Staunton, March 21 – US President Joe Biden’s agreeing to the statement that Putin is a murderer was not accidental but a carefully considered action designed to send a message to Russian elites that Washington won’t talk to Moscow as long as Putin is in power and that those who hope for something should consider getting rid of him, Sergey Mikheyev says.
That reality, the Moscow political analyst suggests, will lead the Kremlin to adopt new and tougher policies both abroad and at home, abroad to show that Putin will not be intimidated and at home to show that he has the resources to counter any threat to his rule (sobesednik.ru/politika/20210320-oligarhi-sdadut-putina-analiti).
Putin’s own words in response to Biden’s remark are thus “only the tip of an enormous iceberg” of the Kremlin’s reaction, the greater part of which are going to take place within Russia rather than abroad, Mikheyev says. And this will become clear when the Kremlin leader delivers his next address to the Federal Assembly.
Biden’s remark, he continues, was intended to divide those around Putin in the Kremlin who have nothing to lose as a result of Russia’s increasing isolation and those, mostly the oligarchs, who do. Putin is thus likely to work to “galvanize” the former and perhaps even demonize some of the latter to block the challenge to his power Biden has implicitly called for.
In advance of that speech, the Kremlin will continue to deploy its courtiers to speak in Putin’s favor, thus sending his own message that any challenge to him however attractive it might be in the short run as a result of improved relations with Western markets would come at a very high price at home, one higher than most if not all of the oligarchs are willing to pay.