Staunton, April 8 – One of the “most popular” arguments Putin supporters in the West use against the imposition of sanctions against the Russian oligarchs is that this will intensify anti-Western attitudes among Russians and lead ever more of them to unite around the Kremlin leader against the West, Oleg Skobov says.
But in fact, the Russian commentator points out, “a significant part of Russians animated by anti-Western attitudes do not have any warm feelings for the Putinist kleptocracy.” Moreover, their anti-Western attitudes are in many cases the result of their judgment that the West has allowed the oligarchs to live so well abroad (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=5AC9977813369).
Consequently, Skobov continues, “if the ruling circles of European countries decide to adopt real measures against the Russian kleptocrats who have settled among them, this could change the opinion of many Russians about the West to the better” and not to the West as those opposed to sanctions routinely insist.
As ever more Europeans especially on the left are beginning to understand, the introduction of “Russian criminal-oligarchic capital” into Western economies “is stimulating the rebirth of the most archaic and reactionary forms of capitalism.” And that shift means the anti-Putin opposition should rethink its relationship to the European left.
Some Western analysts especially in the United States have focused on the corrupting influence of Russian money on political life; but Skobov is pointing to something even larger, the way in which this massive influx of illegally acquired Russian wealth is corrupting capitalism itself, dragging it back to an ugly and unregulated past.
And that in turn means, although the Russian commentator does not mention it, that sanctions even if they hurt some Western capitalists as they are certain to do, will not only send the right signal to the Kremlin but make a serious contribution to the recovery of a more socially inclined public policy in the US and Western Europe.
To the extent that comes to be understood, liberals in the West should welcome sanctions on the Russian oligarchs rather than oppose them and should in fact be the leading sponsors of harsh treatment of the criminal class led by Putin under the old and still true Polish slogan, “for your freedom and ours!”