, , , , , ,

Yesterday’s New York Times featured an interview with the pro-Russian militia in Ukraine, and in the reporter’s straight estimation they were on their own, defending against threats to their ethnic status and cross-border relationships, and experienced in the Soviet and Russian armies — but they were not armed or paid by Russia.

This is not to say that “Putin-Assad-Khamenei” / Putin-Yanukovych” and the body of relationships developed around the “vertical of power”, a euphemism for the law under Putin’s leadership, should be given a light touch: Dictatorship / kleptocracy itself has stakes across the Russia’s (Putin’s) axis of power.

However, although some Russian nationalists may match their counterparts in Hungary as regards attitudes about Jews, in principle, Vladimir Putin has never been associated with other than a straight secularism deeply devoted to other aspects of Slavic culture and life. His visit to Israel and the Wailing Wall have been well regarded — there are some nifty YouTube videos available for that; his defense establishment’s procurement includes Israeli manufactured avionics, at least.

Is Putin playing for Jerusalem?


At the moment, he could steal some affection from the Obama Administration.

However, I think the foreign affairs layout more complex but partially distilled to the defense of the natural legitimacy of autocracy (corruption, manipulation, oligarchy, patronage) worldwide.

The basic background reading around here: https://conflict-backchannels.com/library/russian-section/ — I’d do more with funding supporting focus, but I’m not about to ascend to the heights of multilingual scholars: for who’s around, visit the Brookings Institute.

Putin, whom I have called “the best Bond villain ever — and he already has the nukes”, has a good deal of charisma, part of which involves what may be universal feelings about grandeur and its expression in great empire, great states, and great estates.

We have a long conversation ahead on how Versailles gets built, by whom, using what methods.

Obviously, the turns of Kasparov and Khodorkovsky have not yet come — and current FSB staffing exceeds in headcount per capita that of the old KGB (and the press is again “state managed”, heavily so).


All that above is just my impression chatyped out in about seven minutes.

As mentioned but worth mentioning again, in my vast estate of 850-sq.ft., I much appreciate what I have come to call “19th Century modern” — and, believe me, this related to playing guitar and singing quite well, I am as a guest ever at home in the confines of mansions, sailboats, and big ol’ farmsteads.

Would the world rather not have its great castles, cathedrals, estates, mosques, and palaces?

Would it not wish to read in history and in real time the legends (and scandals) involving the powerful and wealthy?

Related: Brennan, Morgan.  “The Most Expensive Billionaires Homes in the World.”  Forbes, March 29, 2013.

I may achieve yet, so I do hope, but with a mind matched to a great library (850-sq.ft., 2,000 volumes), one may well travel into these atmosphere — and with a guitar visit now and then.

While Putin, for whom my space would be a broom closet, if that, has skewered Russia around the “vertical of power”, he has made it also glamorous (that $51 billion splurged on the winter Olympics at Sochi may have its positive resonance long after the Syrian Civil War has expired) while making himself legendary.

Post-Soviet resurgent 19th Century Imperial Russia will turn itself right-side-up with time, but Putin reminds that decision rests with himself and Russia, not with Russia as an expression or extension of western ethics and values.  While he has backed a despot in Syria, aligned himself with the kleptocrat in Iran, and may be tangled in his own mafia nets with Yanukovych’s route from Ukraine, he has nonetheless maintained the modernity and secularism of a modern state with its boisterous energies intact — and when the day comes that he’s gone, it will go on talking about him a long, long time.

# # #