Grinch did not steal Christmas this year, but Russian President Vladimir Putin did his best to cast a shadow on our holiday spirit. Since 2001, Killjoy of the Kremlin has been holding his year-end press conference for twenty years.
His most recent exchange with the media was on December 23, demonstrating his consistent and impressive performance. This drama is certainly preferable to Stalin’s grotesque Soviet trial.
The Russian president persisted for more than four hours, suffering alone. Throughout the process, he showed impressive self-confidence and mastery of a large amount of specific information.
This communication is not entirely spontaneous, nor is it completely scripted. This is not a “show” press conference. Valuable insights into official thought have indeed emerged.
The meeting was held in person in a large hall in Moscow. Last year, the event was far away from the luxurious suburban estate Novo-Ogaryovo. Putin does not live like a worker.
Putin has shown bravery in all aspects, including economics. This year’s actual income has increased by about 3.5%. Avoiding a total economic collapse 20 years ago was still a major achievement.
Nevertheless, these revenues are still lower than in 2013. The inflation rate is at least 8.4%.
Russia is still an important source of world oil supply and is heavily dependent on that revenue. This dependence guarantees the fundamental weakness.
Comments on the Central Bank of Russia are particularly important, but they are usually underestimated. Putin admitted that there are widespread complaints about relatively high interest rates set to combat inflation. He not only believes this is necessary, but also emphasized the importance of independent central bank institutions.
This is pure capitalism, although Putin certainly does not say that. The abandonment of the command economy previously controlled by the state has been completed. The market economy, no matter how unstable and corrupt, already exists. It is undeniable that the discredited and failed communist system is dead.
Putin showed quick thinking, but not always frank or direct. In other examples, he was dismissive of the ordeal of Alexei Navalny, a famous and influential person on social media Dissidents.
Novichok, a nerve agent used to deal with other people who were at odds with the Kremlin, attacked Navalny. He was still alive due to an emergency evacuation to Berlin, Germany. After a partial recovery, he voluntarily returned to Russia, where he was immediately arrested and remained in prison.
The brave Navalny represented limited but growing opposition to the Putin regime, which has become increasingly repressive after twenty years. The management of the latest press conference reflects this harshness.
In the past, the media applied for certification. In contrast, this time the Kremlin chose those who can participate. About 500 representatives of domestic and foreign media attended the meeting.
The excluded publication is “Novaya Gazeta”. The editor-in-chief Dmitry Muratov has just won the Nobel Peace Prize. Philippine journalist Maria Reza also received this honor. Both showed great courage to oppose repression and resist intimidation, thus risking their lives and careers.
The media attention to Ukraine is understandable, where Russia continues its ominous military buildup. Putin’s fierce assertion that NATO is the provocateur is wrong.
Russia’s border anxiety is strong and reflects a long history of barbaric invasions. We should seek diplomatic confirmation of border stability and supplement the bilateral negotiations scheduled for early next year through European participation.
Realism should guide policy, emphasize the basic role of nation-states, and pay attention to national interests.The source of America’s basic strength is our market economy, which has increasingly become the way of the world
Russia today is still influential, but it is isolated.
Learn more: John Mearsheimer, “The Great Illusion: Freedom Dreams and International Realities.”
Arthur I. Cyr is the author of “After the Cold War” (New York University and Palgrave/Macmillan). Contact email@example.com