Finally, Vladimir Putin has admitted something. That he has mobilized troops in the newly annexed Crimea. It’s unclear whether this is yet another planned piece of a brilliant cloak and dagger takeover of a country that turned its back on Mother Russia or if he was forced to just admit it after the events of the last couple of days. With Ukrainian soldiers walking away from tanks, being surrounded by mobs , and being forced to give the firing pins of their rifles to rebel commanders, Putin lost all the plausible deniability he had. Most people outside of Russia looking at the coördinated takeover of the buildings and the swift construction of barricades and road blocks have come to the conclusion that if these men are not all Russian soldiers, some of them are. He still is trying to convince the rest of the world that the unmarked militia men taking over government buildings up and down the eastern border of the Ukraine are not mobilized Russian soldiers. In a question and answer show Thursday, Putin repeatedly referred to Eastern Ukraine as New Russia, which the area above the black sea was called when it was taken by the Russian Empire in the late 1700’s. Putin’s exact words were only “God Knows” why it became a part of the Ukraine. Eastern Ukraine is now “New Russia” to Putin. Very telling words by a master of revisionist history and propaganda.
This call in show actually had Edward Snowden tape a question to Putin. Putin, in another shrewd move sticking it to the United States, granted Snowden asylum from United States prosecution for leaking confidential documents related to NSA surveillance of American citizens. With that in mind , it’s hard to take Snowden’s question seriously “”Does Russia intercept, store or analyze, in any way, the communications of millions of individuals?” was his question. Putin’s answer was a classic passive-aggressive American dig just as Snowden’s questions was an under handed lob of a softball that he could knock out of the park.
In answering the question, Putin first cryptically joked that Snowden was an ex-agent and that he, Putin, had ties to intelligence. Then he said, “…on a massive scale, on an uncontrolled scale we certainly do not allow this and I hope we will never allow it.” His reasoning for saying that it would never happen is that in order to conduct surveillance on a person you need to go to the courts so “for this reason there is no (surveillance) of a mass character here and cannot be in accordance with the law.” Basically saying because its illegal we would never do that. He would have a leg to stand on if he didn’t just publicly and illegally annex Crimea. This is why he is a grand master of revisionist history and propaganda.
This is his wheelhouse. He loves to pump up that balloon of nationalism because his comrades eat it up and they really have no choice. Putin stated “We must do everything to help these people to protect their rights and independently determine their own destiny.” This is almost laughable coming from a man who jailed a female band for singing ant-Putin songs in a church and whose censorship resume is long. No Doubt, Putin’s “New Russia” will be under that same iron thumb. Putin’s control of Russian media is well-known as well as Russia’s general position on censorship. Which is why his comments about protecting the rights of ethnic Russians fall flat-out side of the Russian echo chamber. When asked will there be a compromise between the United States and Russia Putin put all the responsibility on the Ukraine saying that is where the compromise will happen, going on to name the eastern cities in the Ukraine that have been occupied already by pro-Russia military recalling early 20th century history of the region. Suggesting that the area was given to Ukraine for no reason then times past and because of maybe apathy, Putin was unclear, the people stayed there in the Ukraine instead of coming back to Russia. More heated rhetoric into the balloon of nationalism.
So Putin is having a grand old-time redrawing world maps in the name of bringing his fellow Russians home. The Ukraine is, or if we are to take Putin at his word, has always been “New Russia.” He has continued to pump heated air into Russia’s nationalistic balloon. It’s a real interesting and scary discussion can be had on whether the balloon has popped already.
Commentary by Daryl McElveen