Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Power Vertical

Podcast: Tactical Victory. Strategic Defeat?

Has Vladimir Putin set events in motion he won't be able to control?
Has Vladimir Putin set events in motion he won't be able to control?
Russian state television called it historic and a pivotal event, and in many ways it was.

Russia's annexation of Crimea, which was formalized this week, was the first such territorial seizure in Europe since World War II. It also sent a signal that the Kremlin no longer intended to play by the rules that have governed international affairs for decades.

But Russian President Vladimir Putin's speech may also turn out to be pivotal and historic in ways the Kremlin leader did not intend. In resetting Russia's domestic political agenda with a wave of anti-Western nationalism, he may have also unleashed forces he may not be able to control.

The past week will certainly go down in Russian history as a watershed. But the question looms, how?

On the latest "Power Vertical Podcast," we discuss the ongoing domestic fallout of the Crimean annexation in Russia.

Joining me are Sean Guillory of the University of Pittsburgh's Center for Russian and Eastern European Studies and author of "Sean's Russia Blog," and Nina Khrushcheva, a professor of international affairs at The New School and author of the recently published book "The Lost Khrushchev: A Family Journey into the Gulag of the Russian Mind."


Power Vertical Podcast -- March 21, 2014
Power Vertical Podcast -- March 21, 2014i
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Listen to or download the podcast above or subscribe to "The Power Vertical Podcast" on iTunes.
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Comment Sorting
by: Mamuka
March 22, 2014 03:24
Vova has not won a tactical victory but a strategic triumph. The only way it will turn out against him is if Europe realizes who they are dealing with and moves decisively to get away from Russia economically. Will they be willing or able to do this? I don't think so.

by: Eugenio from: Vienna
March 22, 2014 21:12
The paranoid reaction of the EU and NATO govts to the decision of the Crimean people to separate from Ukraine is understandable: There will be referenda on independence held in Catalunya (Spain) and Scotland (UK) later this year. Additionally, in April elections will be held in Québec (Canada), where the pro-independence Parti Québécois is likely to win an absolute majority.
In other words, the precedent of a European region deciding to separate itself from this "happy and advanced" EU/NATO future is particularly dangerous for such govts as the Spanish, the British and the Canadian, as long as it demonstrates that breaking one's ties with the hated and bankrupt Euro-US colonizers is not difficult at all: as long as you have the support of the Russia in one form or the other, the process of finally becoming independent from the "Euro-US paradize" can be completed within weeks or months.
So, let's just wish the Catalonians, the Scots and the Québécois all the best in there endevours and hope that they will succeed - the same way the Crimean people just have!
In Response

by: Michel from: Montreal, Qc. Canada
March 24, 2014 01:02
Dream on, my misguided friend, dream on! In Quebec where I happen to live the allegedly "pro-independence" Parti Quebecois is NOT likely to obtain a huge majority. It could also lose the election as well. Either way, the middle class over here will not commit a suicide by total and final separation - unlike a handful of nutty college professors and some circles of lumpenproletariat. Madame (separatist)Prime Minister keeps begging the electorate not to think that the separation is her priority. No hope for a revolution on this side of Atlantic. Thanks God for petits bourgeois! As for Russia - do you sincerely believe that now this over-rated power has means to direct the Scottish and Catalonian economies towards ....precisely what? After all Russian Federation professes a market economy, that is, CAPITALISM, though mixed with local and international mafias. My friend, relax: No-one shall sound an old slogan "Proletarians of all the world - Unite! Billionaires are Putin's buddies. Besides, these days hundreds of central and eastern Russian towns are being erased from maps because of ... depopulation. This is the shrinking period for the aspiring empire. If things go on like that, chances are that in ten years the Chinese and Moslems will finish the job.
Anyway, neither you nor me can predict even the next month. The Western "paradise", as you just put it, has still apparently an inexplicable magnetic attraction to millions of economic (and political) refugees. Very few Pakistanis or Mexicans want to settle on the banks of the Volga

In Response

by: Eugenio from: Vienna
March 24, 2014 08:00
Cher Michel, as far as Québec is concerned, I was just remembering the last time a referedum on independence was organized there in 1995: it was something like 51 % for Canada, 49 % against. Something one would call a close shot. You are saying, this time around the population in the Belle Province has become more pro-Canadian? Possible, let's look at the electoral results next month.
As far as Catalunya and Scotland are concerned, my point was not that Russia or anyone else would "direct their economies". What I was saying was that the fact that there is a European region whose population this year in a referendum decided to separate from one country and join another - and this without any major difficulty - will MOST CERTAINLY be studied very carefully but the govts and electorates of both Catalunya and Scotland for their respective referenda later this year.
And the Crimean precedent will also most likely encourage officials in both secessionist regions to seek Russian - political and possibly military - support for their desire of becoming independent from EU- and NATO-member states Spain and the UK respectively.
And this latter consideration most certainly represents one of the major reasons for which the reaction of NATO/EU to the Crimean secesstion has so far been so paranoid - they are just afraid that the same thing will happen in the two West-European regions later this year, and prefer to issue all sort of Crimea-related "threats" in order to discourage the Catalonians and the Scots from following the Crimean path.
I propose: let's meet here again AFTER the two referenda and see who was right and who was wrong :-).
Cheers from Vienna, Michel!
In Response

by: Neil
March 24, 2014 20:11
Those referenda, unlike the one that happened in the Crimea, will not be done under military occupation, and will not have obviously fake results. Any experience with an real democracy will tell you that a 90% result just doesn't happen without some serious coercion. Also, those referenda may produce actual independent states, and are not just a tool for annexation by a greater power.
In Response

by: Eugenio from: Vienna
March 25, 2014 18:22
NEIL is saying: "those referenda may produce actual independent states". Exactly, Neil, and this is exactly the reason for which the NATO/EU-oligarchy is so shocked by what happened in Crimea: the Crimean example dmonstrated to the people in Scotland and in Catalunya that IT IS POSSIBLE to split away from a state by means of a vote - something that the British and the Spanish govts are going out of their ways to present as completely impossible.
And if it was possible in Crimea, it was possible due to extensive Russian help - something that new independet Scotland and Catalunya will need as well, given the hostile reception they will undoubdetly receive from their respective national govts and from the EU/NATO.
In Response

by: Och Aye The Noo from: Edinburgh
March 28, 2014 23:00

What are you banging on about the Yes Campaign in Scotland is "very" pro EU, more so than most of the people of England. Meanwhile the other side The Unionists have been going to all lengths to suggest Scotland will be unable to join the EU in event of independence and therefore should stay in the union to stay in the EU. Breaking ties with "hated and bankrupt" colonizers to finally become "independent from the EU" is not on the agenda, and there doesn't seem any appetite for it?

Do you actually know what your talking about?

by: Eugenio from: Vienna
March 23, 2014 09:40
By the way, guys, you have an interesting map entitled "Ties to Russia" posted on this web-site ( which is supposed to give the share of native Russian speakers as percentages of total population in separate regions in Ukraine and other post-Soviet reps. At the same time, one can not help doubting the reliability of the presented data.
Specifically, you, for some reason, split the Odessa region (which I personally visited in 2011 and 2012) in two parts: One part - the one that spreads along the border with Transdnistria and where the city of Odessa is actually located - is left out of your data selection completely, even though this is where people primarily speak Russian (the only language you hear on the streets of Odessa).
The second part of the Odessa region - located between the Southern border of Moldova and the Black Sea - is, for some reason, presented as a separate region (which it is not) and the figure of only "41 %" of native Russian speakers can be questioned. I personally went to the biggest town of this part of the Odessa region - Belgorod-Dnistrovsky (the former Turkish Akkerman) - and people on the street there speak almost exlusively Russian. Moreover, someone I met there told me that most people who live in this area today came there in the 1960s from Central Russia in a move promoted by Nikita Khrushtschev (people wanted to move there "because there are a lot of apricots and other fruits here, which you don't find in Russia", according to this person :-))).
So, just be careful with your data and their reliability.
In Response

by: Peter from: ottawa
March 27, 2014 14:15
Evgeny aka Eugenio if separation is good for Spain or Canada then lets not stop there and add the Islamic Republic of Dagestan, Inghushetia, or better still the Islamic republic of Tatarstan has a nice ring to it. . Eugenio from the basement of the Russian embassy in Vienna. Cheers
In Response

by: Eugenio from: Vienna
March 27, 2014 19:30
Hello there, Peter from Ottawa! Are you currently working on establishing the Islamic Republic of Ontario :-)))?

by: PermReader
March 24, 2014 17:56
I hope that the craven censorship of the leftist guidance will be stoped after Mr. Close`s ( good riddance) departure.

by: A Power Vertical Fan from: London
March 28, 2014 22:46
Enjoyed this weeks podcast especially with the contributions of Nina. Brian you mentioned you were going to review her book?

Help me please I'm very interested to get a hold of Nina's book "The Lost Khrushchev: A Family Journey into the Gulag of the Russian Mind.", but I've been unable to track it down so far. Any chance you could provide some info on how to find it in the UK?


About This Blog

The Power Vertical is a blog written especially for Russia wonks and obsessive Kremlin watchers by Brian Whitmore. It covers emerging and developing trends in Russian politics, shining a spotlight on the high-stakes power struggles, machinations, and clashing interests that shape Kremlin policy today. Check out The Power Vertical Facebook page or