25 março, 2014

Reading Putin


On 18th March, President Vladimir Putin of Russia gave a major speech at the Kremlin. The leit motiv was the return of Crimea to Russia, after the region’s referendum on its political future.

Vladimir Putin addressing the State Duma deputies, the Federation Council members, regional authorities and Crimea and Sevastopol representatives.

The speech was predictably demonized in the Western media. Having read the speech, I am going to analyse its highlights. Its English version can be read at http://eng.kremlin.ru/transcripts/6889

There are three different target audiences: the Russians, the Ukrainians and the Westerners.

When addressing the Russians, Putin emphasises shared History, culture and religion, pointing to a communion of Russians, Ukrainians and Belorussians.

[Crimea] where Prince Vladimir was baptised. His spiritual feat of adopting Orthodoxy predetermined the overall basis of the culture, civilisation and human values that unite the peoples of Russia, Ukraine and Belarus.

These references lead us to another idea that has been frequently present in Putin’s interventions: the demise of the Soviet Union and its negative consequences.

Millions of people went to bed in one country and awoke in different ones, overnight becoming ethnic minorities in former Union republics [...]

The USSR and its implosion lie at the root of present day problems, namely the Crimean problem, arbitrarily transferred from Soviet Russia to Soviet Ukraine.

Then, in 1954, a decision was made to transfer Crimean Region to Ukraine, along with Sevastopol, despite the fact that it was a federal city. This was the personal initiative of the Communist Party head Nikita Khrushchev.

He goes on stressing the sense of grief and revolt in Russia resulting from the end of the USSR and, specially, the Crimean handover:

It was only when Crimea ended up as part of a different country that Russia realised that it was not simply robbed, it was plundered.

And the grief and revolt in Crimea:

Now, many years later, I heard residents of Crimea say that back in 1991 they were handed over like a sack of potatoes.

So Putin is talking about a set of historic wrongs and accidents that led to Russian unjustified losses and he clearly craves to set them right. Crimea was the best opportunity so far to address these grievances and one that he would not miss for the world.

In people’s hearts and minds, Crimea has always been an inseparable part of Russia.

The West occupies and large share of Putin’s intervention, mostly to be reviled for its hubris and recklessness. The case of Serbia and Kosovo is dealt with extensively. Interestingly, this blog dedicated a post to this subject on 7th March (“Do Kosovo à Crimeia” at http://tempos-interessantes.blogspot.pt/2014/03/do-kosovo-crimeia.html ).

This [the West’s attitude towards Kosovo independence] is not even double standards; this is amazing, primitive, blunt cynicism. One should not try so crudely to make everything suit their interests, calling the same thing white today and black tomorrow.

Putin’s also expresses his concern with and rejection of a renewed eastward NATO expansion, i.e. to Ukraine. He deems NATO expansion to Russian borders unacceptable and he vows to retaliate to Western pressure and coercion.

NATO remains a military alliance, and we are against having a military alliance making itself at home right in our backyard or in our historic territory.

Some Western politicians are already threatening us with not just sanctions but also the prospect of increasingly serious problems on the domestic front. I would like to know what it is they have in mind exactly: action by a fifth column, this disparate bunch of ‘national traitors’, or are they hoping to put us in a worsening social and economic situation so as to provoke public discontent? We consider such statements irresponsible and clearly aggressive in tone, and we will respond to them accordingly.

The Russian President also points to and attacks what he believes is the West common practice of applying double standards in International Relations and on the rule of law.

[…] the Written Statement of the United States America of April 17, 2009, submitted to the same UN International Court in connection with the hearings on Kosovo. Again, I quote: “Declarations of independence may, and often do, violate domestic legislation. However, this does not make them violations of international law.” End of quote.  They wrote this, disseminated it all over the world, had everyone agree and now they are outraged. Over what? The actions of Crimean people completely fit in with these instructions, as it were.

And he goes on to criticize the hubris and arrogance with which the United States and the European powers behave on the international affairs, imposing, judging, condemning and attacking:

After the dissolution of bipolarity on the planet, we no longer have stability. Key international institutions are not getting any stronger; on the contrary, in many cases, they are sadly degrading. Our western partners, led by the United States of America, prefer not to be guided by international law in their practical policies, but by the rule of the gun. They have come to believe in their exclusivity and exceptionalism, that they can decide the destinies of the world, that only they can ever be right. They act as they please: here and there, they use force against sovereign states, building coalitions based on the principle “If you are not with us, you are against us.” To make this aggression look legitimate, they force the necessary resolutions from international organisations, and if for some reason this does not work, they simply ignore the UN Security Council and the UN overall.

There’s an interesting blinking towards Germany, that represents a subtle attempt to cash in a 25-year-old credit and the hope that the Russian-German ties may supplant the Western support for the present government in Kiev.

I believe that the Europeans, first and foremost, the Germans, will also understand me. Let me remind you that […] some nations that were then and are now Germany’s allies did not support the idea of unification. Our nation, however, unequivocally supported the sincere, unstoppable desire of the Germans for national unity. I am confident that you have not forgotten this, and I expect that the citizens of Germany will also support the aspiration of the Russians, of historical Russia, to restore unity.

The Ukrainian westward drift and the situation of Russians in Ukraine is another relevant part of Putin’s speech, filled with criticisms, complaints, demands and veiled threats.

However, those who stood behind the latest events in Ukraine had a different agenda: they were preparing yet another government takeover; they wanted to seize power and would stop short of nothing. They resorted to terror, murder and riots. Nationalists, neo-Nazis, Russophobes and anti-Semites executed this coup. They continue to set the tone in Ukraine to this day.

The new so-called authorities began by introducing a draft law to revise the language policy, which was a direct infringement on the rights of ethnic minorities. […] The draft law was set aside, but clearly reserved for the future. Hardly any mention is made of this attempt now, probably on the presumption that people have a short memory. Nevertheless, we can all clearly see the intentions of these ideological heirs of Bandera, Hitler’s accomplice during World War II.

For him, the 2013/14 events are déjà vu, reminiscent of the 2004 Orange Revolution and their equivalents in Georgia and Kyrgyzstan

A similar situation unfolded in Ukraine. In 2004, to push the necessary candidate through at the presidential elections, they thought up some sort of third round that was not stipulated by the law. It was absurd and a mockery of the constitution. And now, they have thrown in an organised and well-equipped army of militants.
We understand what is happening; we understand that these actions were aimed against Ukraine and Russia and against Eurasian integration.

Putin’s speech reflects much of his worldview, of his concept of Geopolitics, what he regards as Russia’s national interest and he even draws his red lines.

Thus his references to Kosovo, which he portrays as a major setback inflicted on a weak Russia by a treacherous NATO, and Libya where the same NATO grossly abused a UNSC Resolution.

It is also clear that he views the triangle Russia-Ukraine-Belarus as the strategic, security, historic, cultural and religious core of Slavia and consequently, the area most vital for Russia in multiple dimensions.

Meanwhile, our relations with Ukraine, with the fraternal Ukrainian people have always been and will remain of foremost importance for us.

Our concerns are understandable because we are not simply close neighbours but, as I have said many times already, we are one people. Kiev is the mother of Russian cities. Ancient Rus is our common source and we cannot live without each other.

For Putin, this speech at this particular and significant ceremony represents a small reversal of Russia’s 1991 unravelling. It also represents a warning to the West and to those in the former USSR that stepping on Russia’s toes can no longer be done without a price. Putin is saying that Kosovo 1999 will not be repeated, but Georgia 2008 will.

In the end, Vladimir Putin defines Russia’s national interests, establishes her red lines and conveys what Moscow is prepared to do to promote those interests and protect those red lines.

And with Ukraine, our western partners have crossed the line, playing the bear and acting irresponsibly and unprofessionally.

After all, they were fully aware that there are millions of Russians living in Ukraine and in Crimea. They must have really lacked political instinct and common sense not to foresee all the consequences of their actions. Russia found itself in a position it could not retreat from. If you compress the spring all the way to its limit, it will snap back hard. You must always remember this.
Today, it is imperative to end this hysteria, to refute the rhetoric of the cold war and to accept the obvious fact: Russia is an independent, active participant in international affairs; like other countries, it has its own national interests that need to be taken into account and respected.

Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin has spoken. I think he mostly believes what he said. Perhaps it would be wise for the West to study Russia’s History, Geography, Geopolitics and culture and the thoughts and actions of her President when dealing with Moscow. Maybe some surprises and setbacks could be avoided.

5 comentários:

Anónimo disse...

Or maybe we could all agree that Putin is scumbag, stop making him hero and admit that he is in fact 21st centuries Hitler.

Rui Miguel Ribeiro disse...

Maybe you should read the post more carefully. I read Putin's speech and analysed it. Period.
You're certainly aware how farfetched the comparison between Hitler and Putin is. It was bad enough to hera from Hillary Clinton.

P.S. I am afraid there is no want of "scumbags" in International Affairs...

Defreitas disse...

It's shocking reading such comment!! Comparing Putin to Hitler! What American and American friends do not accept is the fact that Putin is clever and defends and protects his country's interests. And this interests are first of all his security. The American dream : NATO next door, further encircling Russia, in Ukraine. It will not be countenanced.

I laugh when I read Nicholas Burns, former Undersecretary of State under George W Bush and former US Ambassador to NATO when he accused: "Obviously Putin has won the Crimea through brute force." Well no, apart from a few shots in the air on the 4th March, not a shot has been fired, unlike the slaughterhouses generated by various "international coalitions led by USA - and Russia has a legal agreement for anchorage of its Black Sea fleet there until 2042. In Sevastopol, where the fleet is based, much of the population in fact have Russian passports.

America of course has nine hundred bases in one hundred and fifty three countries. One of those in Portuguese territory.

Hitler, you said ! What could we say of that one, in charge of Gulag Guantanamo, in contravention of his electoral vow to close it, personally ordering drone strikes on individuals, funeral gatherings, wedding parties, farmers, child wood gatherers and villages from Pakistan to Yemen, Afghanistan to Somalia.

How should Putin react when factions of the "government" in Kiev called for the deaths of Jews, blacks and Russians, increasing attacks on Synagogues, destruction of historic symbols; the request seems more than justified, as does President Putin's claim of an "unconstitutional coup", after an agreement of conciliation was signed on 21st February attended by his envoy and three EU Foreign Ministers. Three "marionettes" !

When we know it was confirmed by Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland that key organizations in Ukraine including the neo-Nazi party Svoboda were generously supported by Washington. And I quote Victoria Nuland: 'We have invested more than $5 billion to help Ukraine to achieve this and other goals.' That refers to a period extending from the 2004 Color Revolution to the present. And there is ample evidence of Western support - both covert support through intelligence ops as well as diplomatic support through the US State Department and the EU of course".

This Nuland , married to Robert Kagan, one of the authors of the Project for the New American Century, which advised on Iraq, in what has become a blueprint for planned overthrows of sovereign governments . Ironically Victoria Nuland's original family name was Nudelman, a grandfather being Meyer Nudelman, from a family of Jewish immigrants to the United States from the former Soviet Union.

Putin is not a hero, but is a intelligent man. I cannot say the same of Obama, and puppet François Hollande, when they promise sanctions to Russia! Lol ! If sanctions are applied against Russian state structures, impossible to expect the of repayment of the loans that the US banks gave to the Russian structures. Indeed, sanctions are a double-edged weapon, and if the US chooses to freeze their assets, then the equities and liabilities in dollars will also be frozen. This means that US banks and businesses will not return the loans to American partners.

Russia is also a major supplier of oil to Germany (about 40% of the country's supplies) the Netherlands "and Western Europe generally .Germany has six thousand companies based in Russia and German business organizations are shouting warnings loudly.

Wait till Putin finds a way to dump the dollar to reduce its dependence on the U.S. financial system and switch to other currencies. Then the dollar will be put at the right level of a country that has the two largest deficits in the world : budgetary and commercial.

Freitas Pereira

Rui Miguel Ribeiro disse...

Mr. Freitas Pereira,

That was hard and you certainly bloodied a few noses!!! ;-)
As you know I generally like the USA, but I find it increasingly unbearable to put up with so much hypocrisy and double standards.
I think you're right both on Putin and on Obama. And I certainly know much more about Victoria Nuland after reading your comment.
Thank you!

Anónimo disse...

сыграть в казино [url=http://technopark-rus.ru/wp-includes/css/post.php?p=new1950]игровые аппараты играть на реальные деньги qiwi адреса[/url] онлайн казино отзывы владельцев или гараж автомат [url=http://technopark-rus.ru/wp-includes/css/post.php?p=new1122]как заработать деньги в интернет казино[/url]