Unz ReviewThis article was written for the Unz Review http://www.unz.com/tsaker/putins-biggest-failure/

Whatever happens in the future, Putin has already secured his place in history as one of the greatest Russian leaders ever. Not only did he succeed in literally resurrecting Russia as a country, but in a little over a decade he brought her back as a world power capable of successfully challenging the AngloZionist Empire. The Russian people have clearly recognized this feat and, according to numerous polls, they are giving him an amazing 90% support rate. And yet, there is one crucial problem which Putin has failed to tackle: the real reason behind the apparent inability of the Kremlin to meaningfully reform the Russian economy.

As I have described it in the past many times, when Putin came to power in 1999-2000 he inherited a system completely designed and controlled by the USA. During the Eltsin years, Russian ministers had much less power than western ‘advisers’ who turned Russia into a US colony. In fact, during the 1990s, Russia was at least as controlled by the USA as Europe and the Ukraine are today. And the results were truly catastrophic: Russia was plundered from her natural wealth, billions of dollars were stolen and hidden in western offshore accounts, the Russian industry was destroyed, a unprecedented wave of violence, corruption and poverty drowned the entire country in misery and the Russian Federation almost broke up into many small statelets. It was, by any measure, an absolute nightmare, a horror comparable to a major war. Russia was about to explode and something had to be done.

Two remaining centers of power, the oligarchs and the ex-KGB, were forced to seek a solution to this crisis and they came up with the idea of sharing power: the former would be represented by Dmitrii Medvedev and the latter by Vladimir Putin. Both sides believed that they would keep the other side in check and that this combination of big money and big muscle would yield a sufficient degree of stability.

I call the group behind Medvedev the “Atlantic Integrationists” and the people behind Putin the “Eurasian Sovereignists”. The former wants Russia to be accepted by the West as an equal partner and fully integration Russia into the AngloZionist Empire, while the latter want to fully “sovereignize” Russia and then create a multi-polar international system with the help of China and the other BRICS countries.

What the Atlantic Integrationists did not expect is that Putin would slowly but surely begin to squeeze them out of power: first he cracked down on the most notorious oligarchs such as Berezovskii and Khodorkovskii, then he began cracking down on the local oligarchs, gubernatorial mafias, ethnic mobsters, corrupt industry officials, etc. Putin restored the “vertical [axis]of power” and crushed the Wahabi insurgents in Chechnia. Putin even carefully set up the circumstances needed to get rid of some of the worst ministers such as Serdiukov and Kudrin. But what Putin has so far failed to do is to

  • Reform the Russian political system
  • Replace the 5th columnists in and around the Kremlin
  • Reform the Russian economy

The current Russian Constitution and system of government is a pure product of the US ‘advisors’ which, after the bloody crackdown against the opposition in 1993, allowed Boris Eltsin to run the country until 1999. It is paradoxical that the West now speaks of a despotic presidency about Putin when all he did is inherit a western-designed political system. The problem for Putin today is that it makes no sense to replace some of the worst people in power as long as the system remains unchanged. But the main obstacle to a reform of the political system is the resistance of the pro-Western 5th columnists in and around the Kremlin. They also the ones who are still forcing a set of “Washington consensus” kind of policies upon Russia even though it is obvious that the consequences for Russia are extremely bad, even disastrous. There is no doubt that Putin understands that, but he has been unable, at least so far, to break out of this dynamic.

So who are these 5th columnists?

I have selected nine of the names most often mentioned by Russian analysts. These are (in no particular order):

Former First Deputy Prime Minister Anatolii Chubais, First Deputy Governor of the Russian Central Bank Ksenia Iudaeva, Deputy Prime Minister Arkadii Dvorkovich, First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov, Governor of the Russian Central Bank Elvira Nabiullina, former Minister of Finance Alexei Kudrin, Minister of Economic Development, Alexei Uliukaev, Minister of Finance Anton Siluanov and Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev.

The 5th column in the Kremlin

The Russian 5th column: Chubais, Iudaeva, Dvorkovich, Shuvalov, Nabiullina, Kudrin, Uliukaev, Siluanov, Medvedev

This is, of course, only a partial list – the real list is longer and runs deeper in the Russian power structure. The people on this list range from dangerous ideologues like Kudrin or Chubais, to mediocre and unimaginative people, like Siluanov or Nabiullina. And none of them would, by him or herself, represent much of a threat to Putin. But as a group and in the current political system they are a formidable foe which has kept Putin in check. I do believe, however, that a purge is being prepared.

One of the possible signs of a purge to come is the fact that the Russian media, both the blogosphere and the big corporate media, is now very critical of the economic policies of the government of Prime Minister Medvedev. Most Russian economists agree that the real reason for the current economic crisis in Russia is not the falling price of oil or, even less so, the western sanctions, but the misguided decisions of the Russian Central Bank (such as floating the Ruble or keeping the interest rates high) and the lack of governmental action to support a real reform and development of the Russian economy. What is especially interesting is that vocal opponents of the current 5th column now get plenty of air time in the Russian media, including state owned VGTRK. Leading opponents of the current economic policies, such as Sergei Glazev, Mikhail Deliagin or Mikhail Khazin are now interviewed at length and given all the time needed to absolutely blast the economic policies of the Medvedev government. And yet, Putin is still taking no visible action. In fact, in his latest yearly address he as even praised the work of the Russian Central Bank. So what is going on here?

First, and to those exposed to the western propaganda, this might be difficult to imagine, but Putin is constrained simply by the rule of law. He cannot just send some special forces and have all these folks arrested on some kind of charge of corruption, malfeasance or sabotage. Many in Russia very much regret that, but this is fact of life.

In theory, Putin could simply fire the entire (or part) of the government and appoint a different Governor to the Central Bank. But the problem with that is that it would trigger an extremely violent reaction from the West. Mikhail Deliagin recently declared that if Putin did this, the West’s reaction would be even more violent than after the Crimean reunification with Russia. Is he right? Maybe. But I personally believe that Putin is not only concerned about the reaction of the West, but also from the Russian elites, particularly those well off, who generally already intensely dislike Putin and who would see such a purge as an attack on their personal and vital interests. The combination of US subversion and local big money definitely has the ability to create some kind of crisis in Russia. This is, I think, by far the biggest threat Putin his facing. But here is also can observe a paradoxical dynamic:

One one hand, Russia and the West have been in an open confrontation ever since Russian prevented the USA from attacking Syria. The Ukrainian crisis only made things worse. Add to this the dropped prices on oil and the western sanctions and you could say that Putin now, more then ever, needs to avoid anything which could make the crisis even worse.

But on the other hand, this argument can be flipped around by saying that considering how bad the tensions already are and considering that the West has already done all it can to harm Russia, is this not the perfect time to finally clean house and get right of the 5th column? Really – how much worse can things really get?

Only Putin knows the answer to this simply because only he has all the facts. All we can do is observe that the popular discontent with the “economic block” of the government and with the Central Bank is most definitely growing and growing fast, and that the Kremlin is doing nothing to inhibit or suppress such feelings. We can also notice that while most Russians are angry, disgusted and frustrated with the economic policies of the Medvedev government, Putin’s personal popularity is still sky high in spite of the fact that the Russian economy most definitely took a hit, even if it was much smaller than what the AngloZionist Empire had hoped for.

My strictly personal explanation for what is happening is this: Putin is deliberately letting things get worse because he knows that the popular anger will not be directed at him, but only at his enemies. Think of it, is that not exactly what the Russian security services did in the 1990s? Did they not allow the crisis in Russia to reach its paroxysm before pushing Putin into power and then ruthlessly cracking down on the oligarchs? Did Putin not wait until the Wahabis in Chechnia actually attacked Dagestan before unleashing the Russian military? Did the Russians not let Saakashvili attack South Ossetia before basically destroying his entire military? Did Putin now wait until a full-scale Ukronazi attack on the Donbass before opening up the “voentorg” (military supplies) and the “northern wind” (dispatch of volunteers) spigots? Putin’s critiques would say that no, not at all, Putin got surprised, he was sleeping on the job, and he had to react, but his reaction was too little too late and that when he had to take action it was only to fix a situation which had turned into a disaster. My answer to these critiques is simple: so what happened at the end? Did Putin not get exactly what he wanted each time?

I believe that Putin is acutely aware that his real power basis is not primarily the Russian military or the security services, but the Russian people. This, in turn, means that for him to take any action, especially any dangerous action, he must secure an almost unconditional level of support from the Russian people. That, in turn, means that he can only take such risky action if and when the crisis is evident for all to see and that the Russian people are willing to have him take a risk and, if needed, pay the consequences. This is exactly what we saw in the case of the reunification of Crimea or the current Russian military intervention in Syria: the Russian people are concerned, they are suffering the consequences of the decision of Putin to take action, but they accept it because they believe that there is no other option.

So there you have it. Either Putin is sleeping on the job, is caught off-guard by each crisis and reacts too late, or Putin deliberately lets a situation worsen until a full-scale crisis is evident at which point he acts with the full knowledge that the Russian people fully support him and while blame him neither for the crisis, nor for the price of decidedly dealing with you.

Pick the version which seems more plausible to you.

What is certain is that so far Putin has failed to deal with the 5th column near and inside the Kremlin and that the situation is rapidly worsening. The recent move by Kudrin to try to get back into the government was a rather transparent use of the pro-5th column media in Russia (and abroad) and it predictably failed. But this shows an increasing self-confidence, or even arrogance, of the Atlantic Integrationists. Something in bound to happen, probably in the near future.

The Saker

The Essential Saker: from the trenches of the emerging multipolar world