To make a long story short: yes, it is. As of right now.
But it’s complicated. It hasn’t been for some time, since 1990 up until 2008 when Putin invaded Georgia. That was the crucial moment the West, weakened by the world crisis, just missed. They thought Putin was still a partner, not an enemy. If there was a hard reaction to Putin’s action then there wouldn’t have been any Crimea story and, sure, no bloodshed around Donetsk in an attempt to create so-called ‘Novorussia’ by biting off half of the Ukraine.
Basically, it is not about the Kremlin being dangerous but about Vladimir Putin’s personal understanding of the world. The Kremlin wasn’t dangerous during his first two terms when he was busy establishing his power within Russia. He was even mentioning a possibility of Russia joining NATO in the early 2000s. Then, once he felt he was in total control, he started to project his own vision onto the outside world.
Looking at his profile, as a personality Putin has been shaped in the 70s when the world was divided between the US and the Soviet Union. For some reason – which is curious thing in itself to study – Vlad still thinks that the world basically hasn’t changed. In his ideal world, me thinks, there’s no internet and the ‘KGB jazz’ still working hard to silence the BBC World Service and the ‘Voice of America’ broadcasts.
The facts say that the country’s economy is incomparable to the old Soviet Union in terms of its size. The facts say that there’s no anti-West ideology now in Russia for a real stand-off. Moreover, the ruling ‘elite’ has property in the West, they send their kids to Oxford or Yale, they go to Western doctors to take care of themselves. Their wives get some plastic surgery there, too. Russia keeps its money in US bonds. Besides, lots of people in Russia’s ‘ruling circles’ have no problem doing business with the West and have been really upset when post-Crimea sanctions hit the country.
I mean, there’s no sense for the Kremlin to be dangerous to the West. There’re lots of reasons to be if not a friend but a partner, at least. To have constant flow of Western money and technology is in the Kremlin’s best interest. We’ve got some ‘dear friends’, such as China and Iran, and it is better to have the West by our side, too, in case of big trouble.
It is something in Putin’s head that contradicts Russia’s national interest, me thinks. Seems like it’s time to call a headshrinker to come to the Red Square and fix the problem. Got the number of a good one?
To the Western ear this will sound odd: We can even argue what you mean by The Kremlin. Are you referring to the Oligarchs Putin must keep happy in order to remain in power? Perhaps for this article it will be simpler to use the Kremlin and Vladimir Putin interchangeably.
Certainly, if you live in Moldova, Georgia, Azerbaijan, or Ukraine, the Kremlin isn’t some theoretical danger, it has have carved off hunks of your country.
However, until Russia decided to have a go at Ukraine, the West largely ignored Vladimir Vladimirovich’s imperial ambitions. No longer.
So, is The Kremlin a threat to the West? Not really… Russia cannot, by use of force, challenge the West. Why?
- Russia has a HUGE frontier to defend – spreading forces thin
- The Russian industrial base is too small to resupply an expedition into Europe
- The Russian economy is too small to pay for the war anyway. Texas, alone, has a bigger economy.
So, if The Kremlin is not in a position to invade, why all the chest thumping? Simple: men like Trump, Putin, and Erdogan need a terrible, menacing enemy to keep the people rallied to their side. They need a sense of danger but not real shooting.
- Trump: immigrants
- Putin: The West
- Erdogan: America/Kurds
This also makes it easier to impose rules and isolate citizens. In the case of the Kremlin, cutting off unfiltered Internet access, control over “fake” news, and isolating Russia from Europe (the EU Commission for example).
With perhaps the exception of the Baltic States, the Kremlin is a far bigger threat to its own people than the West. Even in the Baltic, it cannot be the Red Army but the Troll Farm that invades.
It’s clear that Russia’s astute use of Social Media has been far more successful than anything the old USSR ever dreamed up. It has yet to be determined if The Kremlin will be able to destroy Democracies across the West. Ironically, they have been most successful in the USA and may yet succeed in getting idiots to kill each other.
Fun Fact: In Russian the word Kremlin (Кремль) means fortress and pretty much every city in the country has a Kremlin near the city centre.
Is the Kremlin dangerous?
Even a retired meteorologist is the enemy…
It all depends on who’s running it – at the moment, you have to say that all the evidence points to Putin wanting to recreate the atmosphere of the old Soviet Union – hate, distrust, lies, propaganda, deceit and the rest – clamping down on proper journalists, and even murdering and attempting to murder “undesirables” in my own bloody country, the complete wanker.
So I think dangerous is probably close to reality.
Trouble is, I am extremely biased – I was brought up in an era where nuclear war often seemed only a stone-throw away; Russia, then the old Soviet Union, was always the enemy – it was a secret country, its people were poor and were allowed no freedom of movement or expression. The same for all the Soviet-controlled Eastern Bloc countries.
My Polish-born father returned to his homeland in the late 1970s from Britain for his first visit since doing his national service there in 1938. (When his national service finished, Hitler was already being a complete twat and Dad never went “home” again, until after he retired in 1979.)
Before retiring, he was a meteorologist, and because of this most mischievous of careers, everywhere he went in his short visit to Poland, every step he took during his two weeks there, he was followed by the secret police. Good job he wasn’t a secret agent, or gay……..
That’s how we saw, what we thought, was a god-forsaken place – run by people who were suspicious of everybody, including their own people. There was never anything “nice” to read or learn about pre-Perestroika Russia.
Then came a huge change in the 1990s, which have been the subject of a previous blog on this site. It seemed for the first time, a Gorbachev-inspired government at last would usher in a life with some colour and hope, and an end to the distrust.
Of course, it didn’t last. And now, things are slowly but surely getting back to how they were. Thanks to Putin.
Russia is an extraordinary place. It has, I have read, some natural resources of some £57 trillion, and is the largest exporter of natural gas. It has the second largest coal reserves, and has 40% of world’s gold reserves.
Russia has more than a fifth of the world’s forests. If you laid its oil and gas pipelines around the equator, it would encircle earth six times.
Russia’s top 20 billionaires have a combined wealth of about £200 billion, which is more than the GDP of 150 individual countries in the world.
So, it is definitely a huge country – you may say, a formidable one – but is it dangerous?
With the present mindset at the top, oh yes it is, and it’s not just me who thinks that – I have seen some of his own countrymen suggest he is more dangerous than both Islamic extremism and Chinese economic power. He controls his country as a malevolent dictator, and he appears to meddle in elections in other countries – what irony that most of these elections are far more hard-fought than any he has had to face in his own country, where, of course, he completely controls the media. But his mission to destabilize both Europe and the USA is surely in full swing.