Putin’s victory is a geopolitical reality

Besides, the great paradox of US foreign policy today is that its top priority may not even be about smearing Putin’s election victory, which is now a geopolitical reality. 

4 mins read
Thousands of people gathered on Moscow’s Red Square to celebrate President Vladimir’s election victory, March 18, 2024

The Russian presidential election has vividly brought out the fault lines in international politics in a way that seldom happens. That is because the political personality of President Vladimir Putin fills the global stage today like a Colossus. The extent to which the West has gone to demonise him shows what a morbid obsession this has become for them. 

In retrospect, the single point western agenda was quintessentially about Putin whose historical role to regenerate and resurrect ‘post-Soviet’ Russia and bring it back to the centre stage of global affairs as a world class power remains an unforgivable turn in current history. 

If Nato expansion is about the perpetuation of US hegemony and de-dollarisation is about the burial of the western financial system that underpins that hegemony, Putin is playing a pivotal role in that historical process. If Putin remains in power till 2030 and fulfils even one half of the ambitious blueprint of social and economic programme for Russia that he outlined in his landmark speech at the Federal Assembly of the parliament, the global strategic balance will have shifted irrevocably and cemented a multipolar world order as the anchor sheet of 21st century politics. 

The West knows it, the Russian people know it, the vast majority of nations realise it. That said, it must be understood as well that this is not only Putin’s victory personally but also a consolidation of Russian society around him. And that accounts for the last week’s election turning into such a high-stakes affair.   

The frenzy in the western mind reached a crescendo over a Putin victory. Photos of French President Emmanuel Macron, posted on Instagram on Tuesday by his official photographer, Soazig de la Moissonnière, coloured in moody black and white, and showing the diminutive leader with teeth gritted and biceps bulging as he works out, are being interpreted as a clumsy act to show off his sporting prowess vis-a-vis Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has of course won a black belt in judo and is known to be a fitness freak whose preferred way of relaxing after a hard day’s work is playing ice hockey.  

With a popularity rating consistently crossing 80% in the most recent years, especially as a Russian victory in the Ukraine war began to look a plausible reality, the outcome of last weekend’s election was a foregone conclusion. Indeed, the estimation of Putin’s massive popularity is attributed to a US government-funded polling organisation known as the Levada Center. 

Hence the covert operations and terrorist acts to create disturbed conditions within Russia and discredit or undermine the election process. Hundreds of drones were fired from Ukraine at targets inside Russia in recent weeks, some aimed at Moscow and others at St. Petersburg, mainly at power plants and some airfields including Domodedovo located south of Moscow and the second busiest airport in Russia. 

The high noon came when a 1500-strong strike force that included Russian speakers in a special unit, a large number of foreign fighters, supported by tanks and armoured personnel carriers (including Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicles), and elite Ukrainian units tried in vain a fortnight ago to invade Russian territory in an operation lasting four days. Ukraine’s head of military intelligence, Kyrylo Budanov since reportedly told President Vlodomyr Zelensky that the planning of the operation was compromised by a traitor — or so he believed.

The Ukrainian leaders and their backers in NATO calculated that an invasion would work and somehow the Russian elections would be discredited! But it turned out to be a fantasy. It appears that Russia’s battle-hardened security agencies were throughout one step ahead of Ukrainian intelligence and its western mentors. 

Suffice to say, Putin felt obliged to express personally his appreciation and “gratitude” in this regard to an expanded meeting of the Federal Security Service Board on Tuesday. Putin said that “the Service personnel demonstrated competence and efficiency across all spheres of their operation, reaffirming the high status and prestige of the Service as a key element in ensuring the national security and sovereignty of Russia… I would like to express gratitude to the FSB personnel for their professionalism and courage and for everything you have done for our Motherland during the complicated and extremely responsible period under review.” 

The FSB is vastly experienced in its counter-intelligence operations, given the long history of western intelligence agencies’ interference in Russian elections. The most glaring instance was how Bill Clinton’s team stole the 1996 election victory from the Communist Party leader Gennady Zhuganov and delivered it to Boris Yeltsin for a second term. (Ironically, Yeltsin went on to get Putin over from St.Petersburg to Kremlin politics and the rest is history!) 

No sooner than Putin’s landslide victory was announced in Moscow, the collective West attempted to trash the outcome as “rigged,” “stage-managed,” a “rubber-stamp presidential election,” “pre-determined” and so on. The fact that Putin is indeed an immensely popular, widely supported, and well-respected leader among the Russian public has been completely ignored. 

Curiously, the Yuri Levada Analytical Center, Levada Center’s franchise in Moscow, which receives US government funding through the National Endowment for Democracy, and claims to be “an independent polling agency that is well-known for its surveys on sociopolitical issues both within Russia and worldwide” had estimated that Putin’s approval rating as of February 2024 stood at 86%. 

Clearly, the 87.3% support Putin secured in the weekend’s poll more or less tallies with the Levada Center’s 86% approval rating for Putin in 2024 (which is, incidentally, only marginally above his 2023 approval rating of 85%.) 

What emerges is that the current election reflected the sentiment of the Russian public, which even the US government-funded polling confirmed. No wonder, the western world apart, the global majority have felicitated Putin, ignoring the collective west’s orchestrated smear campaign. The theatre of the absurd reached such a point that German foreign minister Annalena Baerbock  apparently resolved she would no longer refer to Putin as Russia’s legitimate president! 

But this silly campaign is doomed to have a short shelf life. The world is moving on. The US does not want to get locked into such a futile charade as Green leader Baerbock’s. The Russian-American tango traditionally involved the loser keeping the head beneath the parapet to lick wounds and re-engage another day. 

Besides, the great paradox of US foreign policy today is that its top priority may not even be about smearing Putin’s election victory, which is now a geopolitical reality. 

The new fixation is about the overthrow of Israel’s intransigent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and a  ‘regime change’ to a complaint power calculus in Tel Aviv — all this to be secured in real time to navigate President Biden’s re-election bid optimally through the November election. 

M. K. Bhadrakumar

M. K. Bhadrakumar was a career diplomat by profession. Roughly half of the 3 decades of his diplomatic career was devoted to assignments on the territories of the former Soviet Union and to Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan. Other overseas postings included South Korea, Sri Lanka, Germany, and Turkey. He writes mainly on Indian foreign policy and the affairs of the Middle East, Eurasia, Central Asia, South Asia and the Asia-Pacific.

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