Staunton, January 2 – Vladimir Putin and his regime have so misplayed developments in the former Soviet space that Moscow now finds itself in place where almost any further step will make things worse for itself not only in these countries but also at home, according to Rosbalt journalist Roman Trunov.
The case of Belarus is the most obvious, he suggests. Moscow had hoped for a union state but Alyaksandr Lukashenka said no. Then, because he falsified the elections, the Belarusian people rose against him; but instead of backing them and winning their gratitude forever, the Kremlin backed Lukashenka (rosbalt.ru/blogs/2021/01/02/1880158.html).
Moscow also mishandled developments in Kyrgyzstan and Moldova so badly that pro-Russian leaders were ousted. But “the apogee of all these failures,” Trunov says, was in the case of the Armenian-Azerbaijani war in Qarabagh where Russian actions opened the way for Turkey to return to the region and for Armenians to conclude that Moscow had betrayed them.
That forces one to conclude that “almost 30 years after the collapse of the USSRW, the disintegration of the empire is continuing” and that “Russian influence on the post-Soviet space is gradually weakening.” In this situation, the Kremlin hasn’t been able to find anything capable of producing a reprise of “the Crimea effect.”
Its “foreign policy adventures in Venezuela, Syria, Libya, the Central African Republic and Sudan aren’t inspiring genuine enthusiasm even among its most devoted,” Trunov continues. But more than that, these failed actions have led Russians to conclude that their ruler isn’t an all-knowing and an all-powerful magician but a simple mortal who makes mistakes.
This “desacralization” of power has been compounded by various journalistic investigations into the personal life of the ruler, a reprise of what happened at the end of Nicholas II’s reign with all the attention that was focused on Rasputin, something that set the stage for the revolution.
Even when Putin did have a success as with the constitutional amendments, he followed these victories with moves that undercut them. After the amendments were approved, he moved against popular governor Sergey Furgal and sparked protests which continue to this day and which in certain respects are linked up in the Kremlin’s mind with Belarus.
“Minsk and Khabarovsk are separated by nine thousand kilometers, but it would appear that these unconnected events in these two cities led to the fact that in Tomsk on August 20, Aleksey Navalny was poisoned,” Trunov says. That is what happens in a weakening authoritarian regime when the ruler sees all things as being about him and thus interconnected.
And as elsewhere, Putin thought he would escape criticism and sanctions from the West; but just the reverse has happened, something that delivers yet another blow to Russia’s imperial aspirations and Putin’s plans to run the country and control the transition in it beyond his personal lifetime.