“We have not lost anything. And we will not lose anything. The main gain is the strengthening of our sovereignty,” said Vladimir Putin at a meeting of the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok on September 7, answering the question of what Russia as a state has gained and lost since February 24. And he again stressed that in Ukraine the Russian army has not yet taken anything serious in terms of military operations. Is it possible to believe the optimistic speeches of the President of the Russian Federation?
Russians, most of whom pretend not to notice the ongoing war, are traditionally most concerned about the economy and their well-being. And here, if you read the Kremlin media, everything is going very well. The Russian economy turned out to be allegedly much more stable than expected, income from energy trade, thanks to a rise in prices at times, remained at a high level. And even in the West, some adhere to the same point of view.
Literally the next day, Vladimir Putin was suddenly supported by his old friend, Italian ex-Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, actively, by the way, participating in the election campaign in Italy and therefore, perhaps, so striving to be noticed. The politician, at whose villa Putin once spent the night, said that he does not yet see economic losses for the Russian leader. “It seems to me that he is absolutely capable of resisting sanctions and limiting the price of gas,” Berlusconi said, suggesting that he and Angela Merkel be appointed as mediators in talks with the Kremlin.
However, the Italian ex-premier is unlikely to be sent from the EU as a negotiator to Russia, where he used to be so fond of visiting. Meanwhile, it is enough to look instead of victorious press releases real predictions the Russian government and the Central Bank to understand that the losses for the Russian economy from the war and sanctions are gigantic and the situation will only get worse in the coming years. The money accumulated before the war will be enough for about two years, and very soon the Russians, for example, will have to say goodbye to the National Wealth Fund of Russia – it will be eaten away.
Independent experts also write that in Russia there is a deep, albeit implicit, banking crisis and the financial system is close to suspended animation, the Ministry of Finance reports a record decline in oil and gas revenues of the Russian budget in August, and Bloomberg, referring to a closed report by the Russian government, predicts a long and deep recession in the Russian economy.
All this, of course, will also affect the lives of ordinary Russians, who, in contrast to the victorious speech of Vladimir Putin, have already lost a lot: many jobs, some who had them, full access to their foreign currency accounts, and that’s it. as a life as a result of the disappearance of entire categories of imported goods. Fools happily declare that they can do without Coca-Cola, but those who are smarter stocked up on foreign medicines back in the spring.
Putin does not count the dead
Russia’s direct military losses in its war against Ukraine appear to be in the tens of thousands. The Ukrainian command speaks of more than 50,000 killed alone. Journalists studying Russian documents concerning payments to the dead generally agree with this figure. But even if we lost a little less, we must also take into account tens of thousands of the wounded, among whom there are many lifelong invalids, with whom politicians from Putin’s entourage love to be photographed in hospitals so much.
Why then does the Russian president proudly declare that the country has “lost nothing”? The first motivation is clear – to convince everyone that Russia stands firmly on its feet. First of all, probably not even enemies, but a few allies. No wonder the statement was made in Vladivostok.
Let China hear, otherwise it is not particularly eager to help Russia, which was under sanctions, and has it begun to lose faith in its army, which used to be important for Beijing in the event of a military conflict over Taiwan? By the way, speaking about the strengthening of sovereignty, Putin is also cunning, because Russia has definitely not become more independent since February 24, on the contrary, in many respects it has found itself in a position of critical dependence on China.
Parallel Dimension President
However, Putin’s main motivationseems to consist in the fact that he himself believes in his words. He is a man without empathy, living in a dimension parallel to ordinary people. For him, a country is a territory, an uninhabited desert, where minerals are mined by no one knows who. And here there is a clear increase, about one and a half regions were squeezed from Ukraine.
And the fact that tens of thousands died, millions became impoverished or completely lost their jobs and livelihoods, the President of Russia practically does not care, if this does not greatly interfere with the implementation of his Napoleonic plans. The human dimension of life does not penetrate into Putin’s universe. Everything there is filled with the desire for power, and Putin really has not lost it yet, despite all his mistakes and war crimes.
Author: Ivan Preobrazhensky, candidate of political sciences, expert on Central and Eastern Europe, columnist for a number of media. Writer of a weekly column for DW. Ivan Preobrazhensky on Facebook: Ivan Preobrazhensky
The comment expresses the personal opinion of the author. It may not coincide with the opinion of the Russian editors and Deutsche Welle in general.