When you look at the predicament that we find ourselves in today, with the world splitting into very different spheres of influence and authority, you have to wonder how we got to this point. Twenty years ago, Russia seemed to be a broken, beaten, corrupt, not particularly relevant country, and the West was running the entire show. Less than a generation later, the Western world is collapsing around our ears, while the Eurasian nations are forming their own, extremely powerful, bloc and are busy creating their own framework of international economic and technological cooperation.
In all of this, we see the guiding hand of the Neo-Tsar, who seems to operate on the basis that Russia’s mineral wealth, technological development, intellectual property, and tremendous manufacturing capacity, are all levers of power that he can use to enrich the Russian people and drive global economic growth.
Where did this philosophy come from, and how did it evolve over time?
The Doctoral Thesis
Back in 1997, at the age of about 45 or so, the man who would one day become the Neo-Tsar received published his graduate thesis, titled “The Strategic Planning of Regional Resources Under the Formation of Market Relations“, for which he received a PhD in Economics from the St. Petersburg Mining Institute. (The closest comparable American analogue is probably receiving a PhD in Mineral Economics from, say, Penn State University. I personally know a guy who has such a qualification. These are VERY SMART PEOPLE and not to be underestimated.)
There is CONSIDERABLE debate about whether he actually wrote the entire thesis – VVP has been dogged by accusations of plagiarism with respect to his graduate thesis for the past 15 years, at least, and probably longer still. Ever since the initial sections were translated back in 2008, American academics have argued that Putin probably bought the thesis – a common practice among wealthy and influential Russians – and more than one observer of the Neo-Tsar has pointed out that Putin himself almost never discusses his work in economics in public.
And yet… try reading through the following passages of that thesis here. If you can make it through the stilted, academic, and clunky language – an issue that I put down more to a bad translation than to the Neo-Tsar’s actual linguistic skills, since he is in fact very precise, methodical, calm, and articulate in his speeches and public appearances – then you will see a very clear and distinct pattern of thought emerge. I have emphasised the sections that I consider important:
The sustainable development of Russia’s economy in the upcoming years should be based upon orderly growth of its component parts and first of all due to the potential of mineral and raw materials resources. Moreover, sustainable development as it applies to minerals and raw materials is to be understood as the guaranteed provision of economic security to the country through the creation of a reliable mineral and raw materials base for satisfying the current and expected needs of the Russian economy taking into account the ecological, social, demographic, defense and other factors.
1. Mineral and raw materials represent the most important potential for the economic development of the country.
2. The main reserve for transforming Russia in the relatively near-term future into a leading economic power with a high standard of living for the majority of the population is comprehensive assistance to the development of the national processing industries based upon the extraction industries.
3. The analysis of the economic processes taking place in the world requires comprehensive state support and the creation of large financial-industrial corporations which span several industries on the basis of the resource-extracting enterprises, which could compete as equals with the transnational corporations of the West.
4. The development of the extracting complex should be regulated by the state using purely market methods; moreover the state must assist the development of processing industries based upon the extraction industries in every way.
5. The condition of the fixed assets and the technology employed by the extraction industries of a country with the richest reserves of natural resources is such that in the upcoming years they cannot provide for significant additional financial receipts for the country’s budget for large state investments and the country’s own processing industry.
6. Due to the low share of labor in the cost of production of raw materials extracted and the relatively high cost of an individual working place in the extraction industries, raw materials resources cannot be the reserve for raising the living standard for the majority of the country’s population.
The total value of Russia’s mineral and raw materials base according to the explored and evaluated reserves of all types of extractable resources, comes to no less than 28 trillion USD, however an evaluation of the profitable portion comes to only 1.5 trillion USD.— Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, “The Strategic Planning of Regional Resources Under the Formation of Market Relations“, 1997
Understand this, and understand it well: the Neo-Tsar has been saying for LITERAL DECADES that Russia’s source of power is its mineral wealth, its abundance of natural resources, and Russia can only unlock those resources through free-market methods guided by the state.
Now look at what Putin has done while in power for 25 years. Do you see that literally everything he has done in that time, has followed this exact prescription?
Quibble all you want about whether or not Putin wrote his own thesis. I don’t particularly care one way or another. What matters is whether he acts in accordance with his words. And in this matter, there is absolutely no question that Putin has always acted in line with his writings.
The Pro-Western Beginning
It is hard to believe that more than 20 years have elapsed since the Neo-Tsar was inaugurated for the first time, all the way back in 2000, as only the second President in Russian history. He has since been “re-elected” to that position at least three times, and will likely serve a total of six terms, at minimum, before his political career ends, supposedly in 2036 under laws passed by the Russian Duma two years ago.
Yet, looking back at his inauguration in 2000, Putin did not exactly cut a particularly imposing or threatening figure, back then. If anything, he seemed to be a bit of a non-entity – a bland-looking spindly bureaucrat, the kind of face that you wouldn’t really remember if you saw it in a crowd.
That description is something of a disservice to Putin himself. As Prime Minister under the drunken old fool, Boris Yeltsin, Putin had proven himself to be a highly capable administrator and bureaucrat who got things done. His handling of the Second Chechen War, and his decisive approach to dealing with what turned out to be Western-funded Wahabbist terrorists, won him a great deal of domestic acclaim and popularity.
But that wasn’t enough. Putin needed the help of the oligarchs of his time to put him over the top and into the President’s chair. And that is precisely what happened. Berezovsky, Khodorkovsky, and other predominantly Jewish oligarchs thought that Putin was “their man”, someone that they could easily control and sway for their benefit. They threw their power and influence behind him, and he won the popular vote for the Presidency.
Initially, Putin did little to contradict this image. He remained something of a blank slate, a canvas onto which the oligarchs and Western powers could project their own views and interests. But, with years of hindsight, it is very clear that he was merely biding his time, waiting for his opportunities to turn the tables on the oligarchs and do what he felt was necessary to restore Russian power and greatness.
During this time, Putin’s foreign policy, if he could be said to have one, seemed to be one of arms’-length accommodation of Western interests, while always appealing to “international law” – a term that I personally find quite woolly and vague, and which seems to revolve around the notion that the United Nations actually knows arse from elbow. He permitted, and indeed encouraged, foreign investment and competition in Russian markets. He welcome foreign capital and business. And he happily, or so it seemed, worked within international treaties and frameworks to ensure that Russia did not run afoul of Western interests too much.
The Turning Point at Munich
For years, Putin manoeuvred and moved at home and abroad to keep Russia out of Western entanglements and idiotic foreign wars. He made his opposition to America’s damned fool mistake of a Syracuse Expedition in Iraq plain, and refused to support it in any way. Meanwhile, he worked hard to displace and defang the oligarchs in Russia that had put him in power.
He did this with extraordinary effectiveness, and he started that programme of “de-oligarchisation” (you will forgive my mangling of the English language there) mere months after he took office. He moved with astonishing swiftness, consolidating power ruthlessly and efficiently by federalising Russia and appointing governors loyal to him, not the oligarchs.
One by one, the oligarchs fell. Gusinsky. Berezovsky. Khodorkovsky. Zyuganov. Those who were not arrested and exiled, were folded into the regime on the strict and clear understanding that they would play ball and NEVER attempt to cross Putin. Roman Abramovich is an outstanding example of this, as is Oleg Deripaska – and so was Sergey Pugachyov, once thought of as “Putin’s Banker”, until he did some very stupid things with Mezhprombank and found himself in Putin’s cross-hairs.
Today, the oligarchs are firmly under Putin’s control. Those that are not, have no power in Russia. The few that do have real power have been brutally hurt by anti-Russian sanctions, and now seek refuge from the only man who can provide it – Putin himself.
With his domestic flanks secured, Putin was then able to move on the international scene, and in 2007, that is exactly what he did.
The video above is the full speech that Putin gave in Munich in 2007, which astonished and stunned the Western world. In that speech, he made it very clear that he sees a multipolar world order, ruled by uniform standards of conduct in which individual nations are free to pursue their own ends and interests in a balanced, open, and competitive way. He stated bluntly that he would not permit Russian sovereignty to be trampled upon by Western powers, and he stated, politely but very firmly, that the United States is the first cause of war and strife in the world due to its insanely aggressive military policies and its insistence on “bomb first, ask second” methods.
I paraphrase his words rather liberally, I admit, but if you watch the whole speech and read the subtitles, you will see what I mean.
Throughout the speech, Putin was very clear about his view that international dialogue and respect for differing opinions need to be the foundations of international diplomacy. This, too, is a feature of his that carries through to this very day.
The Crimean Episode
That 2007 speech marked the true turning point of Western relations with Russia. From there onward, things took a severe downward trajectory that has never bottomed out since. The Western powers, and especially the USSA, simply could not accept or tolerate defiance or a difference of opinion. The hyper-muscular neoclown-driven approach to the world would brook no interference or dissent.
Things came to a head in 2014, after the American-backed, CIA-funded coup in Ukraine that we know of today as the Euromaidan, in which Ukrainian nationalists opened fire on their own people in a pretext for a violent overthrow of the mildly pro-Russian government of the democratically elected Viktor Yanukovych. Shortly after the Euroomaidan in early 2014, specific regions of Ukraine which contained a majority of ethnic Russians in both linguistic and racial terms, voted to leave Ukraine and either become independent or join Russia.
The Donetsk and Lugansk regions voted to become independent states. Crimea voted to join Russia. In both cases, the numbers voting in favour of breaking away from Ukraine, were north of 70%. This was “people power” in its truest form. Yet the Western powers refused to admit that “those damned ROOSKIES” had any voice whatsoever, and supported Ukraine’s bid to take those regions back by force.
Putin stepped in to stop this nonsense by annexing Crimea, a move that has been to this day condemned by the West as a violation of that nebulous and ill-defined thing called “international law”. (As far as I can tell, this just means that international law is whatever the GloboHomoPaedo powers think it is, as long as “it” is in their own interests and no one else’s.)
Yet, the people of Crimea itself seemed to be quite happy with the arrangement. That is where the “Polite People” meme popped up on the RuNet. If you actually observed Russian soldiers in Crimea at the time, you would have seen that the population seemed quite delighted to have them around. There were virtually NO incidents of lawlessness or terrorism.
The Ukrainians retaliated, grumpily, by cutting off fresh water, power, and transit rights to the people of Crimea. Russia had to supply everything to the Crimean people, and did so gladly.
Throughout the entire episode, Putin made very clear that he would always defend the interests of the Russian nation and people, even if it meant tolerating harsh Western sanctions against his own country, and indeed against himself and those closest to him.
Dawn of the Special Military Operation
For eight long years after Crimea, Putin continued to try to accommodate the West and deal with NATO’s insistence on moving ever deeper into former Soviet territories, with the clear aim of confronting Russia itself. Putin made that point all the way back in 2007, when he asked the assembled heads of NATO defence ministries where those promises of Russia’s security had gone. Under Medvedev’s presidency, as Prime Minister of Russia, Putin supervised the Georgia War in 2008, where the Russians stomped all over the NATO-trained Georgian military in just 5 days.
This was a war that the Europeans later admitted the Georgians started, with their insistence on trampling the rights of ethnic Russians in Abkhazia and South Ossetia. The same European observers seemed oddly reticent to admit that the Ukrainians were the ones shelling the shit out of the LDNR territories in early 2022, but that is precisely what OSCE observers saw on Feb 21, 22, and 23 of this year.
Simultaneously, Putin saw that Ukraine had amassed an army of nearly 100,000 men on the borders of the Donbass region, with only one clear aim and intention: to invade and smash through the LDNR territories, take them by force, and put hostile forces right on the border of Russia’s most important southern cities.
With no other choice, with every diplomatic and political option exhausted, and with the West very clearly intent on seeing how far it could push Russia, Putin did the only thing he could:
He ordered an expeditionary force to go into Ukraine, destroy their military, de-Nazify their government and institutions, and secure the freedoms and security of the peoples of Donbass.
The reaction from the West was, even by Western standards, unhinged and hysterical to a degree that we’ve really never seen before. The sheer amount of Russophobia on display since then, and the attempts to vilify Putin and turn him into some kind of deranged monster, unnerved even someone as cynical and unimpressed by Western double-standards and hypocrisy as me. I was genuinely shocked and horrified by what I saw – and enraged by the stupidity and malice of the West.
But, what else could Putin do? He had no other choice.
That is not to excuse the war itself. A war of any kind is a terrible tragedy, and thousands of Russian and Allied volunteers have lost their lives or have been maimed forever because Putin ordered them into Ukraine. The initial, high-risk/low-probability gamble that the Russians took by sending their forces absolutely hell-for-leather into northern Ukraine, resulted in hundreds and even thousands of casualties and substantial losses of equipment, because the Ukrainians were able to ambush and destroy those convoys in isolated incidents.
But that does not change the fact that Russia launched this war out of desperation, not choice. In fact, a sober assessment of the last 20 years shows very clearly that Putin only ever strikes when he has absolutely no other choice.
In so doing, Putin probably did all of us a tremendous favour: he showed the entire world that we do not all have to be slaves to the GloboHomoPaedo ideology. We can, and should, and MUST, find other ways to live.
The Age of Multipolarity
Thus we come to the Neo-Tsar’s recent speech at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum. (I personally prefer the Russian acronym, СМЭФ – Санкт-Петербургский Международный Экономический Форум – but, y’know, whatever works.) In it, he laid out a vision for a multipolar world order that is the fulfilment of the idea that he floated all the way back in 2007, of a world in which individual nations pursue their own national interests in cooperation with each other, with different blocs providing competing ideas and currencies and ways of doing things.
He has backed up this vision with real things. The Russians just announced recently that they are ready to integrate the other BRICS nations onto the Russian international financial messaging system, SPFS, which is a direct competitor to SWIFT. They are working in collaboration with other nations to create an international reserve currency, based on a true currency basket – which is an idea that goes all the way back to Friedrich von Hayek, if not earlier, and is a way of preventing inflationary stupidity from any one country from infecting and destroying the value of another country’s currency.
The Russians are working on a new digital ruble that will be used for international trade and settlements. They are partnering with nations to establish new commercial and technological relationships, opening their own markets to Indian supermarket chains to reduce prices and fill gaps left by Western players, exporting oil and food only to friendly nations, and providing their expertise and services wherever they are wanted and asked for.
There is a very different tone to the Russian overtures than there ever was to the American and Western ones. Where the West bullies and blusters, the Russians listen respectfully. Where the Western powers insert themselves by force, the Russians wait to be asked. And, most crucially, where the West imposes closed-source solutions as the only possible way, the Russians offer open-source, flexible alternatives that other countries can adopt and adapt and build upon.
Put simply, the Russians seek to put their STAGGERING mineral and agricultural wealth to use to enrich themselves, and their partners, around the world. But they do not want to be drawn into wars and conflicts to protect their own interests. Instead, they simply want to leave other nations to figure it out, while providing mediation and help where they can.
Does this mean that the Russians in general, and Putin in particular, are all angels, only seeking to do good? Of course not. Such a Manichean view of the world is idiotic in the extreme. The Russians are self-interested and selfish just like anyone else. They will not hesitate to use force if their interests are threatened, and they know perfectly well that some of their “friends”, are actually anything but.
For example, they know quite well that the Chinese view everything north of the Amur and east of the Urals as, essentially, “theirs” – as part of a Greater China. I’ve been talking about that for YEARS. They know that anything they sell the Chinese will be ripped off and replicated by the ChiComs within a few years, which is precisely what they did with Russian Su-27 jets. They are well aware that China is already taking large bites out of Russian territory in the Far East, and abusing and exploiting both the land and the people.
Clearly, the Russians believe that they can handle these challenges, difficult though they might be. Their overriding principle appears to be one of autarky and self-reliance, without needing to worry about what the West thinks. The Russians now view the West as a declining power that has increasingly limited capacity to enforce its will, and wants to avoid making the same mistakes of imperial overreach and dependence that America (and the USSR) did.
Conclusion – the Neo-Tsar’s Vision
If you look back through time at what the Neo-Tsar was like in 2000, and what he is like today, I argue that you will find a remarkable consistency of vision and policy. That vision is of a strong, free, independent Russia, not reliant on anyone for anything major, yet working as a partner with other nations to develop an international framework of understanding and cooperation. Most importantly, the Neo-Tsar sees Russia’s vast natural resources as the key to its future wealth, while being quite wary of the “resource trap” that has ensnared so many other nations.
He tried to execute this vision at first through cooperation with the Western powers. In this, he mistakenly assumed that the West could be trusted to play ball. This goes back to his upbringing in Leningrad (St. Petersburg today), the most European of all Russian cities, and his experiences living in Germany. In fact, Putin is by far the most moderate and Western-friendly member of the entire Russian government. Everyone else, from Medvedev to Shoigu to Lavrov to Patrushev and Mishustin, is anywhere from mildly to extremely hostile to the EUSSR and the USSA.
Putin is the only one that stands between the siloviki, especially Medvedev, and a policy of outright open warfare with the West. He is all that prevents Russia from using its hard-won technological and military edges to teach Europe a bloody lesson that it will never forget. And that is because he is still interested in dialogue and open discussion, even today.
Make no mistake, Putin IS NOT a good guy. He is a street fighter, a skilled bureaucratic infighter, and an exceptionally talented and ruthless wielder of true power. He understands what power is and how to use it – but, crucially, he ALSO understands where and how NOT to use it.
The world that Putin sees is a multipolar one in which Russia will never again be an empire that constantly needs to put out fires, but is instead wealthy and secure within its own borders, and which engages in trade and friendship to the maximum extent possible. This is a Russia that is strong, free, and safe, resting on its vast reserves of mineral wealth, with a uniquely Russian culture and way of life. It is for these reasons that Putin has now effectively broken with the West, giving Russia back its own education system, its own approach to economics, and its own sovereign destiny.
I have argued frequently of late that Putin will be remembered in the same light as Peter the Great, Catherine the Great, and even Stalin by the Russian people. If he succeeds in carrying out his vision of a mulitpolar world, in which Russia provides the mineral wealth and technological backbone for other nations to establish their own identities and destinies, then he will go down in history as the greatest ruler in Russian history.