Thursday, December 3, 2015

Putin Worried about ‘Stab in the Back’ – His Own and at Home, Ukrainian Commentator Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, December 3 – Often the words someone uses in one context say more about what that individual is thinking about another context than he or she intends. Such it is, Roman Rukomeda argues, with Vladimir Putin’s description of the shooting down by Turkish forces a Russian warplane that violated Turkey’s airspace as “a stab in the back.”

            The Kremlin leader, the Ukrainian commentator says, when he looks in the mirror, sees “a collective Brutus behind his back” which is ready to remove him from the scene by one means or another, any of which would in his eyes constitute “a stab in the back.” That being on his mind, Putin uses this term more generally (

            The Russian president, Rukomeda says, has shown that “he fears a stab in the back more than anything else” and that he already has “the sense that Brutus is already somewhere alongside and is preparing a mortal strike on the Kremlin Caesar.”  According to the Ukrainian commentator, there are “more than enough” reasons for that conclusion.

            “The current Putin regime,” he writes, “is a colossus with feet of clay,” one of which consists of failures in foreign affairs and the other of shortcomings in domestic policy.  Putin’s policies in Ukraine and now in Syria have not worked out as he planned or, equally important, as he promised. And both appear likely to impose ever more costs on Russia.

            Moreover, the allies he hoped to pick up or keep have turned on him. China has announced plans to build a railway around Russia. Kazakhstan and even Belarus have not been reliable. And the West, despite some vacillation, is increasingly committed to containing Russia and pushing back against Putin’s aggressive actions.

            Domestically, Putin’s situation is no better.  The long haul truckers have presented him with a challenge he didn’t expect. Tatarstan is pushing for the return of sovereignty and other republics will follow suit.  And former finance minister Aleksey Kudrin, who has been a Putin critic, appears likely to return to the center of power, possibly replacing Putin’s partner Dmitry Medvedev and then perhaps Putin himself.

            Obviously, in any such situation, “there are many possibilities,” but history does appear to be speeding up and Putin’s time just like those of his dictatorial predecessors may very well be coming to an end.  Indeed, the Kremlin leader’s talk of “a stab in the back” is perhaps the best evidence that this is so, Rukomeda says.

            In this situation, what is most important for Ukraine and indeed for the entire rest of the world is to be ready and to work toward “depriving Russia today of any weapons of mass destruction and bringing to responsibility the numerous Kremlin criminals who bear responsibility for the deaths of thousands of Ukrainian citizens.”

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