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The Front Lines on Russia's Home Front [deciphering Putin]
Foreign Policy ^ | March 6, 2014 | Leon Aron

Posted on 03/09/2014 10:53:13 AM PDT by 1rudeboy

Vladimir Putin didn't invade Ukraine because he could. He did it because he had to.

In every country, all truly important foreign-policy choices are, at their core, ultimately about domestic politics. And it's not just about creating a "rally 'round the flag" effect, or distracting from pesky domestic issues, although these are definitely relevant considerations for decision-makers. The right foreign-policy move at the right time can boost a leader's ratings and the regime's popularity. This is doubly true for authoritarian regimes that lack democratic legitimacy, and it is true for Russia today.

In Vladimir Putin's Russia, as one top pollster told me in Moscow a few weeks ago, "foreign policy is pretty much the only thing that works." What he meant was that, with the country's economy slowed to a crawl, and with the regime facing near-universal revulsion over the corruption, thievery, and incompetence of officials at every level, racking up foreign-policy successes has become vital to maintaining Putin's popularity -- which, in turn, is key to the legitimacy of the whole enterprise. As the economy staggers along at 1.5 percent growth, as capital flees the country at a record pace, and even as nearly half of Russians agree that the ruling "United Russia" party is the "party of thieves and swindlers," Putin can still point to his wins on the world stage -- from saving Syria to shielding Iran from U.N. sanctions after 2010 to, more generally, returning Russia to its former position as a power that counts, one that happily wields its U.N. Security Council veto -- to convince his compatriots that the motherland is in good hands. This is why the Sochi Games were important enough to spend $50 billion on.

(Excerpt) Read more at ...

TOPICS: Business/Economy; Foreign Affairs; Front Page News; Politics/Elections; Russia
KEYWORDS: cfr; foreignpolicy
Long read, worth a look.
1 posted on 03/09/2014 10:53:13 AM PDT by 1rudeboy
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To: 1rudeboy

History repeats. When a nation like Russia is about to collapse within, the next step is aggression. It takes the mind off problems from within.
Putin will advance aggressively. He can count on Obama to retreat aggressively. Putin has China at his side. Our allies are suspicious of the USA because of Obama-no trust, no allies.
George Washington’s vision is about to manifest itself. Whether it was his vision, or someones elses matters not. Its is becoming reality.

2 posted on 03/09/2014 11:20:09 AM PDT by crz
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To: 1rudeboy

The flaw in the analysis is Putin is very popular even while Russians detest United Russia.

Putin has managed to distance himself from the ruling party of power even while corruption in Russia is rampant and the rule of law is questionable.

This is exactly why he needs Crimea - to show his core supporters the weak Russia of the Yeltsin years is a fading memory.

And he does not care in the least about Western opposition to his political needs at home.

3 posted on 03/09/2014 11:30:06 AM PDT by goldstategop (In Memory Of A Dearly Beloved Friend Who Lives In My Heart Forever)
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To: goldstategop
“This is exactly why he needs Crimea - to show his core supporters the weak Russia of the Yeltsin years is a fading memory.”

Russia has its cyclical ups and downs. 1/3 of the country is made of autonomous republics, Chechnya, Tatarstan, Tuva etc. When the next “smuta” comes, neighbors will do with them what Putin is doing now with Crimea.

4 posted on 03/09/2014 11:46:42 AM PDT by Grzegorz 246
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To: crz

Indeed, and for those that deny the collectivist nature of Putin’s government need only look at how he swindles foreign investors, or jails successful businessmen. Call it communist, or fascist it doesn’t really matter, the outcome is the same.

One wonders how such a mismanaged country manages to run a successful natural gas industry.

5 posted on 03/10/2014 8:25:48 AM PDT by Sam Gamgee (May God have mercy upon my enemies, because I won't. - Patton)
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