Today, we parse out Putin’s beef against the West, and how seriously we should take his threats. Mr. Putin has stated numerous times, that he will use all means available, including nuclear weapons, should Russia’s existential integrity come under attack. But what are his beefs?
List of Putin’s beefs against the west
In his September 30, 2022 speech, Vladimir Putin highlighted his grievances against the West for the Russian people. He did this on the day that his sham referendums concerning the annexation of Donetsk and Lugansk. These are:
#1. The West wants to destroy Russia
“The West continued and continues looking for another chance to strike a blow at us, to weaken and break up Russia, which they have always dreamed about, to divide our state and set our peoples against each other, and to condemn them to poverty and extinction.”
The reality is that the West has no desire to do any of the things Putin states in his speech. In fact, the West was entirely happy to do business with and inside of Russia. For example the ill conceived Nord Stream Pipeline, which delivered natural gas to Europe, was done in partnership with Gazprom with billions of dollars in investment. Many US and western business had to abandon restaurants, plants and wells in Russia in 2022, when Russia invaded Ukraine.
Putin believes that the world suffers from Russophobia and racism against Russians. Certainly, the world fears Putin. However, this is based upon the threats that Putin himself makes, images of naked brutality distributed by the free press, descriptions of rape and torture by witnesses and the indiscriminate shelling of civilians, to name a few horrors.
Putin alleges that the dollar’s use as a global reserve currency, and US technology leadership is evidence of the US’s hegemony. Putin also claims that the West treated Russia as a colony in the late 20th Century. Perhaps Mr. Putin can educate us on this point, as we cannot seem to recall this occurring.
As to the first point, it’s true that most commodities, including oil and heating gas are priced in dollars. This means that as the dollar strengthens, foreign countries need to use more of their local currency, such as euros or pounds sterling, to purchase the same commodity.
However, there is no one mandate that commodities are to be priced in dollars. It’s simply the system that has worked for the last century or so. This is not a result of neo-colonialism, but is easy pickings for Putin to turn Russian sentiment against the West.
Putin speaks about US technology leadership in terms of allowing the US to “plunder” the world, and collect tribute. In reality, many of the world’s best and brightest minds flock to America to study in the hopes of eventually working in high tech. It’s true that America is the tech leader of the world. This is due to thriving tech hubs like Silicon Valley, New York, Boston, Salt Lake City, Austin and others.
America benefits from a strong network of investors: from angel investors, crucial for start ups, and larger firms that pool billions of dollars for use to support early stage companies. The combination of ambitious entrepreneurs, investors and skilled workers, results in a conveyor belt of innovation.
Putin is simply envious of Western leadership, and accuses the capitalistic system of neo-colonialism to create animosity in his people for US tech leadership. He must be reading Kendi.
Putin heaps a deplorable list of historical crimes at the feet of the West, such as slavery, genocide, the plunder of India and Africa, as well as the opium wars waged against China. Putin uses these facts to point out how the West has done many evil things for his home audience. This enables Putin to contrast Russia and how righteous it is is in its anti-colonial movement. What Russia’s anti-colonial movement is not discussed in this speech, but perhaps Putin is referring to the likes Syrian Dictator Bashar al-Assad, who dropped barrels of chemical weapons on his own people, from helicopters.
#3. The West’s destruction of states
Putin accuses the West of bullying states to become ‘vassals” of the US. Those who do not agree are “destroyed.” He mocks the very idea of international law as “rules” that no one agreed to, and certainly not Russia.
We assume that Putin is referring to the many US led mis-adventures, such as in Iraq, Afghanistan, Panama, Grenada, Vietnam, Nicaragua, to name a few. Putin is correct that the US has invaded, bombed and disrupted many countries. In contrast to Russia, however, the United States holds itself accountable to international law, Congress and to the international community.
Mistakes have been made, mistakes that have cost thousands if not hundreds of thousands of lives. This does not justify Putin’s war in Ukraine. Putin’s logic seems to be, “if my enemy has done something wrong, then this justifies Russian evil actions.”
Putin also points to US military bases in Germany, Korea, Japan and other countries as evidence of neo-colonialism. These military bases Putin describes are in place to defend US allies either against Russia, or North Korea (which itself is allied to Chinese interests).
#4. Assassination of Russian philosophy
Mr. Putin will have to explain this one. I am not aware of Russian philosophy, let alone that which the West is assassinating. According to the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Russian Philosophers in the Soviet era were either banished or fled. What remained were Marxists who were appointed to Universities by the state.
No Russian philosophers have emerged over the last hundred years who have exerted influence either within Russia, or other countries. With all due respect to Mr. Putin, it does not seem as though there was much philosophy to assassinate.
#5. Nato agreements to not expand to the east have been violated
There are no such agreements by Nato. The Baltic states (Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia) pursued Nato membership in response to the brutal Russian war in Chechnya and Russian involvement in the breakaway republic of Abkhazia in the Caucuses.
In 1993, then Russian leader Boris Yeltsin wrote to US President Bill Clinton, “Any possible integration of east European countries into Nato will not automatically lead to the alliance somehow turning against Russia.”
The current expansion of Nato is a direct result of Putin’s aggressiveness, including the invasion of Crimea and the Donbas regions of Ukraine, before finally attempting to invade the remainder of Ukraine and takeover Kyiv.
#6 The destruction of the family
Mr. Putin blames Western elites for creating additional genders, and that mothers and fathers will be replaced with “parent number one, parent number two and so on.” He stokes the fires of fear that children will be groomed in school to believe in gender ideology. This, frankly, must scare most Russians about their children’s future.
Mr. Putin views this as a Satanic religion in reverse, designed to destroy Russian traditions. He paints the West as a depraved and crazed society seeking to destroy peace loving Russians. This is the standard playbook for dictators, and usually works.
Want more information about the Nord Stream pipelines sabotage? Click here
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