There is for all practical purposes a Putin Doctrine that postulates the recovery of some key political, economic, and geostrategic assets lost by the Soviet state, he writes for The American Interest:
Putin is not interested in an all-out restoration: He does not want to revive the state’s complete ownership of the economy nor fully re-create the Soviet Union in the post-Soviet space. But after his first term, from 2000 to 2004, in which liberal economic reforms combined with a gradual repossession of state control over the media, politics, and the legal system, he has rarely if ever deviated from three key objectives: re-occupying what Lenin called the commanding heights of the economy; establishing firm control over the political process, the justice system, and mass communications to prevent any significant challenge to the regime; and affirming veto power over the foreign and security policies of the post-Soviet states, with (at least until now) the exception of the three Baltic states.
The present Russian regime, which cannot modernize and for which a modicum of institutional reform might prove fatal to its hold on power, has staked its legitimacy on patriotic mobilization, Aron contends:
Putin has saddled this tiger with remarkable ease and had it trot steadily. Yet among the many dangers of such a ride is the necessity of feeding the beast with an ever increasing supply of fresh meat, the bloodier the better—especially if the Russian economy, expected … to contract at least 4 percent this year, is not soon rescued by a sharp upswing in oil prices. Victory (or, more precisely, victories large or small in the imagined war with the West) become the foundation of political survival and thus must be pursued relentlessly.
This might not end well. RTWT
Signed by 35 countries on August 1, 1975, the Helsinki Final Act – which helped facilitate the implosion of the Soviet empire from within – marks its 40th anniversary this weekend, writes RFE/RL’s Brian Whitmore:
The Helsinki Accords enshrined respect for human rights and freedoms as a bedrock European principle. Today, basic rights like the freedom of speech, press, and assembly are violated as a matter of course in much of the former Soviet Union. The accords led to the establishment of Russia’s most venerable rights watchdog, the Moscow Helsinki Group. Today, that group is fighting against being branded as a “foreign agent” by the Kremlin.
Today, Vladimir Putin’s Russia has little use for any aspect of the Helsinki Accords. Like the Soviet Union, the Putin regime ignores its commitments to respect human rights….Which means as they turn 40, the Helsinki Accords may not be on life support. But they are resting on very shaky foundations.
In the European Council on Foreign Relations series on ‘Russian soft power: At home and abroad’, a range of experts considers the changes in Russia’s deployment of its soft power, both at home and abroad, and explains the impact that this has had in various countries. In this series:
- Alexey Levinson argues that Putin’s popularity goes beyond a personality cult.
- Tornike Sharashenidze writes about Russia’s recent erection of new ‘border’ markings in South Ossetia in Georgia and its purpose.
- Dániel Hegedűs outlines how the EU can end its victim mentality and counter Russia’s soft power.