Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Core Russian Elite Worried Putin Can’t Protect Their Interests in the West, Piontkovsky Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, July 19 – The future of Vladimir Putin is not going to be decided by 100 million Russian voters next year but rather in the coming weeks by “the approximately 100 members of the expanded Politburo of the Russian kleptocracy,” according to Russian commentator Andrey Piontkovsky. 

            And while Putin is still their leading candidate, many of them are beginning to have doubts about Putin’s a bility “to effectively fulfill in the next six years the most important function for the bridgade as interface with the eternally hated and eternally loved West” (

            Indeed, for this elite, Putin’s actions, including his foreign policy actions that have antagonized Western governments, are beginning to constitute “an existential threat to the dearest thing for Russian rulers” – their ability not only to shift their money to the West but to send their children there and live there themselves.

            They are still able to do what they want in that regard; but, according to Piontkovsky, they are increasingly concerned that they won’t be able to over the next six years given the increasingly harsh response of Western leaders like the new president of France and of US commentators like Farid Zakaria.

            What the members of the elite are beginning to appreciate is that Putin made a bad mistake in his efforts to promote Donald Trump, efforts that are now backfiring.  The Kremlin leader simply couldn’t appreciate “the simple fact” that “the president of the United States is not the boss of a criminal community” and that getting his loyalty is not only not enough but quite possibly counterproductive.

            As more Americans suspect that there is something going on between Trump and Putin, the commentator suggests, each step of the former that appears to be a concession to the latter inevitably “sparks a spark reaction in Washington which is being transformed into completely concrete legislative actions” and policies.

            According to Piontkovsky, “Trump has turned out to be not Putin’s agent but a burden Putin has to carry, just as Putin is a burden on Trump. That is the true result of the broad scale operation of ‘Trump is Ours” that Putin’s Kremlin launched.

            With the benefit of hindsight, the Russian commentator says, “it is clear what an enormous error the Kremlin made having bet on Trump.”  A Clinton presidency would not have been nearly as problematic for Putin and his elite.  That is something the Moscow elite is beginning to understand – and to take decisions on that basis, Piontkovsky says. 

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