Vladimir Putin cannot afford to fail

Against the backdrop of a successful Olympics, one bloated with corruption, Russian President Vladimir Putin is fighting for his existence. The protests in Kyiv were the spoiler and had that situation not spiraled out of control, Mr. Putin would be sitting back and enjoying the accolades of the world community. The vastly over-priced Olympics allowed him to further line the pockets of his most loyal oligarchs, a move to keep their loyalties firmly in place.

The pro-democracy events in Ukraine put a huge damper on an otherwise successful public event on the world stage. An article in Back Channels sums it up perfectly by saying, “The Bear regards the old system of buffers as its own…(and)… Ukraine is also a borderland naturally spanning a cultural divide between Europe and Eurasia, between the politics of the now open democracies and their common currency and shared values and a stalwart attempting to build some kind of new Slavic society out of the 19th Century manners of aristocracy….”

David Satter in the Daily Beast further explains that “Russia and Ukraine under Yanukovych shared a single form of government – rule by a criminal oligarchy. This is why the anti-criminal revolution that overthrew Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych is a precedent that is perfectly applicable to Putin’s Russia. It is also the reason why, from the Russian regime’s point of view, the Ukrainian revolution must be stopped at all costs.”

On Monday Mr. Putin arrived at the Kirillovsky Military Testing grounds in the Leningrad region, home to forces of the Western and Central Military districts where he watched military training maneuvers along with Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, Commander of the Western Military District Anatoly Sidorov and Head of General Staff Combat Training Directorate Ivan Buvaltsev.

Putin Leningrad Kirillovsky Military Test grounds
L-R: Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, President Putin, and Russia’s head of combat training Ivan Buvaltsev at Kirillovsky Military Test grounds.

Writing in the Guardian Masha Gessen asserts that, “It’s unlikely that what’s happening in Ukraine will foment a new protest movement in Russia: the ongoing crackdown on civil society makes the cost of protest too high. Still, the Crimean invasion is a landmark in Russian domestic politics.”

For Vladimir Putin the stakes are high, for if he fails in Ukraine he will eventually fail at home.

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4 thoughts on “Vladimir Putin cannot afford to fail

  1. Greetings. Thanks for continued coverage of the events in Ukraine.
    In this article, I was a little confused. These two statements seem to be opposite in opinion: “This is why the anti-criminal revolution that overthrew Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych is a precedent that is perfectly applicable to Putin’s Russia. It is also the reason why, from the Russian regime’s point of view, the Ukrainian revolution must be stopped at all costs.” …and… “It’s unlikely that what’s happening in Ukraine will foment a new protest movement in Russia: the ongoing crackdown on civil society makes the cost of protest too high.”
    If the revolution in the Ukraine is unlikely to “foment a new protest movement in Russia”, then what is the main reason why “from the Russian regime’s point of view, the Ukrainian revolution must be stopped at all costs?
    I thought, based on your last post, that the main reason Putin was invading the Crimea was because of the $100 million dollar navy base, and because the majority of citizens in that area are Russian speaking, so that in a sense, the plan was to protect and secure the navy base while the rest of the country was in limbo, and as a side benefit, reintegrate, into Russia, the Russians living there.
    Do you think Putin has an agenda for the rest of the Ukraine as well? I wasn’t really sure why you said that if he fails in the Ukraine, he will ultimately fail at home.

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    1. mendeleyeev

      Thank you for your question and for reading our coverage. The writer was explaining that the current crisis over Russian troops in Ukraine is not going to foment revolution. However, had events culminating in overthrowing the corrupt government in Kyiv been left unchecked it may have emboldened the protest movement in Russia.

      I don’t know what his ultimate plans may be but am of the opinion that he will do as much as the rest of the world tolerates. One only has to look back to the conflict with Georgia in 2008 to understand that he has been left unchecked. As to his possible failure at home, the Crimean occupation will either strengthen him at home or lead to his eventual downfall. If he wins against the West, his statue at home will be even stronger. If however he is forced to back down it will weaken his power tremendously.

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  2. Pingback: President Vladimir Putin observed Western and Central Military District forces exercises | WORLD NEWS

  3. Among autocrats, Putin has maintained some flexibility for himself and his supporting nationalist and related patronage systems as regards his “plays” in the former Soviet Union’s sphere of influence. Ukraine’s primary challenge may not be to break from Russia as a matter of ethnic pride — it frankly can’t do that as a modern state and as constituted — but rather to confront the Russian leader’s narcissistic encouragement of its dependency in exchange for further control and continued skimming of its productive capabilities, the kind of skimming that brought Yanukovych his estates. I hesitate to suggest that Putin may work to affirm Russia’s influence in Ukraine while backing off exploitation for the greater aggrandizement of the “vertical of power”, but he has that option even if his interior motivation or hidden want has been to travel a whole imperial and imperious route.

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