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Putinocchio – how the Kremlin boss deceives the world

Putinocchio – how the Kremlin boss deceives the world
Translated by: Michael Garrood


5,61 million viewers tuned in to Sunday evening’s German TV programme Günther Jauch, and its interview between NDR’s Hubert Seipel and the Russian President, Vladimir Putin (62).

The Kremlin boss conducted himself in a relaxed and eloquent manner. Yet some of his lines were odious half-truths. BILD checks the facts!

“The annexation of the Crimea was not a breach of human rights”

Putin compared the Crimea with Kosovo. It is indeed right that NATO breached human rights in 1999, as it intervened against Serbia without a UN mandate – although Russia and China were against.

There are, however, two big differences between the Crimea and Kosovo. In the latter, hundreds of thousands of Albanians were threatened with deportation and death by the regular Serbian army and partisans. And in Kosovo intervention occured only after years of unsuccessful diplomatic efforts.

The United Nations had, with Russia’s involvement, attempted prior to 1999 to get Serbia to compromise on the mostly Albanian-inhabited Kosovo.

Also, after the intervention and up to the declaration of independence in 2008, almost ten years were spent negotiating. The further difference: Kosovo became an independent country; Crimea was incorporated into Russia.

“People who want to fight will get weapons from somewhere”

Putin means that Russia would not even have to supply the separatists with weapons as they could arm themselves anyway. A quote from the ARD interview: “Where do they get tanks and artillery systems from…in the modern world, people will always find weapons.”

But Nato and the German secret service have no doubts that Russia has been supplying the separatists. Anti-aircraft systems have been detected in their possession that could not have been taken from the Ukrainian army. The only possibility is that they got them from the Russians.

In addition, it may well be possible to buy smaller weapons on the black market, for example rifles. However, heavier weaponry, such as tanks, is more difficult to get hold of. Satellite photographs have shown that Russian weapons systems are being brought across the border.

There are also repeated reports of Russian soldiers fighting in Eastern Ukraine.

“Western sanctions could even be useful for Russia”

Putin claims that EU and USA sanctions can possibly lead to Russia’s economy becoming stronger. His argument is that goods formerly bought on the world market would have to be produced in Russia now. The “comfortable life”, namely only to develop oil and gas and import other products, “belongs partly to the past”, Putin said in the ARD interview.

But it is not as simple as the president would have it.

The sanctions are directed towards the finance, armaments and fossil fuel industries. In particular with regard to fossil fuels, Russia is dependent on imports from the West. To explore for oil in inaccessible areas such as ocean floors, the Arctic or oil shale reserves, Russia needs western technology. The oil supply from more easily accessible areas is coming to an end.

“Argument: economic growth despite crisis”

On the programme, Putin said that he reckons with economic growth of 0.5-0.6% for this year and 1.2% next year. After, that it will get even better, according to Putin: 2.3% in 2016 and 3% in 2017.




What Putin does not say: during his first two periods in office, the ecconomy grew by 7 to 8 per cent per year. Even his own central bank does not believe his forecasts for the present. They corrected their own forecasts downward a few days ago –  0.3% this year and 0% (!) next year. They named “the exhausting traditional sources of growth” – oil and gas – as the reason.

“Nobody is speaking about a ‘federalisation’ of Ukraine”

Putin wondered in the programme why nobody would converse with him about a “federalisation” of Ukraine. Critics, as recognised by the Kremlin leader, would in such a case fear a “decentralisation”. Putin played down these fears, describing them as “playing with words.”

What he really wants: Putin does not want a federal structure in Ukraine as one for example knows in Germany. In German security circles, it is assumed that Putin wants to turn Ukraine into a confederation of strong mini-republics.

In contrast to a federal state, the entities in a confederation can also have a right to speak on Ukraine’s foreign policy. With the influence of pro-Russian “people’s republics” in the east of the country, Putin could permanantly stop Ukraine’s attachment to the West.

Translated by: Michael Garrood
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