ANGELA MERKEL’S TIME: TIME’S ANGELA MERKEL

Editors of the Time Magazine have chosen Angela Merkel as the ‘Time Person of the Year 2015’ and we can easily gauge it why – in a year of great European Union (and Europe) crisis – first by Greece insolvency woes – and they by the incessant flux of refugees from war theatres like Syria, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Afghanistan and many more – and Angela Merkel led Germany – as Germany is perceived globally and in Europe – and thus Europe.

Germany is a major global power, the most important European power and Angela Merkel, its Chancellor who recently completed ten years in office, has made it among the elite few countries with global outreach in geopolitics.

Greece debt crisis and flow of refugees in Europe, the largest mass migration since the World War II, were the issues threatening to derail the whole world.

And Germany, the country that imposed on the world the Holocaust, acted as the leader to ensure the much needed balance. And the world sees behind it the pragmatic vision of Angela Merkel as the most instrumental element – if at all there is a solution – or at least the sense of relief, even if we are not sure about. And then there are other issues like sanctions against Russia for its overtures in Ukraine (and its annexation of Crimea) or its active support to Bashar al-Assad of Syria – Angela Merkel has prevailed in convincing the world leaders that why she matters.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

OLEG SENTSOV JAILED: WELL, WE ALL KNOW HOW IT IS..

Vladimir Putin has jailed a promising filmmaker, a Ukrainian, for protesting against his ‘illicit’ annexation of Crimea, a province that was part of Ukraine until last year.

Oleg Sontsov, 39, has been sentenced to 20 years in prison for ‘plotting arson attacks/attacks’ on ‘Russian’ interests in Crimea.

Well, we all know how it is.

Sentsov, like many others protesting peacefully, in their own possible ways, amid a growing Russian interference in Crimea, were helping the Ukrainian establishment there.

It is immaterial whether the world knows who is Sentsov. What matters is Putinism has had no dents so far, after Russian started facing financial troubles. Incarceration and prosecution of people like Sentsov or members of Pussy Riot or Alexei Navalny or many others or expulsion of the likes of Mikhail Khodorkovsky – Vladimir Putin has, so far, effectively crushed the pro-democracy and anti-Putin voices.

And he has ruthless in his pursuit.

Russia or the central, focal entity of the erstwhile USSR, has been under firm grip of Vladimir Putin since 2000. And going by the years so far, Putin is not going to leave Russia. He was, first, President for two terms. Then he became the Russian Prime Minister, installing a puppet President, thus wielding the real power.

To perpetuate his grip further, he manipulated the Russian Constitution and returned as President again, with increased number of years to his tenure – ‘his’ tenure because Putinism looks set to rule Russia as long as Vladimir Putin is there.

Russia initially revelled with Putin. After all, he had taken the centre stage of Russian politics after a prolonged political unrest that made the country’s social-economic condition a mess. Putin brought order. Driven by strong supply of ‘oil and gas’ money, Russian thought, Putin pushed the country again to the league of forefront nations.

The source of that spirit started drying up with global economic recession. Falling ‘oil prices’ started straining Russian financial streams that gradually gripped the whole country.

And with it, Putinism started unveiling itself. The ‘liberator’ of the Russian population soon found ‘catalysts’ to shed his ‘revivalist’ tag. And today, Vladimir Putin, is a full-time dictator – strengthening his grip on Russia with each passing year – crushing protests – removing/suppressing voices. And oil prices remained muted all this while – dragging Russia in an economic situation where its ‘heavily energy export’ economy had no alternative plans to cushion itself.

Oil prices are still low, and in fact, are projected to slide down to historically low levels, with China slowing down.

But Putin is as busy in devising ways to scuttle voices back home – as he was always. He tries to buy them. He tries to co-opt them. He intimidates them. He silences them.

Annexing Crimea was an important ploy that diverted Russian population’s attention from growing economic failures of his model – a haphazard mess that failed to work beyond a point. By humiliating Ukraine with snatching Crimea from it, Putin bought some support back home.

But Putinism knows such measures are not long lasting, especially when Russia is facing sanctions again – coupled with already low oil prices.

So, he has to keep his fangs sharp always – employing tools to further his dictatorial rule. Sentencing of activists like Oleg Sentsov are just one from his stable.

And what emboldens him is the fact that Russia may not be a big economy now, but it remains among the few dreaded military powers of the world with a nuclear stockpile that can wipe out the entire world.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

PUTINISM ON A ROLL WITH A NUCLEAR TONGUE

Okay, Putinism was always on the roll, though with some rough patches intermittently.

But, it seems the 10 days of break from public life has recharged the world’s most powerful dictator to take on the world again, the world efficiently pressed under his boots and the world that he so eagerly wants to dominate, but is incapable of.

The time after his another stage managed coup to continue on top of everything in Russia has not been good, particularly with his deepening adventures in Ukraine.

Though his bravado, enveloped by his machismo, did earn Russia Crimea and pushed Ukraine to a sustained internal war with rebels, it cost Russia heavily as well.

The meekness of the western world, the European countries and the United States of America, allowed Ukraine to be torn apart, and to save their faces, they resorted to the routine of imposing sanctions.

But even this routine step is proving effective and Russia is reeling under its after-effects.

Russian economy is in bad shape and this derailment may prove out a worse nightmare for Putin than the bad days of ‘toned down economic blitzkrieg owing to the low energy prices’.

The world knows the Russian tiger was running fast fuelled by the oil money and Putinism’s genius had no role to play in it.

Oil prices continue to remain low. And with the Ukraine (mis)adventure, the Russian tiger is increasingly find itself in a quagmire with its pace nailed to a ground that is positioned to remain unstable.

Latest figures show the world a ‘rapid economic contraction’ in Russia, a Reuters report says. Rouble has taken a massive hit and domestic consumption is feeling the heat.

Though the Russian leaders say the ‘worst is over’, the same is not shared by the outside world.

The ‘Crimea Act’ had earned Putin and Putinism brownie points in Russia under the garb of patriotism and nationalism. It was after a long time that Putin enjoyed high popularity ratings and it was in the ‘aftermath’ of his Ukraine calculations.

But the continued downward economic spiral, adding to the bad days of the low oil prices, was a potential trigger to darken the prospects of this ‘patriotic’ Putin. To remain larger than life, Putin needs to push his ‘ultra-patriot macho’ image because this only can give him the leverage to blunt the edge of any potential voice against him in Russia.

Now, since he has crushed the political opposition in Russia, he would like to downplay any development that can give voice to the voiceless political opposition in the country.

But, the developments that can voice another round of political opposition as we saw during 2011-12, during his bid on re-election as the next Russian President (for the third term), are beyond his control – the oil prices and the economic sanctions.

The Russian economy is in shambles and Putin cannot do anything about it. But he can do to make it look normalizing. He needs to create the mirrors of diversions and his experience tells the ‘nationalism of a macho’ can handle it better.

So, after the break that gave rise to colourful conspiracy theories like from fathering a love child to ‘ being ousted in a silent coup by a group of powerful anti-Putinism generals’, he got back with a bang charging the world with his nuclear tongue.

After his ‘surfacing up’ act, he ‘warned’ the world that Russia was all set for a ‘nuclear war’ putting its nuclear forces on alert during Crimea annexation. For the first time, in a voice that would sound ‘heroic’ to the Russians, he admitted that Russian soldiers were in Crimea to take care of referendum and annexation.

Next, his ‘machismo’ found friends in many leaders (read autocrats and dictators, including Kim Jong-Un) to celebrate the 70th anniversary of World War II victory (to be celebrated next month, so time to build up further on the propaganda).

And yesterday, after reappearing act of March 16, Putin threatened Denmark. He threatened Denmark to nuke the ‘warships of the Danes’ if they joined the ‘missile defence shield’ of NATO.

!!

Putinism’s nuclear tongue is on a roll and expect more of his ‘ultra-patriotic-nationalistic-machismo’ speak to colour the pages of geopolitics as Putin’s Russia moves ahead with time trying to address it economic woes.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

AFTER CRIMEA HAS FALLEN..

After Crimea has fallen: why Crimea and what next for Putin? – One of the most discussed issues of the global geopolitics these days – haunting the world leaders led by Barack Obama – and the analysts and experts!

While President Obama insisted again on Tuesday that the West would not recognize the annexation of Crimea, officials in the United States and Europe have privately concluded that Crimea is lost and that the real challenge is stopping Russia from further destabilizing Ukraine. – The New York Time, March 25, 2014

The global news media is full of such reports and analyses on the issue.

And every one realises the futility of the global response in the matter with ineffective steps like ‘kicking’ Russia out of the G8.

There has not been consensus on what should be the course of action. A military action was talked just in coded words, an option that never existed.

The most talked about option is (and was) placing economic sanctions given the Russia’s dependence on oil exports. But even here, the EU is (and was) not in favour of putting curbs on Russia’s oil exports as it depends largely on it for its energy needs.

Any economic sanction on Russia minus the measures to control the Russian energy flow out of its territories to Europe and Asia would be a damp squib. And exactly that happened.

And political and social sanctions have never deterred dictators history has shown us. They, instead, enjoy this isolation of the masses, something that enhances the efficiency of their propaganda machinery manifold.

Why Putinism can feel emboldened to spread beyond its Crimean coup has a valid rationale in the way the global community including its lone superpower and other major powers let Mr. Vladimir Putin annex Crimea. This bloodless coup is the perfect example of how spineless the global response can be as we have increasingly seen in recent days – be it in Syria or Bahrain or now in Crimea.

Vladimir Putin was already the ironman of Russia keeping the Russian voice firmly under his grip. Now, that he has virtually decimated every opposition in Russia after his latest stint as the Russian President that began in May 2012, extending his 12 years rule for another 6 years, he is looking for more, it seems.

Since the Year 2000 – it has been so, for the Russians ever since the world’s largest nation (geographically) came to know the President Putin and ever since 2008 when the Russians came to know that Mr. Putin planned to stay perpetually at the top of Russian politics and Russians’ lives.

After effectively routing the justified voices of dissent inside Russia, Putin emerged stronger and the dictator in him might have thought of raising its already fully expanded hood – going beyond Russia, in the name of the Russian pride (with USSR undercurrents) – after all, ultra-nationalism has been a proven tool of dictators to co-opt and buy out the dissenting voices back home.

Yes, there was opposition but he has effectively silenced them. Now he would be looking to consolidate it even further.

Russia saw some huge mass mobilizations against the latest bid of Presidency by Putin that he quelled using a mix of forces that left a deep undercurrent against him in the Russians’ psyche who were aspiring for change. Now, Crimea has given him the chance to win over even this. And he looks getting an upper edge here.

The Crimea trophy has increased his popularity like any thing making the life of his opponents, who still dare to take on him calling for political reforms and steps to introduce true democracies, very, very miserable.

The imperialist act of Putin in Crimea in the name of Russian nationalism has taken his popularity rating to over 70 percent, highest since he returned as the President in 2012.

Though we cannot say that the imperialist in Vladimir Putin is on the verge of getting maniacal, his twisted mind may be working on something like that, as the reports of his further interest in Ukraine say.

Russia, under Putin, has been adopting anti-global community view in cases of dictators. Its latest burning example is Syria. In the name of diplomacy and talks, he helped Bashar al-Assad continue with his repressive regime.

And like a seasoning dictator in the age of global economy, where Russia’s internal prosperity depends much on its oil and gas exports, the Putinims is getting more and more convoluted. He chose to expel his arch rival in the name of amnesty by releasing him from prison, a well thought propaganda exercise to show his ‘good human being’ side to world before the Sochi Winter Olympics. Otherwise the power Putin enjoys could have got Mikhail Khodorkovsky easily disappeared.

And this convoluted Putin is dangerous for humanity. He may be friendly for many countries including India, militarily and economically, but a dictator is always a mercenary for the humanity.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/