Andrei Liakhov: “PUTIN AND THE WEST: A view of an unengaged observer”

Subject: PUTIN AND THE WEST A view of an unengaged observer
Date: Wed, 6 Jan 2021
From: Andrei Liakhov <>

A view of an unengaged observer
By Andrei Liakhov

Looking at the recent history of the relationship between Russia and the West it is clear that the the West has started to put pressure on Russia (collectively called Putin) way before it became visible to the public at large. First signs appeared during late first term of President Putin and “strangely” coincided with the beginning of Russia’s resurrection from one of the deepest systemic crisis ever seen in modern history. And the richer and more confident Russia became the more covert and overt pressure the West applied to it. Focusing the pressure on Putin and his supporters was just another sign of the overall success of his administration in re-building Russia into a “normal” state. Exaggeration of failures (which are many) and complete ignorance of Russia’s success stories (which are also numerous) is one of the two main approaches of the campaign to get rid of Putin and his team. Demonisation of Russia and personally of its president dates back to approximately 2006 and is the other main approach which recently took a very farcical turn with “Navalny underwear”. Coupled with internal Russian problems and failures of the ruling team (which are being skillfully used by the West) these two approaches are designed to ensure a radical change of regime in 2024. The jury is still out on whether this could/will work but one thing is crystal clear: the West has no interest in having Russia as a strong independent state. The West also seems to be envious of Russia which has managed to relatively successfully navigate through the 2008 crisis and manages to handle the current pandemic more effectively than the collective West. Russia’s relative stability and growth inevitably results in re-establishment of various relationships both within the “soviet space” and in regions which for many years had strong ties with the USSR. Coupled with the waning leadership of the US, rise of China and fundamental differences in the vision of the future world between Russia and the West only re-enforce the standoff.

However, there are several important issues which are being by far and large ignored. Firstly the West takes a hugely simplistic view of how Putin retains power. The groupthink view of the annihilation of any and all opposition and bribing supporters almost completely fails to understand modern Russia and is designed for mass consumption by Twitter educated public. This view may be popular like primitive Marxism was popular with uneducated proletariat, but it has nothing to do with the reality. The purpose of these comments is not to seek to analyse reasons for the continuous high ratings of Putin and his team. It would be suffice to say that the current Kremlin administration has more grass root support than any western politician could dream of and is generally in habit of keeping its word to the electorate.

Watching this, western elite is increasing annoyed by the overall effectiveness of the Kremlin regime and how it handles the country. Its annoyance with Putin is re-enforced both by the obvious successes in rebuilding Russian economy, its armed forces and its return to the global scene as a strong, independent actor. Western political class is clearly envious of Putin’s successes which are particularly obvious at the background of its marked degradation and inability to solve several major challenges (immigration, terrorism, poverty, literacy, etc) .

Professional envy is a very well established fact. Saliery poisoned Mozart, Pushkin disliked Benediktov, mass media is full of stories of professional envy in ballet and theatre. Mediocre majority often bullies talent.

Professional envy is a feature of anyone who seeks election to a high office. Once elected politicians transfer this envy onto their competitors and western view of Putin is drenched in envy. Much like one hit wonders often hate artists with many years of continuous success. Putin irrespective of how one views him has the longest track record of success in politics. Institutional envy of his record is almost palpable in every “Putin/Russia” story peddled by western media.

Putin bullying reached grotesque proportions in 2020 and seems like this trend will continue in 2021. He is the usual suspect for everything. Russian liberals lead the charge with accusations of “degradation of diplomacy”, “unseen standoff with western democracies”, “ruined relationships with former Soviet republics”, “attempts to recreate the USSR”, “condescending relationships with allies”, etc..

There is no sense to give origins of these quotes. All of these coupled with more bizarre voiced by groupthink think tanks and lesser politicians (“support of terrorism”, “campaign to destroy western democracy” etc) are a generalization of the West’s charges against Putin.

Promotion of highly destructive regime changes in post Soviet space, “Arab spring”, NATO bases in the Baltics, support of Muslim militants, extrajudicial killing of its own citizens (remember Anwar Awlaki) for their beliefs is all done in the name and for promotion of democratic values. Long prison sentences and prosecutions of whistleblowers and journalists (like Snowden and Assange) is the measure to ensure free speech and justice. But of course western bullets and explosives are democratic, aren’t they?
And US naval base in Sevastopol is a blessing, Russian base in Tartus is a sacrilege. Why? Because US spreads “managed democratic havoc” and Russia fights people who literally sever heads for incorrect quote from Quran? I wonder what the groupthink will “think” if another terror army blows up the White House in the name of God…… “ultimate way of self expression” ?

Everyone conveniently forgets the shape Russia was in when Putin team took over the country. This is irrelevant for both the West and its Russian liberal followers. The West is neither interested nor is really trying to change worldview of Russian electorate. It is tired of waiting for Putin to go and ceased to put up any shade of decency in its treatment of Russia and its leader. It seems like the West is becoming increasingly desperate which is evidenced by a switch to crude setups like “Navalny trunks”.
The West is envious of Putin not because he holds power for a long time. There are people who hold the wheel for longer (other than African dictators, and Lukashenko).

Putin taught his people to believe in him (other than a small minority of “western grant eaters”). Putin is believed because people believe in his goals. Western electorates do not believe their politicians and they lose power. Russians en masse keep believing Putin. And he stays. Despite continuous focused media war where the West has much more resources.

Aristotle wrote once that troubles are caused by perceptions, not realities. To kick Putin out the West is seeking to attract attention of his electorate and make it believe in an altered reality. So far these attempts so far are failing by far and large.

However, the West is targeting the whole group of people who came to power with Putin and formulated social order for independence, sovereignty in its Grotius meaning and extension of Russian influence worldwide. This was essence a reaction to overt and covert discrimination Russian business has faced when it started to expand beyond Russian borders and beyond being the world’s petroleum pump. Russian business needed protection which only a strong state could provide. By 2010 it became clear that Russians would not be allowed to compete on equal footing with western businesses. Refusal to sell several high profile assets in distress (Opel, Saab, Fokker), decimation of Russian owned banking business in the Baltic, refusal to sell North Sea oil assets to A1, etc.. dictated the need for sovereign protection. The side effect of this discrimInation was that more investment was directed to domestic projects. World War for resources required protection of territory and elimination of threats from radical often religious militants. This predetermined the choice of Target – not only Putin but the whole business team which supports Putin and shares (and strongly influence) his goals.

All “frontline attacks” failed. And the West decided to use tactics tried and tested for 40 odd years with the Soviet Union: “rock the boat, feed the dissent and hope for the internal crisis”. It is a long playing project but it is unlikely to succeed (at least there are no obvious signs yet) – the Russians became much wiser since 1991 and it looks like they will not be tempted by the beeds and whiskey once again.

2021 is likely to throw up even more bizzaire and unbelievable stories about Putin the terrible. The more primitive they will be the less believable they will become and the more envious and desperate the West will be. Hopefully the degree of sanity and/or threat of Russian hypersonic weapons would prevent the duty officer from pushing the red button ……