Sunday, November 22, 2020

Putin Suffering Defeat after Defeat across Post-Soviet Space, Moscow Analysts Say

Paul Goble

            Staunton, November 19 – While many in the West accept Vladimir Putin’s self-evaluation of his moves on Karabakh at face value as evidence of his power and skills, an increasing number of Russian analysts are disputing his claims and labelling that outcome and others as evidence of the defeat after defeat he has faced across the post-Soviet space.

            Andrey Illarionov points out that in the south Caucasus, Putin wasn’t able to prevent the beginning of military operations, stop them when he wanted, and achieved a ceasefire only when his former ally, Armenia, capitulated. And still more, he couldn’t keep Turkey from expanding its foothold in the post-Soviet space (

            Konstantin Eggert agrees and argues that what has happened appears to be beyond Putin’s understanding as far as its future dimensions are concerned for Russia and its immediate neighbors (

            For all his brave talk, Putin hasn’t even been able to keep Turkey out of the post-Soviet space where at least in part, Ankara is displacing Moscow as the more important actor. “Does Putin understand that the time when Moscow dominated the post-Soviet space has ended and won’t return?”

            “The paradoxical answer,” he continues, is that “possibly he does understand” as when he declared that “Azerbaijan is an independent and sovereign state with the right to choose the allies it considers it needs. Who can refuse it that right?”

            But that is very different from Putin’s insistence that the post-Soviet states must look first and foremost to Moscow. Still worse, Putin’s words now “are almost a word-for-word citation from the basic documents of NATO.” And thus, “Putin cannot but understand that these words are a signal and not only to Azerbaijan.”

            “If Georgia approaches entering the Western alliance, then it will have to thank Recep Erdogan” of Turkey for forcing Putin to make such a declaration.

            And Anatoly Nesmiyan, who blogs under the screen name, El Murid, says that what is happening in the southern Caucasus is happening again and again along the borders of the Russian Federation elsewhere as well (

            According to him, “the Kremlin is giving up its portions near its own borders,” something that everyone can see and act upon and that will entail ever more negative consequences for Russia’s standing in the world the longer “a weak and talentless dictator” remains in the bunker in order to remain in power.

            What Putin is doing and also not doing is thus creating “catastrophic problems” for any new regime that will come after him. But it may even be that his approach is leading Russia to “a point of no return” from which no government in Moscow will be able to recover however much it tries.

            Meanwhile, Vitaly Portnikov, a Ukrainian commentator who writes in Russian and thus reaches a Russian audience, points to another place in the former Soviet space where Putin has suffered a major defeat this week: Moldova where a pro-Western president has replaced a pro-Moscow one (

            That shouldn’t have surprised anyone: Moscow’s only exports are military force and corruption; and “the Kremlin always loses when one talks about democracy. Any honest elections will bring victory to politicians who focus on values and not on massive theft and the anger of the ridiculous Putin regime.”

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