This portrait from an October 2014 art exposition in Moscow in honor of Vladimir Putin's birthday shows the Russian president fighting the multi-headed dragon of leading Western democracies. The EU, Japan, and Canada are still alive and fire back with "sanctions," but the US head has already succumbed to Putin's sword. The artist's hopes were in vain. The economic sanctions put in place for Putin's aggression against Ukraine are still in place. (Image: bbc.com)
In the wake of the Paris tragedy, Vladimir Putin, Moscow officials and Russian commentators have precisely duplicated “the classical model of behavior of a racketeer,” pointing out to the West that because “you didn’t want to pay, now look how your store is burning to the ground,” according to Ukrainian commentator Ihor Yakovenko.
But in this case, he says, the West is being called to “pay” with a different kind of currency:
- First, in Putin’s view, “the West must reject its own principles and chief among them freedom.”
- Second, “the West must hand over Ukraine to Putin.”
- And third, “the West must recognize the division of the world into two zones,” one of which is to be governed by Russia.
That may seem like a sweeping conclusion to some, but Yakovenko backs it up with quotations from a wide variety of people in Moscow that suggests if anything he has understated Putin’s idea of a deal. Among them are the following:
- Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said that “we hope that the events in Paris will put everything in its place and significantly change the ranking of priorities in Washington and other NATO capitals.”
- Patriarch Kirill’s protégé, Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin said that after Paris, “the world must forget about tolerance.”
- Sergey Markov, a member of the Russian Social Chamber, wrote that “it is necessary to end the conflict of Russia and the West as a result of Ukraine. The junta must be replaced by a technical president. The constitution must be changed… the Kyiv junta is one of the main obstacles for the joint struggle of the US, the EU and Russia against terrorism.”
- Igor Karaulov, a poet and commentator, wrote in “Izvestiya” that “the closing of borders and the introduction of martial law” show the way to the future. If France follows them by electing Marine Le Pen “and sets up a national French government, based on traditional values, then it will be possible to find some solution of the problems presented by migrants.” Zakhar Prilepin, a writer, seconded that opinion. With Le Pen in power, “Russia will have a most powerful ally in Europe and then we will talk.”
- The writer Eduard Limonov, also in “Izvestiya” said that once again Russians are being asked to “save the world.” The costs will be high but not as high as in World War II, hundreds of thousands of dead rather than millions.
- Maksim Shevchenko, a Moscow commentator, immediately after the attacks in Paris focused on the Charlie Hebdo case as a way of suggesting that those who had died in Paris had in large measure brought it upon themselves. TV host Dmitry Kiselyov said much the same thing.
- Moscow political analyst Pavel Svyatenkov was more explicit: he wrote in “Izvestiya” that “France has sowed the wind and is now reaping the whirlwind.”
- Duma Deputy Irina Yarovaya said on a Sunday talk show that what Russia faces now is “the attack of American anti-democratism” and that just as everyone united against Hitlerism 70 years ago, they will do the same against the American threat.
- Senator Igor Morozov observed that “since the Americans cannot be the guarantor of security, Russia and Europe must establish a unified Europe, the key link of which is Russia.”
- Political analyst Dmitry Kulikov insisted that “our fate is Eurasian” and thus Russia must organize “Eurasian security” to include the countries of the Middle East.
- And orientalist Ruslan Kurbatov said that the news since Paris was good as far as Moscow is concerned: “First, we have seized the initiative from the US, and second, Europe is ready to reach agreement with us.”