Putin accelerating his plan for long-term confrontation with the West, Illarionov says

Political cartoon by Oleksiy Kustovskyi

Political cartoon by Oleksiy Kustovskyi 

Analysis & Opinion, Russia

For the last decade, Vladimir Putin has pursued a plan to isolate his country from the outside world by pursuing rearmament and confrontation with the West, Andrey Illarionov says. Now, there is evidence that the Kremlin leader is stepping up his efforts in that direction even during the current charm offensive.

Andrei Illarionov, Russian economist and former adviser to Putin (2000-2005), senior fellow in the Center for Global Liberty and Prosperity at the Cato Institute in Washington, DC

Andrei Illarionov, Russian economist and former adviser to Putin (2000-2005), senior fellow in the Center for Global Liberty and Prosperity at the Cato Institute in Washington, DC

In an interview with Radio Liberty, the Moscow analyst argues that the West should stop viewing Ukraine or Georgia as the occasion for Putin’s actions and see them instead as symptoms of his much larger policy, one that he argues has been in place since at least 2006.

Putin’s goals over this period have been to prepare Russia, its people and its economy “for a much longer, more global and more serious confrontation with the external world” than many now assume. And these goals were put in place long before Russia sent troops into Ukraine and long before the West introduced sanctions.

The Kremlin leader’s “preparation for war against the outside world began not in 2014, not with the annexation of Crimea and not with the actions of ‘the little green men’ in the Donbas or in other places,” Illarionov says. They began much earlier as can be seen by examining Putin’s 2010 plan for Russian rearmament.

Not only is that plan continuing, he says, but despite what some think, Moscow’s efforts to realize it are even intensifying. In 2010, Putin put in place a program for the rearmament of Russia, one that he said at the time would cost 20 trillion rubles over the following decade. He has been spending more than that since by taking money from the Russian population.

But there is an even better indication that Putin is planning for a long-term confrontation with the West: his government is buying gold. While the Russian economy is getting worse, the government’s stockpiles of gold are growing because if the sanctions regime intensifies, Illarionov says, Moscow can always use gold to purchase what it wants.

The Russian government’s purchases of gold in the first quarter of this year, he notes, “broke all previous records.” But it is important to recognize that these purchases began not at the start of the war with Ukraine but “already in January 2006. Therefore, the strategic planning of confrontation with the outside world began just over a decade ago.”

These gold purchases mean, he continues, that “preparation for global confrontation with the surrounding world not only has not stopped but is continuing and its tempo, if we are to speak honestly, is increasing.” There may be periods when it appears that Putin is easing off as now in the view of some, but there is no indication that he has fundamentally changed course.

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Edited by: A. N.

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  • Vlad Pufagtinenko

    OOOOO…we’re all scared of the pedophile wife beater.

  • Alex George

    This article misses the point of buying gold – its just a means of holding reserves. The Russian central bank is converting more of its cash and SDR reserves into gold, because it thinks that is the best investment at the present time. But it still holds a mix and it will sell gold when the time is right.

    I am sure Putin would like to isolate Russia from the west and create a novo-Russia super state, but reality is starting to catch up with him.

    • Greg

      I do not believe Putin understands reality at all! His goal to recreate a Tsar Empire that goes back to the 1700’s, the world map will look much different. Putin like Hitler wants to be worshiped. All efforts will be put in place to achieve this goal. Just as the West ignored Hitler in the 1930’s the West is really ignoring Putin today and we will pay a heavy price for this. The West is filled with far too many Chamberlains today to stand against Putin. Trump wants a deal, any deal! But the deal must benefit Trump personally, as all decisions in Trump’s comes down to how does Trump benefit. Trump may not last out his term, Putin faces no such risk unless his friends decide he is too much of a liability. Trump and Putin have the same ego complexes that enables them to hide from the truth! Hitler had the same problem!

  • Bryan See

    Stealing money from Russia’s population constitutes a long-term pattern of abuse of power, as well as corruption and embezzlement. Putin’s actions in doing so for rearming his country’s military are considered such. No one shall do this while pursuing any plan, whether it’s the military, defense, healthcare, technology, and others.