Russian President Vladimir Putin criticized Western policies aimed at “tearing apart historical Russia.” By declaring that “our goal is to unite the Russian people,” he made a case for a powerful image of “the collector of the Russian lands.” It's a strong move, if it is possible to support it with real actions.
Unification Vs Fragmentation
As is known, this year the Russian leader will not deliver his address to the Federal Assembly. Additionally, Vladimir Putin's concluding press conference at the end of the year is not planned.
The other day Putin himself explained that he tries to use every venue, be it the briefing on the results of the EurAsEC Presidium in Bishkek, the expanded Collegium of the Defense Ministry, or the press approach in the Kremlin, to make his position on key issues known. Events are happening at such a rapid pace that any message would quickly become outdated.
This time Vladimir Putin voiced the talking points in a blitz-interview for the Moscow. Kremlin. Putin program. The film crew used the ceremony of awarding the Heroes of Russia in the Kremlin to ask Putin a few burning questions.
The main one is that Vladimir Putin does not believe that the confrontation between Russia and NATO is coming to a “dangerous line in the sand.”
Reiterating the Kremlin's thesis that Russia is at war in Ukraine “with the entire NATO bloc,” the host asked if the situation is reaching a dangerous point.
“Aren't we approaching some very dangerous, critical line? And how can we retreat from it? Who and what should do about it?” Pavel Zarubin asked the President.
To begin with, Vladimir Putin made an excursion into history. According to him, Russia has been trying to negotiate since 2014. Only after exhausting all diplomatic options it moved on to a military operation.
“But, unfortunately, the other, opposite side was set up differently. As I've said many times before, they started to carry out harsh actions, of a military nature. One way or another, we were forced to stand up for the people who live in these territories (i.e., Crimea and Donbass.) We had to support the choice of the Crimeans. That's how it all began. But we did not organize the coup d'état in Ukraine. They started it!” the President of the Russian Federation said indignantly.
As Putin explained, the conflict is based on the policy of “our geopolitical opponents” (judging by the political context, this is the collective West led by the United States), aimed at “tearing apart historical Russia.”
Then the serious policy statement came. Putin stated directly that the goal of the Russian leadership is the “unification of the Russian people.”
“Divide and conquer. This is what they have always tried to do. They are trying to do it now. And our goal is different. Our goal is unite the Russian people,” Putin said.
Not yet NATO
As for the “dangerous line,” Putin reassured everyone – it turns out that he does not think so. The President traditionally added that the Russian leadership is now ready to negotiate (apparently with Kiev, NATO, and the collective West.)
“I don't think it is so dangerous. I believe that we are headed in the right direction. , I repeat once again that we are defending our national interests, the interests of our citizens, our people. And we simply have no choice but to protect our citizens. But we are ready to negotiate with all participants in this process about acceptable solutions,” said the President.
By the way, the residents of Donetsk complain every day about the horrific shelling that has already killed several hundred people. Belgorod is also under constant fire, repulsing missile and drone attacks almost every day. Therefore, there are serious problems with protection.
By the way, Donetsk residents complain every day about the monstrous shelling that has already killed several hundred people. And Belgorod is under constant gunfire, repulsing missile and drone attacks almost every day. So there are serious problems with protection.
More importantly, a blitz interview for the Russia-1TV channel confirmed that Vladimir Putin has chosen for himself the image of a collector of Russian lands. Perhaps this will be his image for the 2024 presidential election. This is a serious request, as long as it does not remain in words. It is interesting that Russia's rulers have appealed to the Russian people and national consciousness during difficult moments in history. One may recall the films ‘Alexander Nevsky’ and ‘Kutuzov’ made during the Second World War, which appealed to the great Russian commanders. Joseph Stalin's famous toast “For the health of the Russian people!,” delivered on May 24, 1945 in the Kremlin during a reception in honor of the commanders of the Red Army.
Putin also summed up the moral and ethical basis for describing the Kremlin's political course. Responding to the question from a journalist who asked, “Couldn't and shouldn't we have behaved as cynically and as sophisticatedly as the West?” Putin replied that we couldn't.
“It is more of a material approach there and the definition of life's success lies in the material part. But we have a spiritual approach. So, we couldn't,” Putin stated. Is this really the case? Or just an excuse for those situations where the Kremlin behaves inconsistently and ineptly? As in the story of the Minsk agreements. Or as, for example, in the first phase of the offensive in Ukraine in February and March, when the Russian military was unable to build on the initial success because it underestimated the enemy.
Pros and СОns
Or maybe events are really moving so fast that refusing to formally summarize the results and announce plans for the future is the right thing to do?
Indeed, even despite the lack of information, it is clear that the Russian authorities, led by Putin, have already drastically changed their plans for Ukraine several times: from a plan to bring a new administration to power in Kiev, with which it can negotiate, to a plan to dismantle the state of Ukraine. This change expressed in referendums and the official incorporation of the Kherson and Zaporozhye regions and the Luhansk and Donetsk people's republics into the Russian Federation. Not counting the intermediate attempts to negotiate first in Belarus and then in Istanbul. Or the recent “coercion to negotiations,” including through missile attacks on Ukraine's energy infrastructure.
On the other hand, despite the optimism radiated by Putin, Lavrov, and other top officials, it is clear that the special military operation in Ukraine is turning into a positional conflict in which neither the Russian nor the Ukrainian sides can boast of meaningful successes for weeks.
If assessed from a critical point of view, this may suggest that the Kremlin is not engaged in strategic planning in its foreign policy, but acts, as they say, off the bat. That is why there is such a result. And everyone can decide for himself whether this result is good or not.
The only thing that is important to remember is that those who act according to plan usually have a better chance of winning against those who live “off the bat.”