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Rick Moran


March 2, 2014 - 11:40 am

There is more to Vladimir Putin’s actions in the Ukraine than geopolitical calculations. The wave of patriotic fervor Putin’s invasion has unleashed in Russia reminds us that “wag the dog” scenarios are not confined to western democracies.

The Russian people are ready for this. The loss of empire following the breakup of the Soviet Union has rankled Russian nationalists for two decades, and now that Putin seems in an ascendant position — especially over the American president — there has been a burst of support for the Russian president and a wave of sympathy for Russian-speaking Ukrainians.

Reuters reports:

If the status quo established in the last few days holds, with Russian forces already in charge in Crimea, he can hope to have won back Crimea without a shot being fired in anger or the necessity of taking on another drain to the state coffers.

Even if a pullback is forced on him, Putin will still portray himself as the defender of national interests and those of Russians abroad. In the eyes of many voters, he hopes, he will not have given up Ukraine without a fight.

While he has been busy defending national interests, his lieutenants have been lambasting the West over Ukraine, accusing it of manipulating events and working with a government chosen by gun-toting “extremists”.

Combined with an orchestrated wave of nationalist indignation over attempts to limit use of the Russian language and persecute Russians in a country many consider an extension of their own, Putin’s stance plays well at home.

His insistence that Ukraine’s new leaders stick to the terms of a European Union-brokered political agreement last month with Yanukovich goes down well.

This month, his popularity ratings have bounced back to almost 70 percent, according to an opinion poll by independent pollster Levada.

“Putin has not forgiven the fact that the agreement was not fulfilled and that is one of his greatest motivations. He considers he is acting in a symmetrical way,” said Gleb Pavlovsky, a former Kremlin spin doctor.

“I think that the authorities think it’s very helpful that people are getting themselves worked up about this… And the majority feel in a patriotic mood about Crimea and Ukraine. I think it’s positive for the Kremlin. They won’t refuse action.”


But there is a risk Putin could be forced into action over Crimea by the nationalist thinking that he has let loose – and this would be particularly risky if he were pushed into action to defend Russian speakers in eastern Ukraine.

The decision to seek authorization to send in troops looked less like a prelude to war and more like a threat aimed at getting Kiev and the West to cut a deal, Professor Mark Galeotti from the Center of Global Affairs at New York University wrote on his blog.

“As the language toughens and the troops roll, though, it’s getting harder to believe that common sense is going to prevail in the Kremlin.”

A climb-down by Putin at this point doesn’t seem likely. At the very least, to satisfy the nationalist emotions he has unleashed in Russia, he would have to “liberate” the Crimea by bestowing independence, or, best case scenario for the west, work out a negotiated settlement with Ukraine that would expand Crimea’s autonomy.

But there is a danger that the pro-Russian eastern provinces, encouraged by success in the Crimea, might initiate their own separatist movement. Would Putin feel himself obligated to support such a movement with troops already in the country? On such questions might rest war or peace.

Thankfully, from Putin’s point of view, he doesn’t have to deal with anti-war protestors:

The patriotic mood has caught on. For every dissenter wondering whether this is the worst thing Russia could do since it crushed opposition in Czechoslovakia in 1968, there are dozens more who say the West is fomenting violence.

Near Red Square and the Defense Ministry in Moscow on Sunday, a few hundred protesters waved banners calling for “No War”. Dozens were detained.

But their numbers could not match the thousands who turned out for a demonstration for the “defense of the Ukrainian people” in central Moscow.

“Fascism will not win,” the protesters chanted. “Crimea is Russia. We are for Russian unity.”

Still fighting the Nazis after all these years.

Rick Moran is PJ Media's Chicago editor and Blog editor at The American Thinker. He is also host of the"RINO Hour of Power" on Blog Talk Radio. His own blog is Right Wing Nut House.

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All Comments   (10)
All Comments   (10)
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Putin, the Fascist, is fighting fascism. Sounds like the democrap party.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
OK, wait a minute.... gotta say I'm a bit mystified and dare I say severely irked by one line here -

"The wave of patriotic fervor Putin’s invasion has unleashed in Russia reminds us that “wag the dog” scenarios are not confined to western democracies."

Whaaaaa??? Are you outrageously saying that quasi and outright totalitarian societies, dictatorships, authoritarians, etc ...... might themselves cynically use foreign situations and ginned up "enemies" to shore up their own domestic support? That such a thing is not, as is widely known to all of course, something that only "Western democracies" are known for? Should I allow this appalling insult to the world's totalitarians to stand unanswered?

Um.... Oooowe-kayyyyy.

That's got to be the odd statement of the day.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
>> Domestic Politics Driving Putin Policy in Ukraine <<
And in other breaking news, water is wet.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
There are two main differences between Communism and Fascism. The first difference is that whereas under a communist regime all property was to held in common, there was still private property under Fascism, though its use was ultimately directed by the government. The second difference was that Communism saw not nations but classes, and that all of members of the working class would rise up together, regardless of nationality. On the other hand, instead of trying to get rid of peoples' nationalistic impulses, Fascism sought to use them to create a national socialist state (which is why NAZI stands for National Socialist German Workers Party in german). Given the vast amounts of blood that was spilled during the early 20th century due to these fundamental differences, it seems a bit ironic for Russian protesters to be shouting, "Fascism will not win, Crimea is Russia. We are for Russian unity."
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Nailed it.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"Still fighting the Nazis after all these years."

After the bankruptcy of the Bolshevik dream, Russia lost all of its national holidays at once. The only survivor, Victory in Europe Day, commemorates the only good thing the Russians have done in the entire 20th century.

It's really all they have.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment

The Ukrainian revolution, now termed the “Maidan Revolution,” may ultimately birth a Russian-backed nationalism in the Ukraine. This is consistent with political developments across much of the continent, as more and more socialist parties lose ground to nationalist ones. Among the reasons for this trend are the rejection of unbridled immigration, especially from the Middle East, and a rejection of an LGBT agenda that rejects traditional morality pertaining to marriage and the family. The American media, and indeed apparently the American intelligence community, have misread the Ukrainian protests as a pro-Western movement. In fact, they are better explained as an internal coup against a corrupt, two-faced president who was trying gaming both Moscow and Washington. As popular resentment toward Yanukovych coalesced and ultimately succeeded in his ousting, it appears that the GRU is attempting to control the situation and re-install a sympathetic, nationalist leader. Whether the leader that emerges is the so-called martyr Tymoshenko, or the larger than life Klitschko, or some kind of far-right coalition, remains to be seen.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
it appears that the GRU is attempting to control the situation

When you say GRU, do you mean to refer to the Soviet Military Intelligence organization? Are you saying it still exists under that same name in Putin's Russia? I'm not up on the current organization of Russia's government but I thought the GRU had at least been renamed and possibly re-purposed, just as the KGB was split up and one wing of it called the FSB....
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Yes, the GRU still exists. GRU is kind of like the CIA plus DIA plus NRO and more! with a commando branch (Spetznaz). KGB can be correctly translated as "Department of Homeland Security", was broken up, and its direct successor, the FSB is roughly the equivalent of the FBI. There is a foreign counterintelligence component, but it is smaller in size and portfolio than the GRU.

I don't know what the GRU would be doing installing a nationalist leader, per the article quoted. If so, it would be to act as agent provocateur to provide a pretext for a general Russian invasion.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The GRU is nationalist, it always has been. It's an offshoot of the Czar's bodyguard, formed by Trotsky after the assassination of Little Nikky.

The key is Aleksandr Dugin (and Zhironovsky). They're the Russian nationalists, the fascists. The Eurasianists. Everyone ignores them because... how could Russia go fascist? It doesn't make sense. Until you remember the Russian fascists, like Vonsiatsky.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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