Thursday, July 24, 2014

Window on Eurasia: West Won’t Impose Serious Sanctions or Back Russian Opposition Because Putin is ‘West’s SOB,’ Basmanov Says

Paul Goble


            Staunton, July 24 – The West won’t impose serious sanctions on Vladimir Putin for his actions in Ukraine or provide support for his opponents inside Russia because Western leaders view Putin as an “SOB” but “their SOB,” someone they don’t like but who is largely doing what they want, according to Vladimir Basmanov, a self-described anti-imperial Russian nationalist.


            Basmanov, known for his anti-immigrant activities as a leader of the Movement Against Illegal Immigration (DPNI), argues that Western realpolitik pragmatists don’t really care about democracy in Russia but do want to have someone in the Kremlin who can control Russia (


            The Russian nationalist is certainly wrong in many respects, but his comments are worth noting because those who see Putin as an agent of the West and his regime as fundamentally illegitimate as a result and who do not see any hope that the West will live up to its ideological claims and support democracy or protect non-Russian countries are typically ignored altogether.


            Unfortunately, Basmanov says, the dominant groups in the West aren’t that interested either in saving Ukraine or in supporting Russian democracy because they don’t want to do anything that might threaten the continued control of “their SOB” in Moscow and his willingness to behave in ways that the West finds congenial.


            There are some in the West, of course, who care about Ukraine and who recognize that a democratic Russia could be a much better partner for the West, but such people lack significant influence and are opposed by those who think that even if that is true, getting from here to there could prove difficult and dangerous.


            For those who control Western governments now, Putin is “no Hitler, Noriega, Saddam Hussein or Qaddafi” whom they must contain and work to remove but rather “’a junior partner’” who may behave badly on occasion but who overall is doing what the Western governments want.


            According to Basmanov, “the Russian Federation is a semi-colonial state economically and politically dependent on Europe and the United States.” That doesn’t mean that Moscow will “always and everywhere” do what the EU and the US want. Rather it means that the Russian Federation “by its very nature” is such a state.  


            Unfortunately, he continues, “not everyone understands this. Many Russians believe that the West wants to destroy them, and many in the West think that “Putin is an anti-Western dictator … In fact, both opinions are mistaken,” mislead by the propaganda of their governments intended for domestic use only.


            The Russian Federation was set up according to the desires of the West, and both Boris Yeltsin and Putin were chosen or at least approved of by the West, Basmanov says. He notes that one representative of the American establishment wrote in his memoirs that the West rejected the division of Russian territory into smaller starts, such as Siberia, as inherently unstable.


            (Basmanov acknowledges that there were people in the West who supported the emergence of such states but says that their views were in a minority and ignored.)


            In Basmanov’s telling, “Putin has one overriding task: not to allow Russians to recover their own state.”  Instead, the Russian Federation was organized to serve as a supplier of raw materials to and a market for products from the West and to avoid “presenting any threat economically or politically” to the West.


            Putin remains “acceptable” for the West because he does not threaten it, however much he may threaten the Russian people or Russia’s neighbors. And therefore, there will not be any serious sanctions against him for actions against either or serious support for the Russian opposition to Putin’s regime.


             According to Basmanov, “Putin is in no way diametrically hostile to America. This is a tale for internal use for the residents of the Russian Federation and for the residents of America,” so that the former will support their system “out of ‘patriotism’” and the latter will feel good that their country is promoting democracy.


            To say this, he argues, is not to suggest there is any conspiracy. Instead, it is to point out something that is “the customary policy of ‘great powers’ in the world.”


            Moreover, Basmanov continues, it means that Russians to a large extent “need to say thank you to ‘the West’ for the fact that the dog Putin is in power,” a situation that reflects the West’s “selfish interests.” And it means that Russians who want to see Putin replaced are going to have to do that on their own.


            The West is concerned about the possibility that people will come to power in Russia whom it does not control and who do not live according to the provisions of Moscow’s agreements with the West. “Why risk it?” is their attitude, especially since “Putin is a reliable and tested partner.”


            He is someone the West can work with. Moreover, Yeltsin and Sobchak “recommended him. It is not excluded that Putin is a pedophile and a murder who has stolen money in Switzerland. [But] it is not difficult to resolve questions” with someone like that.


            “A rich, free and genuinely independent Russia without the parasite RF on its body and the tyrant Putin would not be a good thing for the US, the EU or anyone else in the world because it would begin to produce goods and become a player in the world.” Despite what many think, this isn’t about whether the West likes “this or that mad dictator.”


Rather it is about whether the West considers someone, however much of an SOB he may be, “useful” in “keeping under control the situation in the world.”


            According to Basmanov, “the Russian Federation de jure and de facto is a continuation of the USSR,” and “the regime of Putin and his band is an occupation regime,” which will become ever more harsh and cruel with time.

             Russians don’t have much time to address this problem, Basmanov says. By mid-century, they will be a national minority, and “after that, the change in the country will be zero.”  If Russians can’t achieve change by themselves, “the current anti-Russian parasite state by the name of Russian Federation will continue to exist on the land of Russia.”


            In that event, “Russians have no future.”




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