Mark Ames writes an interesting article about what drives Putin (answer: domestic politics) in “Sorry America, Ukraine Isn’t All About You”
This is my comment:
A very interesting analysis: though it ignores a few things. I have read Putin’s political manifestos he issued prior to the 2012 election. They were much derided in the Western media for their length and verbosity. (Of course this is now that Putin does not serve the US government foreign policy objectives, hence the Western corporate media falls lockstep into official US State Department views. They loathe Putin in a manner that Fox does of Obama, venomously and irrationally).
The manifestos for those who cared to wade through them (and consistent with the views expressed in various speeches freely available in translation to English for any who care to read), reveals Putin – or at least what he projects – as a Russian nationalist (that is to say whose primary objective is the well being of Russians, economically, culturally and yes developmentally, not necessarily a Russian exceptionalist, ie one that assumes Russians are meant to rule the world). He acknowledges the corruption, the fragility of the state institutions, and the fact that the masses need to develop to a point to take more responsibility for their situation than expecting central authority to solve it for them. He actually praises Western European state institutions as ideals to move towards.
Where he is adamant is that this be done in a timeframe and manner consistent with the Russian experience, culture and state of development.
What he – and the majority of Russian peoples – are up against is the US government which quite openly in various policy papers seeks to take over the post-Soviet space, prevent Russia from growing closer to its satrapies in Western Europe and ally with the Muscovite/St Petersburg liberals to dismember and control the other time zones – as this article puts it – that they hate and despise anyway.
So, even assuming Putin was not a political creature (he surely is by definition), as a Russian nationalist, he has two challenges: the first to modernize the vast hinterlands of Russia and bring them up to speed, and the second to prevent the US government and its vast Empire working in concert with the “liberal” (in reality self serving) big city interests from preventing this. Putin would seek to distribute wealth from Russia’s abundant natural resources to its peoples, which goes starkly against US government interests which seeks to concentrate wealth into a few places where “it is most efficient”.
As far as Ukriane is convened, there is really no such “nation” – much like Czechoslovakia, it’s an amalgam of (at least) two separate nations that were brought together for political purposes in the past under the Russian empire. The US Government sees Ukraine as little more than a condom to get at Russia to be discarded after its objective is achieved (as Pakistan said of US foreign policy after it was used and discarded after the Soviets left Afghanistan). Meanwhile Ukraine’s abundant natural wealth will be looted by the IMF and their backers; some Ukranians will get very very rich (even richer than before), the majority will become impoverished even more so than before.
And so yeah, Ukraine is screwed
And incidentally Pussy Riot and the “repression of gays” are issues deliberately amplified by the Western media and the US government foreign policy they serve.
Pussy Riot – which is made up of genuine anarchists (who have now (politely) disaffirmed Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina as members) – made several appearances caterwauling against Putin (setting off a smoke bomb in Red Square among other incidents) without repercussions. The Cathedral stunt was a step too far as it directly offended the Church (that yes Putin cultivates). If a band tried the same stunt in St Patrick’s Cathedral in New York (say singing some epithets against Obama), you can bet that the NYPD would taze, mace and drag the offenders off to prison in handcuffs. Yet Pussy Riot became a cause célèbre in the West, as a symbol of Putin’s “repression”. While the pre-trial detention and sentencing was excessive – though no more than thousands of mostly black Americans go through annually in the US – Putin was repeatedly hammered for it.
Similarly with the laws prohibiting the propagandizing of homosexuality. While a step backwards for gay rights, it’s a far cry from “repression of gays”. There are many gay bars and gay magazines in Russia openly available. Just because Russia is not up to date with whatever the West is doing NOW, does not mean that Russia is doomed, backward and repressive.
What’s interesting of course is this: the moment that the breast beating in the Western media about Pussy Riot and the homosexuality laws achieved their purpose of demonizing Putin (before and soon after the 2012 election and the Sochi games respectively), Ukraine replacing it in the US government-media’s steady anti-Putin propaganda, both these disappeared from the news. Ukraine is the perfect club to spread fear and loathing of Putin among a Western public that has grown used to believing whatever US government talking points and briefings their corporate media loyally prints and broadcasts.
The true losers are not Putin (who as this article points out, has never been more popular with sell-outs and fifth-columnists like Navalny (temporarily at least) silenced), not the neo-cons running US government policy but the Ukranian people (who are going to be in a world of hurt as the austerity measures that Yanukovich had the temerity to question kick in) and the Western peoples who will lose more of their taxdollars to a Government on its obscene “defense” (doublespeak for “the most potent offensive force in the history of the planet”) spending, watching as the infrastructure, education and healthcare crumbles all around it.