Staunton, April 21 – Both by what he said and what he didn’t, Vladimir Putin used his address to the Federal Assembly this year as “a smokescreen” to conceal what his real plans are, implying that he is concerned about what he is not and that he is moving in directions that in fact he has no intention of going, Vladimir Pastukhov says.
The London-based Russian analyst listed five ways in which this was the case, after reminding his leaders that Putin may deliver another speech at any time to fill in the gaps or change directions (mbk-news.appspot.com/sences/kuda-putin-poslal-rossiyu/):
First, Putin wanted to give the impression that he is concerned about poverty and will fight it, but what he said shows that he has no intention of addressing the fundamental reasons that poverty is on the rise in his country.
Second, Putin wants regional elites to believe that they are going to get more resources and powers, but in fact, he has no plans to give them either and instead plans to continue to centralize monetary flows and the control of policies.
Third, Putin wants the West to “capitulate” to his neo-imperial ambitions regarding the former Soviet space; but since the West isn’t about to do that, Pastukhov says, that means Putin’s bold talk about “red lines” that he will ignore if set by others or insist that others respect if he sets them means that “war will remain an important theme for a long time.”
Fourth, and this is another place where Putin was less than honest, he did not mention that the cost of the military exercises near Ukraine “to all appearances exceeds the annual cost” of all his social spending. “A real social policy thus will only be possible if the country is demilitarized,” something that shows all of Putin’s concerns about domestic problems are so much eyewash.
And fifth, the recent attack on Lukashenka that Russian agencies supposedly unmasked but quite likely organized to intimidate the Belarusian leader shows that Putin isn’t backing away from foreign policy adventures and that the world must pay attention not only to what is going on in Ukraine but what is happening in Belarus as well.