Putin’s Next Move
Vladimir Putin
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Category: 2014, Leaders
Jul, 23, 2014

Russia’s Putin said that the fall of the Soviet Union was a geopolitical disaster. He dedicated his life to reestablish the Russian sphere of influence in the territories off the former Soviet Union.  During his extensive training as a KGB officer he had to become a master chess player. Few people are aware the Soviet training of intelligence leaders in the art of “chess-think.” One of the most secret moves these top officers learned was the “Jabowntski sacrifice” in which an unimportant chess piece is sacrificed to create an opportunity for a winning a major move elsewhere.

Putin used this move before as recently as in the Syrian crisis.  As President Obama was attempting to convince Congress about the necessity of forceful interference in Syria including the famous “crossing the line”, Putin applying the chess sacrifice concept, sacrificed a meaningless piece to prevent an attack on Syria in September 2013.  He jumped on the feeble suggestion of John Kerry that Syria could avoid a US attack if it hands over its chemical weapons.

He knew that the inept Obama group would jump on any apparent sign of success, fully knowing that it will never happen, but would give a success story to the struggling foreign policy of the US. Sure enough. As of yesterday the US announced that Syria can retain at least a dozen chemical weapons facilities that it was supposed to destroy by the end of June. Here is what the US State Dept. spokesman had to say: “Syria cannot be allowed to stall every attempt at resolution and continue to defy its obligations and this council by indefinitely keeping its former CW production facilities,” he added, warning that “there must be consequences” if Damascus continues to delay, although the administration has not specified what they would be. Note he said “must” and not “will.” The language of the paper tiger.

The whole process turned out to be a farce, but Putin achieved his goal. No US attack or involvement against his protegee Syria. He knows that the US negotiates from weakness. Putin believes that the United States is off-balance in the Islamic world and there is an opportunity here that he can create situations to which United States will be  unable to respond. He believes that American national strategy is in crisis. He believes that the population is tired of war and the administration is generically opposed to the use of power to settle international disputes. It’s so old fashioned.

He sees a new reality by having proven that Western guarantees mean nothing. He feels  he has nothing to lose. The more havoc he creates more oil prices will rise sustaining his economy. He is still furious about how the West orchestrated a coup in Kiev at the very moment he was achieving  spectacularly successful Olympic Games in Sochi. The weakness of US leadership gives him the choice of either making truly calculated chess moves or simply sweep all the pieces off the board in a fit of seeming frustration or anger. The most logical move obviously is another “sacrifice.” Give something to the eager amateurs so they can declare victory, and extract a heavy price while achieving the real objective. Wait for a victory speech any minute now by Kerry or Obama. Then look at the price we paid.

There is, however, another scenario. Putin has surrounded himself by other former KGB officers. Perhaps one of them, or all of them decide to put an end to the unsuccessful attempts by Putin to get the economy going and the apparent limited accomplishments of his foreign policy. That’s what happened to Nikita Khrushchev and to Boris Yeltsin. They may put a new chess player in the game.

3 Comments

COMMENTS

Alan Rudy / July 24, 2014 at 12:16 am

Interesting thoughts. I see Putin as a massive bungler who has misplayed a weak hand. He missed the opportunity to leverage Russia’s oil wealth and technical prowess into a productive society ruled by laws. He proved he is not to be trusted as a fuel supplier to Europe who is, and will, do everything they can to wean themselves from Russian oil. He has a rapidly declining population, no high tech capacity, violently corrupt government and economy and has scared off desperately needed foreign capital. I suspect you may be right about his future. Hope you feel as good as you write.

Scott West / July 23, 2014 at 1:52 am

Tibby,

Nice write up.

I have heard this maxim about Putin being a chess player. Another idea is that he’s a judo aficionado, who waits for his opponent to make the move, then reacts.

Soft power towards the Ukraine in Feb would have been a far better chess move. Let the Ukraine gravitate towards the west, with burdensome terms on their agriculture, livestock, manufactured goods, all the while dependent upon Russian gas. Let the economy get worse (which it would have initially under what would have been the EU agreements), gradually increasing Russian influence by “helping out” the Ukraine.

If that had been the case, Russian oligarchs get what they want, Russia and Putin are loved (vs. now) in the Ukraine, and their influence grows to the point that the Ukraine gets a new President, they turn back to Russia. And everyone would have said how great a guy Putin was to have just stood by and let Ukraine make its initial mistake of joining the EU. So I think Putin reacted vs. playing the game at a master’s level.

The amount of graft being documented (see Hermitage Capital http://lawandorderinrussia.org/) by its westernowner http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-10-14/hermitage-s-browder-wins-dismissal-of-russian-cop-s-libel-case.html
includes that of the ousted Ukranian President, who stole and stashed hundreds of millions using front companies to move the money through Latvia, the Bahamas, Switzerland, finally winding up as clean investments in the EU, London, and the US. The Russian leadership can’t last without distracting the masses from why the Russian economy can’t survive without petro dollars. Hopefully, the EU and US start seizing some of these stolen assets, return them to the Ukraine.

Tom Sherman / July 23, 2014 at 1:52 am

My take is Putin will be forced to make a move on us.
He is waiting for our weaknesses to become overwhelming.

Tom Sherman
New Ulm

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