Restraining Putin until the inevitable collapse of his regime



2015/01/03 • Analysis & Opinion

Vitaliy Portnikov

It is in Ukraine’s interest to restrain Putin from engaging in war until the collapse of his regime, and this collapse is inevitable.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, Pavlo Klimkin, has reported on the ongoing preparations for the meeting in Astana, Kazakhstan, in the so-called “Normandy Format” (meeting format established in June last year when the leaders of Russia, Germany, France, and Ukraine met on the sidelines of the D-Day commemoration in Normandy, France — Ed.).  The participants will be the presidents of Ukraine, France, and Russia, and the Federal Chancellor of Germany. They will be hosted by the President of Kazakhstan. This meeting is the main outcome of the recent trips by President Nursultan Nazarbayev to Kyiv and Moscow.

After meeting with Poroshenko and Putin, Nazarbayev also spoke with Chancellor Angela Merkel. Therefore, it is obvious that all parties are interested in a new meeting.

The question is what can the Astana meeting change? A major shift in the situation in unlikely. Russia’s president still fails to appreciate the consequences of the country’s economic crisis for his regime. The reason is not simply Putin’s stubbornness but his terrible incompetence. Putin is counting on holding out on the country’s reserves until the new rise in the price of oil. He has no doubt the prices will rise.

For Putin, the invitation to the Astana meeting is proof that the West is interested in a rapprochement with Russia and in saving face. That is exactly right! In his view, it is Mekel and Hollande who want to save face and not at all Putin. So then why should he compromise? Of course he will pretend that he is interested in a peaceful resolution of the conflict, but he will continue to support the thugs. And he will not leave the Donbas because he is convinced that the occupation of Ukrainian territory gives him the best leverage over Ukraine.

Then why do we need Astana? Because it is in our interest to restrain Putin from war until the collapse of his regime. And this collapse is inevitable precisely because of Putin’s incompetence and the stupidity of his entourage, the adverse economic conditions, and the lack of understanding by the Russian public itself of the seriousness of the threats. And we should not think it will take a long time. The regime could survive for a long time if it were a question of natural processes. But it is precisely because Putin always makes a mistake where a reasonable person would find the right solution that the collapse will be accelerated. The main thing is to keep Putin from going to war against us or any other country before this collapse takes place.

As for the de-occupation of our territory, we will be negotiating it with the successor president of the Russian Federation or the entity that will soon emerge in its place.

Translated by: Anna Mostovych
Source: Radio Svoboda

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  • ct

    It makes sense. Trying to reason with the sociopath Putin is futile. He is delusional at best as he blames the West for his incompetence while his country suffers. The Russian people are willing to suspend moral reasoning while following Putin’s supposed leadership and propaganda; as was clearly the case with Hitler. We will all be better off after Putin’s demise.

  • Paul P. Valtos

    That is a sane conclusion to this situation. Putin refuses to accept the fact that the best will come out of this thing. As Angela Merkel said “Putin is living in a virtual reality” another world. For some reason, be it his KGB brain washing, his supposed successes with the economy falsely believing that he is omniscient rather than an economy based on just oil and gas and subject to the market, or just plain stupid regarding economics. He is the Russian equivalent of Herbert Hoover in the USA in 1929. Hoover was sharp as a tack but seemed lost when it came to any way to repair the foundations of the economy. In reality only WWII resolved the depression in the USA but within the new framework of the regulations imposed on Wall Street. It took a crook, a former senator to wipe out those regulations by the name of Gramm to undo those safety nets. He was rewarded with a position on the UBS board of directors. Hopefully the Lord has taken him to his final reward which is not on any board .Ironically he was from Texas where many nuts live.

    • Brent

      Excellent analysis and comparison!!!

  • Brent

    Time will also help Ukraine rebuild its military to allow it to at least be able to better defend itself.

    As with any repressive dictatorship, it’s only a matter of time before Russians start losing their idolatry of Putin. If the leader of my country cause my currency to drop in value by 40% in less than a year, 10% inflation and interest rates of 17%, he would not last long because I’m the one being squeezed, and not him and his cronies. Even the Russian sheep can only be so stupid that when they start to starve, they’ll be looking for a change.

    His popularity was very low in 2012 when there were protests, so those will eventually return. The love affair over Sochi and Crimea won’t last much longer when the pensioners have to start cutting back because of the devaluation of the ‘rubble’ and the loss of buying power for the little he can get. The 40% devaluation of the currency and 10% inflation has already wiped out any gains he gave to their pensions.

  • Scradje

    The very least that the other signatories of the Budapest Memorandum, Britain and the US, should do is provide Ukraine with all the means necessary to ensure that they do not have to concede one centimeter more to the enemy. Until they do that they have effectively reneged on their part of the deal.

  • Rods

    The more the dictator Putin surrounds himself with like minded henchmen, the more he believes in his own genius and hype and the more he revels in his propaganda generated public adulation, the quicker will be his demise.

    You would have to have been a uniquely stupid leader to not raise a petroleum-producing country’s living standards with a $20 a barrel oil price in 1999 to a $160 a barrel price in 2008. The difference between a stupid person and a smart one is to realise that rising prices won’t last forever! This is why most sensible oil producing countries have used the money to diversify their economies by developing industries in other areas or creating and using sovereign wealth funds to invest in industry abroad. Only the most stupid would use it to make a corrupt small circle immensely wealthy (110 Russian citizens own 35% of the country’s wealth) and to spend it on vanity items, like a big percentage on a stronger than necessary military and vanity projects that lose money like hosting Olympic events and World Cups. The fact that Putin dislikes Economics and prefers to hangout with other former and serving KGB/GRU officers and Judo partners shows!

    At the current burn rate of $10bn a week of currency reserves and $390bn left in the pot, Q4 of 2015 is going to be an interesting one for Putin, which to his immense dislike he is going to have to spend much more time with his economists, trying to dig himself out of an enormous engulfing economic hole! It couldn’t happen to a more deserving person.

    To stave things off as much as possible, he will crank the ruble printing presses up to number 11, which will stoke inflation further, with the inevitable interest rate rises.

    The question for Ukraine and Eastern Europe is will he embark on more military adventures to prop up his popularity and hemorrhage even more cash or try to find face saving solutions, that ease sanctions, so he has access to Western capital markets and the IMF again?

    • Brent

      Here’s an article I recall from The Moscow Times last winter, when Putin was also talking about a Russian moonbase.—12-of-the-best/500647.html

      I’m really curious about the World Cup because I’m sure Russia is going to now struggle to pay for all the new stadiums, and I’m sure Seth Blatter won’t be happy if he doesn’t get his promised bribe…whoops, did I say that out loud?!?!? He’ll have to ‘re-sell’ the games to another country….darn, did it again!

      You’re right though. Putin was incredibly lucky with the prices of oil, but also incredibly stupid with how badly he mismanaged the economy and any possible diversification. Hopefully the West does not ease up on any sanctions before he finally and fully gets out of Ukraine, but I keep hearing of ‘secret talks’ and ‘easing sanctions.

      I’d love to see that diminutive lying little KGB officer being chased down the street by angry babushkas who didn’t get their promised pensions….would make a great video game!

  • Michel Cloarec

    I follow the fate of Venezuela ! Another country who needed to make “quick money” and based economy on OIL . How can one believe that the price of oil will go upp again ? That is fairy tales ! The prices can go upp only if it is a shortage, that even a ” normal” russian must understand ! Any country with common senses knows how to diversifiy its incomes and have benefits of low oil prices ! The japanese are the best example , they don´t have any oil on its territory !

    So mr putin has to go back to school and starts to rethink how to save russia from collapse , because I have very much difficulties in thinking how IMF could help ! IMF has very high demands on reforms as conditions for loans ! Nowadays is russia credit rates down to “junk” as the following artticle unweils

    Credit agency Standard & Poor’s said this week it could downgrade Russia’s rating to junk as soon as January due to a rapid deterioration in “monetary flexibility” in the country.
    “Practically this (a downgrade) may mean the increase of capital outflow from Russia, which would be necessary to replace with instruments we have,”

    1. old or discarded material or objects, as metal, paper, or rags, some of which may be reusable: junk accumulating in the attic.

    2. something regarded as worthless or contemptible; trash.

    3. old cable or cordage used when untwisted for making gaskets, swabs, oakum, etc.
    4. to cast aside as junk; discard as no longer of use; scrap.
    5. cheap, worthless, unwanted, or trashy: junk jewelry.

    The OECD predicts Eurozone growth will come in at 0.8% this year, and just 1.1% in 2015. Low inflation is a concern, as well, with prices expected to edge up just 0.6% next year.Worse, some countries in Europe have already seen deflation, forcing the ECB to rush to the rescue with stimulus efforts.
    Things are even worse in Russia, which is lumbering under the weight of Western sanctions and cratering oil prices.
    Russia’s currency is at an all-time low vs. the dollar, and the country’s own finance minister expects a 0.8% economic contraction next year.
    Japan continues to languish in its decades-long malaise. And in China, the days of 10% and 11% growth are but a memory.
    In fact, growth in China has been so sluggish that the country risks missing its 7.5% annual growth target year for the first time in 15 years.

    And without China’s sprawling manufacturing base, commodities-driven economies from Brazil to South Africa have lost the key export market that supported their growth for so long.
    HAPPY NEW YEAR. KEEP YOUR WALLETS VERY TIGHT BECAUSE 2015 WILL BE HARD FOR EVERYONE ! by the way, don´t buy coal from South Africa !

  • Don Casavant

    First, I don’t know anyone or anything that will restrain Putin from doing exactly what he wants to do, when he wants to do it, except thousands of dead Russian soldiers. Second, I am not as optimistic as the author as to the time it will take for Russia to collapse. Yes, the Russian economy can and probably will collapse, but I don’t think it will be soon enough to restrain Putin from his plans to disrupt Ukraine.

    • Volodimir

      Putin has shown no signs of stopping his covert and somewhat overt war against Ukraine. Putin just “legalized” foreigners (Chechens, Ossetians) to serve in his army. So, this will reduce the Cargo-200 effect on the Russian people. Russian people don’t care about economic hardships at least not enough to confront authoritarianism. Ukrainians need to pray!

      • Don Casavant

        Amen to that, brother!

      • putin’s paid troll

        All Chechens and North Ossetians are Russian citizens.

        • Michel Cloarec

          And what does that mean ? Patriotism ?

    • Michel Cloarec

      Something to make him think about bigger plans to conquer the planet !
      Like ARTIC OIL ! That will make Canada, Norway, Denmark “P….off”
      USA will stop embargo on export of oil ! That will not help putin´s wallet !

      • Don Casavant

        We can always hope!!