Can Putin Survive?

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.

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.

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Corsiero Corsieri 4 years ago Member's comment

Definitely not, on the simple account that he is not recognised as a reliable interlocutor any more...

Sylvia Gary 4 years ago Member's comment

What a stupid question.....Of course Putin will survive and long after many other Prime Ministers and Presidents will.....

Bob Drage 4 years ago Member's comment

B KFIA, I CAN SEE YOUR ANOTHER ARM CHAIR EXPERT, ON MR PUTIN, AND RUSSIA, WHO KNOW DOUBT HAS NEVER VISITED RUSSIA,,? THE REASON I SAY THIS,? YOUR LETTER IS ABOUT ON PARR WITH A MICKY MOUSE COMIC,? THERES 5000 OF US EXPATS BRITS LIVING RUSSIA, AND MANY IN CRIMEA,,? YOU READ TO MUCH AMERICAN PROPAGANDA, AND BIAS REPORTING, TELL MY WHY,?? MR PUTIN RELIANCE ON PROPAGADA, WHEN HE HAS A 89 PERCENT POPULARITY VOTE, EVEN US 5000 EXPATS BRITISH, SUPPORT MR PUTIN,? HE A VERY GOOD LEADER, THAT WILL BE THE DAY,? WHEN CAMERON, OR OBAMA, CAN GET AN 89 PERCENT POPULARITY VOTE,? NEVER MIND, JUST CARRY ON DREAMING, AND TAKING THE TABLETS,????

B Kfia 4 years ago Member's comment

This analysis lacks depth or direction. It ignores what is happening in Yemen (and why) ; it ignores the degree to which Putin's image depends upon propaganda that could be exposed leaving the would be Emperor with no clothing; it ignores what might be accomplished by a direct open full military intervention designed to destroy the Ukrainian Army and render Kyiv impotent if it succeeds --or fails; it ignores the power Putin's liaisons outside of Russia/the Kremlin give him over Kremlin insiders, etc. etc. What was the purpose of this article? What does it add to the cacophony of similar analyses? Nothing, I'm afraid.

Andrzej Tereszkiewicz 4 years ago Member's comment

Mam nadzieję, że jego chwile są policzone

Bob Drage 4 years ago Member's comment

MR PUTIN, WILL STILL REMAIN PRESIDENT OF THE RUSSIAN FEDERATION,? IN THEYEAR 2050,? BECAUSE THE RUSSIAN PEOPLE TRUST HIM,? SO DO ALL EXPATS FROM ALL E.U. COUNTRIES LIVING IN RUSSIA,? MR PUTIN TELLS THE TRUTH TO THE RUSSIAN PEOPLE, UNLIKE CAMERON, OBAMA,, WHO LIE THOUGH THERE BACK TEETH, TO THE ELECTORATE,? DO THE BRITISH TRUST CAMERON, HOW MANY YANKS TRUST OBAMA,?? THERE WORD MEANS NOTHING? CAMERON., OBAMA, BUSH,, BLAIR,? ARE THE SCUMBAGS? THERE ACTIONS ARE NEO NAZIES,?

Henry Caruana 4 years ago Member's comment

Probably are short time survival Let say 25 - 30 years then retire to Sochi

Jaun Einsig 4 years ago Member's comment
What a bunch of HYPOCRITES, lying to protect Putin who is actually, a coward, murderer, thief, and these so called Russian's are promoting his phony deception all across Russia, with these absolutely despicable low life's. In reality they are bring more pain & suffering to their brothers & sisters in Russia. You have a lot to fear now, all your stations are now under surveillance, and what for a few near worthless Rubles. Watch who is standing around outside, you really are a bunch of stooges, finks, or rats of betray your own comrades.????
Angelo Cinarelli 4 years ago Member's comment

Before talk turn on your brain!!

Bob Drage 4 years ago Member's comment

TALK OF COWARDS, THERES NO BIGGER COWARDS THAN THE YANKS,? OTHER COUNTRIES HAVE TO FIGHT YOUR WARS FOR YOU,? WHEN HAS AMERICA EVER GONE TO WAR ON IT'S OWN,? NEVER, THEY ARE SPINELESS, GUTLESS,? AND TALK OF MURDER,? SINCE WWII, AMERICA HAS BOMBED AND SMASHED OVER 50 DIFFERENT COUNTRIES. ALL YOU GET FROM THE YANKS, IS ONE LIE AFTER ANOTHER, W.M.D.?

179 BRITISH SOLDIERS, MY COUNTRYMAN, DIED BECAUSE OF BUSH'S LIES, IN IRAQ,? BUSH, BLAIR. SHOULD BE AT THE HAGUE, ON TRIAL FOR GENOCIDE,? THE BRITISH ELCTORATE. WANT BLAIR THERE,? HOW MANY YANKS WANT BUSH TO STAND TRIAL,?

NONE,? ALL AMERICA WANTS TO DO, IS GO TO WAR,? YOUR POLITICIIANS ARE ALL WAR MONGERS, THERES BEEN TWO WORLD WARS IN EUROPE, NEVER AGAIN,??

IF EVER THERE IS A WW III, LETS HOLD IT ON AMERICAN SOIL,? AMERICA HAS NEVER BEEN BOMBED,? YOU THINK 9/11 WAS BAD,? WAIT UNTILL ALL YOUR CITES IN AMERICA ARE FLATTED,? ONCE AMERICA HAS EXPERIENCED SEEING THERE COUNTRY BOMBED,? THEN THEY WILL STOP WARMONERING?

IN THE EYES OF THE BRITISH,? AMERICA. CAN PISS OFF? AND TAKE YOUR BASES WITH YOU, ONLY PRATTS LIKE CAMERON, LIKE YOUR YANKIE NEO NAZI POLITICIANS.

THE BRITISH PEOPLE, TRUST THE YANKS LIKE A RABID DOG,?

Dan Boy 4 years ago Member's comment

179, Big Deal, Look at what they did in Northern Ireland, let alone they Invented Concentration Camps, Indian people tied over Cannons Bores, Calcutta Hell Holes, Please... Butchers

Dan Boy 4 years ago Member's comment

This piece of Work, Upvotes Himself...How Moronic...

Alexis Renault 4 years ago Member's comment

Every comment starts with one upvote. Not sure why you downvoted yourself.

Sergey Hudiev 4 years ago Member's comment

I'm from Russia, Moscow. I'm afraid, I don't understand, what you talking about.

Wolf Angel 4 years ago Member's comment

Exactly. The view from the inside is much different. I've a friend formerly from Moscow, and he views Russia's decline as inevitable. So much of your personal perceptions depend on the frame of reference you exist in.

Art Michel 4 years ago Member's comment

Wolf Angel..very astute of you. I want to share a thought of something that I just read online as it relates to "The best advice ever given by your father". It states that one should consider other points of views and was submitted by Mr. Mohamed El-Erian and go goes like this: "Unless you read different points of view, your mind will eventually close and you'll become a prisoner to a certain point of view that you'll never question". There is no doubt that most if not all world leaders hold back on the whole truth, if not lie directly to us but one must understand that as unfortunate as this sounds, it is at times (under certain circumstances), a necessity. I support but do not trust nor like my American government as it is functioning today. I also, can say the same for most of the world's governments as well. The point is to communicate intelligently and without prejudice.

Joseph Thomas 4 years ago Member's comment

putin is the best

Jazz_go 4 years ago Member's comment

Currently Putin is the only guarantor of peace, stability and respect for other countries around the world. The main evidence of this is that Russia does not need any new territory, neither oil, nor gas, nor minerals, because of their more than anyone. This is not satisfied with uncle Sam, seeking to lead everyone and everything in the world and ready to start a war, just to grab a piece fatter. All that the state Department says about Russia and Putin's complete misinformation, familiar to all since the days of Joseph Goebbels. In order to express any opinion about Crimea enough just to find and read the real history of the Crimea and all will be clear. Before the US sponsored and staged an armed coup in Ukraine there were no problems.

Wolf Angel 4 years ago Member's comment

Regards Crimean history. 1783 it was taken by Russia. 1954 is was given to Ukraine. The transfer approved by Russia. Approved by the Soviet. Also in the Belavezha accord which is the basis for the legitimacy of Russia as it is today, and all the former now independent Soviet republics. Russia agreed in 1954, 1992, 1994, and Putin said publicly Russia had now desire to annex Crimea. All this documents Russia agreed Ceimea was part of Ukraine. Russia even promised to respect the boundary and territory of Ukraine, including Crimea, and to protect this borders as well. So for the 232 years since Russia took Crimea from the tartars, in 61 of those years and by the international communities reckoning as well, Crimea is Ukrainian.

Going back farther from the mid-10th century through the 13th century Kyivian-Rus controlled Crimea, only to lose it to the Golden Horde... Kyivian-Rus is the progenitor of Ukraine, not Russia, the Russian progenitor would be Muscovy. A smaller much more northern realm at the time.

History can bite you if you depend on it for justification.

Wolf Angel 4 years ago Member's comment

Russia annexed Crimea. And the Crimean peninsula has rich oil and gas fields off shore. Russia is invading the Donbass, rich in coal, and new finds in oil and gas. The U.S. does not take new territory, they leave once their mission is over. There is zero proof of direct U.S. involvement in the Maidan demonstrations. There is evidence of GRU spetznaz in Kyiv, and in Crim, and the Donbass. Russia invaded Ukraine, and prior to that placed agent provocateurs in country with multiple IDs/passports, explosives, and weapons. The so called separatist leaders were all initially Russian officers, even journalists identified the first one in Crimea as a Russian officer though he wore a Ukrainian style uniform.

Putin "vacating" the Russian presidency would be the best thing for Russia. But not for Putin. The Russian economy is in decline since his escapades. Over 3 million new unemployed in Russia the first quarter of 2015. Putin claims that Russia needs the full 3 billion euros rather than the June 20 73 million euro payment because Russia is suffering financial hardships. Yet Putin leads Greece on with promises of loans... The policy is unsound. Russia is on shaky ground just from their own internally created crisis.

Bob Drage 4 years ago Member's comment

WHY IS AMERICA GO INTO THE UKRAINE, AND WANTED CRIMEA,?? ONE REASON, CRIMEA OIL, AND GAS,? AND WHO HAS GAS INTRESTS IN THE UKRAINE,?? NO OTHER THAN JOE BIDEN,??? THE DEPUTY PRESIDENT, OF THE GOOD OLD U.S.A. SURPRISE, SURPRISE,?/

Susan Miller 4 years ago Member's comment

Right again, Wolf!