Two points of reference:
Keep in mind the extreme duality presented by the Concert in Palmyra, for example, and the savaging of Syria by a tyrant accompanied by the incubation and encouragement of ISIS as a useful foil and poker chip for playing over the course of perhaps the World’s Grandest and Most Romantic Political Theater.
While burdening the west (and NATO) with the fallout in refugees and terrorists from the Syrian Tragedy and pestering the same through its activities in Ukraine, an assortment of “frozen conflicts”, and its investment in “information warfare” online, Russia has been also (as Obama long ago suggested) growing its economy, the first fruits of which have been given pretty good play in Bloomberg.
About to this point, the image of a Moscow hard hit by dramatically reduced oil revenues and sanctions and by years of capital flight driven by corruption has held steady, but now we see The Bear has been planting all along.
Neither Russian artistic and intellectual high culture nor developing business success (finally!) can or will ethically or morally offset what Putin’s regime has done to degrade the lifestyles of Russians en masse (so far) nor erase the barbaric and contemptible way it has measured the worth of the lives and freedoms of others in Crimea, Syria, and elsewhere.
For whatever may have happened to Putin early in life, one may glimpse a Putin’s revenge taken against the enemies of the Soviet, perhaps old imperial Russia as well, and what he might brand as traitors to Russia in Eastern Europe — those who have joined with NATO — for while he has delivered refugees and terrorists and the confusions of RT and other state-controlled media operations to their lands and airwaves (and computers), he has placed the productive capacity of the state in the state-controlled private hands, and as the same wish to make a lot money, the tomatoes are going to be pretty good for eating (or throwing).
Note too that in the encouragement of Far Right and Far Left political organizations worldwide, Putin & Co. have blended with the tomatoes a heady mix of hippie values — what could be more pure than tomatoes irrigated by mountain waters? — and fascist nationalist dreams rooted in ethnolinguistic pride.
While NATO may prepare for and block greater Russian imperialist adventure, its more immediate and perhaps more real headache may involve meeting the challenge posed by Moscow’s autocratic, barbarous, and criminal “allowances” within Russia and far beyond its borders.
Posted to YouTube 2/3/2016.
# # #