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PUTIN'S PROCESS: FROM THE "NEW" RUSSIA TO THE BIRTH OF A REINVIGORATED SOVIET STATE
Vladimir Putin is the most visible member of the spy-elite which controls Russia and is guiding Russian society toward an acceptance of a retooled Communist ideology. That same spy-elite has determined that the time has now come for Russia to enter into a decisive phase which is intended to bring into being an irresistible, Communist state. How long this phase will take is uncertain, but it has begun.
The Kremlin is now addressing two important priorities. One is territorial, which involves the uniting under Moscow's control the vast natural and human resources of the states of the former Soviet Union. The other centers upon domestic politics, and seeks to bring a more overtly Marxist orientation into Russia's political affairs.
Unlike the former USSR, the new Communist state will not be a monolithic, rigid colossus, but, rather, a looser federation of former Soviet states. Moscow, however, will be the senior - and controlling - partner. As the spy-elite of Moscow proceeds down the path to an overt Communist state, it can count on the ideological cooperation of a powerful ally and neighbor, the Peoples Republic of China. Moscow and Beijing are working in tandem, they cannot be played against each other.
Recent statements by Putin and reported in the popular Russian press make clear his vision for Russia in the next few years.
Putin's Priority: "Integration"
Even before officially beginning his second presidential administration, still Prime Minister Vladimir Putin declared to the lower house (Duma) of the Russian parliament that an "integrated construction" of the "post-Soviet space" is a "key objective of Russia's foreign and economic policy," according to a report appearing on the RIA Novosti Russian language website on April 11, 2012 (at http://ria.ru/politics/20120411/623237387.html).
"For us, there is nothing more important," Putin declared, adding that "our future depends" on integration.
Putin considers the collapse of the Soviet Union to have been the "greatest catastrophe of the 20th the century," and "integration" is a method for the Moscow spy-elite to rectify this "catastrophe."
Putin gave additional emphasis to the extreme importance he places on "integration" stating that it is not only "should be" but absolutely "will be" a priority for his government.
Resentment and "Attractiveness"
The task, however, is not as easy as a simple declaration, and "integration" has been important to Moscow since the collapse of the USSR . The nations targeted for "integration" are diverse and the distances vast. In the European part of the "near abroad," Ukraine is torn between hostile political factions, one side being pro-Russian, the other pro-Western. Several thousand miles to the east, the former Soviet state of Tajikistan must guard against Islamic militants infiltrating from neighboring Afghanistan and China. Within the "post-Soviet space" or "near abroad" is the Central Asian state of Kazakhstan, which is the ninth largest country in the world in terms of square miles.
Putin also realizes the difficulties presented by earlier periods of control from Moscow, and declared during his address that "We must increase our own attractiveness" to the former members of the old USSR.
"Attractiveness" is an issue.
There are vivid memories in the "post-Soviet space" of lost freedoms and brutal domination by Russia, first under Tsarist, then Soviet rule . The most savage period of oppression came under the rule of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin, who murdered as many as 10 million innocent people, especially in Ukraine and Kazakhstan.
Today's Moscow elite, however, have deemphasized the overt use of brute force in favor of more subtle forms of persuasion and manipulation in order to bring the "post-Soviet space" or "near abroad" into a closer form of "integration." Since the collapse of the USSR, Moscow has engaged in programs of cultural exchanges and festivals, economic assistance, and military aid.
Moscow is also engages in the covert use of force in the "post-Soviet space." Russian intelligence operates with the nations of the former Soviet Union, and cooperates with the intelligence services of pro-Moscow states in the "near abroad," including in the apprehension and return of political opponents who have fled their native countries and made the mistake of taking refuge in Russia.
Moscow has also experimented with several forms of inter-state associations within the "post-Soviet space," from the loosely structured Commonwealth of States, whose founding on December 8, 1991 made the USSR politically irrelevant, to the Union State between Russia and Belarus, which officially came into being on January 26, 2000 and specifies a common presidency and parliament.
These associations have brought Moscow varying degrees of success on the road to "integration." There have also been several significant setbacks. While the Moscow elite consider force is distasteful, it is still an option, as the people of post-Soviet state of Georgia discovered.
The Baltic states of Lithuania, Estonia, and Latvia, which were forcibly annexed by Soviet Union in 1940, never joined any of Moscow's "integration" schemes , and are jealously guarding their independence from Moscow and its various inter-state associations. Moscow, however, still considers the Baltic States part of the "post-Soviet space" and the "near abroad."
The "post-Soviet space" to which Putin refers consists of the following: in Europe - Ukraine, Belarus, and Moldova; in the Caucasus - Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Georgia; in Central Asia - Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Kazakhstan. From the time of their formal independence, all of these states were governed by individuals who had some degree of friendship and working relationship with Moscow. Several political movements, however, caused either a strain or open break with Moscow.
Georgia has provided the most difficult case for Moscow. Georgia's Rose Revolution in 2003 ended the rule of Eduard Shevardnadze, a Moscow favorite and former Soviet Foreign Minister from 1985 to 1991. Shevardnadze himself had replaced Georgian nationalist Zviad Gamsakhurdia, who was earlier deposed by a pro-Moscow coup.
Georgia's independence from Moscow came at a high price. In 2008, Russia fought a short but bloody war with Georgia supporting the two rebellious Georgian provinces, Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Russia, which is one of the few nations in the world which recognizes this independence, is now an ally of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. As a result of Russia's actions, Georgia lost a significant part of its territory.
Georgia may be getting tired of opposing their giant neighbor. The October 2012 of politicians supporting Bidzina Ivanishvili may place Georgia back in Moscow's orbit.
In Ukraine, the reform Orange Revolution in 2005 spelled defeat in presidential elections for pro-Russian Viktor Yanukovych, who was s stand-in for Leonid Kuchma, a Moscow favorite tarnished by charges ranging from corruption to murder.
The victory, however, did not last long.
Infighting within the Orange faction and a disciplined pro-Moscow front combined to bring defeat to supporters of the Orange Revolution in the 2010 round of presidential elections. The pro-Moscow Yanukovych was elected to the Ukrainian presidency on his second try. Not only has Ukraine been drawn more closely to Russia after Yanukovych took office, but Yulia Tymoshenko, a leading Orange supporter and vocal opponent of Yanukovych was imprisoned on corruption charges, which international rights groups have branded "politically motivated."
In Kyrgyzstan, Moscow favorite Askar Akayev was toppled during the 2005 "Tulip Revolution." The rebellion, however, seems to have been directed more at the corruption of the Akayev government than against Moscow. Today, Kyrgyzstan remains a close friend of the Kremlin, and in August 2012 Putin announced that several bilateral agreements had been signed between Moscow and Bishkek.
Putin recognizes that there may be reluctance within some post-Soviet states to engage in the "deeper integration" which Moscow has in mind. Putin, nonetheless, has reassured the deputies in the Duma that there is no other international association in which these former Soviet states would be able to find the "equality," which, he claims, is offered only by Russia. In other words, the "near abroad" has no other alternative.
A High Stakes Game
As Putin and the Moscow elite know well, the stakes are very high for the Kremlin in its handling of the "near abroad."
The strategic and economic value of the "near abroad" is incalculable. On Russia's western borders, Belarus and Ukraine provide both grain and a buffer to NATO expansion. Moscow has close military ties with Belarus and in 1999 a particularly close "integration" experiment occurred with the proclamation of the Union State of Russia and Belarus. Ukraine has always been a bountiful agricultural source and in the Soviet era was a center of the production of military hardware.
Central Asia and the Caucasus region have abundant oil reserves as well as strategic value. The Central Asian state of Kazakhstan also hosts Russia's space launch facility, known as the Baikonur Cosmodrome. Neighboring Kyrgyzstan, which is also rich in natural resources, is the location for a vital U.S. logistics center at the Kyrgyz airport at Manas, near the capital of Bishkek.
The Transit Center at Manas is indicative of the strategic value of the entire region. The Transit Center is the only U.S. route available into Afghanistan, except through volatile Pakistan. Both Russia and its ally China, which borders on Kyrgyzstan, want the Transit Center to close. As Kyrgyz domestic political affairs seem to indicate, the lease on the U.S. logistics base will not be renewed after its expiration in 2014.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the wealth and strategic advantages offered by Central seemed open. Like the British in the 19th century, the U.S. saw a great opportunity in an important area of the world, especially after the Washington obtained access to the Manas facility in 2001.
Unfortunately, like the British before, the Russian bear is making its determination known that the region belongs to Russia. In the case of the U.S. Transit Center, the Russians decided to reestablish the presence of its Air Force with an agreement with the Kyrgyz government for a base at Kant, 20 miles from the capital of Bishkek and close to the U.S. Transit Center.
Today, Putin is even more adamant that the "near abroad" will be under Moscow's firm control.
Rectifying the Past
The reference to "equality" in Putin's remarks to the Duma members has a particular historical importance to it. During the Tsarist period, the "near abroad" was brought under Moscow's control by force of arms, and constituted the Russian Empire. As one historian noted years ago, while other imperial powers had to sail to find colonies, the Russians simply walked.
Following the collapse of Tsarist rule and the triumph of the Bolsheviks under Lenin, a debate ensued over the states that had been part of the old Tsarist empire which had fallen apart into various independent states.
The Communists as a rule detested the concept of nationalism and saw it as an impediment to world socialism. The newly independent states, as many of the Bolsheviks around Lenin reasoned, should be suppressed and again brought under Moscow's authority, this time for the good of the new Communist international order.
Lenin, however, was unexpectedly sensitive to ethnic sentiments of the independent states, and urged his fellow revolutionaries to follow a policy of bilateral relations based upon equality between the two parties.
He wanted his plan to be put into effect as the Red Army entered into the the states of the former Tsarist empire and assisted the local Communists to establish Soviet rule.
Behind the demonstration of national equality, however, Lenin calculated that Soviet Russia could still maintain control over the old imperial possessions by treating the Communist parties in these new states as subsidiary units of the Communist Party in Moscow.
With Lenin's plan, ethnic pride would be assuaged, but real political control would still reside with the Communist Party in Moscow through local Communist parties.
Although Lenin was revered as both theoretician and successful leader of the Bolshevik Revolution, his word was not law, and he found particular opposition to his plan. The chief antagonist of Lenin's approach and proponent of strong Russian control was, ironically, a Georgian by birth, Josef Stalin.
Already a high-ranking Party official, Stalin feigned support of Lenin, but was already calculating his own rise to supreme power. Lenin came to distrust Stalin, but increasingly poor health, exacerbated by a bullet from an assassination attempt in 1918, prevented any concrete action by Lenin against Stalin.
The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics came into being in 1922, but the USSR was closer to Stalin's model of strong central control from Moscow, as a result of Lenin's declining physical and mental condition. Lenin died in 1924, and Stalin eventually succeed him as sole ruler of the Soviet state.
With Stalin in complete control of the Soviet state, Moscow's treatment of the other Soviet states became more oppressive and brutal. Stalin tolerated no opposition and came to be called the of "breaker of nations."
The call by Putin for "equality" within the process of "integration" and Putin's earlier recognition of "mistakes" by Stalin is a recognition by the Moscow elite of the still open wounds created by Soviet brutality in many sectors of society within former Soviet states.
Putin, however, has never made a statement indicating that the very nature of Communism was at fault, either regarding the control of other nations or in acknowledging Stalin's domestic oppression.
"Integration" has shown its military side. Armed forces representatives from most of the near abroad states came together in early July 2012 in the Russian city of Kaliningrad (formerly the German city of Koönigsberg) to discuss joint military exercises and the sharing of information from Russian spy satellites.
These are small steps, but they are headed in the direction where Moscow wants to go. Putin is particularly determined to put teeth in the Commonwealth of Independent States and its Collective Security Agreement, which is one more step toward a new version of the old Soviet Union.
In Process: A Communist Ideological Framework for the Masses
All political entities need some sort of ideological definition, and the Kremlin elite have been working since the collapse of the Soviet Union to establish a new Communist state, this time avoiding the "mistakes" of Josef Stalin which deservedly discredited the Soviet Union.
Their solution: back to basics with Lenin, but in a slightly modified form.
The dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991 was, first of all, nothing more than a gigantic miscalculation. One of the world's most recognized authorities on Communism, Fidel Castro, said as much when he declared that the fall of the Soviet Union was "naïve and inadvertent." The goal of the Soviet elite had been to open up the USSR in order to modernize its military and infrastructure, as well as to let Soviet society in general let off some steam built up from years of heavy-handed oppression. The vehicle to accomplish these ends was Glasnost and Peristroika, but under the leadership of Mikhail Gorbachev the reform movement got out of hand and a complete collapse occurred.
The "new" Russia that emerged from the dissolution of the old USSR has passed from a moment when Communism appeared to be completely rejected to a "managed democracy," and, now, to a time when the Communist Party of the Russian Federation is considered by Russian political experts to be an "institution."
An online article from the state-backed news agency, RIA Novosti, first published in May 24, 2012 (at http://ria.ru/politics/20120524/656298316.html), reports on a study finding that the Communist Party of the Russian Federation is not only the best organized political group in Russia, but is poised to evolve into a dominant "left of center" "party of power."
The "new" Russia has accomplished what was once thought impossible, the Communist Party has gone from an elite political structure comprising only some 3% of the population to a soon-to-be dominant, grassroots political organization.
Communist Party: Once Feared, Now the Party of the People
The Communist Party of the Russian Federation is also poised to become the "party of power" in Russia, replacing Putin's currently dominant United Russia, according to the report.
This astounding development has taken place a little more than two decades after the fall of the "Evil Empire," and its political arm, the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. As the once mighty USSR stumbled toward oblivion, the once all-powerful Communist Party fell to what seemed an unstoppable tide of political and economic reform.
From Abolition to National Leadership
in November 1991, Yeltsin had first suspended then banned the Communist Party (at the time officially known as the Communist Party of the Soviet Federative Socialist Republic), along with all related associations. The USSR itself staggered on, but with no real power, until its final and unspectacular end on December 31, 1991.
The victory over Communism seemed complete and irrevocable. The Communists, initiated by Lenin and directly influenced by Stalin, had established the USSR, but by the end of 1991 both had ceased to exist.
On June 17, 1992, Yeltsin addressed a joint session of the United States Congress and declared that, "The world can sigh in relief. The idol of Communism...has collapsed never to rise again."
But "never" proved to be short lived.
Reestablished in February 1993 as Communist Party of the Russian Federation (and related spinoffs later), the Communists quickly obtained what they really never had before in Russia - martyrs.
The "new" Russia under Yeltsin had inherited elements of the old Soviet legislative system with a parliament consisting of the Congress of People's Deputies and the Supreme Soviet. In a dispute over reform economics, both the parliament, controlled by the Communists, and the Yeltsin government declared each other illegitimate. Each prepared for armed resistance.
On October 9, 1993 troops loyal to Yeltsin attacked the Russian parliament building, known as the "White House," resulting in numerous deaths. The estimates range from 187 to 2000 (the latter claimed by the Communists).
The present Russian parliament consisting of a lower house, the State Duma and an upper house, the Federation Council.
Initially the Russian public seemed to support Yeltsin, but a decade later public opinion changed and now is sympathetic to the Communists who died resisting Yeltsin's reforms.
In a striking turn of events, the reforms of Yeltsin, who was once considered a hero, are blamed in large part for Russia's decline economically, socially, and militarily. The Communists who resisted are now seen as attempting to protect the Russian nation.
Even Soviet dictator Josef Stalin, who died in 1953, is making a popularity comeback. "Uncle Joe," as U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt called him, has suffered a very tarnished reputation since he was denounced as a brutal despot in 1956 by Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev in a "secret" speech to the 20th Congress of the Communist Party. In 1986, Robert Conquest tied Stalin to the murder of millions of landowning peasants who refused to join in or sought to hamper Soviet collectivization.
By 1990 the unthinkable occurred when the fast fading Soviet Union acknowledged Stalin's guilt in the massacre of as many as 22,000 Polish military officers, police, intellectuals, factory owners and other leaders and potential leaders in and around the Katyn Forest. Stalin was admitted to be not just the tyrant described in Khrushchev's "secret" speech, but a Soviet leader guilty of atrocities.
Like the Communist Party itself, however, Stalin is increasingly looked upon as having made "mistakes" on the way to building the Soviet state into a world power.
For the Kremlin elite, just as with Karl Marx, the founder of Communism, the end truly justifies the means. This savage form of cynicism is being sold to the people of Russia, and, when possible, to the people of the "near abroad."
Continuity: Spy Nation and the Return of the Evil Empire
In the Soviet era, the KGB was the spy organization most familiar to Americans and the world. Its formal emblem contained a sword and a shield, indicating its mission was to operate as the offensive and defensive arm of the Communist Party.
All of that, however, was supposed to have changed during the last moments of the USSR, as the KGB and the Communist Party it was designated to protect were both banned by Yeltsin. Even KGB chairman Vladimir Kryuchkov was arrested and imprisoned following the failed coup in August 1991.
Gorbachev observed that everything had changed, and it so appeared.
There was a continuity, however. The sword still operated.
The KGB was reorganized into two separate groups known by the acronyms SFB and SVR. The SFB maintained internal security, and the SVR continued to operate against the United States and allies. Identical tactics and the training of the old KGB were still used. In Moscow, the infamous British traitor Kim Philby continued in the "new" Russia to train spies to operate against the West, as he had in the Soviet era.
In a moment of supreme irony and breathtaking gall, officials of the "new" Russia dedicated a plaque to Philby upon his death in 2010, and placed it at the headquarters of SVR.
The continuity of Moscow's spy operations is vividly displayed in the detection and arrest of several of the Soviet Union's most effective agents after the collapse of the USSR. Two of the most notorious spies captured were CIA mole Aldrich Aimes and FBI traitor Robert Hanssen. Aimes had operated from 1985 until his arrest in1994, and Hanssen began his activities in 1979 was until finally apprehended in February 2001.
Moscow's ongoing espionage was particularly outrageous, because in 1992, while both Aimes, Hanssen, and others were still operating within and against the United States, Boris Yeltsin stood before a joint session of the U.S. Congress and pledged his government's friendship toward the United States and denounced Communism.
In point of fact, the Russian government was never out of the control of those who were loyal to the old Soviet system. The bloody nose and humiliation which the Communists suffered at the end of the USSR and the beginning of the "new" Russia has proven to be a small price for the growing reverie for the Soviet era among the Russian people and increasing grass roots support for the once feared Communist Party.
As it turns out, the shield has also been at work.
The continuity of the sword and shield go back even before the establishment of the Soviet Union. Under Lenin, the Bolsheviks in December 1917 established a political police referred to as the Cheka, an acronym for "Extraordinary Commission." (The Cheka was originally named the Extraordinary Commission for the Combating Counter-Revolution and Sabotage, and in 1918 the full name was changed to the All Russian Extraordinary Commission for Combating Counter-Revolution, Profiteering and Corruption. The organization was still referred to as the Cheka.)
The Cheka's mission was to defend the Communist Revolution and to destroy the its enemies, and has a legendary reputation for kidnappings, torture, and murder. Its victims numbered in the hundreds of thousands.
Officially dissolved in 1922 during a reorganization of intelligence operations, all current and "retired" Russian intelligence officers consider themselves as Chekists. The Russian government is controlled by Chekists, most notably Vladimir Putin. The insignia for the Cheka, as for the later and more familiar KGB, was the sword and the shield.
The Chekists have been there for the founding of the USSR, its dissolution, the establishment of the "new" Russia, and, now, for the metamorphosis of Russia into a new Marxist-Leninist entity bound together with the near abroad.
Unlike the old Soviet Union, however, the new Socialist entity will also have as its close ally an economically and military powerful Communist China.
Some geo-political experts believe that an alliance with China is an option. As we will see below, Moscow and Beijing are working closely together, and any hope of playing Russia against China is illusory.
The "China" Card Blows Up in America's Face
In the 1970s, the U.S. was going to use Communist China against the Soviet Union. In the 1990s, the so-called "China card." After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Washington pundits saw the "new" Russia as a sure ally against the growing military and economic power of China.
To say the least, none of the above has worked out as the experts had hoped.
The "new" Russia has been the chief arms and technical supplier to Communist China since the early 1990s, and has been instrumental in helping China to eventually achieve a world power status.
Russian assistance to China has now developed into an anti-American military alliance centered upon the commercially powerful but militarily weak nations in the Asia-Pacific region.
Putin has announced a military agreement with China to "strengthen the security" in the area. Without citing specifics, Putin vaguely referred to threats from extremists, economic troubles, and the spread of weapons of mass destruction, according to a May 6, 2012 RIA Novosti report (at http://ria.ru/world/20120606/666609234.html).
Putin also stated that Moscow and Beijing are working in the region for the establishment of a "just" world order. (Read the expulsion of the U.S. from the area).
The reality is, however, that the Asia-Pacific region there are only two major sources of danger: North Korea, which is supported by both Moscow and Beijing, and aggression perpetrated by China against its neighbors.
While North Korea is unable to project its power beyond its borders, China is boldly challenging all of its neighbors in the South China Sea and provoking Japan to consider a major rearmament campaign.
Putin's declaration of military cooperation with China in the Asia-Pacific region is not merely hollow words. Russia, like China, is planning to construct several aircraft carrier task forces, along with technological improvements in missile and aircraft capabilities.
The implication is clear. Within a few short years, the United States will face a united naval force launched by Russia and China.
The result of this combined force will be serious. Japan, Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, and Australia would be threatened, as would be shipping lanes vital to international commerce. The free island of Taiwan would become even more vulnerable to blockade and attack, while all aid from the United States effectively cut off.
Understanding the Problem - The Key to Taking Action and Survival
Moscow's actions in supporting Communist China are consonant with its actions around the world. In every corner of the globe, Moscow supports anti-American regimes from the Stalinist pariah state of North Korea to Cuba and Venezuela.
The United States is facing an extraordinary challenge unlike any encountered before, even the Soviet threat of the Cold War and dwarfs the still very real threat from Islamist fundamentalism. In point of fact, militant Islam and the Communist Moscow-Beijing alliance have a common enemy in the U.S.
This situation is very difficult, but not impossible. The first step in countering the threat is for the American people and their leaders to come to the realization that Russia is an aspiring Communist state, and is allied with the overtly Communist Peoples Republic of China. Both nations are driven by the desire to establish a New World Order based on Communist principles, and only one nation stands in their way: the United States of America.
America has no choice other than to be strong, but we have faced serious challenges before, and with the help of God, we can do it again.
International News Analysis