Friday, August 28, 2009

Window on Eurasia: Putin Dreams of Acting like the Soviet Image of the US rather than like One of Washington’s ‘Vassals,’ Moscow Analyst Says

Paul Goble

Vienna, August 28 – Prime Minister Vladimir Putin revealed more about himself this week than he may have intended when he received South Ossetia’s President Eduard Kokoity in the Russian capital on the first anniversary of Moscow’s recognition of that breakaway republic, according to a Moscow commentator.
In an essay posted on, Ilya Mil’shtein said that “theoretically,” Putin “could have spoken the truth.” The Russian leader could have “acknowledged that Russia’s policy in the Caucasus, designed to provoke [Georgian President Mikheil] Saakashvili, was crowned with success a year ago” but that Moscow has failed to get international recognition for Tskhinvali.
(The Russian leader did go out of his way to welcome the recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia by Nicaragua’s president, but he did not take the trouble to note that Nicaragua’s parliament “corrected him” and “as a result up to the moment, there is not a Nicaraguan embassy in either Tskhinvali or Sukhumi) (
Putin could have said that his “intention was different,” that Moscow had taken the steps it did in order to fulfill “a project under the conditional title, ‘The Anti-Kosovo, or Our Answer to the Washington Sultan.’” But then, Mil’shtein continues, he would have to acknowledge that Russia has no allies because no country was willing to accept that line.
Or Mil’shtein continues, Putin “could have spoken a different truth” and pointed out that he had once again “successfully used a war for domestic political goals,” in much the same way that he used the launch of the second post-Soviet Chechen war – even though now the prime minister has to share in the minds of a few some of the glory with his successor.
But, the commentator argues, the current Russian prime minister “would not be Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin if this year or ten years later, he were to begin speaking the truth.”
In his remarks – for the text, see -- Putin indicated that he “did not see any difference between Kosovo and Tskhinvalia, although for some reason he did not go on to explain what in that case forced Moscow to support the Serbs and turn around a jet over the Atlantic.”
Moreover, Putin insisted, in a way designed to cover Moscow’s diplomatic isolation, that Russia “had not asked anyone” to recognize the independence” of the two breakaway republics, that Russian recognition was sufficient because Russia had taken this step “to legalize our efforts for the support of peace.”
The reason other countries have not yet recognized South Ossetia and Abkhazia is that “not many participants of the international community are exercising sovereignty in the full sense of the word.” Instead, “all of them under pressure from the one superpower, the United States, carry out its political will” rather than on acknowledging reality.
“But,” Putin concluded, he is “certain that gradually this situation will change because no one wants to be a vassal, no one in fact wants to feel himself in this or any other degree dependent. And the bloc mentality of the times of the Cold War will thus gradually dissolve in contemporary reality.”
That statement, Mil’shtein concludes is “the pure truth” -- but “not about America, of course, and [its supposed] vassals but about [Putin] himself. For this is how the world looks to him: At the center is Comrade Wolf and around him are his vassals” who serve him in all ways and at his orders.
At the direction of this wolf, “they falsify history, arrange for the indivisible Union a geopolitical catastrophe, blow up Beslan and introduce tanks into Tskhinvali. With all his Chekist soul, [Putin] hates these vassals and envies Comrade Wolf. [Putin] too wants to eat his full and not listen to anyone.”
That is clearly how he felt and acted “a year ago in Georgia when for the first time in his life, [Putin] felt himself like an American.” But not so much like Americans really are but like “the real American of old Soviet books about spies or films like ‘TASS is Authorized to State,’” in which “a severe but just imperialist aggressor carries out a war of conquest without pity.”

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