What Putin Said

Vladimir Putin gave a “state of the union” speech yesterday to the Russian parliament and BI reports on it.  These types of speeches are primarily for domestic political audiences and are interesting for what is said and for what is not said.

Putin said what you would expect from him. He attempted to assure his audiences that he situation was under control —  even though everyone is pretty well aware that it is not. And here is his analysis of the sanctions regime

“This is not just a nervous reaction of the United States and their allies to our stance in regard to the events and coup in Ukraine; not even in regard to the so-called Crimean spring. I am certain that if all this did not take place… they would come up with another reason to contain Russia’s growing capabilities, to influence it or, even better, use it for its own goals.”

“The policy of containment was not invented yesterday. It has been applied to our country for many, many years.. every time when anyone only thinks Russia has become strong, independent, such instruments are applied immediately.”

Notice the narrative of “growing capabilities” threatened by hostile forces. A historical confrontation that Russia must win in order to survive.

What was not said?  I missed any vision of hope for peace and friendship. At this particular moment, the absence may not be noticed. The crisis is not yet all that old. But one wonders if the call for strength without hope will resonate over the next several years. I guess we will find out.

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