Can Putin Survive?

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Can Putin Survive?
klimkin / Pixabay

Editor’s Note: This week, we revisit a Geopolitical Weekly first published in July 2014 that explored whether Russian President Vladimir Putin could hold on to power despite his miscalculations in Ukraine, a topic that returned to prominence with his recent temporary absence from public view. While Putin has since reappeared, the issues highlighted by his disappearing act persist.

There is a general view that Vladimir Putin governs the Russian Federation as a dictator, that he has defeated and intimidated his opponents and that he has marshaled a powerful threat to surrounding countries. This is a reasonable view, but perhaps it should be re-evaluated in the context of recent events.

Ukraine and the Bid to Reverse Russia’s Decline

Ukraine is, of course, the place to start. The country is vital to Russia as a buffer against the West and as a route for delivering energy to Europe, which is the foundation of the Russian economy. On Jan. 1, Ukraine’s president was Viktor Yanukovich, generally regarded as favorably inclined to Russia. Given the complexity of Ukrainian society and politics, it would be unreasonable to say Ukraine under him was merely a Russian puppet. But it is fair to say that under Yanukovich and his supporters, fundamental Russian interests in Ukraine were secure.

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This was extremely important to Putin. Part of the reason Putin had replaced Boris Yeltsin in 2000 was Yeltsin’s performance during the Kosovo war. Russia was allied with the Serbs and had not wanted NATO to launch a war against Serbia. Russian wishes were disregarded. The Russian views simply didn’t matter to the West. Still, when the air war failed to force Belgrade’s capitulation, the Russians negotiated a settlement that allowed U.S. and other NATO troops to enter and administer Kosovo. As part of that settlement, Russian troops were promised a significant part in peacekeeping in Kosovo. But the Russians were never allowed to take up that role, and Yeltsin proved unable to respond to the insult.

Putin also replaced Yeltsin because of the disastrous state of the Russian economy. Though Russia had always been poor, there was a pervasive sense that it been a force to be reckoned with in international affairs. Under Yeltsin, however, Russia had become even poorer and was now held in contempt in international affairs. Putin had to deal with both issues. He took a long time before moving to recreate Russian power, though he said early on that the fall of the Soviet Union had been the greatest geopolitical disaster of the 20th century. This did not mean he wanted to resurrect the Soviet Union in its failed form, but rather that he wanted Russian power to be taken seriously again, and he wanted to protect and enhance Russian national interests.

The breaking point came in Ukraine during the Orange Revolution of 2004. Yanukovich was elected president that year under dubious circumstances, but demonstrators forced him to submit to a second election. He lost, and a pro-Western government took office. At that time, Putin accused the CIA and other Western intelligence agencies of having organized the demonstrations. Fairly publicly, this was the point when Putin became convinced that the West intended to destroy the Russian Federation, sending it the way of the Soviet Union. For him, Ukraine’s importance to Russia was self-evident. He therefore believed that the CIA organized the demonstration to put Russia in a dangerous position, and that the only reason for this was the overarching desire to cripple or destroy Russia. Following the Kosovo affair, Putin publicly moved from suspicion to hostility to the West.

The Russians worked from 2004 to 2010 to undo the Orange Revolution. They worked to rebuild the Russian military, focus their intelligence apparatus and use whatever economic influence they had to reshape their relationship with Ukraine. If they couldn’t control Ukraine, they did not want it to be controlled by the United States and Europe. This was, of course, not their only international interest, but it was the pivotal one.

Russia’s invasion of Georgia had more to do with Ukraine than it had to do with the Caucasus. At the time, the United States was still bogged down in Iraq and Afghanistan. While Washington had no formal obligation to Georgia, there were close ties and implicit guarantees. The invasion of Georgia was designed to do two things. The first was to show the region that the Russian military, which had been in shambles in 2000, was able to act decisively in 2008. The second was to demonstrate to the region, and particularly to Kiev, that American guarantees, explicit or implicit, had no value. In 2010, Yanukovich was elected president of Ukraine, reversing the Orange Revolution and limiting Western influence in the country.

Recognizing the rift that was developing with Russia and the general trend against the United States in the region, the Obama administration tried to recreate older models of relationships when Hillary Clinton presented Putin with a “restart” button in 2009. But Washington wanted to restore the relationship in place during what Putin regarded as the “bad old days.” He naturally had no interest in such a restart. Instead, he saw the United States as having adopted a defensive posture, and he intended to exploit his advantage.

One place he did so was in Europe, using EU dependence on Russian energy to grow closer to the Continent, particularly Germany. But his high point came during the Syrian affair, when the Obama administration threatened airstrikes after Damascus used chemical weapons only to back off from its threat. The Russians aggressively opposed Obama’s move, proposing a process of negotiations instead. The Russians emerged from the crisis appearing decisive and capable, the United States indecisive and feckless. Russian power accordingly appeared on the rise, and in spite of a weakening economy, this boosted Putin’s standing.

The Tide Turns Against Putin

Events in Ukraine this year, by contrast, have proved devastating to Putin. In January, Russia dominated Ukraine. By February, Yanukovich had fled the country and a pro-Western government had taken power. The general uprising against Kiev that Putin had been expecting in eastern Ukraine after Yanukovich’s ouster never happened. Meanwhile, the Kiev government, with Western advisers, implanted itself more firmly. By July, the Russians controlled only small parts of Ukraine. These included Crimea, where the Russians had always held overwhelming military force by virtue of treaty, and a triangle of territory from Donetsk to Luhansk to Severodonetsk, where a small number of insurgents apparently supported by Russian special operations forces controlled a dozen or so towns.

If no Ukrainian uprising occurred, Putin’s strategy was to allow the government in Kiev to unravel of its own accord and to split the United States from Europe by exploiting Russia’s strong trade and energy ties with the Continent. And this is where the crash of the Malaysia Airlines jet is crucial. If it turns out — as appears to be the case — that Russia supplied air defense systems to the separatists and sent crews to man them (since operating those systems requires extensive training), Russia could be held responsible for shooting down the plane. And this means Moscow’s ability to divide the Europeans from the Americans would decline. Putin then moves from being an effective, sophisticated ruler who ruthlessly uses power to being a dangerous incompetent supporting a hopeless insurrection with wholly inappropriate weapons. And the West, no matter how opposed some countries might be to a split with Putin, must come to grips with how effective and rational he really is.

Meanwhile, Putin must consider the fate of his predecessors. Nikita Khrushchev returned from vacation in October 1964 to find himself replaced by his protege, Leonid Brezhnev, and facing charges of, among other things, “harebrained scheming.” Khrushchev had recently been humiliated in the Cuban missile crisis. This plus his failure to move the economy forward after about a decade in power saw his closest colleagues “retire” him. A massive setback in foreign affairs and economic failures had resulted in an apparently unassailable figure being deposed.

Russia’s economic situation is nowhere near as catastrophic as it was under Khrushchev or Yeltsin, but it has deteriorated substantially recently, and perhaps more important, has failed to meet expectations. After recovering from the 2008 crisis, Russia has seen several years of declining gross domestic product growth rates, and its central bank is forecasting zero growth this year. Given current pressures, we would guess the Russian economy will slide into recession sometime in 2014. The debt levels of regional governments have doubled in the past four years, and several regions are close to bankruptcy. Moreover, some metals and mining firms are facing bankruptcy. The Ukrainian crisis has made things worse. Capital flight from Russia in the first six months stood at $76 billion, compared to $63 billion for all of 2013. Foreign direct investment fell 50 percent in the first half of 2014 compared to the same period in 2013. And all this happened in spite of oil prices remaining higher than $100 per barrel.

Putin’s popularity at home soared after the successful Sochi Winter Olympics and after the Western media made him look like the aggressor in Crimea. He has, after all, built his reputation on being tough and aggressive. But as the reality of the situation in Ukraine becomes more obvious, the great victory will be seen as covering a retreat coming at a time of serious economic problems. For many leaders, the events in Ukraine would not represent such an immense challenge. But Putin has built his image on a tough foreign policy, and the economy meant his ratings were not very high before Ukraine.

Imagining Russia After Putin

In the sort of regime that Putin has helped craft, the democratic process may not be the key to understanding what will happen next. Putin has restored Soviet elements to the structure of the government, even using the term “Politburo” for his inner Cabinets. These are all men of his choosing, of course, and so one might assume they would be loyal to him. But in the Soviet-style Politburo, close colleagues were frequently the most feared.

The Politburo model is designed for a leader to build coalitions among factions. Putin has been very good at doing that, but then he has been very successful at all the things he has done until now. His ability to hold things together declines as trust in his abilities declines and various factions concerned about the consequences of remaining closely tied to a failing leader start to maneuver. Like Khrushchev, who was failing in economic and foreign policy, Putin could have his colleagues remove him.

It is difficult to know how a succession crisis would play out, given that the constitutional process of succession exists alongside the informal government Putin has created. From a democratic standpoint, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin are as popular as Putin is, and I suspect they both will become more popular in time. In a Soviet-style struggle, Chief of Staff Sergei Ivanov and Security Council Chief Nicolai Patryushev would be possible contenders. But there are others. Who, after all, expected the emergence of Mikhail Gorbachev?

Ultimately, politicians who miscalculate and mismanage tend not to survive. Putin miscalculated in Ukraine, failing to anticipate the fall of an ally, failing to respond effectively and then stumbling badly in trying to recoup. His management of the economy has not been exemplary of late either, to say the least. He has colleagues who believe they could do a better job, and now there are important people in Europe who would be glad to see him go. He must reverse this tide rapidly, or he may be replaced.

Putin is far from finished. But he has governed for 14 years counting the time Dmitri Medvedev was officially in charge, and that is a long time. He may well regain his footing, but as things stand at the moment, I would expect quiet thoughts to be stirring in his colleagues’ minds. Putin himself must be re-examining his options daily. Retreating in the face of the West and accepting the status quo in Ukraine would be difficult, given that the Kosovo issue that helped propel him to power and given what he has said about Ukraine over the years. But the current situation cannot sustain itself. The wild card in this situation is that if Putin finds himself in serious political trouble, he might become more rather than less aggressive. Whether Putin is in real trouble is not something I can be certain of, but too many things have gone wrong for him lately for me not to consider the possibility. And as in any political crisis, more and more extreme options are contemplated if the situation deteriorates.

Those who think that Putin is both the most repressive and aggressive Russian leader imaginable should bear in mind that this is far from the case. Lenin, for example, was fearsome. But Stalin was much worse. There may similarly come a time when the world looks at the Putin era as a time of liberality. For if the struggle by Putin to survive, and by his challengers to displace him, becomes more intense, the willingness of all to become more brutal might well increase.

Can Putin Survive? is republished with permission of Stratfor.”

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36 COMMENTS

  1. Jameski…
    The only misinterpretation of reality here is YOURS!
    Your country (neo-soviet russia) has YOUR troops and YOUR weapons in Ukraine fighting against and KILLING the true citizens of Ukraine (those born and raised as Ukrainians’ and NOT those BORN in russia but just LIVING in Ukraine) TRUE or FALSE!?!?
    Your “pootinist” dictator leader seeks to re-conquer the country’s lost to gorbachev’s policies and his great betrayal of communist russia in the 90’s! TRUE or FALSE!?!?
    Using policy’s and tactics from a kgb training manual (or a nazi gestapo or SS text), your “bloodless wonder” of a leader pays thousands of propagandists like yourself to spread the lies he knows he needs to survive in a political system that DEPENDS on fear and intimidation to survive! TRUE or FALSE!?!?
    You still work in that St Petersburg disinformation sweatshop making the equivalent of $20 (hopefully NOT in roubles) per day plus lunch?
    I READ WORLD HISTORY of “totalitarian dictators” like your czar “pootie”, and I see the similaraties between his tactics to destroy world order and civilized behavior and I think back on the lessons I thought that the world had learned from the evil deeds of like-minded despots like hitler, stalin, saddam, idi amin, assad and any of a dozen power hungry”leaders”.
    And NOW your “pootinist” leader says he will use NUCLEAR FORCE to maintain his hold on crimea! And that he was prepared to use nuclear weapons to conquer crimea!
    What OTHER WORLD TERRITORIES does he covet enough to kill the population of a PLANET FOR?!
    No ivan, your fool leader just moved ahead of hitler as THE GREATEST MENACE to the HISTORY of the WORLD!
    And the ONLY reality check that needs to be made here is YOURS and the apparently ignorant or easily impressed or naive population of what is now PROUDLY SOVIET russia!

  2. You suffer a grand knack for misinterpretting reality. Everything that you accuse Putin of being or doing would more accurately fit America and her megalomaniacal leaders…For your own sake, do some serious research and stop being a fool for State Department and MSM propaganda….

  3. PREPOSITIONS IVAN (Sohel?) !
    Should read “You are the one with the sick, brain washed, rubbish-laden opinions”. Sorry!
    Which by the way is EXACTLY how I feel about YOUR clumsy russian propagandist response! The difference between yours and mine is that I see NO REASON to apologize for responding with a corrected version of YOUR OWN RESPONSE!

  4. Sorry for my tirade! I agree with you 1,000%!
    Obviously I’m more than a little passionate in my fears of history repeating itself at the behest of this or ANY nuclear attack threatening megalomaniac.
    I was a high school teacher for 20+ years and was constantly made aware that the students today have NO CLUE about the history being made in their time, much less the mistakes made 50 or more + years ago!
    Like many false religious “messiah’s” (ie. David Koresh, Jim Jones et al), “pootie, the bloodless wonder’ has a cult following in russia precipitated by his string of reckless pseudo-macho actions which the russian citizenry are all mistaking for shows of strength (a quality apparently becoming a new requirement of the russian presidential job description). It also doesn’t hurt that the kgb operative training he received, schooled him in the value of attaining control of a country’s media and the strong propaganda force needed to falsely “feed” such media (as evidenced by the clumsy attempts made in this comment column -but obviously more accurately and relevantly wrtten for russian “news sources”).
    In actuality, “poot” plays an increasingly dangerous game of chicken with an incredibally small margin for error. If he miscalculates (as Khrushchev did in Cuba) we all could face an outcome which we managed to avoid in THAT situation,
    I honestly fear that he thinks he could win a LIMITED nuclear attack against a real or imagined enemy, and have the conflict END THERE. He would “win the battle” and would become a 100% hero to ALL of russia!
    Its this fear and the apprehension of what hitler would have done had HE had a nuclear arsenal, that keeps me up at night! Now we live with hitler’s illegitimate son!
    And again sorry for reading your response too quickly…
    SLEEP DEPRAVATION you know!

  5. As to removing leaders on countries, it was 1968 when Russia removed Dubchek from Chezhislovakia, seems like Russia has a short memory, Putins actions point to mental instability, as Merkel concluded “putin is living in a fantasy world”. If it is Russias expectation that mr Putin who has his finger as you mention on a neuclear armed russia, will be allowed to threaten the power brokers who make the decisions then your as delusional as Mr Putin, like I said he’s on his way out….

  6. What planet are you from.Putin is not going anywhere,get real . He is set in stone . Just to say some thing or write some thing . Putin is brought up in bad light.American are aware of B S Foreign country make U S news paper write.. Just the world oil kingpin ,who want his Gas and oil. also to stop his polar drilling ,by economic pressure.Won’t happen EU will sink first.

  7. Dream on. Your narrow minded view of Putin and the Ukraine situation does not allow any intelligent interchange. The West, and primarily USA, gambled that Putin would act like Yeltsin, instigated a coup removing a probably corrupt but lawfully elected President of Ukraine and currently is the recipient of its labors, a new cold war with nuclear armed Russia,friction with our NATO allies, and a closer relationship between Russia and China.

  8. Not hardly. In an attempt at brevity I sacrificed clarity. In no way is the Hitler regime commendable. It was a disgrace to mankind, inhuman and lacking any social merits whatsoever. My badly taken point is that, even while Putin draws comparisons to Hitler, he can’t even claim he benefits his people in ANY way, and yet, apparently the population loves him. A personality cult, and those are both the worst and most dangerous nationalistic causes that often lead to large scale conflict.

  9. Ask the German people who survived the war, knowing what is now known of the fuhrer’s EVIL EMPIRE, how many would be PROUD of hitler’s Germany and its “accomplishments”.
    Providing the world with the volkwagen and the autobahn will NEVER counterweight the 100’s of MILLIONS who died DIRECTLY because of this megalomaniacally demented man’dream of a thousand year reich!
    Its a pathetic argument to see hitler’s regime or the current russian manifestation as anything but the same mistake happening twice!
    Its also pathetic to define ANY murderous political system as laudable!
    I guess by your gauge, we should commend isis (daesh) for bringing greater expressions of “religious fervor” to the muslim world!

  10. More than miscalculations his paranoia in regard to US demonstrate some mental,instability that is troublesome and likely those behind the scenes would likely move to unseat him. Russia’s financial powers clearly are unhappy with current situation, I doubt putin will be there in six months time

  11. 6,000 people dead in the Ukraine because he doesn’t care who dies for his cause. There is only force.. That’s what Russia understands. It’s like a bad dream. Why doesn’t anyone STOP him?

  12. yes putin is dangerous he gave help to the people of ukriane notin the news media- also humanitarian also a peace-maker and save Russia too- former rpes. gorbachev said this- war mongers all over the world whaose country is that u know the answer- truth hurts

  13. crackpot????putin dint chew cigar or take amrijunana Obama did omg crackpot ur lying to your teeth- putin saved Russia,ex pres. gorvabchev comments- pece-maker and a principle man- u jelaous of mr. putin

  14. No Putin can not survive. He is a crackpot and his people know it. His drooping lip and bruises covered poorly by makeup on his face and neck were not missed in the photos taken at his meeting Monday.

  15. Here is hoping that Putin shares Hitler’s fate for all the thousands of senseless deaths he has caused in Ukraine and on flight MH17.

  16. Hitler also needed to “expand the borders” of his nazi germany so that they could ‘breath” too… Ivan! He “expanded” THOSE borders right across russia’s borders didn’t he?
    Ask Ukraine’s people how they now feel about russia since YOUR invasion!
    Just to ask the question Boris, would you RATHER that the West threaten a NUCLEAR response like YOUR degenerate megalomaniaclal “leader” considered during his crimean rape?!

  17. Good points, but sadly, it is too late. Russia is headed down a road without a horizon..there is no conclusion unless all of Europe cow-tows to his ambitions (whatever they are). There is no end game, no negotiated settlement because according to Putin, there are no Russian troops anywhere other than Russia. It’s a new cold war that could hot with even the most simple misjudgment by either side, and it’s not going to get any better any time soon.

  18. Also a program code-named Sputnik designed to flood western media with pro-Russian propoganda. Most of it…like Soho whatever..is so simplistically dumb and poorly written, that the only purpose it serves is to dump empty rhetoric on a western message board.

  19. Just one problem with your argument; Hitler, as opposed to Putin, brought Germany up to full employment. A s matter of fact, it was illegal…really…to be unemployed in Hitler’s Germany (between certain age ranges of course). Having said that, yes, Putin is following Hitler’s playbook as regards nationalism, and yes, it can be extremely dangerous if he plays his hand too far. In some kind of patriotic fervor, some general may believe he’s serving the interests of Russia by launching on the US..or Europe. Just look at the Islamic extremists to see what lengths people will go to serve their cause.

  20. Ivan ir Igor or whatever….
    MORALS? COMMON SENSE?
    WHAT A LOAD !!!!!!
    Both your “leader” and his compliant and supportive russian citizens have relinquished ANY RIGHT to claim a MORAL or COMMON SENSE JUSTIFICATION in your handling of recent world affairs!
    And ALL is based on the actions of your kgb DICTATOR leader!
    We in America know that ANY control of HIS ACTIONS is beyond the control (or even the knowledge) of the russian people…
    If your totolitarian novo-soviet dictator “leader, vladimir, vladimirov “pootie” is “celebrating” the victory of russia over hitler, maybe he should read back over history and see how many traits and historical similarities HE currently shares with the nazi ruler (and his probable role model).
    Invasions of neighboring countries to “free” oppressed german
    minority peoples.
    Use of false propaganda to mislead his people and sway them to his lies.
    Falsely agreeing to world leaders of his peaceful intents and non-violent aims.
    Betraying signed non-aggression Treaties (including the one he made
    with stalin that lead to the deaths of the 20 Millions of russians you venerate
    in the very Victory celebration you mention above ).
    Denying armed involvement in attacks on sovereign neighboring countries.
    Authorized murder of his political opponents.
    Read THESE FACTS Ivan and then talk to the world about what it means to have MORALS and COMMON SENSE!
    AGAIN… WHAT A LOAD!!!!!!

  21. No, Anup. It is not economic warfare against Russia by the West. It is self inflicted economic suicide by Russia. There were no sanctions against Russia until Russia invaded and annexed Crimea and then invaded and destroyed much of the Donbas while causing the deaths of over 6,000 Ukrainian citizens and 298 civilians on MH 17 to cover up Putin’s incompetence on Ukraine and elevate his popularity in Russia. All the Kremlin spin in the world cannot change these essential facts.

    Too many Russians are like a teenager who steals his neighbor’s car and then complains about getting thrown in jail by the police. Of course, I can understand your confusion because Putin and his cronies steal anything they want in Russia without consequence.

  22. Putin will survive, just like hitler did in the 1930’s and early into the ’40’s.
    By giving the post WWI economically dispirited and impoverished german people, hope and growth and the illusion of invincible military power, hitler too restored what the german people desparately needed and wanted…NATIONALIST PRIDE.
    At this point I don’t think the russian people will relinquish this newfound nationalist pride in their motherland any more than the german people would have under hitler.
    The shocking similarity between these two megalomaniacial leaders continues when you hear that “poot” braged of and seriously considered raising the readiness level of his nuclear forces as a “protection” for his rape of crimea!
    Was this shocking admonition used to further endear himself to the russian people as their power and pride broker (their novo-peter the great) on the world stage? What about his provocative military actions all over the planet? His militarization of the Arctic Circle?
    His resurgence and re-building of the russian armed services (just like hitler did in his preparations for world war)? And all this build up while russia’s economy disintegrates, and her son’s come back from fighting in Ukraine… in body bags!
    When will the russian people say ENOUGH! I can feel pride in my country WITHOUT repeating the sacrifices of Afghanistan!
    Yes this macho autocrat will survive, but hopefully not with the same bloody outcome as the reign of his predecesor (and apparent role model)… adolph hitler!

  23. …And what about the RED journalists like yourself Sohel?
    Is you’re totalitarian, novo-soviet czarist “leader” still paying you russian propagandist “commentors” the daily U.S. equivalent of $17 + lunch to spread “pootinist” mythology online in columns like these?

  24. You’re the one that’s been brainwashed. And BTW Russia has plenty of neo-n#zi groups of it’s own. The whole Ukraine n#zi government theme being pushed by Russian government controlled medie is BS. Every Russian that supports Putin is brainwashed. Your “dear leader” is leading you to disaster.

  25. This article is the rubbish like those made in these kind of medias during the last absence of Putin for several days. Never forget the State dept is allocated more 20 Million Dollar to make propaganda against Putin and Russia. This is that egg of the state dept.Well, the yellow journalists are pocketing HARD CASH. That’s the good news for them.

  26. What the west is doing against Russia is economic warfare. They kept no space for Russia to breath. So Russia had to retaliate. Russia had faced many odds in history and it will face the challenge successfully in future.

  27. The last year has revealed Putin to be incompetent on a grand scale. His annexation of Crimea, military intimidation tactics, nuclear war threats, invasion of the Donbas and the murder of over 6,000 Ukrainians and 298 innocent airline passengers have:

    1) Exposed Putin as an incompetent totalitarian thug who will ignore international agreements and law to cover his mistakes and promote his domestic approval ratings
    2) Permanently lost the goodwill of over 40 million Ukrainians toward Russia as long as he is in power
    3) Forfeited his stature as honest leader who can be trusted by foreign leaders, businesses and investors
    4) Made Russia a virtual no go zone for rational foreign investors
    5) Triggered over $200 billion of capital flight while losing hundreds of billions of dollars more in Ruble devaluation
    6) Largely cut off Russia from the largest capital and technology sources and most lucrative markets
    7) Exposed Russia as an international pariah state that brazenly violates international law and treaties
    8) Pushed the Russian economy into recession and high inflation
    9) Depleted a large volume of Russia’s foreign reserves
    10) Exposed Putin’s failure to diversify the Russian economy beyond commodity exports and domestic markets
    11) Exposed the Russian people to unnecessary economic hardship and loss of civil liberties
    12) Exposed Putin’s indifference to the economic welfare of the Russian people
    13) Exposed Putin’s indifference to the lives of his soldiers and Ukrainian civilians in the Donbas

    Putin has shown his true mendacious and totalitarian colors and there is no going back from that reality. There is no good economic path forward for a Russia that remains self isolated from the western world under his leadership. Russia must replace Putin with rational, honest and competent leadership to ever achieve its full economic and prosperity potential.

    Putin is the Russian Pied Piper playing the flute of phony propaganda, lies and nationalism to cover his incompetence. He is also playing the ultimate form of Russian roulette with the economic future of the Russian people. Will the Russian people wake up before its to late?

  28. Guys, can you stop this brainwashing? It is so clear that the Author/Guest’s (what’s his/her name?) has no ground. Have some respect to the readers!! Write about thing that you know. Thank you. By the way, I am worrying more about growing infamous neo-N@zi$ groups in Ukraine and other countries, than Putin, who actually is getting ready to celebrate the victory of WWII over Hitler. Merkel and Cameron are not attending this event because they now support neo-N@zi$ of Ukraine….??? Too bad. This what what you should write about – about the failure of morals and common sense.

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