Vladimir Putin: His Bureaucracy & the West
The first thing Putin promised Russians was ‘Strength’. He started reducing democracy and centralizing power in Kremlin. He seized control over media from where 90% of the Russians get the news. From here begins the story of Propaganda and OPE (Operational Preparation of Environment). Now he turned towards making Russia powerful again. He got this opportunity soon when Bill Clinton in the last days of his presidency paid him a visit to Kremlin to evaluate Putin himself – Jai Sonwani*
A KGB operative in Dresden, East Germany, following the event of fall of the Berlin wall and marking the veining power the Soviet Empire, Radios Moscow trying to get orders but home doesn’t respond. And this is a massive, massive trauma for him, this huge historical event is happening the Soviet empire is collapsing in front of his eyes and he calls home but Home isn’t there.
The Collapse of Soviet Union was actually the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century and that’s how Putin took this event, as a Humiliation to his country by the west, and from here his story of his bureaucracy begins.
Putin returned to Leningrad (St. Petersburg) a New Russia, he adapted and reinvented himself. A former KGB counter-terrorism officer turned into a political operative & a bureaucratic fixer. Russia has always been a bureaucratic autocracy, this is how in past Stalin got into power and in future Putin. He is an amazing bureaucrat, he out-bureaucrats all other bureaucrats to get himself to a position where he became the Prime Minister to the then President Boris Yeltsin, second most powerful man in Russia. He convinced Yeltsin that he shares his similar vision for Democracy in Russia. Then happened Apartment Bombings, which gave Putin an excuse to do what he actually wanted to do, he went on air with an aggressive speech blaming separatist for it. Putin Struck Chechnya with immense force and power. This is where he gained popularity.
The story began on the New Year’s Eve of 1999, in Moscow, the future of Russia about took a dramatic turn, with the country in turmoil president Boris Yeltsin had an announcement to make. Yeltsin went on Air on the National TV with a touching speech where he apologized Russians for the promises he could not keep and things that look easy initially but were excruciatingly tough. He resigned, handing over the Presidency to none other than Vladimir Putin.
The first thing Putin promised Russians was ‘Strength’. He started reducing democracy and centralizing power in Kremlin. He seized control over media from where 90% of the Russians get the news. From here begins the story of Propaganda and OPE (Operational Preparation of Environment). Now he turned towards making Russia powerful again. He got this opportunity soon when Bill Clinton in the last days of his presidency paid him a visit to Kremlin to evaluate Putin himself. It didn’t go well, Clinton a democratic leader sensed anti-democracy traits in Putin already. And Putin has always been a man who will tell you he is an Alpha male in the room by his body language and use of gestures. Putin and Clinton had a difficult relationship, for the short time frame they were counterparts.
But now Putin has to deal with a New President, a Republican. It is observed that Russian specifically Putin had lesser steep relations with Republicans comparatively Democrats. His first chance came in Slovenia, where Putin in a very calculated manner, tried to turn Bush towards his interest. He studied George W Bush, spends time figuring out what motivates him, and this is what he is been taught in his days in KGB, driving and convincing people to meet his Expectations and Goals. He found about Bush’s strong Christian beliefs. Insiders said Putin shared a story related to his Mother’s death and some Christian relish. Now whether Putin is a Christian remains a matter of discussion and doubts, but Bush eventually ends up stating “I looked the man in the eyes and I can get a sense of his soul” Now you can figure out that Putin has won over Bush and up to some extent his trust. Putin has played the part of a Political actor and this is the character of a wise bureaucrat.
Now Bush’s Presidency took a turn after sep 11 attacks. Putin sieged the opportunity and was amongst the first foreign leaders to reach out to him. Sources say that Putin Empathises Bush, not commiserate, the tone was set in a manner that conveyed ‘now you feel the touch of terrorism that Russia has been facing since forever’. Putin planned and engineered the path where he can walk shoulder to shoulder with a US President, but Bush had other plans. He invaded Iraq a close ally of Russia. This makes Putin uncomfortable in every aspect. As Soviet Cold Warrior, a former KGB man you certainly do not like to see US armed forces in action. In Feb 2007 Munich Security Council Putin decided to take a stand and delivered a direct message to Americans criticising their involvement in internal politics of the nation. He made it very clear he is no longer gonna try and drew a line deciding Russia will go its own way.
In 2009 the end of Bush administration came a new and a completely strange man, a Democrat and an African American President in the US, Barack Obama. His policies and gesture were lenient initially, and he with a vision of healing relations with Russia travelled to Moscow to meet Putin himself. Now Putin knew very less about Obama, unlike Bush, he could really not analyse the traits and likings of the new Democratic US President. And Obama eventually realised that Putin is the man living in Past, in addition to that Obama chose Hillary Clinton to lead relations and engineer damage control measure with Russia, which eventually proved to be a disastrous choice.
Soon Putin calculated and realised that Obama and Clinton were a threat to his regime. He saw proof in the Middle East. Regime change in the name of democracy and direct involvement if US government, CIA, NSA and other agencies. The US also at times uses its allies and NATO forces to spread its propaganda. Egypt, Tunisia, Syria and the Arab Spring. Putin personalised Arab Spring and Libya. Most of us know that Putin was a close ally to Libyan dictator Muammar Gadhafi. The great lion of Libya reduced to hide in a drainage pipe. Now by this time, Russian Oligarchs analysed that the US when possible would use its Power and leverage to depose and take over leaders it didn’t agree with, this was an exponential threat to Putin and his Regime. Putin as a master bureaucrat uses this as a leverage inside Russia portraying himself as a defender of Russian and Soviet integrity from American threat.
2011 protests begin just outside Kremlin walls against allegations of fraud in Russian Elections. People in the streets is one of the few things that frightened Putin and make him vulnerable, and simultaneously in Russian backyard former Soviet Republics Georgia, Ukraine & Kyrgyzstan revolutions began, known as colour revolutions which were anti-Russian in nature. Russian oligarchs concluded that the US is behind all this and trying to inject democracy, Russia was next. It is one thing to go after Saddam and Gaddafi in the Middle East, it is another to dictate terms and influence former Soviet Republics. Putin has seen enough, from the fall of USSR, Iraq, Color Revolution, NATO expansions, and Clinton trying to influence and interferes in Russian Politics which Putin took very personally, jeopardizing his power and strength, questioning his leadership to run Russia. What Putin can clearly see, American Regime change coming for him.
2014 Winter Olympics in Russia, this was a time of personal and Russian triumph. It was indicated that the world now needs to pay attention towards Russia & Vladimir Putin. But this ambitious moment was tarnished by protests against pro-Russian regimes in neighbouring, Ukraine. To Putin and Russian Oligarchs this was direct conspiracy to disturb and damage his Olympics and without a doubt, he pointed towards the US for engineering these events, precisely Hillary Clinton. Clinton kicked him in the Gut when he was weak, she went far and crossed the line threatening his hold to Power by providing her direct support to Russian opposition inside and rebels in neighbouring Crimea, Chechnya and Ukraine.
Russian elections were over and Putin secured his powers inside Russia, now he will move ahead with an agenda to revive the Cold war Rhetoric. He dealt with Ukrainian Crisis with wit, making American diplomats in Kiev the poster Boys of the crisis. Releasing a famous audio clip of Victoria Nulan using expletive for the European Union, US closest Ally. Putin clearly discredited Nulan as the main diplomat and this was a major embarrassment to American Diplomacy. Russian and other agencies listen to calls and communications of Diplomats and these are for collections, but it was the first time Putin dared to weaponise these pieces of information. This was just the beginning.
Putin moved his forces to Crimea and it was captured without firing a shot or giving an excuse to Americans to respond to any threat. Putin testing Russian Cyber Capabilities in Ukraine and it played as a practice ground for Putin, where Russian hackers will breach inside without provoking a response from the west and getting things done for Putin. This later transformed into hybrid war, Russians denied they were in Ukraine or Crimea. By this time Putin has made Obama administration very unsettled, uncomfortable, & confused. The people inside white house knew that sanctions are not going to stop Putin. He has very smartly calculated that if he did things with plausible deniability and steadily the hammer won’t come down to him directly, and he was right. Soon Putin will go direct and aggressively on the US.
Putin is always determined to shows Americans that they can also be Vulnerable to things they do with other Countries. 2016 Presidential Elections gave him an opportunity. Putin noticed a Presidential candidate voicing agendas that suited Putin’s Russia. It was Republican insurgent candidate Donald Trump. Trump by surprise to many looked very much invested in Putin, portraying him as a leader and condescendingly diminishing US president. Now Trump was someone Putin can do business with.
But Putin had one more reason to interfere, the Democratic Candidate, Hillary Clinton.
By this time Russian Cyber Army has already penetrated the State Department, the White House, The Pentagon and DNC (Democratic National Committee). These are Buildings and their computers are information Gold Mines. Specifically, DNC was a Kohinoor, and they were utterly equipped to deal with it. Russians were inside DNC for months and collected information for the Putin’s propaganda. Months later as the election campaign was in throttle Putin decided to weaponise the information collected from DNC and he waited for the right moment. Putin used WikiLeaks as a launch pad and released those emails which caused real cracks within democrats, these emails were reflecting that Clinton was given added advantage from party comparatively other candidates. The statements from the Republican Trump really compounded the impact which was twice of what Putin would have expected. Now, this was a crystal that how Putin was driving the show and exploiting US democratic proud. As the tensions grew within, Putin will show Obama administration that despite being a Global Super Power hey can also be vulnerable to things.
The Cyber-attacks grew more aggressive and at a point, CIA had obtained direct and clear shreds of evidence that clearly reflect that Putin is not only aware of these activities but he is the one who orchestrated this at the highest level of Govt. this, setting goals and he is the one engineering & leading this whole thing. However, what CIA found is classified but they assumed that it can be a game changer for them. Putin has threatened the Integrity of the US elections. White was alarmed and they were yet to decide how and when to respond. Obama had all kinds of Cyber and Non-Cyber choices, but the challenge was how they are going to talk about this without seeming to be influencing the elections themselves. This was very clever from Putin’s part because Obama conceivably could have been accused of doing what Putin was doing. And this was the classic case where Obama is over-thinking something while Putin is punching him in the Gut. Simultaneously Putin cashed the idea that at this moment Republicans and Democrats consider each other adversaries so deeply that they ignored that there is a bigger Adversary. Putin publically denied his interference, however, seemed to enjoy this situation. There was a plausible deniability on the part of Putin. In an interview, he said “Does it really matters who leaked those emails? The important thing is the matter given to American Public”. The classic Bureaucratic technique, denying and winking at the same time. Obama in G20 summit China gave direct warning to the Russian president.
As Campaign grew wider, it was observed that Russians we involved in more than hacking. Propaganda videos against Clinton, her health issues were advertised in an exaggerated fashion and her mental situation. Trump again encashed and stories exploited on social media. The information was fed using BOTS, targeted ads on Twitter and Facebook. The size and impact of Russian interference were increasing every day. White house after multiple closed-door meetings and the intense discussion came up with a statement for Press. It took them too long to decide few words that will set the tone right and deliver the message. It gave no details and was released on a Friday afternoon expecting it to be the big news and revolve around big media houses all the weekend. Russians countered this moments after by leaking the famous excess Hollywood tape of Trump. And white house news was cornered. That weekend was an avalanche of the Breaking News, It looked like Trump’s campaign was over, and followed a news more emails of Clinton were leaked by WikiLeaks, and this was continued till the Election Day.
After all the cyclones and avalanches of Leaks and hacks it was finally election day and in Kremlin Putin and Russian Oligarchs were watching closely. And the world knows what happened. If we look at the whole situation as one, we can see that Putin only wanted to bloody Clinton’s nose and didn’t expect to break her neck. For Putin & Russia, it was the biggest bureaucratic win on the west. It served the purpose of eventually regaining Russian Power, to revenge the lifetime of grievances. It was a payback to Democrats and specifically to Clinton. Vladimir Putin was in the centre of the biggest American Political scandal.
Putin came out as a Strong Man, a powerful and a Master Bureaucrat. But the conflicts seem to deepen between Russia and US.
*Jai Sonwani is a Human Resource Professional with immense interest in Bureaucracy and Diplomacy. Jai also holds a Certification in Middle-East, Islamic Revolutions and Arab Spring.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Kootneeti Team.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Kootneeti Team