Putin in the bubble: all the hawks of the Russian president

from Fabrizio Dragosei

Who are the collaborators with whom the Kremlin “czar” confronts before making any decision

The six-meter long plank that divided Vladimir Putin from French President Emmanuel Macron last week, who visited the Kremlin it gives the idea of ​​the isolation in which the Russian leader has lived for almost two years now. A medical isolation that is added, however, to a removal from all those liberals, reformists and democrats who had been close to him at the beginning of his presidency. The Russian head of state sees few people, he does not travel and around him are increasingly present the former comrades of the KGB, men who come from the armed forces and who all seem to have the same opinions. Opinions that certainly do not consider the Western one as a model towards which to direct Russia.

On February 4, Putin set foot out of Russia for the first time in 13 months, going to China to meet the leader Xi Jinping. Visitors arriving from abroad are carefully checked for health safety reasons. It’s a miracle though in recent days he has received several European politicians who refused to undergo an anti-Covid swab at the hands of Kremlin doctors, such as Macron and German Chancellor Scholz.

All those who at the beginning of the 2000s have disappeared from the Kremlin’s radar they worked to orient the country towards a market economy and full democracy. Aleksej Kudrin had been placed at the helm of the very important Ministry of Finance as well as being Deputy Prime Minister. The economist comes from the ranks of the liberals of St. Petersburg, who grew up in the shadow of the reformist mayor Anatolij Sobchak whose deputy Vladimir Putin himself was when he left the KGB and resigned from the Communist Party. Kudrin fought to ensure that the role of the state in the economy did not increase. Removed from the government in 2011 when Putin was prime minister, he ended up leading the Court of Auditors.

As head of the national energy system and then of the nanotechnology project Putin had initially chosen Anatolij Chubais, one of the young vice premieres who, with the previous president Boris Yeltsin, he had led the great privatization of the Soviet economy. Unthinkable now, for years Chubais was at the same time at the helm of Russian state-owned companies and a member of the supervisory board of an American bank, Jp Morgan Chase. Today he has a purely formal role as the president’s representative to international organizations. Sergej Kiriyenko, one of the young promises Yeltsin looked to and who was the head of the government, is now deputy head of the presidential administration. Former Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov, appointed in 2000 by Putin himself, has even ended up in the ranks of the opposition.

On the other hand, there are more and more people who have a completely different idea of ​​relations with the rest of the world and of the role of Russia. A country surrounded, with enemies everywhere who seem to think only of the best way to annihilate it.

Sergei Naryshkin, the powerful head of the foreign intelligence service Svr, comes from the then Leningrad as Putin and from the KGB school. He often meets the head of the Kremlin and his opinions leave no doubt. Speaking of the situation in which those who speak Russian in Ukraine live today, he claimed a few days ago that he has a vault the impression “that a time machine is transferring us to the most terrible years of Hitler’s occupation”. As for his country, Naryshkin is convinced that the attempts to ruin it never end: “As long as Russia remains unassailable from any external aggression, the theme of shaking the situation from within will never lose relevance for our opponents “.

Listened to by Vladimir Vladimirovich is Nikolaj Patrushev, former head of the FSB, main successor of the KGB, now secretary of the Security Council. He too comes from Leningrad and graduated from KGB high school. He is convinced that the United States “would prefer Russia not even exist as a country.” As for NATO, this is nothing more than the modern version of the medieval vassal system. “Western russophobia has a long history,” he says. It was already there in the time of Ivan the Terrible: «The Russophobic practices are always the same, both today and hundreds of years ago».

At the helm of the Ministry of Defense is Sergej Shoigu, a Siberian army general who does not come from the KGB but who has very similar ideas to those of his colleagues. The opening of NATO to the countries that were part of the USSR and therefore the Alliance’s approach to the Russian borders reminds him of the Nazi advance. To a statement by the Minister of Defense of the Federal Republic, three months ago you angrily replied: “You should know well how something like this ended up for Germany and for Europe.”

The current head of the FSB also comes from Leningrad and the KGBAleksandr Bortnikov who says he is convinced that “the destruction of Russia remains a fixed idea for some”. It is with these collaborators that Putin confronts most of the time before making any decisions, whether we are talking about internal politics or foreign policy or economics. And, it must be admitted, Vladimir Vladimirovich is certainly a dove towards them.

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