Putin, like Trump, being pressed to take harder line abroad to shore up his own position, Piontkovsky says

Russian President Vladimir Putin greets Russian military and security services generals during a promotion ceremony at the Kremlin in Moscow (Image: Planet Pix/Rex/Shutterstock)

Russian President Vladimir Putin greets Russian military and security services generals during a promotion ceremony at the Kremlin in Moscow (Image: Planet Pix/Rex/Shutterstock) 

International, More

Donald Trump, as the scandal about the multiple and continuing contacts between his team and Moscow grows, has come under increasing pressure from some in the US Congress to take a harder line against the Russian government in Ukraine and elsewhere than he might have preferred in order to shore up his presidency.

That is widely recognized. But Russian analyst Andrey Piontkovsky argues Vladimir Putin is now under similar pressure to take a harder line against the US from those in the Moscow elite he calls “the party of war” who are using the media to whip up anti-American sentiments and demand aggressive action.

To the extent that the commentator’s conclusions are correct, that could presage a far greater deterioration in relations between Washington and Moscow in the immediate future, a negative trend driven not by geopolitical calculations on either side but rather by the imperatives of domestic politics in both.

From the point of view of the Russian “war party,” Piontkovsky argues, Putin has been responsible for “three serious foreign policy defeats” and has landed Russia in two wars that he does not seem to have a clear way forward to get out of. That is a very dangerous situation for the leader of any authoritarian regime.

Putin’s own approach and the Russian elite political culture within which he operates requires “dynamism,” a sense that Moscow is moving forward rather than drifting. Right now, many in the Russian capital don’t have a sense that this is the case with Putin, Piontkovsky argues.

And to the extent that such feelings spread, he continues, some may begin to say to themselves and others the most dangerous line in such countries – “the tsar is not a real one,” but rather a “false” leader who must be shoved aside. To counter the growth of such attitudes, Putin will have to take action.

Unlike Trump who has to deal with a powerful Congress, Putin now has to face what for him is “a potentially more dangerous group of the dissatisfied: a party of war, which every evening on all federal television channels shows its insanity.” In the past, it was confidently assumed that Putin controlled the media; but he may have created a Frankenstein monster.

Indeed, Piontkovsky suggests, what is now happening in Russia before all our eyes is “the first not military but television coup in the history of authoritarian regimes. It is no longer the Kremlin which defines the agenda for television but television which defines the agenda for the Kremlin.”

Head of the Kremlin's RT (Russia Today) news agency Dmitry Kiselyov projecting the image of a nuclear mushroom cloud and boasting Russia's ability to turn US "into radioactive dust." RT is the Kremlin's soapbox to promote its policies, denigrate the West and propagate conspiracy theories, as well as attack the political opposition to Putin. (Image: screen capture)

Head of the Kremlin’s RT (Russia Today) news agency Dmitry Kiselyov projecting the image of a nuclear mushroom cloud and boasting Russia’s ability to turn US “into radioactive dust.” RT is the Kremlin’s soapbox to promote its policies, denigrate the West and propagate conspiracy theories, as well as attack the political opposition to Putin. (Image: screen capture)

The only way for Putin to “hold on to power for a certain time” is, the Russian commentator says, is, like the famous case of one leader of the French Revolution who said he needed to find out where the people were going, so he could get ahead of them, to take over this “media coup” by moving, at least for a time, in the direction the Moscow television suggests.

It is unlikely that the Russian media is either as independent from Putin or as powerful an influence on his behavior as the Congress is on Putin, but Piontkovsky’s words deserve attention as a reminder that the relationship between the media, which Putin has used to build power, and Putin himself is more complicated than many, including possibly him, recognize.


Three other reports this week provide related perspectives. First, Moscow journalist Arkady Babchenko argues that the simultaneous presence in office of Putin and Trump means that for the first time in history, the two countries with the most nuclear weapons are in the hands of “inadequate” people.

Second, Maxim Kalashnikov says Trump won’t so much change course on Russia – unlikely because it isn’t that important to him – but rather be forced by problems at home to hand over decision making on Moscow to the existing US foreign policy establishment, which he describes as consistently anti-Russian.

And third, Russian financial analysts reported that last month, the Kremlin cut social spending by 2.5 times while increasing military spending by six, a story that if true suggests Putin is sending a message to those who don’t think he is tough enough that he is prepared to put Russia on a war footing.



Edited by: A. N.

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  1. Avatar Robert says:

    I like seeing these 2 ‘guys’ pressed

    1. Avatar laker48 says:

      Well, you’ve wasted quite a few words to say next to nothing. Do you think president Trump cares about your rant and the undeveloped, both physically and mentally, Fuhrer of the fascist RuSSia Federation, Shorty the Shirtless?

      1. Avatar Robert says:

        I have no clue what Drumpf thinks or cares about. I doubt even he himself knows.

        1. Avatar laker48 says:

          Well, let’s wait and see! He doesn’t seem to hesitate and implements his election promises. He means business.

          1. Avatar Robert says:

            Yes! You’re correct! I love it! He’s really doing a lot of rattling and shaking up of old, antiquated, outdated and boring ‘establishment’. He’s also inspiring and uniting a WHOLE lotta new, former and significant ‘movements’ … even if they are against him and his acts/antics. Ya gotta really love what’s happening now in America! 🙂

          2. Avatar laker48 says:

            I don’t have an opinion, yet, but I’m watching everything going on there with utmost interest. He’s unpredictable, but he’s not shy to speak his mind up.

          3. Avatar Robert says:

            I also don’t have any opinion, nor will I ever – on this or anything. There’s ‘what happens’ (The Facts) and the ‘story’ about what actually happened (lies, propaganda, twisted ‘truth’, etc.). As Daddy always said, “Opinions are like A$$holes: everyone has one.” Personally, I’ve encountered a lot of people that seem to have WAY more than just one…

            I’m also paying quite close attention to the unfolding scenario – I absolutely LOVE it! 🙂 Yes, laker48, I agree/concur on multiple points you make: he certainly DOES run the “show” and NObody is gonna steal it! I never watched his TV shows unless subjected to the torture while in some friends homes – which served only to further confirm my disdain for him as a ‘person’. His despicable behaviour regarding Women remind me too much of the former comedian, Bill Cosby.

            I can’t actually call it ‘respect’, however, I do agree with you about his tenacity, perseverance and – I’ll add – the (possible/probable) former ties he (allegedly) had with Russia that (seem to have) affected the final outcome. I’m not sure he financed his campaign “exclusively” with his own money, however, he certainly could have. His continued use of his own resources as president has got the secret service and others all in a tizzy about exactly how to deal with it! 🙂

            Clearly, da Drumpf is the MOST unpredictable character – which also has it’s benefits at a domestic and international level – NO one knows what he’s gonna do next – not even him! 🙂 … Certainly appears to be quite an exciting adventure in all arenas till he’s done… however long that lasts…

          4. Avatar laker48 says:

            “I never watched his TV shows unless subjected to the torture while in some friends homes (…)”
            LOL! My wife did and I was terrorised by proxy. 🙂
            As far as your other points are concerned, I generally agree with most of them, Trump has a charisma of a high school bully, but he hasn’t become a billionaire by chance after having survived his spectacular fall in the 1990s. His competitors, the Reichmann brothers, had been banned from real estate markets in the US and Canada after their O&Y Canary Wharf project went underwater, while Trump re-emerged almost unscathed after his casino project had done the same.

      2. Avatar Andrew Chimplewsky says:

        LOL… **UKRAPA** means !! (UKRAINE Kisses Russian and Putin A*s)!!

        1. Avatar Alex George says:

          What does this even mean?

          You are just using mere abuse to cover up your anger that Trump has not turned out to be the great friend to Russia that Putin-bots expected.

          1. Avatar Dagwood Bumstead says:

            No doubt Trump will be blamed for the demonstrations against Lukashenko in Belarus. Perhaps Nuland’s doped cookies will make an appearance here as well.

          2. Avatar Andrew Chimilewsky's Daddy! says:


          3. Avatar Alex George says:

            So in other words, you can;t explain what you meant . In all likelihood your words meant nothing – just random noise.

            And yes, you are just using mere abuse to cover up your anger that Trump has not turned out to be the great friend to Russia that Putin-bots expected.

    2. Avatar zorbatheturk says:

      The founding fathers of the RuSSiya were a white Siberian tree ape and an outlawed Cossack brigand with psychopathic tendencies. Not much is to be expected of their creation. Dr Frankenstein did better.

      1. Avatar Robert says:

        Was the Siberian tree ape a pedophile by any chance?

        1. Avatar zorbatheturk says:

          It was a female tree ape.

          1. Avatar Robert says:

            Hmm, … females of most all species always seem a WHOLE lot more Nurturing, understanding and supportive. Ya gotta wonder what went awry here in Russian evolution … or are they ‘devoluting’ … if that’s really a word… kinda like ‘regressing’…

          2. Avatar zorbatheturk says:

            It was a rape. Bestiality is not unknown in ruSSia. Even apes have standards.

          3. Avatar laker48 says:

            So, you suggest that the Muscovites may be the missing links in the Darwinian theory of the evolution of species. 🙂

          4. Avatar zorbatheturk says:

            Their continuous bestial behavior suggests a fairly recent connection to the animal kingdom.

          5. Avatar Andrew Chimplewsky says:

            LOL… UKRAPA means !! (UKRAINE Kisses Russian and Putin A*s)!!

          6. Avatar Alex George says:

            Except that isn’t happening, is it?

            Far from giving up ground, Ukraine has taken back ground, despite the best efforts of the crappy Russian army. And Ukraine is not giving an inch, which means that Russia’s imperialism has stopped dead .

  2. Avatar laker48 says:

    Putin’s strategy will be likely derailed by RuSSia’s bottom line. RuSSia’s reserve fund will be exhausted by September this year the latest, and close to $600 billion of long-term death of subjected to western sanctions RuSSian corporations matures by yearend. On the other side of RuSSia’s balance sheet there is almost $400 billion in gold worth $70 billion, and foreign currency reserves held by RuSSia’s central bank. The financial picture of RuSSia doesn’t seem rosy, especially in light of its GDP 40% smaller than GDP of the state of California or 20% lower than the state of Texas’s.

    1. Avatar туфтуф says:

      Good morning Mr Laker. Are you going to issue some more terrorist threats towards the members of our merry little company, or you are still managing to keep your killing urges under control? Or have l muddled u up with Mr Brent?

      1. Avatar MichaelA says:

        id put my money on the muddling

      2. Avatar Brent says:

        Is our continually kicking you in your lying a$$ killing you?

        It’s fun, but my leg is getting kind of tired….

        By the way, what do you mean “our” Kimosabe??? You think you’re welcome here???

    2. Avatar veth says:

      New cease-fire in Donbass announced, nr. 86. Lavrov will try to use his minimum influence on the Russian troops in Donbass to behave to the ceasefire.

      1. Avatar laker48 says:

        Who cares? None of the previous ones has held, so I wouldn’t attach too much hope to this one. Every single day of war in Donbas drains Dwarfstan’s treasury without bringing any benefits, and this is the most important thing. Dwarfstan will eventually crash and burn, and the stink will reach the High Heavens.

        1. Avatar Dagwood Bumstead says:

          And there’s also the Syrian drain bringing even fewer benefits, though it’s not costing Dwarfstan enough yet- neither in dead and wounded Dwarfstanian regulars and mercenaries nor in used up ammo, destroyed and damaged equipment etc etc.

    3. Avatar veth says:

      Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree on Feb. 18 recognizing passports issued by the pseudo authorities in control of parts of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts in Ukraine.

      According to the document, the text of which was posted on the Russian president’s website, the decree concerns “documents and registration plates of vehicles issued to citizens of Ukraine and people without citizenship in separate districts of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts of Ukraine.”

      1. Avatar Brent says:

        I think this is a wonderful development!!! Now all those pro-Russian scum in Donbass will flee to Russia when Russia pulls out of Donbass which I think is inevitable. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/b8a25498ae300a7bc85e1619ada48bc0a527437a9671c51e6f2217837bb1c86c.jpg

        1. Avatar laker48 says:

          Very much like UPA-B in Volhynia in 1943.

          1. Avatar Alex George says:

            Ah, classic nazzism and anti-semitism, from the Putin troll.

          2. Avatar Andrew Chmil says:

            ***SERBIAN*** mental case VOLUNTEER.

            Give HONEST CREDIT where it is due!

    4. Avatar Brent says:

      Wouldn’t a nice sharp drop in oil prices right about now be nice icing on Russia’s Karma Cake?https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/0b57b11bcda9b4a21cefa26a5389916b4ba87c2318abf861c0770f8208837558.jpg

      1. Avatar laker48 says:

        Severe winter conditions have delayed American shale producers, but they’re back in force and crude prices should drop within the next four to six weeks. It’s coming. Also Canada may flood the EU with its cheap Hibernia crude, as the CETA has been ratified.

      2. Avatar Andrew Chimplewsky says:

        LOL… KPA!! (Kiss Putin A*s)!!!

        1. Avatar Alex George says:

          Why? Russia is the one that is hurting. Oil prices have slid back down again, which means that Russia is still going broke.

          1. Avatar Andrew Chimilewsky's Daddy! says:

            Yawn… I wish to be broke like Russia any time … (but NEVER like Ukraine).

          2. Avatar Alex George says:

            No you don’t, because you have no idea what either country is like.

            And I didn’t say Russia is broke, I said it is going broke . There is a difference. The important thing is that the Ukrainian economy is growing, as it breaks off its trade and economic ties with Russia.

    5. Avatar Dagwood Bumstead says:

      There’s also the small matter of the $50 billion Yukos fine, not to mention the USSR’s debts which Dwarfstan inherited as successor state. These are chiefly to the US, and are astronomical- not billions but trillions.
      The dwarf should be worried about Dwarfstan’s own financial and economical future, not its neighbours’ policies.

      1. Avatar laker48 says:

        The Yukos shareholders’ collection process is underway and proper legal measures to seize Dwarfstan’s state assets have been undertaken in many EU member states, Australia, Canada, the US ad Japan. It’s coming.

    6. Avatar Dagwood Bumstead says:

      Currently Dwarfstan’s GDP barely equals that of Portugal- and THAT can probably only be “achieved” by cooking the books.

  3. Avatar туфтуф says:

    Ukraine can defeat Russia militarily even without US participation. History teaches us that its the spirit, not weapons, that wins wars. One only has to remember the heroic resistance of Vietnamese and Somalian nations which sent the US mighty army packing. Many can still remember the US flag-draped endless lines of coffins arriving from Nam.

    1. Avatar zorbatheturk says:

      You have a double major in Krembot deflection and FSB whataboutism.

    2. Avatar Murf says:

      Yep or the the Afghans who spurred the down fall of the Soviet Empire.
      Your Hero finds himself in the same situation as we were in Vietnam.
      A people willing to fight with countries willing to support them in their struggle.
      The US survived.
      The question is will Putin?

      1. Avatar Dagwood Bumstead says:

        The dwarf surviving is irrelevant. He can always go into exile in Pyongyang, where he can end his days playing tiddlywinks with Kim Jong-un. Chances are that Kim will torture the dwarf to get hold of the codes to his offshore bank accounts, then dump him somewhere. Alternatively, he can turn himself in to the Hague; indeed, he may be better off there than in Pyongyang.

        More to the point is, will Dwarfstan survive in its current borders? And will the breakup be peaceful, or violent? If violent, will the violence spill over into neighbouring countries?
        A breakup would appear to be inevitable. The lucky regions will be taken over by Peking’s “little gleen men” who won’t even have to hold a “lefelendum”; dai-Nippon will take back the Kuriles and probably Sakhalin. The rest of Dwarfstan will face a second Time of Troubles.

        And as a footnote, what will Proffessor Viktor, Azarov and the other PoR thugs do if/when Dwarfstan implodes?

        1. Avatar Alex George says:

          Plus Finland will likely take over or hegemonize the areas north of Moscow. Some people stlll speak Karelian or Sami languages, and they all speak the language of “please-let-us-be-run-by-Scandinavians-and-not-from-Moscow”

          Then ther is Vyborg. Its mainly Russian these days, and whoever rules in St Peterburg would fight to keep it. But many Finns would want to take it back.

      2. Avatar laker48 says:

        This George Friedman’s forecast has so far fulfilled almost to the tee and it’s very likely that it’ll hold until at least 2050. Here’s the link to his book “The Next 100 Years” http://www.mysearch.org.uk/website1/pdf/715.2.pdf

        1. Avatar Alex George says:

          The last time I looked at Friedman’s book, he had got virtually every prediction wrong concerning Russia-Ukraine-Central Asia, and taken less than 10 years to do it.

          1. Avatar Dagwood Bumstead says:

            To be fair, Friedman couldn’t have foreseen the effect the US shale revolution would have on oil and gas prices when he wrote his book. Yeltsin was unlucky in that oil and gas prices were low during his presidency; Putin lucky in that they picked up after 2000. In the 1990s oil hovered around $20 per barrel, by 2008 it was well over $100.
            Whether it will go down to the 1990s level again is unknown, but going up to the $80 minimum the dwarf needs is unlikely. Other countries need a far higher price to balance the budget, Venezuela needing $120-140 for instance.

          2. Avatar laker48 says:

            “Whether it will go down to the 1990s level again is unknown (…)”
            If we factor in inflation, the price of oil is close to $20 per barrel in 1990 dollars. After US shale producers reach their full capacity within four to six weeks, the price may go down to $30 per barrel again.

          3. Avatar Alex George says:

            Shale oil didn’t make much difference to the situation in Russia until oil prices began their dive in 2014, and it didn’t really make a difference in Russia until 2015. I was thinking more of his assumptions that the situation in Ukraine would not change, also about Central Asia and its relationship with China, and internal politics in Russia.

            Which is fine, I wouldn’t expect to do any better, but then I don’t make predictions about the next 100 years!

          4. Avatar laker48 says:

            The situation in Ukraine has not changed as far as its endemic corruption is concerned. It’s still killing it. The victory of Trump may become Ukraine’s blessing in disguise, as he won’t transfer any US money to the Ukrainian government without its full accountability.

            I was listening to the Canadian CBC Radio Show “The Current” last night where its hostess Anna Maria Tremonti interviewed different strategy analysts ad military leaders from Canada and the US. All told her that both Canada and the US have already taken measures to send lethal weapons to Ukraine in light of RuSSia’s aggressive behaviour in Ukraine and sending to Donbas over 700 new RuSSian tanks with RuSSian crews.

            All facts about the RuSSian presence in Donbas are known to the West, but the Obama administration naively believed that RuSSia would deescalate the conflict with the passage of time. The second obstacle are Germany being in a strong opposition to arming of Ukraine because the German government is greatly influenced by the SDP that is a coalition partner and professes a German-RuSSian strategic alliance in Europe.

          5. Avatar Alex George says:

            “The victory of Trump may become Ukraine’s blessing in disguise, as he won’t transfer any US money to the Ukrainian government without its full accountability”

            When has Trump said that?

            Also, its difficult to see what Trump could do in practice. The West has followed a policy whereby the IMF and EU provides funds to the Kyiv government on a conditional basis, i.e. no money without specified reforms. Whereas Britain and USA provide funds specially earmarked for military purposes, which are not subject to Kyiv’s co-operation. And which are accounted for.

          6. Avatar laker48 says:

            Trump doesn’t need to say anything, as he controls US loan guarantees for Ukraine and the US is the largest contributor to the IMF. We can easily see increasing difficulties Ukraine has to go through in order to get consecutive tranches of IMF funds released. I my be wrong, but it seems that the writing on the wall is now clearly visible. Ukraine hasn’t delivered on its reforms and fight against corruption, and it was obvious that its president Poroshenko was marginalised in Munich last weekend. The good news seems to be the willingness of Canada and the US to deliver lethal weapons to Ukraine in the nearest future.

          7. Avatar Alex George says:

            The issue I asked was not what powers Trump has, but whether he has ever said or suggested that he will require greater accountability for funds. I can’t recall any time he has said or suggested that .

            As for controls, no he doesn’t control how IMF funds are released. Nor are there “increasing difficulties” – IMF withheld funds from October 2015 through most of 2016 due to failure of Ukrainian government to implement required reforms, which had nothing whatsoever to do with Trump.

            I’m also unclear on where you get the idea that Poroshenko was marginalised in Munich.

          8. Avatar laker48 says:

            Let’s wait and see! Trump keeps watching Ukraine and follows the international, official line stated in the 1994 Budapest Memorandum that justifies the continuation of sanctions, leaving any details pertaining to Ukraine’s internal issues for further investigations. Trump’s got Saakashvili, his man in Ukraine, and I rationally expect long delays in any major development in US policies towards this country. Ukraine isn’t a key player in this game, albeit it’s important in keeping RuSSia at bay. Ukraine is fighting for survival, albeit not with RuSSia, but with its own, ubiquitous corruption eating it from inside. It’s already lost over three years since the Maidan revolution of dignity. Let’s hope for the best, though.

  4. Avatar veth says:

    Russian debt to Ukraine passed 70 billion dollars because of the war.

    1. Avatar Andrew Chimplewsky says:

      LOL… KPA!! (Kiss Putin A*s)!!

  5. Avatar zorbatheturk says:

    RuSSia has always had to create external enemies and threats to distract the ruSSian sheeple from their hopeless lives and Moscow’s despotism and corruption. The siloviki steal billions but never mind that, there are Nazis in Ukraine! {sarc}.

  6. Avatar Andrew Chimplewsky says:


    1. Avatar Alex George says:

      Typical Russian child abuse – using children to make propaganda videos.