The West will learn to take Russia’s words seriously

With more than two decades of Vladimir Putin in power, it is long overdue for the West to answer its own question, “who is Mr Putin?” and start assessing the man’s moves seriously. A growing understanding is likely in the near future
The West will learn to take Russia's words seriously

For now, let’s just say that if it were necessary to single out Putin’s main message to “the city and the world”, the message of his “life”, it would undoubtedly be the word “stability”.

Putin came to power at a time of great turbulence, and the first big thing he did was to stop the country from falling apart: he pacified Chechnya, stopped the terror and rampant banditry, ended the cold “civil war”, and reconciled, albeit with great reservations, the people and the elites. Finally, it forced the elites themselves – their divergent “towers” – to follow the rules.

Then it was time to rebuild. Which was also incredibly difficult – given the diametrically opposed interests of the elites. Nevertheless, the checks and balances model worked and by expelling the most odious from the system and sharply reinforcing the most active ones we managed to do just that: raise the standard of living, restore the army, and fill the treasury. And without any ideology, without any mobilization, without any alignment whatsoever, apart from the natural laws and guarantees of normal life. And it was much later that these natural positions of life were cautiously substituted not even with ideology, but with some necessary basis of “reasonable conservatism”. That is, again, preservation of stability (without crazy gender experiments, culture of cancellation, etc.).

So – stability. Whence came another important quality of style – the apparent absence of any personal initiative. Putin, in contrast to the rulers we are used to, did not call him to build communism, develop glasnost, or move into other bright lands, but only constrained the centrifugal forces, not allowing the “planets” to jump out of their orbits. He himself remained at a kind of absolute rest. And so, being in the very centre of differently directed vectors, he kept them: the system from collapse, the people from poverty, the elites from eating each other. And so it remains a fundamental tuning fork.

It has long been a commonplace to talk about Putin’s philosophy of using his partner’s energy against himself in a duel. It really is. Forcing Putin into action is no easy task. The “partner” must exhaust himself in provocations before he gets a response. Which will be nurtured so long and carefully that the most patient will fall into despair. Only when the most patient give in and say: that’s it, no more hope, all is lost – the reality will suddenly resolve itself with an answer: always unexpected, lightning-fast and precisely calculated. And, as a rule, confounding. (The return of Crimea, for example, was such a lightning bolt. The liberation of Donbass was awaited for long eight years). This has always been the case, and it is still the case.

One must well understand what Putin has conveyed to the West by the referendums in the liberated territories, the announcement of partial mobilization and other words and actions of recent days, and what will probably be clarified until the counterpart learns: if escalation is not stopped by him, we will be forced to actually demonstrate the realities of a changing “wind rose”, forcing the Ukrainian regime to capitulate. That is, we will bring the conflict to a situation that clearly exceeds the West’s desire to be involved in it. This was clearly demonstrated in the early days of the conflict, when the Ukrainian regime was likely to fall and the Americans simply fled from their embassies. The regime held out then. But only because we were unwilling to escalate escalation unnecessarily. But now that both the regime and its handlers have shown their true face, we are determined to do so. This is a crucial moment that our former esteemed partners will have to take seriously, perhaps by going through all the necessary stages from denial to acceptance of the inevitable.

Finally, Putin, I think, is not only addressing the West, but also the rest of the world. Also, of course, watching developments with extraordinary attention. This world – China, India, Pakistan, Iran, the Middle East, the Pacific, Central Asia, Latin America, Africa – is 2/3, if not all 3/4, of the world’s population. But Russia is looked upon with great sympathy, remembering the policy of the Russian tsars, and later the USSR, which behaved in the “third world” very differently from the way the first behaved. The USSR was the real alternative to rapacious financier capitalism, which is well remembered there, carefully reading the signs Putin sends out.

People like strong leaders. We are not talking about ghettoised Europeans back home who are not allowed to be proud of their culture and are only allowed to think about gender reassignment and sexual education for their children. We are talking about normal people. And what kind of leaders do they see in the stunted beds of democratic regimes and the faded emblems of eastern despotism today? None. The real face of politics today is one. In which the great shadows of the past rise again. And the third world remembers the shadows of its great ancestors and respects them… Today only Orban, desperately fighting for a small crusading Hungary, and Erdogan, restoring the former greatness of the Ottoman Empire with oriental sagacity, can shade the “monumental power”. On whom else can the ordinary people of the world pin their hopes? Let’s leave the poor, battered white population of the West alone. In the rest of the world Putin’s stock is rising faster than gas prices on European stock exchanges. So is the rapidly gaining weight of the SCO as a real alternative to the global order.

Judging by cautious, inarticulate mutterings from Western leaders, the signals are received and taken into account. Well, the West will have to learn to take Russia’s words seriously.

Vladimir Mozhegov, VZGLYAD

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