After the fall of the Soviet Union Russia was depleted, defeated, and outside the mainstream of world affairs. But Vladimir Putin became president in 2000, and since then, Russia has changed dramatically.
Putin called the Soviet Union’s collapse the “greatest geopolitical catastrophe” of the 20th century and dedicated himself to “returning” Russia to its “rightful” position as a major world power. True to his word, Putin has worked to asserted control over territories within Georgia and annexed the Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula, as well as claiming control over the Bering Strait and he isn’t finished by any stretch of the imagination. Behind the scenes Putin has worked over-time to prevent Georgia and the Ukraine and the former Soviet countries from developing closer ties with Europe and was instrumental in Kyrgyzstan kicking America off Manas Air Base, America’s last remaining military base in Central Asia.
A former KGB agent, the murderous arm of the Russian government that succeeded Stalin’s secret police, Putin has combined KGB tactics with his presidential powers to manipulate the election process to ensure victory for his party which in turn allowed him to seize control of the media and private firms, as well as imprison or murder political opponents, support foreign tyrants and take other nation’s territory by force. Putin’s seizure of Russia’s vast oil and gas resources has not only allowed him to gain considerable global influence but has also made him one of the richest people in the history of the world.
In December 2007, after a parliamentary election that consolidated yet more power under Putin, he officially rejected the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty, alarming Europeans who no longer had any guarantee that Russia wouldn’t deploy thousands of tanks on their eastern borders.
Under the Russian constitution Putin was limited to two consecutive terms in office which guaranteed that he would no longer be president. Not to be outsmarted, Putin simply switched jobs to prime minister allowing his puppet, Dmitry Medvedev, to take the presidency while he ruled from behind the scenes. In 2012 Medvedev was pushed aside as Putin once again took the office of president.
And just this year, realizing he would be kicked out of power once again when his current term ends in 2024, Putin announced plans to amend the constitution to remove any barrier to his dictatorial plans for permanent rule. There was hardly any surprise at all when the Duma voted overwhelmingly to pass it or when it sailed through the upper house or gained approval within days by Russia’s highest court. To make his power play more palatable to voters, Putin promised that they would have the final say on the amendment.
By sweeting the pot with a guaranteed minimum wage, an annual increase in pension payments, by enshrining “faith in God,” and outlawing same-sex marriage, Putin assured overwhelming approval of his constitutional amendment. It also didn’t hurt that his propaganda machine operated in overdrive for weeks proclaiming it was their patriotic duty to pass the measure. In addition there were military parades to stir up nationalistic sentiments, celebrity endorsements and some 2 million prizes promised to those who voted. And of course we shouldn’t forget that like Facebook and Google, the government blocked any website that went against his power grab.
The result, according to the Russian daily Kommersant, was a turnout of an impressive 68% of voters, representing 57.7 million people, including a cosmonaut—the first person in history to cast a ballot from the International Space Station. The verdict from all these voters was a hearty endorsement of Putin’s power grab, with reports of about 78% approving the package of amendments. Are these figures for real? Only Putin knows!
Among the richest, the most experienced, the most manipulative, and the most innovative world leader, Putin is obsessed with appearing strong and being strong. Not only does he have a black belt in karate, he is a judo expert at the eighth of ten levels of Dan. He has proven himself to be as brutal as he is cruel, at the cost of thousands of lives. And his primary goal is countering and containing the United States with an anti-Western world order.
With Russia’s economy and demographics in trouble however, Putin and the Kremlin are running out of time to restore Russia to great-empire status. Although Moscow is spending aggressively to update its armament, their conventional military and its nuclear arsenal are both aging quickly and demographically, birth rates are plunging precipitously.
On top of that, America is squeezing Russia, hoping nature will take its course and Russian power will wane. But you can be sure that Russia will lash out violently rather than quietly fade into obscurity.
The war between Jacob and Esau endures.
Source: Russia’s Return to Superpower Status by Jeremiah Jacques; How Putin Is Winning in Syria by Middle East Quarterly; Russia Lays Claim To The Bering Strait, Taking The Shine Off Putin and Surrounded by Tyrants, FranklinCountyVaPatriots