Putin has become the godfather of an illiberal internationalist style, and the inspirational mentor to many Western populist leaders.
Although Russia’s GDP is barely greater than that of Spain, Kremlin leader Vladimir Putin has achieved a geopolitical miracle, proving himself a master of the European and perhaps global chessboard, so how did he manage to do this feat? What lies his political and geopolitical genius?
From these questions, Vincent Joffre, in his column in the French magazine L’Obs, revealed the secret of the former lieutenant colonel in the KGB, Vladimir Putin, who invented new concepts and strategies, and managed with his genius to restore the effectiveness of Russia and the Kremlin after it was the laughing stock of the world when he took power in 2000.
Juffair remembers that when former US President George W. Bush threatened to invade Iraq in February 2003, Putin could not oppose this unjustified aggression, and did not use the Russian veto, despite considering that this war would be crazy, and that the United Nations should not You give it the green light, and at that time he preferred to “hide” behind French President Jacques Chirac, who rose up alone against the American threat.
The writer believes that the head of the Kremlin at that time was weak in the face of the White House, and feared revenge, because his country is still a second-class international player only, but after 19 years everything has changed and what a change – as the writer says – here is Vladimir Putin, the godfather. The international arena is negotiating face-to-face with US President Joe Biden on the future of the European continent, as the Soviet presidents did in the old days of the Cold War, when the Soviet Union participated in America in managing the world. How did that happen?
In domestic politics, Putin invented what Joffre called “illiberal democracy”, which – as he interprets it – is a seemingly democratic system, controlled by a strongman, and in which the opposition seems to have its place.
In Russia the opposition from “within the system”, as in the Communist Party, has the right to openly and violently criticize the government and its initiatives, but at the time of the vote it must surrender to the dictates of the Kremlin.
As for the so-called “outside the system” or the real opposition, such as Alexei Navalny’s movement, it is discredited and banned from expressing its opinion and from participating in elections.
Thanks to this system – according to the writer – Putin was able to stay in power indefinitely and enrich his assistants horribly, without paying attention to the rule of law and individual freedoms, to the point that the Russian President today is the oldest of the great world leaders, and indeed he is, and spread this type of system of government around the world, creating a group of admirers, especially in Central Europe.
Putin has become the godfather of an international illiberal style, and the inspirational mentor to many Western populist leaders, starting with Marine Le Pen, the leader of the French far-right Rally party, and not ending with the controversial candidate in France Eric Zemmour.
In order to prepare his country for confrontation with the West, the master of the Kremlin succeeded – as Juffair believes – in spreading an ideology among the Russian people, based on rejecting the “deviant” values of the West such as same-sex marriage, and on rewriting the history of the Soviet Union, starting with Stalinism and World War II, which became called “War Great Patriotism.
To prepare his country for confrontation with the West, the master of the Kremlin succeeded in spreading an ideology among the Russian people, based on the rejection of “deviant” Western values such as same-sex marriage, and on rewriting the history of the Soviet Union, starting with Stalinism and the Second World War that became called the “Great Patriotic War”.
History, gas and intelligence
In order to expand Moscow’s influence in the world, Putin used his country’s traditional resources, such as oil and gas, whose prices had skyrocketed by chance, and made their delivery to Europe an inexhaustible source of blackmail.
He also used the secret services that he publishes perfectly and without restraint, such as his seizure of Crimea in 2014, an act prepared in complete secrecy and successfully carried out by the Russian Military Intelligence through the “little green men”, as well as the intervention in Syria in 2015 to defend the Bashar al-Assad regime, As the writer says.
The operations of the Wagner mercenary group in Africa and elsewhere – according to the author – are part of this threat strategy, as well as the spectacular assassinations or attempts to kill former Russian intelligence agents such as Alexander Litvinenko and Sergei Skripal, as well as the work of hackers and agents of the security services in the 2016 US presidential campaign, This gave a huge boost to populist Donald Trump.
In addition to all this, Putin devoted a large part of his country’s GDP to the arms race, so that Russian engineers were the first to develop a hypersonic missile capable of maneuvering the giant and very expensive American missile defense system that protects the American continent and gives Washington a special geostrategic advantage. Capable of destroying satellites from Earth, as well as the Russian nuclear arsenal capable of rivaling the firepower of the United States.
It is this Russian situation, which began years ago – as Juffair sees – that today allows Putin to stand from a strong position, against Washington and NATO, and to hold Ukraine hostage to bring the Westerners to their knees, who desperately lack the kind of brilliant and brutal leaders who can drive Europe and the world out. From the chasm that the former KGB man fell into and brilliantly got out of.