[C]REATING A MOAT AROUND RUSSIA: SIX POINTS EXPLAINING WHY PUTIN IS ACTING STRATEGICALLY
1) The fall of Ukraine was unexpected and Putin feared a spread to Moscow. Rather than call up the USA or Merkel and offer to lease Crimea for 99 years with an option to renew, and offer to exchange the Donbas (The Don Basin) for a large discount on gas for the same period, he ‘flinched’ because of the fear that he would lose his only warm water port.
2) He did expect some difficulties from the west but not the severity of impact on the economy. This was surprising to him – and everyone else for that matter. He is painfully aware that the west could shut off financial transactions with Russia and that would cause the rest of the economy to collapse. While he can threaten to turn off the oil to the west, this hurts him far more than the west – who merely has to buy more expensive oil on the world market – whereas Russia rapidly runs out of money to conduct trade (and internal bribes).
3) Putin wants to restore Russia to peer status in the world. He saw his civilization collapse and it framed him forever. He is not alone. To do this requires that he monopolize the oil revenues so that he can manage the economy through payments (dependents) the way germans manage with duty, brits with morality, and americans with law. Russia does not share our high trust traditions and so he must run the country as a mafia state until he can mature the institutions sufficiently that he does not need to use 50% of revenues to buy influence in order to keep the country running. This is a job that is very difficult that is hard for westerners to understand. Russia is and always has been run as a mafia state – for the same reason souther Italy was run as a mafia state: because no one in or out of the administration was trustworthy.
4) Putin (correctly I believe) wants to provide his people (and the world) with an alternative to the ‘suicidal decadence’ of the democratic secular hedonistic west. Prior to ‘flinching’ in Ukraine, he was the most respected politician in the world. He can quite easily enfranchise the western right and accomplish that goal if he lets go of Ukraine. He may not see that Ukraine is forever gone – the people have turned against Russia forever. (I live here in Ukraine). And that Ukraine will want membership in both the EU and NATO and if not, then the eastern european countries will form an alternative to NATO.
5) He has a muslim problem greater than that of Europe and America, and worse yet, he depends on Chechen muslims to do much of his ‘dirty work’. So he is empowering enemies. His reason for acting in Syria is three fold: (a) he wants to kill off as many muslims as possible so that they don’t expand to Russia. (b) most maps don’t show this well, but most of the oil in the world that is profitable to take out of the ground is in a narrow region between the saudi Peninsula and the Barents sea. Now,it’s one thing if radical muslims hold the southern half of that territory, but not if they terrorize Russia and get hold of the northern half. (c) Russia has not been able *yet* to produce a diverse economy so he needs no to fight a world war with muslims over the oil fields when he is in weakened position.
6) Russia’s most severe problem is that it cannot develop businesses because as soon as they are profitable some member of the upper echelon steps in, drives it to near bankruptcy and then buys it for a song. This has become the most serious issue to the economy other than the permanent problem with rule of law. The problem of ‘modernizing’ Russia is very difficult and he has actually made pretty significant progress during his tenure.
PUTIN IS CONSISTENT
We must not misinterpret Putin’s actions in Ukraine as a strategy, rather than an act of panic at the possible loss of the manufacturing base of the Russian military (in the Donbas) and the only warm water port possessed by the Russian military (crimea).
Otherwise, Putin has a long term plan to create a traditional Russia by restoring the orthodox church, providing an impassable and state sponsored method of resisting islam,(400 new churches in Moscow alone), slowly reforming rule of law, and after the sanctions are lifted (they will be) using money to diversify the economy. (Russia cannot duplicate the Silicon Valley Model because of the low trust society and pervasive corruption, but it has the talent to do so. Russian psychology – skepticism, cunning, and pride – is very useful in the development of engineers.)
Putin is making sure that Russia is an island insulated from Islamic brutality and Western depravity. He is building a fortress of defense against threats to his people. A better example is that he is building an Ark that will survive the coming turmoils.
If you see it from this perspective, Putin is profoundly consistent, strategic and rational in the pursuit of his objectives.
The Propertarian Institute