well Russia can keep its war narrative alive at home.

Russians can and already are using things like virtual private networks to break through the Kremlin's information barrier. And finally, there is the looming question surrounding the long-term sustainability of Russia's current governance style, anchored as it is on the personality and politics of Vladimir Putin himself. Putin may be able to arrange a succession, possibly as soon as two years from now when his current term ends in 2024, that can manage the domestic front as well as he has. But if he can't, the vast power vacuum may leave Russia ripe for yet another revolution.


G M

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Re: Could Uke War trigger revolution in Russia?
« Reply #44 on: April 20, 2022, 03:41:07 PM »
The US is closer to collapse than Russia is.


ON GEOPOLITICS
Could the Ukraine War Trigger Another Revolution in Russia?
undefined and Stratfor Middle East and North Africa Analyst at RANE
Ryan Bohl
Stratfor Middle East and North Africa Analyst at RANE, Stratfor
9 MIN READApr 20, 2022 | 21:19 GMT

Just how popular is the Ukraine conflict in Russia?

A survey conducted by the state-run pollster VTsIOM released on March 5 said that 71% of Russians supported the war effort. And according to a more recent VTsIOM poll published on April 8, domestic support for Vladimir Putin has only grown since Russian troops began entering Ukraine, with 81.6% of Russians saying they trusted their president compared with the 67.2% who said the same prior to the Feb. 24 invasion.

But while those figures may be exaggerated (as respondents answer in the way Russian state media has told them is acceptable), it's nevertheless indicative that, barring no major anti-war movement, the Kremlin's domestic front is currently secure. How long it will stay that way is less certain, though Russian history shows it could be a while. Repression at home and foreign confrontation abroad didn't preserve the Czarist or Soviet systems in the long run. Though that formula, despite its autocratic inefficiencies and corruptions, gave Russian leaders the ability to weather multiple major setbacks before the inherent dysfunctions of their political models pulled them down.

If there is to be a crack that gives way to a larger political revolt, it will only come after a series of failures by President Vladimir Putin and other Russian leaders — and possibly years of sacrifice by the Russian people, who will increasingly feel the weight of the war at home the longer it drags on, through the loss of both national blood and treasure.

The Importance of the Domestic Front

In long wars, domestic support for the conflict often emerges as a major factor in determining the victor. The United States never lost a major battle in Afghanistan or Vietnam, yet the collapse of support at home ultimately compelled the U.S. military's withdrawal and subsequent defeat in both conflicts. If a population cannot be convinced to keep up the fight, there are little even advanced militaries can do to succeed.

With the retreat from Kyiv, Russia will now clearly endure a longer military campaign than originally planned — and the bite of sanctions that come with it. Some observers have assumed this will mean the steady erosion of Putin's base of support, paving the way for his eventual overthrow. This view, however, assumes three key factors:

The Russian people will value their material welfare over the nationalist ideology Putin is now pushing.
Russians will be casualty averse (as Western countries now are), and will react badly as the body count rises.
Russians will find some way to organize a serious anti-Putin uprising, possibly in collusion with elites.
While all these assumptions are questionable under the current circumstances in Russia, they are not wholly without merit, given the country's history.

Russia's last czar, Czar Nicholas II, so disastrously managed World War I that not only did he lose to the Germans, but his own military and citizens turned on him. An improvised Soviet coup by would-be Stalinists in 1991 fell apart when soldiers refused to open fire on defiant crowds, acting as the final nail in the coffin of the Soviet Union. In other words, there's an established record of Russians turning on poor leadership who think too little of their blood and treasure.

Now, Ukraine's military doggedness has battered the Russian military superiority narrative; even the Kremlin now admits to ''painful'' losses. Russian families will be receiving thousands of war death notifications. And even with state media peddling firmly pro-war propaganda, these losses will be impossible to conceal the loss of Russian troops from the general public. Meanwhile, the standard of living in Russia is set to drop even further as the full weight of sanctions sinks in. The U.S. government estimates that Russia's GDP could contract anywhere from 10-20% this year. Modern goods like iPhones and computer chips, meanwhile, are becoming increasingly difficult to find in Russia as the ruble remains volatile and more countries cut their business ties with Moscow.

To make Putin the next Nicholas II, Russia's current situation will at the least have to continue for a prolonged period. However, if Europe (or at least major parts of it) decides to bite the bullet and cut some or all Russian energy exports, it could trigger a major current accounts crisis that even Russian state media could not conceal. Such a drastic and obvious deterioration of Russia's domestic stability would increase the likelihood of a combination of oligarchs, military leaders, and the general public turning on Putin — a revolution of sorts, either bloody (like in 1917) or peaceful (like in 1991).

Putting Putin's Strength in Context

But it will probably take more time, as well as more setbacks on Putin's part, for such a revolution to unfold in Russia. First, if we are to keep the comparison to Czar Nicholas II, it's important to remember that he made a series of major mistakes during his reign — from the crushing defeat in the Russo-Japanese War to the bungling of reforms after the abortive Russian Revolution of 1905. And these mistakes also followed centuries of Czarist misrule. It was thus not a single trigger that pushed Russian citizens and soldiers to revolt during World War I, but many piled on top of one another.

Putin, in comparison, does not have the same kind of record. While the outcome of the Ukraine invasion remains undetermined, each of his previous military interventions was successful: Chechnya, Georgia, Syria, and even the previous invasion of Ukraine in 2014 that culminated in the annexation of Crimea were all widely supported by Russians and achieved Moscow's strategic objectives. While the current war against Ukraine is proving to be a greater test than anticipated, the invasion has not yet discredited Putin's military leadership. Indeed, there's still a chance for Putin to come out relatively unscathed — especially if he can eke out a victory that looks credible in Ukraine.

Until the recent sanctions were imposed, Putin also oversaw an economic record that was much stronger compared with the volatility of the 1990s; at least Putin's economic strategies provided for a gradually growing standard of living and overcame the chaotic ''shock treatment'' that followed the fall of the Soviet Union.

Once more, it will take time for the full weight of sanctions to hit the Russian public, and for the Russian public to then decide that such material sacrifice is Putin's fault. Given Putin's current strength as a leader, the dreams of a generals' coup, or at the very least of an army that might let anti-Putin protestors crawl on their tanks (like the anti-Soviet protestors did in Red Square in 1991), are currently unlikely to manifest.

Systematic Barriers to Change

But even if the military or public were to grow disgruntled with Putin, they currently have no credible political options for change. Russians, of course, have no free elections in which they can democratically choose a new government. But the Kremlin's sweeping crackdown on dissent over the past two years has also left Russians with no organized opposition to join, or even an underground movement to lead. Hundreds of thousands of potential Russian dissidents have already fled the country, and more may well flee as the situation at home becomes even more unsustainable. Many of the dissidents who remain in Russia, meanwhile, are now behind bars — including imprisoned opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who survived a suspected assassination attempt by Russian security services in August 2020 only to be arrested several months later in Moscow. This, combined with the thousands of arrests in the initial days following the recent Ukraine invasion, suggest that the boldest elements of the Russian opposition have already been defanged.

Perhaps more importantly, however, is the fact that the members of Russia's internal elite are currently wedded to the system. For a revolution to work, elites must either be divided or in disarray. The generals who would be counted on for a military coup know they could be held responsible for the reported war crimes in Ukraine and elsewhere; overthrowing the system exposes them to accountability and, as they know from Russian history, the potential of another break-up of the Russian Federation and perhaps civil war. The oligarchs, meanwhile, have grown rich off state patronage and corruption. And going against the Kremlin would put that wealth at risk, especially if the final result is a more accountable, democratic government or a civil war. Both sets of elites will also know that now is a time where loyalty is the ultimate prize. In their own internal rivalries, they will hope to portray their rivals as disloyal, seeking to oust them from power and seize their positions and riches. Behind closed doors, turning in rich ''traitors'' could well be lucrative. To get elites to a point of revolt, economic and military conditions would have to deteriorate much more than they already have, to the point of threatening their own lives.

Standing the Test of Time

For now, the Russian system is well-positioned to keep the domestic front in check. But how much longer it will stay that way is less certain. For one, it's not clear whether Russians are prepared to fight another drawn-out Cold War with the West (especially knowing that they lost the first one), or how they would react to a potentially humiliating withdrawal from Ukraine (the battle for the eastern Donbas region looms, but after Russia's failed drive for Kyiv, no longer does the world assume Ukraine's army is outmatched). It's also uncertain how well Russia can keep its war narrative alive at home.

Russians can and already are using things like virtual private networks to break through the Kremlin's information barrier. And finally, there is the looming question surrounding the long-term sustainability of Russia's current governance style, anchored as it is on the personality and politics of Vladimir Putin himself. Putin may be able to arrange a succession, possibly as soon as two years from now when his current term ends in 2024, that can manage the domestic front as well as he has. But if he can't, the vast power vacuum may leave Russia ripe for yet another revolution.


DougMacG

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Re: Putin looks unsteady at Easter service
« Reply #46 on: April 25, 2022, 07:54:58 AM »
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-10748825/Putin-looks-unsteady-Easter-church-service-footage-showing-biting-lip-fidgeting.html

"as he stood in Moscow's Christ the Saviour Cathedral"

What's wrong with this picture?  If Putin is a believer and starting to feel his age, it might be the first time he has contemplated rotting in hell for eternity.  If he is a non believer, his remains or ashes will rot in the ground.  Either way, at death he loses all his power over others, and Easter is about death and what happens next. There is not enough time left to repent all his sins and it's clear that's not his intent.

Rather than the beautiful organ, choir and orchestra Hymns he was hearing at Easter service, at his demise the people will prefer to sing and dance to some Russian version of "the wicked witch is dead".

G M

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Re: Putin looks unsteady at Easter service
« Reply #47 on: April 25, 2022, 08:17:57 AM »
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-10748825/Putin-looks-unsteady-Easter-church-service-footage-showing-biting-lip-fidgeting.html

"as he stood in Moscow's Christ the Saviour Cathedral"

What's wrong with this picture?  If Putin is a believer and starting to feel his age, it might be the first time he has contemplated rotting in hell for eternity.  If he is a non believer, his remains or ashes will rot in the ground.  Either way, at death he loses all his power over others, and Easter is about death and what happens next. There is not enough time left to repent all his sins and it's clear that's not his intent.

Rather than the beautiful organ, choir and orchestra Hymns he was hearing at Easter service, at his demise the people will prefer to sing and dance to some Russian version of "the wicked witch is dead".

Much like China, the Russians in general prefer a strongman leader to chaos.


G M

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Re: Putin looks unsteady at Easter service
« Reply #48 on: April 25, 2022, 10:46:40 AM »
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-10748825/Putin-looks-unsteady-Easter-church-service-footage-showing-biting-lip-fidgeting.html

"as he stood in Moscow's Christ the Saviour Cathedral"

What's wrong with this picture?  If Putin is a believer and starting to feel his age, it might be the first time he has contemplated rotting in hell for eternity.  If he is a non believer, his remains or ashes will rot in the ground.  Either way, at death he loses all his power over others, and Easter is about death and what happens next. There is not enough time left to repent all his sins and it's clear that's not his intent.

Rather than the beautiful organ, choir and orchestra Hymns he was hearing at Easter service, at his demise the people will prefer to sing and dance to some Russian version of "the wicked witch is dead".

Much like China, the Russians in general prefer a strongman leader to chaos.

Iranian press says Putin is trusted.

https://www.tasnimnews.com/en/news/2022/04/23/2699880/poll-shows-over-80-of-russians-trust-putin

3 percent of those that didn’t trust Putin have died of various causes since the poll was taken…