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Putin Has Stumbled in Ukraine

Published: August 13, 2014 (Issue # 1824)




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Fifteen years ago onAug. 9, 1999, President Boris Yeltsin stunned Russia with his televised announcement ofVladimir Putins appointment as prime minister, as well as his characterization ofthe new appointee as his successor.

Whatever themotivations behind this choice, it turned out tobe theright one. It was amatter ofhonor forthe second president toshow his personal loyalty andfulfill his obligations tothe first president.

But most importantly, after theupheavals ofthe 1980s and90s, Putin was just thekind ofleader people wanted: not brilliant, but dependable, capable offinally bringing theendless chaos toa close andensuring thereturn ofhope forthe future. Putin, whom few initially considered anappropriate fit forpolitics, consolidated Russian society around theidea ofstability.

Stability inthe 2000s didnt mean stagnation or preservation (there wasnt anything atthat point topreserve); it meant action. Toachieve stability, it was necessary totake aseries ofmeasures torestore themanagement ofthe country, lay afoundation foreconomic development andgive people asense ofpurpose not through abig project (not really Putins forte), but through actively building andimproving their own lives.

But Putin arrived under thebanner ofstability atthe same time that stability was coming toan end inthe world atlarge. He came topower atan uncertain time, against abackdrop ofan eroding world order. This contradiction between internal goals andexternal conditions gradually became more andmore apparent.

TheWest sees Russias president as anenemy ofprogress, asymbol ofoutdated viewpoints andold-fashioned approaches. He, meanwhile, expresses his astonishment atthe policies ofleading nations, which seem tobe almost intentionally adding fuel tothe fire ofinternational conflicts. Faith inthe possibility ofa major deal with theWest, andRussia joining thecircle ofleading nations, has weakened, although Putin did see it as possible when he first took office.

But after Putins return topower in2012, he saw theWest, primarily theUnited States, as themain destabilizing force inthe world. This wasnt due toanti-Russian sentiment inWashington or Brussels (Putin considered that obvious inany case), but tothe Wests thoughtless andarrogant interference inone situation after another, destroying thefoundations ofnational governance.

Many outside observers are sure that Putin is acunning strategist, his actions governed bya larger idea: planned expansion, restoration ofan empire, strengthening theso-called power vertical, areturn tothe Soviet Union, anti-liberal measures, etc.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Tuesday, Sept. 23


Marina Suhih, Director of the External Communications Department at Rostelecom North-West, and Yana Donskaya, HR Director for Northern Capital Gateway are just some of the confirmed participants of todays round table discussion on Interaction with Trade Unions being hosted by SPIBA. Confirm your attendance with SPIBA by Sept. 22.


Kino Expo 2014, an international film industry convention, will be at LenExpo from today until Sept. 26. The third largest exhibition of film equipment in the world, the expo focuses on not only Russia but former Soviet republics as well.



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