Victoria Mendez: "Putin the Enigma, Putin the Hero, Putin the Coward, Putin the Pragmatist, Putin the Windbag, Putin the Traitor, Putin the Patriot ---- which one is it Vladimir Suchan. I feel truly nauseated by what passes as policy and strategy emanating from the Kremlin. Is Putin in charge, is Putin being blackmailed, has he been beaten into submission and is he fearful of his life, for Russia, of WW3?"
I wonder what would have happened if similar questions were asked in 1988 about Gorbachev and then in 1991, 1999, and now or about Yeltsin in 1991, 1993, 1998 and now. What we do know, as Putin said it himself in Salinger last year, he sees Lenin and the Bolsheviks as "national traitors."
What we know is that Putin became president after being picked by a very small group of very rich, very powerful people also very afraid of justice and thus very afraid for their impunity. But only some of these people are officially known.
The dismantlement of the USSR and the abandonment of communism and its replacement with anti-communism from above was a lengthy, difficult, but masterfully (in its Machiavellian sense) executed political and logistical program, which, in its scope, complexity, and consequences, has no historical precedent. In this process, the USSR sold out for dump prices (literally dumped) a lot--actually the whole socialist world system. Furthermore, the communist-turned-anticommunist leadership (one of the key players of which, Primakov, has just died) had to negotiate with the US new rules of the game, which undoubtedly involved a series of sensitive, but still very secret agreements and protocols meant to lock in US victory. It is to be expected that numerous instruments, guarantees, measures, and locks were created and implanted. These locks were or are institutional and also personal (someone needs to oversee, report, monitor, and manage)--in the end, all boils down to people and their deployment, recruitment, and policing. As such, some of these locks were legalized, others are illegal by their character.
The USSR by virtue of many of its leadership's decisions was treated in certain ways something like Japan after World War II. Its Constitution and its privatization/transformation was written by the Americans, but officially its (fostered) father is Anatoly Sobchak, a professor of Soviet economic law, who, besides Russia's new colonial constitution, left behind two more children behind. One is Ksenia Sobchak, a sort of self-styled, notorious socialite and Kardashian of St. Petersburg, and the other is Putin himself. Sobchak was his mentor throughout the 1990s.
Putin became president at a time when Russia was in a miserable shape and was in the process of disintegration, which some in the US were busy encouraging. However, this early would-be demise also looked to others in the US as too early and too dangerous. Mainly on two accounts: 1) because of Russia's nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction and 2) because of a great danger that, instead of the West, China would be able to move into the sudden vacuum because of its geographic proximity and demographic potential. Differently put, by 2000, the US and NATO did not yet move and did not secure their military and security infrastructure well enough into the former Soviet space or sufficiently deep into the east. To do so a whole new maneuver was required, which became known and concealed as the War on Terror. In this regard, there is now a vast difference between where and how the US and NATO were deployed and ready in 1999-2000 and where and how they are deployed now.
What is now also clear and can't be disputed is the fact that, in the face of US/Brzezinski's and other plans, Russia had no strategy (deserving that name) for Ukraine for the last 25 years, 15 of which directly under Putin. From a security viewpoint, this direction would, however, be of utmost security, strategic and political importance for Russia. Certainly, criminal negligence and sheer incompetence played their role; however, the absence (besides heavily subsidizing Ukrainian Nazi-supporting and increasingly anti-Russian oligarchs) of strategy was systemic, which indicates a presence of a long term "policy," however, perverse and traitorous it was. Objectively, such a policy looks much like a US strategy and policy as if, under the Malta New World Order, Russia was not allowed to have a real national security policy for Ukraine (yes, you can have your BRICS meetings, but you must leave completely bare and open our access to Moscow all the way via Ukraine ...). If Putin is a great chess master and strategic genius, then he "masterfully" chose to forgo the game for Ukraine from 2000 till 2013 (except for gas), which resulted in the US installing a Nazi, anti-Russian regime in Ukraine whereby the US and NATO receive very cheaply a huge bridgehead almost right up to the gates of Moscow itself. In one of his speeches last year (I believe in June), Putin declared that all this was exactly as predicted and foreseen by the Kremlin ... "I came, I saw, and I knew that Maidan would win. So I watched."
Having learned from the British, the US mastered not only old empire-building methods, but was able to develop new ones as well, including ways of using, appropriating and deploying social capital.
Returning to the opening questions, the situation almost reminds me of the discussions about God in philosophy when some argued that God encompasses all thinkable and unthinkable attributes because of his unlimited power and will, while others thought that none of the attributes does him justice and that it might be possible to say what he is not rather than what he is. When it comes to Putin, the man, I do think that certain things are obvious:
1. his credentials of being anywhere on the left are zero;
2. his credentials of being "anti-imperialist" are ambiguous or rather more than secondary to his and Russian oligarchs' almost desperate quest for "partnership" (or recognition as both superior and equal in Fukuyama's Hegelian sense);
3. this leaves Putin either somewhere in the center or to the right; how far right is still an open question.
4. what is also very obvious and certain is that Putin is not a God whose mission and power is to save mankind; he is human. All too human.
5. Much of his policy toward Ukraine and Donbass has been pretense.
However, it seems to be safe to say that, in Putin's case, his enigma and meaning is given rather precisely by the place which he occupies in the factual (rather than nominal) organization of the world capitalist system. As a president, he does need to make plans; but, in the world system, he too is undoubtedly an actor and part of other master plan. For it is a Hobbesian world and system with actors for public figures.
The strange, much Byzantine convulsions, flips and convolutions of Moscow's policies or the lack of them in relation to Ukraine does have "underneath it all' one self-betraying theme, which came out when, on May 7,2014, Putin himself urged the Russians in Donbass to postpone their referendum . To "postpone" the referendum would have killed it, and killing the referendum (clearly in the interest of the West and the Nazis in Kiev) would have also be very detrimental to the buildup of legitimacy of the anti-Maidan uprising as an act willed and declared freely, clearly and loudly by the people of Donbass. Putin made this statement aimed at the very birth of Novorossiya when meeting with an OSCE politician from Switzerland (make a guess of how much wealth Russian oligarchs and officials have stashed in Swiss banks).
Shortly after, on May 21, 2014, Putin did, in fact, define the goal of his Ukrainian policy (from now on, but also valid before) in terms of his and Moscow's support for the junta's fraudulent and manipulated presidential elections, when, with all the media in the hands of the Maidan oligarchs, no real opposition figure was allowed to run; when Oleg Tzarev did try to pursue his candidacy he was first beaten by a Nazi, nationalist crowd in the presence of the junta police and then detained by the same police. In explaining or justifying the withdrawal of Russian troops and thus also the Russian deterrent for the junta at the moment of the critical escalation of the junta's onslaught on Donbass, Putin said this: "Let me stress once more that we are doing this ... as an additional step to help create favorable [blagopriyatnyie] conditions for the upcoming presidential elections in Ukraine." RT.com tried to blunt the effect of Putin's expressed goal of creating favorable conditions for the Nazi junta by changing "favorable" (i.e. encouraging, positive, enabling) into "benign": "President Putin says it is a gesture of aimed at providing 'benign conditions" for the Ukrainian presidential election."
What Putin revealed and defined here as Moscow's actions aimed at legitimizing, assisting and securing Poroshenko, the imperial US-chosen puppet and oligarch in chief, also defines, helps explain and reveals the leitmotif and the key to the puzzle in Putin's "strategy," his cunning plans, and the stunning long-term lack of any real, genuine strategy for Ukraine before the Maidan--the common denominator was the creation of the favorable and conducive conditions for the Empire's plans and its anti-Russian Nazification of Ukraine and the much needed sheltering period for its entrenchment, mobilization, training and takeover of the Ukrainian state together with the added doze of its legitimization by Moscow itself. All this needed to carried out via the Hegelian display of the negations of the nations or posited opposites, which are meant to turn into their Hegelian opposites when demanded, and with a notable degree of subtlety, calibration, and the right amount of carefully measured escalation served in stages and by degrees, which does betray the American hand and intelligent management behind it. This has been carried out just by the "right" amounts and doses of collaboration and resistance, ambiguity, evasion, concerns and partnership, which looks to so many as treachery--whether out of calculation or cowardice.