Putin’s Crimea Film

It turns out that the Kremlin is not that creative.  According to an article posted online yesterday, the Kremlin’s recent propaganda film celebrating the anniversary of Russia’s annexation of Crimea [“Crimea. The Way Home”], borrows heavily from a 1939 Nazi propaganda film about Sudetenland.

The creators of the Russian propaganda film “Crimea. The Way Home” which was filmed on the anniversary of the occupation of the peninsula by troops of the Russian Federation, was inspired by a 1939 German film, dedicated to the occupation of the Sudetenland region of Czechoslovakia.

Even the 1939 film’s title “German Sudetenland Returns Home” is mimicked by the Kremlin, the article says.

The film describes how as a result of the unfair Treaty of Versailles the Germans of Austria-Hungary became part of Czechoslovakia, and how justice was then done in 1939. Much of what is heard in the Nazi’s agitprop film is virtually identical to what the Russian media write today and what is shown on Russian television.

A 10-minute clip from the German film is currently available online (with Russian subtitles).

“In 1918 the Germans of Austria and the Sudetenland Germans were in favor of joining the German homeland. But they are still divided from one another. German Austria became an independent state. German Sudetenland was forced to enter into a multinational state.

So a never-ending grief has come to our Sudeten brothers. 20 years of Czechs rule has made a once flourishing province into an impoverished territory. Factories are closed, one in three Germans out of work and starving. Endless misery is suffered by our Sudeten brothers,” says the German film.

The next voice-over talks about meetings, which were conducted by the Sudeten Germans, led by Konrad Henlein, fighting for their “right to be German” and that Prague has long provoked Germany and tried to ignite a war in Europe.

“The Czech authorities with the help of ruthless violence want to further enslave the Sudeten population. Cannons and guns are wielded by the Czech military. Tens of thousands of refugees, German brothers, cross the border and seek refuge in the Reich.”

The article continues drawing parallels between the two films:

“…in the Russian film “Crimea. The Way Home”, Russian President Vladimir Putin also said that the inhabitants of the peninsula were suffering from Ukrainian oppression.

“We cannot leave this are and the people who live there to fend for themselves, under the rule of nationalists,” he said in the interview. Putin also said that they had occupied Crimea only because the Crimean population wished it. In his film, the Russians, like the Nazis, claimed that the government in Kyiv was preparing to massacre of the inhabitants of Crimea.

“Almost the same tricks and manipulation are used in both of the propaganda films,” the article states.

“…the German film explains how the leader of the Sudeten Germans Konrad Henlein organised German units “militias” and tens of thousands of Germans “volunteered to defend their homeland against the excesses of the Czech military clique”. Nearly similar statements are heard in the movie “Crimea. The Way Home”, created with the Kremlin’s money.

In his speech, the leader of the Sudeten Germans, Konrad Henlein says:

“For 20 years we were forced to live in a country we do not like. To which we do not belong. Which was only done to cheat our people.”

The article continues, “The exact same statements can be heard with respect to Ukraine by Russian propagandists.”  And concludes:

Some shots of the German film of the Sudetenland are painfully reminiscent of the events of Spring 2014 in Crimea and the Donbas. They tear down Czech flags and signs from the homes of the Sudeten Germans, and hang instead Hitler’s swastika. Symbols of the Nazi Party were placed on Czech license plates. The same thing was done today by the separatists in Luhansk and Donetsk, who glued their own symbols over the Ukrainian flag on license plates.

And both the German and Russian films argue that the populations of the annexed territories gladly met occupation troops as liberators.

Sheeple (Rapoport)

The Russian Mentality

Alfred Kokh had a long piece on his Facebook page yesterday about the Russian mentality, and Russian fears.  He wrote:

Among the typical phobias of Russians… there is a fear of conquest.  This is one of the foundations of our mentality: we want to win.

This fear is divided into two parts:

1. fear of [natural] resources [and the rents from them] being taken away [known as the Resource Curse]; and

2. fear of enslavement.

The first fear is just delusional, Kokh says, because such a threat does not exist.  Prices are controlled by markets, and there are no new markets for Russia to expand into.

And why would another country invade Russia when they can purchase the natural resources so cheaply?

“The total volume of Russian exports (assuming that this is all raw materials) is about $400 billion per year.  Suppose the profit is 25% of that figure.  Therefore, a potential conquerer would only gain $100 billion a year in profit.

How much would a war with Russia cost?  It is impossible to estimate!  But it is clear that it will cost at least more than the American war against Iraq.  And that cost between $800 and $1000 billion in direct costs.  Apart from human losses on both sides, which is impossible to estimate.

And, by the way, here you need to include the cost of restoring what was destroyed during the war, the very infrastructure of the production of raw materials for which the entire war was begun.”

It would take 12-15 years to net a profit after all of that, Kokh claims, and nobody would invest in something like that.

In addition, the decline in commodity prices would make the whole venture completely unprofitable.

And Russians would fight for their land, and therefore victory of the invaders would not be inevitable.

“In short, there is no real danger to Russia’s mineral wealth.  Nobody wants it.  Especially when you consider that Russia sells its raw materials at below cost sometimes (see for example, all Chinese contracts)…. To fight in such conditions is stupid and unprofitable.

It is easier to just buy off the current Russian leadership.  Which apparently happens in reality.  This is easier and cheaper.  And this approach offers real profits.  In contrast to such a risky step as war.”

Kokh continues on to the second Russian fear:

“As for the fear of personal enslavement, there exists two motives: fear of loss of freedom, and fear of excessive labor.”

The first is ridiculous, Kokh says, because Russians have always been enslaved.  They “have never valued” freedom and have “always demonstrated a willingness to surrender to a Master”.

The real reason Russians fear “mass enslavement” is because they are “afraid they will finally be forced to work.”

Kokh continues:

“They know that they work poorly and little.  Especially when compared to, for example, Europe, America, and Asia.  They don’t earn money, but only get a portion of resource rents.  And this is the truth that they carefully hide.”

This arrangement is a kind of contract between the government and the Russian population that suits both parties.  And this will continue as long as Russia remains dependent on its natural resources, Kokh says.

But once it is over, Russia will no longer exist in the form we are used to.  And then the “invaders” will come.  Completely free of charge, and without firing a shot.  And this end is inevitable as long as there is this union based on a lie about [Russia’s] greatness and power.”

Smolensk

Poland intends to charge two Russian air traffic controllers in the 2010 plane crash in Smolensk that killed the country’s president and many high-ranking Polish officials (96 people were on board).

Unfortunately, the English press has few details on the charges or the next steps Poland intends to take. According to Novaya Gazeta [Rus], one dispatcher has been charged with “creating a dangerous situation in air traffic”, and the other has been charged with negligence.

The Polish Prosecutor’s Office is hoping to question witnesses based on the European Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters.

The military prosecutors approved the indictment based on a 5-year-long investigation into the causes of the tragedy.

The Polish government has admitted some culpability in the crash, but has previously alleged that the air traffic controllers were at least negligent in carrying out their duties. A 2011 report from the Polish side stated that one air traffic controller was inexperienced:

“This was only the second flight he had handled in a year and he gave the crew erroneous instructions.”

The Polish side also previously alleged that the air traffic control tower had given the pilots incorrect coordinates.

The two governments had been cooperating on the investigation, with the Russian side saying that they would deliver some of the plane wreckage early last year. However, it is unclear if that ever happened.

An investigation had been reopened in August 2014 on a Warsaw court’s order.

With tensions increasing over Russia’s actions in Ukraine, and the broader region, it seems likely that this is more about PR than anything else at the moment. It is unlikely that Russia will cooperate or allow its citizens to be questioned.

There have been some wild (and some not so wild) conspiracy theories about what really happened, but as with previous accidents, Russia did itself no favors, whether because of unprofessionalism or something more sinister remains a mystery.

The subject is not getting much play in the Russian media either, though one Russian blogger shared the article in Novaya Gazeta, and asked if it was possible that Putin was involved.  He got the response: “In 2010 when it happened, it seemed unlikely. But now I think… anything is possible.”

Putin FSB Speech (March 2015)

Putin’s FSB Speech

Highlights from Putin’s speech to the Federal Security Service board meeting yesterday:

I would like to begin by saying that, as you all know, the past year was not an easy one…. We witnessed growing tensions in the Middle East and a number of other areas of the world, while a state coup provoked civil war in Ukraine.

Putin then highlights the fact that refugees from Ukraine are flooding into Russia, though he is unclear on numbers:

We have already received and continue receiving thousands, even hundreds of thousands of refugees and are doing all we can to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe.

He brings this up again later, saying:

The Russian-Ukrainian border requires our special attention, of course. The situation there is complicated: thousands of people are trying to escape from the extended armed conflict in southeast Ukraine and are crossing over to Russian territory, sometimes even without their basic documents.

It is important to continue ensuring the unhindered passage of refugees and movement of vehicles with humanitarian cargo. At the same time, we need to reveal those who voluntarily took part in punitive actions against peaceful residents, who are trying to cover their tracks or are planning crimes on the territory of the Russian Federation.

Putin then continues the rhetoric of Russia as a fortress besieged by outside forces:

However, it is obvious that nobody has ever managed to intimidate this country or put pressure on it, and nobody ever will. We have always had and always will have a proper response to all internal and external threats to national security.

He highlights international terrorism:

You are also aware of the fact that citizens of Russia and other CIS states are being trained at the so-called hot-spots, including within groups of the Islamic State on the territory of Syria and other countries. Later they may be used against us, against Russia and its neighbours.

It is therefore vitally important to take additional measures to destroy the terrorists’ international ties and resource bases and block their entry to and exit from Russia. They should not be able to move between regions or penetrate the new regions of the Russian Federation – Crimea and Sevastopol.

He also warns of potential attacks at “international events” in Russia this year, including the Victory Day celebrations on 9 May.

The other thing that stood out was Putin’s warning on the so-called opposition movement in Russia.

Western special services continue their attempts at using public, non-governmental and politicised organisations to pursue their own objectives, primarily to discredit the authorities and destabilise the internal situation in Russia. They are already planning their actions for the upcoming election campaigns of 2016-2018.

He later noted:

…it is pointless entering into a discussion with those who are operating on orders from the outside in the interests of some other country rather than their own.

Therefore, we will continue paying attention to non-governmental organisations that have foreign funding sources; we will compare their stated goals with their actual activities and terminate any violations.

Putin also highlighted the problem of extremism and other crimes on the internet in Russia:

We must continue efforts to rid the Russian cyberspace of illegal, criminal materials, more actively use modern technologies for this purpose and take part in creating an international information security system.

Putin’s speech was a good indicator of what the authorities will be focusing on in the next year.  Here are some things to watch for based on what Putin said yesterday:

1. A further crackdown on NGOs operating in Russia using the “foreign agents” law.

2. More arrests and court cases against Russia’s opposition politicians.

3. Further tightening on the Internet in Russia, and charges of extremism for bloggers etc.

4. More accusations of treason and espionage against  Ukrainian citizens and/or ethnic Ukrainians living in Russia.

5. Arrests of Crimean Tatars for “extremism”, and/or for plotting terror attacks ahead of the “international events” this summer.

Putin's Public Appearances charted

Missing Putin

In a recent blog post, Irina Zarifian asks “who is giving orders [in Russia today]?” [The graph comes from a recent article in Vedomosti]

The graph shows the frequency of participation of the Russian president in collective meetings, according to official data.

The graph clearly shows that the frequency of the public appearances of Putin in his 3rd term is actually decreasing.  Putin hardly ever appears at collective meetings, except for a spike in March 2014 ([at the time of the] Crimean referendum).

It is amazing that this is happening against the backdrop of the large-scale turn of state policy toward aggression, a sharp assault on the opposition, aggression against Ukraine and an unprecedented propaganda campaign.  In order to expand such activities, you need a lot of words and documents.  Coordination and orders are needed.  Supporters and performers are needed.  In short, there is a lot to say, and Putin says nothing.  He appears only for [the sake of] protocol.

This means that the deliberative and regulatory rhetoric that guides large-scale political action for a fourth term regime does not come from Putin, at least not from the public Putin.

Since Putin is not only the president [of Russia], but also the Supreme Commander, who in theory holds the “nuclear button” in his hands, this situation raises even more questions.

Who ordered the unfolding military exercises around the perimeter of the Russian Federation?  Who leads the troops in combat readiness?  Previously, you could assume that the excess show of force is just a bluff to intimidate the West and to move freely in Ukraine.  Today’s events, even if it is partly a bluff, are an all-in bluff.

The local conflict has entered a new phase of international confrontation.  Who is managing it?

It is also interesting see that [Putin’s] peak activity is at the beginning of Medvedev’s first term.

Dogs Under the Carpet

Churchill once described Russian politics “like watching two dogs fighting under a carpet”, and decades later this is still an apt description.  We have heard a few stories this week that seem to indicate that power struggles are going on in the Kremlin for power and resources.  

First, LifeNews, a pro-Kremlin news organization with close ties to the security services (they always seem to be in the right place at just the right time) was raided by the police after a complaint was filed against it for allegedly filming under-age children and revealing their identities.

Brian Whitmore at Radio Free Europe thought that this could signal some power struggle in the Kremlin with Vladislav Surkov orchestrating (the complaint had come from the wife of a man believed to be Surkov’s right-hand man).

More details here:

However, in a tweet, the secretive account, Shaltay Boltay, said that the incident was just another indicator of a fight over funds for what they called “the manual media” (that is, the media that is supported and controlled by the state):

Stanislav Belkovsky agreed with this assessment, calling the raid a “business dispute”.

The other piece of information that Belkovsky dropped into the interview was that Vladislav Surkov is leaking information to the Caucasus Emirate website, Kavkaz Center.

This claim may or may not be true, but there was a rumor several years ago (that has never really died) that the insurgency in the Caucasus was getting information from the GRU (Russian military intelligence), or some other Russian security agency.

In the meantime, two Kremlin officials were sacked by Putin on Monday.

There is some debate going on right now on Twitter about how significant this move was, but any movement of officials should not be dismissed as routine.

Thirdly, the President of Tatarstan has resigned in advance of scheduled elections in September (as required by Russian law).

He will retain his position with the added caveat of “acting” in front of his title.  At the moment, this seems like it is just following precedent.  However, 6 months seems a long time to wait to hold an election.  For comparison, the Russian constitution states that an election must be held within 12 weeks of a President’s resignation or death.

Putin’s health also seems to be an issue, and that may be playing into some of this too.  With people testing the limits of how far they can go and what they can get away with.

As I have written previously, all of this is highly reminiscent of the 2007 in-fighting that took place before Putin had announced his successor in Dmitri Medvedev.  It will be interesting to see who comes out on top in the end.

 

Coup Theories

The theory that a coup took place in the Kremlin during Putin’s 10-day disappearance earlier this month is picking up momentum, but there are two different narratives being told.  The first is from Russian oligarch Alexander Lebedev.  In a recent interview Lebedev said that he fears the country has fallen into the clutches of “dark forces” who are acting behind Putin’s back.

Lebedev believes that Putin is likely to remain the main hope to stop these forces.  To do this… the West should stop trying to “isolate” Russia through sanctions that play into the hands of radical nationalists who are gaining influence.

“Putin is not Mugabe.  This is not North Korea,” said Lebedev.  He recalled the comparisons of Putin & Hitler, saying that it is better to compare Putin with Paul von Hindenburg, who was president of the German Reich from 1925-1934 and who appointed Hilter as Chancellor.  “This gives a completely different picture.”

The message here seems to be that we are stuck with Putin.  Let’s work together, or else… Or else Russia will just fall apart and become (more) fascist.

The second version being told is that former Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov has taken the reigns and a slow transition of power is taking place.

Vladimir Golshev proposed this theory in a recent interview with Radio Svaboda.  In his view removing Putin officially at this time would harm Russia’s business interests, and the oligarchs specifically.  So it is better for the elite to keep Putin in play, but control the situation behind the scenes, he argues, and this is what is happening now.  And in this way, the elite can blame Putin for everything and disclaim responsibility for it later on.

This was shown, Golshev argues, in the docudrama last weekend on Russian television.

“The most striking thing about this is, of course, the film about Crimea, which was released at the moment we lost Putin…”

“…in principle, this film is a confession for a future Hague [trial], in which the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin, first of all, assumes all responsibility for all decisions made in regard to Crimea, and secondly, to demonise himself…”

“He [Putin] says that he was ready to unleash a nuclear catastrophe on eastern Europe.  That is, he says things that harm him, and it is unlikely that he is doing it on his own.”

This was especially striking because Putin tends to distance himself from crises that take place.  Remember how Putin disappeared when the Kursk crisis happened in August 2000?  And later, when Larry King asked Putin in an interview, “what happened to the Kursk?”  Putin replied, “it sank.”  As if he were somehow completely disassociated from the incident, and had no power over how the government had reacted.

And this pattern continued throughout his first and second terms as President of Russia.  Masha Gessen called it ‘an illusion of helplessness’ in a 2005 article, saying:

“Putin’s manner is not what you would expect from a popular second-term president who has become used to ruling virtually by diktat. Instead, he sounds like a slightly disoriented bureaucrat: All of his [sentence] constructions are impersonal, and he goes to great lengths to avoid the first-person singular.”

And this has remained largely true in the decade since.  In Golshev’s view then Putin is now like Chernenko, with a junta running things behind the scenes, and waiting to pass the baton of leadership to a successor like Gorbachev.

He also compares Yevgeny Primakov to China’s Deng Xiaoping, an elder statesman operating behind the scenes.  At 85, Primakov is too old to replace Putin, but a successor must be found who is acceptable to all parties.

Golshev proposes a few options for successors to Putin: first, Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin, who was not ‘involved the Ukrainian Crimean adventure’; second, he suggests former Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin.  Both of these men, he says, ‘are excellent technical candidates’.  But Russia does not need technical candidates to guide the country out of the situation it currently finds itself in.  So it needs ‘a Russian Poroshenko’.  This being the case, the ideal candidate in Golshev’s eyes is former Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov.

But he concedes that after removing Putin officially, there ‘will certainly be a transition period where everything will be done according to the Constitution’.  Therefore, of course, current Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev must take the lead.  And he is ‘also quite acceptable for the elite’.

The Chechen Connection

Most everybody seems to have bought the narrative that the Nemtsov murder was a consequence of some battle between the opposing forces of the Federal Security Service (FSB) and Chechnya’s Ramzan Kadyrov.

Now there is also a narrative being told that Putin did not order the hit (and that it was done without his knowledge).  How relevant that is depends on how you think the Russian system works.  But the implication that Putin no longer controls the situation or his underlings is at least meant to scare people.

Vladimir Milov continues to make the most sense on the Nemtsov murder affair.

“The investigation into the murder of Nemtsov shows quite convincingly that the authorities want to put the brakes on the affair.”

“What do we know about the investigation?” he asks.

  1. Instead of considering and testing a whole range of possible versions (Nemtsov’s business affairs, his politics, his personal life, etc.), the authorities automatically arrived at only one version – the Chechens did it.
  2. Within just 2 weeks of the murder, “the charge was rapidly reclassified to “murder motivated by ideological or religious hatred”
  3. The Chechen version is awfully convenient — society quickly “swallowed” it because of the reputation of Chechens, and as a result all other versions were simply discarded.  However, to drop all other versions in this complicated case is at the very least unprofessional.

However, a problem was quickly discovered with the Chechen version:

  1. The declared motive — killing for religious reasons (Charlie Hebdo) is absolutely untenable;
  2. The investigation was clearly confused — there was the motive of religious hatred and “insulting the Prophet” and there was the more banal 5 million rubles.  Well, you see, this fundamentally changes the whole picture — either you are a religious fanatic and ready to kill for the Prophet, or the question was about 5 million rubles.  And if it was about 5 million rubles, then why rapidly reclassify the motive to religious hatred???
  3. Lawyers for 2 of the suspects — Dadaev and Eskerkhanova — say that both men have an alibi for the time of the murder.
  4. The suspects deny their guilt, which is very atypical and generally revolutionary for those wishing to “avenge the Prophet” — usually they never hide or deny their involvement, but on the contrary, say they are doing their job, it can be said, with their heads held high.  And it turns out, this “revenge, but it wasn’t me”…. this is completely unprecedented.

Bottom line: this line of investigation is completely falling apart, Milov says.

He then goes on and tears apart the religious motivation, saying that the families are not religious, that Chechens don’t kill for purely religious reasons, no public declarations have been made by the alleged killers, and Nemtsov never insulted Muslims (as has been documented elsewhere).

Milov then shoots down the version that Adam Osmaev (a Chechen man who was accused of plotting to kill Putin & Kadyrov 3 years ago, who is now fighting for Ukraine) was involved. “…for the Osmaev & “Ukrainian trace” version we need some really good reasons to start discussing it, in addition to the idiotic trail of our propaganda, which, by definition, is to “blame the Ukrainians”.

In Milov’s opinion, Kadyrov is still too loyal to the Kremlin and would not have challenged the powers that be in this way.

As for the theory that these people acted independently of Kadyrov, Milov makes a few of points:

  1. Why would they kill Nemtsov if they were also against Kadyrov?
  2. Why would they do so as everybody knows Kadyrov takes revenge on entire families [as we saw in Chechnya this past December when entire families were forced out of their homes on suspicion of being connected to Chechen rebels]?
  3. Again, we need proof that there was a religious motive for the murder.

Milov then offers his own version:

“What happened was not a “conflict between Kadyrov and the federal intelligence agencies”.  The incident was most likely done in tandem — and Kadyrov was assigned the role of cover.”

“The Chechen version was chosen as a cover from the beginning because it was easy for society to believe it.  Even members of the democratic opposition strongly believe in it — because people refuse to believe that in the leadership of the country  and in the security services work murderers…”

If there was a conflict between Kadyrov & the FSB, Milov argues, it came after the fact, and was about the narrative being told in the press.  Putin disappeared because he wanted to be seen as being above the fray.  And while he was away, a compromise was reached on the narrative.

“Yes, there were demons, but they self-destructed.”  They were Chechens, but they worked for Osmaev and Ukraine.  And now everybody is happy.

Of course, Milov says, this is just his personal opinion, but the “official version is simply untenable, and the actions of the investigators are just frankly aimed at “selling” society a cover operation and not a real investigation.”

Shut Down?

The Russians are still running military drills and moving troops and equipment around:

In addition:

And:

On the financial side, Russia is facing more troubles:

In addition, the Moscow Mayor’s office announced layoffs scheduled for summer.

Meanwhile:

What does this mean?

One Russian blogger alleged that this move meant that capital controls were coming, and this means that the Kremlin is getting ready to shut the country down.

According to the blogger:

1. A return to black market currency trade will take place;

2. dollars and euros will automatically be changed into rubles at a “patriotic” rate, which will be two times lower than the black market rate;

3. Quotas to buy currency for companies that import products;

4. Companies that export raw materials will be forced to sell currency at the “patriotic” rate;

5. As for currency for travel abroad, the author suggests that “Intourist” will be brought back;

6. A call for “patriotic citizens” to give up their foreign currency for the cause of the Russian state.

Woven through all of this is, of course, the idea that these problems can all be got around through bribery, and corruption.  He also suggests the “return” of a protection racket by security forces.

I still suspect that Russia will end up cutting itself off from SWIFT [Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication] before the West does it for them.  In reality, the West’s recourse against rogue regimes through banking sanctions is limited.  Recall that in 2013 an EU court “ruled against the EU banking sanctions imposed on one of Iran’s largest banks” [h/t Paul Pemberton for both of those links].  So if SWIFT is cut off, the Russians would most likely have to do it themselves.  And some steps are being taken to create a Russian electronic payment system.

Another consideration is what happens when Russia’s much vaunted reserves are gone.  Recall that while economist-in-exile Sergei Guriev says that Russia has enough reserves to last 2 years, opposition economist Milov says that Russia has less than half of what their public records show.

Obviously, nothing is certain, but it does appear that something is going on.  Russia looks like it is preparing for a spring offensive of some sort in Ukraine.  The West’s patience will end eventually, and the Russian government must be prepared to deal with that reality.

Shevtsova on the Clan War

On the new “hope of Russian democracy”.  What thoughts arise when you hear the statement from all [news] outlets about the conflict between the siloviki [security services] and [Chechen leader Ramzan] Kadyrov, which, allegedly, sent Putin into confusion?  This mantra has now become a point of consensus of a wide variety of people — from the liberals to the nationalists.  And they all believe in the one who is “absolutely evil”.  And now I read the conclusion of the Russian expert: “The irony is that the FSB [Federal Security Service] now serves as the last hope of democracy in Russia.”  We have arrived!!!  You inevitably begin to suspect that this was all started so that people would see that there is an absolute evil, and so support the lesser evil.  Because the consolidation [of Russian society] “through Ukraine” and “Crimea is Ours” is fizzling out….
This means that apart from America, a new devil incarnate is needed and one nearby… Fortunately we already have saviors.