This is the continuation. Please, read the first installmet at When Hindsight Is No Longer Perfect
Putin is not “soft” Obama. Yes, he miscalculated, but his miscalculation put him at 87% approval rate. And from that moment he changed from a cautious, but uninformed and poorly educated realist, to a hostage of his own approval. The annexation of the Crimea was sold to the nation as an act of reviving the country, bringing back its pride, and it works very well for Russian population. We went through that already in our glorious history of being with no pants, but with a tie…
But now there is no way back. How can you sell to the nation that you would now have to return the Crimea back to Ukraine? That it was the wrong move? You can’t return the pride… Now the whole world refuses to recognize it, no project there can be financed, so do not expect investment in the area, and now it is a huge burden on Russia financially. It is a failure, and Putin knows it, but Russia doesn’t. They are told that it is sacral for Russia.
If Putin starts acting as pragmatist, as he used to be, and retreats, he would become a traitor. His lies, multiplied by every government media, made him the hostage and, possibly, the victim if something goes wrong, and in Russia everything goes wrong.
Not only he miscalculated the West and their response, he miscalculated their resolve and adherence to the principles over money, which bewildered Mr. Putin. In his mind the west was willing to sell their mom to the devil for a few cents. That’s how Westerners and Americans are portrayed by Russian media, and the problem with dictators is they fall prey to their own propaganda.
So, instead of maneuvering and avoiding a very big rift, he decided to break the unity. He speaks fluent German, so Germany and Austria were his first targets to break the EU from the inside. It did not work. But by the time he figured that nothing would work, that he put the country at such risk, that nobody ever done it, it was too late. The West and US give him the room to get out with face, but it is with the face in the eyes of the west. He can’t do it, without losing the credibility of his own people. And he also is not willing to let the Ukraine become a EU oriented nation.
He did not have a problem with Baltic countries go away, Central Asian former republics go away, but Ukraine was his ace in the sleeve. He needed it to be his satellite. Putin does not see Ukraine as an independent country. It is his toy, and now, that it tries to sever the ties, he gets angry and fights.
He is deep in it, and he has no intention to withdraw. He is trying to maneuver a little bit without losing the face, and at the same time give some signals to EU, but the room is very little, and even that brings the cries that he is selling off the great country.
And here is a dilemma. Putin and his clique lie to the nation. They lie that Russia is not fighting in the Ukraine, and so many Russians believe them. They lie that sanctions would only help them build their own successful economy, and again, the population is ecstatic. Even when the ruble is falling, they say that it is good, and that it is not for long, and all other BS, and people still believe them, even though many start waking up.
Putin knows that it is a disaster. And that it can’t last. He is sitting on a bomb, that he prepared for others, and now it is only a matter of time before it explodes. He is betting that the West and US would succumb to pressure and it would happen before he is ousted, or there is a revolution.
It is still too long, ouch... Why can't I express myself with fewer words? Anyway, next will be the last installment, I propmise.