Sunday, May 31, 2015

Putin on Ukraine and Moscow's cunning plans: "Russia always supports the acting authorities, we always rely on the current government and always support it, we cooperate with the government in power"

OnAugust 29, 2014, speaking at the Seliger Youth camp, Vladimir Putin unveiled the "secret" of his/Russia's "strategy" toward Ukraine and elsewhere, which is to say, the lack of proper, good, effective strategy, not to mention, ethical strategy, which some people on the left, who are more clever than I am, tend to mock and deride as such. This is what Putin, obviously proudly and self-confidently asserted, evidently unaware that he just pulled a veil away and displayed one of Achilles' heel of his and Moscow's "cunning," which played directly into the hands of the West and Ukrainian oligarchs:

"I will let you in on a little – it’s not even a secret, just a story. There is nothing special here, I will tell you about it as it has to do with former president Viktor Yanukovych. ... Russia always supports the acting authorities. We are not like some of our partners. Maybe, in this regard, they are even being more pragmatic, they are always putting their eggs into multiple baskets. Moreover (the Americans do this), even if a government somewhere is loyal to them, they always work with the opposition. Always! And they even set it against the current government a bit, so that even if that government is loyal, it will stay even more loyal, and to show that yes, we have someone else to work with. I suppose that’s a pragmatic position. And I see that it was used for centuries by Britain as well.
This Anglo-Saxon approach migrated to the United States and is used by them today. Regardless of how they might respond to me (they will certainly respond and discuss it now), I have an inner conviction that that’s how it works. But in Russia, especially in the post-Soviet space, we cannot do that. Things are different here, it’s as simple as that. And naturally, we always rely on the current government and always support it. This does not mean that we are indifferent or even antagonistic towards the opposition. No, we treat everyone equally, but we cooperate with the government in power. That was true during Kuchma’s presidency as well. And when his presidential term expired, I asked him directly: “Mr Kuchma, who should Russia support in the next presidential election?” And he told me: “Yanukovych.” I had some doubts as to whether Kuchma felt certain about Yanukovych’s candidacy, and I asked him about it during the final preparations for the presidential election campaign. He told me: “That’s it, it’s decided, a decision has been made; we will support and promote Yanukovych, and I am asking you and Russia to support him through information resources and support him politically.” And that is what we did.Later, when they made a complete mess of the third round, I cannot call it anything else, I was certainly surprised. I asked Mr Kuchma again, “What is going on? Are you supporting him or not?” Yanukovych was not able to use his result in the elections. After all, he won in the second round. All this turned into a fairly sharp political struggle.Mr Yushchenko, who became President, and Ms Timoshenko, who became Prime Minister, apparently didn’t have great success either, since Yanukovich won in the next election. Incidentally, I always ask: “So why didn’t you sign an association agreement with the European Union back then? Who was in your way? All the power was in your hands.” But the fact is that they did not do it. The question is: why not?
I suspect they did not do it because it is fairly dangerous socioeconomically, because the consequences could be quite grave for Ukraine’s economy and, therefore, for Ukraine’s social sphere and politics. But we have never pushed through any candidate, we do not do it and we will not do it, and this is true regarding Yanukovych as well. This was exclusively the choice of the Ukrainian people [actually, Kuchma's choice, see above] and the logic of internal political processes.Incidentally, we would have cooperated fully with Yushchenko ..."
Thus, self-confidently, Putin self-confessed to the poverty and misery of such "cunning strategic thought," which does not strike me either as cunning or strategic or, if one can also dare to say, thoughtful, politically justified, not to mention ethical or moral. The self-limiting (if not self-defeating) and narrowly class-based and oligarchy-serving nature of this position ought to be evident to a naked eye provided that some common sense lies behind it.

The same false and immoral imperative of "always supporting who is in power," which, in terms of post-Soviet Ukraine, meant always thieving and corrupt oligarchs, then also produced the situation in which Putin and the Kremlin came to call the Bandera (Ukrainian Nazi) regime our "esteemed partners," however un-reciprocated this expression of deference and (false?) collegiality has been, that is, regardless of the contempt and hate shown by the junta toward the Russian government.

The appearance of "strategy," which "always supports those in power or the existing authorities," regardless of their political, ideological, ethical and human character, and hence the long, long-standing absence of any real, working and workable political strategy toward  Ukraine offers and produces this multiple-choice question and test in one's political self-awareness:

What is true?
1. The lack of effective political strategy is an excellent strategy and a sign of genius and great leadership.
2. Shipping billions of dollars to Ukrainian oligarchs and making their will one's own preference and strategy is not only a very good strategy, but also a very cunning strategy, which will ultimately defeat the very same anti-Russian oligarchs.
3. Part of Russia's strategy was to make such serious political and strategic mistakes because only by making such serious strategic mistakes one can defeat and confound not only one's fans and supporters (for whom one never makes any mistakes and has to be just admired and always), but also one's and Russia's  enemies.
4. What Putin said is true and sincerely said, and there is no need to think any further about it.
5. Such oligarchs-(self)serving "strategy" does not serve Russia's interests; it enabled the Maidan/Banderite takeover and continues to define the pro-Minsk and Minsk-based (anti-Novorossiya) strategy.
6. Putin's support of "the existing authorities" and exclusive reliance on them not only fails to match Western use of NGOs and broader (people-based and people-oriented) policies, it also limits Russia's options, alternatives, choices and even Moscow's own (strategic) intelligence.
7. Playing such a "good guy" betrays the narrow (comprador) class interest behind such thinking, which prides itself in having put on one's eyes such blinders, even while calling them a 20/20 vision.
8. Nothing above matters for any blunder, mistake, or oversight can be explained as a stroke of unfathomable genius, which must be simply and utterly believed and admired out of wisdom and one's sense of duty toward the post-Soviet/anti-Soviet leadership and elite. For we have nothing else left.

Having passed the simple test, let me continue with my own thread of thought.

Nearly all the "help" from Russia (for nearly 25 years and 15 years of Putin's rule) thus went to to Ukrainian oligarchs, thus feeding the beast, the monster. For Ukrainian corrupt oligarchs growing to fully embrace revived Banderism/Ukrainian fascism and further identifying themselves with it are anything but monstrous and beastly.

The Russian government, including Putin, had no other and nor better idea than that one. Thus, feeding (thought not quite "electing" the "bad and corrupt leadership" of thieves and crooks, the Russian leadership did its part in doing what happened and undoing the achievements of the Soviet people and the results of the Soviet WWII victory. Russia (i.e. Putin) did not elect to do otherwise or to even have a real, proper, not to mention ethical strategy.

Facing this harsh (or even terrible) truth would be a first necessary step not only in much overdue self-criticism, but also a necessary prerequisite in overcoming the crisis and the great threat to Russia when the beast has already risen and proved that it is deadly.

Ethical strategy is that one that takes the good and the just together with people's aspirations and need for what is good, just and true seriously and for real. Seriously. Subsidizing (anti-Russian), amoral, immoral, unethical and Banderism-leaning/loving oligarchs (with billions of dollars) is the antithesis of all that.

In fact, Mozgovoy who dared to stand up against "oligarchs united," thus for the people, on the ethical ground and for ethical strategy, was killed chiefly because for this very thing. He made a difference and stood in the way of immoral, amoral, self-serving cunning of oligarchy for which the Nazis are a lesser evil (if not potential "partners") than the objective and genuine aspirations of the people. 

And, yes, I do believe that a sign of intelligence and strategic thought is an ability to identify and develop options and alternatives, besides and above black-and-white or monochromatic thinking. And part of it is not to slight, mock, deride or ditch the importance of the good. Any good thought and strategy demands that.

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