Putinism – not nearly as strong as it appears

Putin at the G20 Summit in Brisbane, Australia in 2014

After the Crimea Anschluss, Vladimir Putin was shunned by G20 leaders at the their 2014 summit in Brisbane, Australia 

Analysis & Opinion, Russia

Vladimir Putin by his aggressiveness and bluster has convinced many in his country and elsewhere that he and his system are extremely strong, but in addition to the obvious comparisons many make with the often pathetic response of Western leaders, Putinism suffers from serious and incurable weaknesses, according to Kseniya Kirillova.

In a blog post on Novy Region-2 today, she identifies five of them:

  1. The lack of any vision of the future or roadmap to get there. Russia, like the USSR before it, has bet on ideology, albeit one less addressed to the world than for “’internal use.’” But “the distinctive characteristic of contemporary Russia ideology is its lack of specific content,” a situation that raises the possibility that “for the first time in world history, we are observing the appearance of a farce ideology, a quasi-ideology which consist only of superficial and declarative elements,” such as Orthodoxy which is more decorative than anything else, a leader cult, and an idealized past. As a result, “the main motivation of its opposition to the West” is negative and destructive rather than positive and constructive.
  2. The alienation of Russia’s former allies in Europe and even within the CIS. Putin’s actions have pushed even Belarus away from him to the point that Alyaksandr Lukashenka is speaking out and taking action. “According to unofficial information,” Kirillova says, the Belarusian leader has blocked representatives of Putin’s Russian Institute for Strategic Research from entering his country after RISI declared that Belarus must unite with Russia or face “a Ukrainian scenario.” Kazakhstan has begun a trade war with Russia, and even Russia’s former allies in Europe are distancing themselves from Moscow’s actions.
  3. Russia’s economy is heading toward “a real catastrophe.” As an increasing number of analysts have warned and as ever more Russians know, “the current economic crisis is growing over into a real catastrophe to be accompanied by a series of defaults” and as a result, “the threat of regional and national separatism” is growing as well as many outside of Moscow decide that they can do better out if they get out from under the man in the Kremlin.
  4. Putin’s increasing repression is increasing fear but also anger. The Kremlin leader’s moves against dissent of all kinds is indeed spreading fear throughout society, but they are also causing ever more people to recognize who is doing what and to ask what they may face in the future. When the number of people the government is attacking is small, many assume they will be able to escape; but when it grows, that confidence goes away.
  5. Putin’s propaganda has not yet achieved the complete moral degradation of Russian society. The Kremlin leader has done a great deal to move Russian society in that negative direction, but he hasn’t completely achieved his goal, Kirillova says. Many Russians still believe the messages Moscow is delivering about Ukraine and everything else. But over time, ever fewer of them will especially if they turn to alternative sources of news and information.

Of course, the Novy Region-2 commentator says, “these are not the only weaknesses of the Putin regime, but even they are sufficient to understand that present-day Russia is a colossus with feet of clay and an extremely low reserve of firmness, which does not have sufficient forces for victory over the Western world.”

Putin was shunned at the 2014 G20 meeting in Australia after the Crimea Anschluss by Russia.

Putin was shunned at the 2014 G20 meeting in Australia after his Crimea Anschluss.

Edited by: A. N.

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