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Guest Viewpoints

Vladimir Putin: The New Stalin that Threatens the West 

April 11, 2024
By Dimitris Eleas

Siberia is the ‘frozen hell’ in which you live with an expiration date. The latest victim is the young Russian leader Alexei Navalny at the age of 47. But who is Vladimir Putin, really? Murders of rich people and rivals are staged as suicides. The country, that doesn’t manufacture products demanded by the world, is like a gas station with nukes, caviar, and vodka. Putin’s ancestor, Joseph Stalin, thanks to photo editing, would make people disappear from official pictures, the comrades whom he had exiled or killed. Where does the ‘Putin system’ – ‘the Russian spider’s web’ – which continues the tradition of paranoia, fall in the history books of Russia?

How did we get here, from Soviet ‘utopia’ to Putin? (The utopia that did only one thing: it sent Gagarin into space, because he was a farmer’s son, because that’s how it wanted to send the message that in socialist society everyone can reach high, even the son of a farmer). It was a socialist society in name only, however, a barbaric version of rapid industrialization and bureaucratic capitalism. The U.S.S.R., of course, helped in the destruction of Nazi evil – then the monumental seizure of the Reichstag anointed it with superpower status. (Cornelius Castoriadis had nailed it as “U.S.S.R.: Four words, four lies.”) Putin, years ago, reintroduced the old Soviet national anthem to Russia.

As president, Putin plays alone in the ‘league of power’ because he has crushed the legs of his opponents, even going so far as to jail music group Pussy Riot. The opposition is full of scars. Alexei Navalny stood up and confronted the cruelty, but the country gives the impression that every ‘political flower’ that blooms is not only cut, but also uprooted or poisoned. But on what does Putin’s absolute rule rest?

It is based on technology. While it has not entered every home on the planet, like America’s, on the global technology stage, Russia is prominent and original. Russia, for example, has had almost no accidents in space, at least none as spectacular as the memorable case of the Challenger disaster, but America for years has rented space on its spacecraft to Russian space missions. A few, even today, argue that in some areas Russia’s technology is superior to America’s. This technology flourishes, of course, in military laboratories and made the country a nuclear superpower. Putin told Tucker Carlson that Russia has hypersonic missiles superior to those of any other nation.

The Putin system also relies on its colossal reserves of energy. Do we have a picture of this energy dominance? If you fly over Siberia, you can see for yourself the countless flames on top of the towers on the wells. High prices for years have filled government coffers.

It’s party time in the Kremlin at the top of the pyramid of power – but there is also corruption. In the past, at the top were the oligarchs – with Mikhail Khodorkovsky as a prominent figure – and then he spent years behind bars. Today, at the top are those who cooperated or are cooperating with Putin – and only them.

The Putin system is still based on what can be called ‘the significance of territory’. When looking at the map, Russia represents 10% of the world’s land area. In 2014, in a Machiavellian manner, Putin annexed the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine. Is there a paradox and at the same time logic in this continued predominance of land? Of course. According to the historical narrative, which in Russia remains strong, Russian territory became the historical graveyard of Napoleon and, later, Hitler, leaders who both tried to conquer the land! So, according to this reading of history, it could become the future grave of anyone else who might attempt something similar. “The West is afraid of a strong China more than it fears a strong Russia,” he told Carlson. And a few days ago, in a speech he gave, he again threatened the West, referring to Hitler, Napoleon, and a nuclear war.

Finally, the Putin system relies on the country’s secret services, which work around the clock. The money spent on these services is abundant. Putin knows firsthand the power of secret information – knowledge, and the power that comes from it. A few years ago, in fact, there was a rush to buy and reintroduce typewriters to the secret services (FSB), which would replace computers, because with them the chance of interception will be 0 (zero). The power of television, too, is well known to Putin, dating back to when he was handing out medals for military valor live on the air to soldiers who fought in Chechnya. The RT (Russia Today) channel is, nowadays, Russia’s voice to the world – with programs in good English.

After all the above, a question arises: Will the ‘grandson of the red utopia’ (and his country) succeed in dominating the world that is emerging, according to his plan? The answer does flatter Putin. (Putin Doctrine: ‘The West must treat Russia as if it were the Soviet Union.’) How can that happen when the mutilation of Ukraine continues? How can you advance when you constantly kill adversaries? For Putin, he will be left competing with a United Europe and China. Its paradoxical, because on the one hand he is the supplier of their energy, but on the other he is obliged to provide lavishly, because without their foreign exchange, the state coffers will be as dry clothes left in the sun. So, what’s left for him?

There is mainly one way to reconstruct past glory (which it has already done to some extent, mainly through the BRICS group of countries – Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa, etc.) and thus to play a leading role in the international community.

He will also continue his hobby, which is to collect expensive watches. Really! Maybe he’s caught on to something about the relevance of ‘timeframes’ and ‘timing’, so he collects watches?

As for Putin’s only major enemy, it is indeed Time, which is relentless in its passage. He has been in power since 1999 and is the longest-serving leader since Stalin. In the post-Putin era, there and then, only, will the Russian elected dictator’s legacy be judged. It will be seen to be a dark one.

Fortunately, the big obstacle for Putin’s Russia is America. America, as a serious country, that is, as a country with strong institutions, cannot be a ‘one-man show.’ The fragmented West, on the other hand, tries to preserve world peace and, at the same time, to help defend Ukraine. “History is watching,” the American President declared. However, it remains for Putin to be reminded of the life lesson of the ancient Greeks: after hubris, comes nemesis. The Russian, Alexei Navalny, will seek revenge from the grave and, the threat against the West Putin illustrates by references to Hitler and Napoleon will backfire… This time it will be Russia that will pay the price and not the adversary. Through Putin, unfortunately, the Russian people – who have contributed so much to humanity – are being dragged through the mud internationally.

Thus, the clock is ticking, faster now, for the New Stalin who threatens the West.

*Dimitris Eleas is a New York-based political scientist and contributes to SLpress (Athens) and The National Herald (NYC). You can contact him via e-mail: [email protected].

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