Responding to a recent Levada poll, a representative group of Russian citizens chose as the most important historical figure Joseph Stalin with Vladimir Putin coming second. We can only suggest that those polled might want to look up and study another historical figure, Nicolas Chauvin, - the source of the word chauvinism – because of his unquestioning devotion to all things French, which he saw as embodied in Napoleon.

 

When things get difficult, the Kremlin powers begin looking around for some diversion to take the minds of Russia’s citizens off the issues at hand. We are approaching such a time with the truckers’ strike, the growing costs of supporting the Assad regime in Syria and the debacle in the Donbas. We can’t imagine what shiny object Putin and Co will choose for diversion this time but – never fear – there will be one.

 

 

Ushakov’s remarks reflect the failure of the Kremlin to understand the nature of the American political system. First, because Putin has dictatorial powers, the Kremlin leader and his staff tend to project that on others and expect that any new leader of the US will be able to radically change direction simply because he wants to.

 

Photo: Yury Ushakov, Russian Federation Ambassador to the United States, 1999-2008, now a close aide of Vladimir Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin, front, attends a meeting with graduates of military and police academies in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, June 28, 2017.

 

War in Ukraine 2.0 2017/6/29 17:47:19

In June, Canadian defense and security expert Ihor Kozak (right) stands on the line of demarcation between Ukraine and the occupied territories outside of Kranohoroivka. Here he speaks with Serhiy Kuzan (center), a Ukrainian volunteer who specializes in the delivery of humanitarian aid to the war-torn regions of Ukraine, and a Ukrainian Special Forces commander (left). Credit: Ivan Bratsiun.   

 

Sgt. Matthew Councill, a member of the 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team assigned to the Joint Multinational Training Group - Ukraine, listens as a Ukrainian soldier gives his team a mission brief before conducting section attack training at a Ukrainian base near Zhytomyr, Ukraine. U.S. Soldiers from the 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team assigned to the Joint Multinational Training Group - Ukraine are working alongside Canadian troops to train Ukrainian noncommissioned officers in Zhytomyr before their battalion arrives at the Yavoriv Combat Training Center for a 55-day training rotation later this year. (Photo by Sgt. Anthony Jones, 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team)

 

Periodically Vladimir Putin likes to remind his fellow citizens – and the world –that before he became Russia’s political Supremo he was a real, working spymaster in the KGB.  His most recent reminder of his KGB qualifications came just last week. Doing a bit of bragging about his success running networks of so-called illegals – in-place spies waiting for activation as needed – he hopes - will have a positive effect on the upcoming Russian presidential elections.

 

Photo: KGB recruiter Vladimir Putin, front left, in East Germany in the mid-1980s.

 

Just when you thought those bright lads in the Kremlin had done it all, they come up with a new scheme to make discovery of their dark deeds all the more difficult. A bill wending its way through the legislative process will soon make all of the financial holding of top state officials classified Top Secret.

 

Igor Tyzhkevich, an analyst at Kyiv’s Institute for the Future argues, Belarus is sufficiently well-protected that Ukrainians stop being nervous about the joint Russian-Belarusian Zapad 2017 exercises and instead recognize that if Kyiv had taken the same steps Minsk has, Moscow would have failed in Crimea and the Donbas.

Vladimir Putin may be the obvious symbol – and current main driver – of Russia’s obsession with regional hegemony in those areas where the Soviet Union previously held sway. Even if Putin disappeared today this paranoid fixation would continue since it was brainwashed into the collective psyche of Russians for decades. What this means in practical terms is that the citizens of Ukraine, Poland and others having the misfortune to share national boundaries with Russia have no choice but to maintain defense capabilities strong enough to convince Russia – and Russians – that pursuing this obsession will come at a cost too high to be paid.

 

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