Debate Magazine

Russia Has a Problem, and They Know It. It's Putin.

Posted on the 03 March 2014 by Doggone


Putin, playing bad ass dress up

No need to get one's knickers in a twist. 
No need to invest in a cold-war era bomb shelter, or if you have one, to try to drag everything out of it that is stored there so you can use the space for the original intention.
Yes. Putin is in the Ukraine. For now. So? He has likely put his foot in it, badly.
Putin has bigger problems at home.  This is at best a distraction, at worst, flaming stupid on his part.  His own people do not support him.  And as his economy crumbles, no amount of propaganda is likely to save him if the Russian economy continues to tank and dissatisfaction with Putin grows.

Russians Ambivalent As Putin Threatens Ukraine Invasion

Competing rallies in Russia's two biggest cities have laid bare divisions among Russians over a possible military intervention in Ukraine.
The rallies in Moscow and St. Petersburg each drew hundreds of participants on March 2, one day after Russian President Vladimir Putin declared that his country had the right to invade neighboring Ukraine.
Lawmakers unanimously authorized him to use force.
Ordinary Russians, however, appear divided over the prospect of a war with Ukraine.
Independent opinions polls conducted before the crisis show that an overwhelming majority of Russians opposed Russian meddling in Ukrainian politics as well as a possible military intervention in the country.

Raise your hand if you know why the former Soviet Union failed and collapsed.   Lower your hand if you think it was because of Ronald Ray-gun.  It wasn't. 
It was a mix of disenchantment with Soviet militarism -- just like this latest Ukraine militarism -- combined with problems with corruption -- just as Russia has now, and most obviously demonstrated in hosting the Olympics (a 30 mile stretch of railroad costing $8.7 billion as just one example of many).  And lastly, under Putin, Russia has a similar oppression of civil rights and internal schisms and factions to those that brought about the demise of the USSR.
Putin, it appears, may have had to follow up the scandal ridden Olympics with some new move to make him look strong, and perhaps to grab the Crimean peninsula to appease those who think the Ukraine loans were a burden on Russia. 
It remains highly questionable if, having taken the land and military bases, Putin can then hold them. Trying to do so would certainly be an attempt to unify the country under renewed pseudo-nationalism and conservative hyper-patriotism.  Trying to back down the west would bolster his crumbling image.  His actions only make sense from the perspective of domestic perception, a perception Putin largely controls.
But the west doesn't have to do anything much other than financial sanctions to cut Putin off at the knees, and to wait.  In the long run, it is more likely that little or no fighting takes place, and that in the long run, Russia actually might LOSE their naval base in Sevastopol.

Rasputin - see the similarities in appearance and expression to Putin?
Ok - so Rasputin had more hair.......but with bad ass sunglasses and a shave?
It's almost the same guy!

Even if Putin has more lives, political and otherwise in the early days of the 21st century, than Rasputin did in the early days of the 20th century, his country does not, and Russia is more vulnerable now not less.  Putin presumably knows it.  The NATO countries most certainly do, and I'm confident so do Obama, Kerry and Hagel. 
It's a toss up, and a relatively insignificant one in our own politics, how much of this the radical right knows and understands.  I think it is a safe bet that another success for Obama does not bode well for the radical right in either the 2014 election cycle, OR the 2016 cycle.
From Sky News Australia:

Russian ruble at new low against euro

Updated: 22:24, Wednesday February 26, 2014

Russian ruble at new low against euro

The Russian ruble fell to a new record low against the euro on Wednesday amid fears of a Ukrainian default and a slowdown in the Russian economy.
The euro surged to 49.42 rubles at around 0940 GMT, with the ruble dropping below the record set last week of 49.35 rubles.
The US dollar has risen to 35.94 rubles, its highest rate since 2009.
The ruble has lost more than eight per cent against the euro since the start of the year, as investors are reluctant to put money into emerging economies and Russia's economic activity has slowed.
Analysts at VTB Capital said that 'tensions over Ukraine once again started weighing on the ruble.'
Russian Deputy Finance Minister Sergei Storchak had said on Tuesday that Russia had 'no legal obligations' to pay out the full $US15 billion ($A16.68 billion) loan secured last year by Ukraine's ousted president Viktor Yanukovych.
Fears are growing that Ukraine will default on its obligations and Russian banks are greatly exposed to the crisis-hit ex-Soviet country.
Fitch ratings agency warned on Tuesday that Russian state-owned banks are holding the bulk of Russian banks' total exposure to Ukraine of an estimated $US28 billion.
Growth of the Russian economy slowed down sharply to 1.3 per cent in 2013 from 3.4 per cent in 2012 and 4.3 per cent in 2011. Figures published this year show this slowdown growing more marked.

With or without Putin's sun glasses, I don't think our side is going to blink.  Our side knows real (not revisionist) history, and can do math.  Well, at least the Democrats can; the tea baggers, not so well. But who really cares what they think anyway? The radical right in the U.S. has put themselves beyond the bounds of reason, and therefore outside serious consideration.

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