Andrei Liakhov: Re: “Cohen on Putin”

File Photo of Kremlin Tower, St. Basil's, Red Square at Night

Subject: Cohen on Putin
Date: Wed, 17 Jan 2018
From: Andrei Liakhov <>

[Andrei Liakhov has over 20 years of experience with leading international law firms, private companies and government institutions in the United Kingdom, the Russian Federation, Lithuania, Canada, and Ukraine.]

Brilliant analysis, I can subscribe to every word. Pity the video is cut short and we do not see the subsequent discussion.

I think (I wrote about in in JRL several years ago I think) that Stephen is the first Western Russia commentator to notice that Putin came to power as a wide eyed European and gradually hardened up and changed into (in my view) a XIX century realpolitik leader a la Gorchakoff and Bismarck.

Early Putin seriously explored both joining NATO and the EU. Interestingly that Russia’s drive to join the EU was de facto (if not de jure) blocked by Poland, the Baltic states and the U.K. One Aide to a Baltic Head of state privately formulated this rather cynically at the time “we left the USSR to keep the Russian budlo out and will never allow the Russians to milk our cow”. (“Cow” means Brussels and the EU for those JRL readers who have illusions about Balts and Poles view of Brussels institutions).

Pity that Stephen did not touch on the current and probably the biggest challenge of Putin period in power. That is succession. One close friend of his once wisely remarked that “it is more important how you leave power than how you ascend to it”. And the problem is that the the generation of young technocrats of the Presidential reserve has not produced a heir apparent nor there is anyone older who could qualify.

And that is a real problem. The “liberal” (it is anything but) opposition is a bunch of largely western grant eaters whose war cry seems to be “all is bad and Russia stinks”. Which generates D.C. grants and WP and NYT interviews but is incapable of creating even a one percentage point following.

Communists, LDPR and Just Russia even though they do have a following are way past their respective “sell by dates”.

It is not beyond the impossible to suggest that his choice of PM in May would indicate how the succession saga is likely to play out. If the PM is an “old horse” than we are likely to see VVP sitting out the full term. His principal task will in this case to find and train the successor (or may be several competing candidates), while the PM will be mostly running the show.

If on the other hand, the PM is a younger person, it could well be the case that if VVP thinks that he will have proven himself by, say mid term, as a capable and popular leader, VVP could step down say, in 2021.

A lot would also be clear from the list of Deputy PMs (some of whom may either be real candidates or may have a “side task” of breeding a successor(s)).