Last Thursday, I spent the better part of my morning reading and watching Vladimir Putin’s economic crisis speech.
How this man has an 80% approval rating in Russia is beyond me. It’s as if the fascist nightmare that set off World War II has escaped the collective memories of the Russian people.
In the buildup to the speech, Putin was running propaganda commercials that extolled nonsense like “The Russian Bear Never Asks Permission.”
Click on the image to watch it on CNN.com
Between the ultranationalism and the personality cult he’s has been pushing, it’s enough to make any historically and geopolitically aware person want to throw up!
Putin attributes 25% of the Russian economic crisis to the ill-treatment Russia is being subjected to by the West.
In his three-plus-hour speech, not once did he mention Saudi Arabia and the Sunni oil kingdom’s repeated demands to Russia to cease its military and economic support of Iran or Bashar al-Assad’s criminal regime in Syria.
This begs the question …
Is Putin so screwed in the squash that he doesn’t recognize a genuine opportunity for rapprochement to the Sunni kingdom, just like we saw last week with the U.S. and Cuba after 50-plus years?
This could include …
- A negotiated, complete withdrawal of Assad and his cronies to a “restricted retirement” in Russia.
- The establishment of a Sunni-friendly Syrian government, established with the help of the Arab League.
- An ending of economic and military support to Iran if it doesn’t renounce its efforts to destabilize the Sunni oil kingdoms.
Doing these three things would set the stage for Russia and OPEC representatives to negotiate a mutually beneficial cut of their sales of oil in the world market.
After all, the slide in oil prices is being driven by the current 2% surplus in supplies. Such moves could also alleviate future oil gluts … and save Russia a lot of financial heartache, both now and in the future.
And, perhaps, the rest of the world, which views Russia’s economic and currency woes as a growing threat to the world economy.
Simply put, Russia would not be in serious economic shape if oil stayed above $70 a barrel.
Yes, they would still be selling oil for less than it costs to produce, but it could overcome its economic slowdown — now estimated to be a drop of 5% GNP in 2015.
But let’s face it: Putin probably won’t make peace with the Saudis anytime soon. And he doesn’t have to, because he could also move to end U.S. and western sanctions by …
- Settling for Crimea and ceasing Russia’s military support for the Ukrainian rebels. He could establish a land bridge using MONEY instead of trying to establish a land route to Crimea by the barrel of a gun.
- Stopping the foolish nuclear bombing drills from the Russian Air Force and Navy that NATO’s defenses have detected.
The Russian president can STILL build his personality cult and political system while building Russian loyalty through economic prosperity and not by using the United States and the West as his enemy and scapegoat.
The simplicity of solving Russia’s economic crisis is not escaping the progressive-minded economists of the country.
And yet, Russia’s progressive minds do lack the bravery to speak out for fear they will wind up like the book character “Ivan Denisovich,” who was so brilliantly created by Russia’s most famous Cold War dissident, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, in a gulag!
Putin’s blindness to how he can end Russia’s economic crisis is only matched by his tone-deafness to his own claims …
Comparing the current situation to the Berlin Wall: Is NATO shooting its citizens, attempting to defect to Russia?
- Insisting he is not at risk or worried about the risk of a coup as suggested by Mikhail Borisovich Khodorkovsky in an interview with Bloomberg last week. Khodorkovsky is a Russian businessman, former oligarch, philanthropist, public figure and author.
- Putin saying in response: “People in their hearts and souls feel that we, and I in particular, are acting in the interests of the vast majority,” the president said. “We’ll emerge from this difficult situation today, stronger domestically and on the international stage.” (Didn’t Mussolini believe the same-thing until the last days of his fascist regime?)
- The West supposedly wants to defang and declaw Russia. (No, what the West wants is an economically viable Russia where it can double and even triple its trade and conduct business. The entire problem is Putin’s irrational dream of re-establishing the Soviet Union.)
All of these are clearly doable, alternative solutions to the issues that are driving Russia’s economy into the abyss of a deep recession, or worse — defaulting on tens of billions of dollars of bonds and, in turn, spreading this contagion deeper into the global markets!
Always Watching Your Chickens,