Vladimir Putin at his press conference after meeting Joe Biden, June 16, 2021
Photo: Sergei Bobylev / ITAR-TASS / imago images
Not only Greek philosophy, but also the philosophers made a powerful impression.
A little less than 500 years before the turn of the ages, when the gods were still alive, the message was brought to Anaxagoras one day: Your son has died.
The wise Anaxagoras is said to have said succinctly: "I knew for a long time that my son was mortal."
This anecdote describes quite well the attitude of the West towards Vladimir Putin. Not only was the government critic Alexei Navalny imprisoned, his supporters are also being persecuted. Putin has arranged that he can also be elected for the next term or the term after that. Many commentators conclude that Putin is now showing his true colors: they have long known that he is an autocrat and dictator.
Behind this judgment stands the assumption that Putin was always the same, always himself, unaffected by external events.
Western politicians and governments, on the other hand, see themselves as well-meaning, conciliatory, diplomatically agile partners who only had to and must react to ever new aggression from Russia, first and foremost the annexation of Crimea in 2014 - with economic sanctions and more armament on the borders with Russia.
That is how you can see it, especially when you insist on human rights at the same time.
Things are clearly corrupt under Putin
Western governments invoke human rights. That would be more credible if it included states - Saudi Arabia, for example - that usually consider torture and executions to be normal. The West accepts that, Saudi Arabia is "our" friend. As for Russia, the suggestion is that the Cold War continues in the spirits. As for Putin himself, one should take a closer look.
The man is socialized in the west. He speaks German. The miserable Russian President Boris Yeltsin had a good idea when he named Putin as his successor. Because Yeltsin built up the Russian economy on neoliberal principles, the West considered him a great partner, and what it did to the Russian economy was of no concern. Putin, it may be noted, did not put himself into power; and then he tried halfway to clean up the scrap heap of land that Yeltsin left behind. Under Yeltsin, everything in Russia was thoroughly corrupt. Under Putin, things are clearly corrupt and predictable for the citizens. Similar conditions in Germany: unthinkable. In the huge country of Russia, of course, it was a great undertaking to get this far. That is why Putin has real approval in elections,less among the educated elite, but probably with people hundreds of kilometers from Moscow.
In 2001, Putin gave a speech in front of the German Bundestag and said a number of sentences in German. He suggested that a free trade zone be set up from Vladivostok to Lisbon. He also suggested Russia joining NATO. The parliamentarians stood up and applauded. Since then, however, less than hardly anything has happened. The West had something against Russia. In 2007 Putin tried again. That was on the occasion of the Munich Security Conference. Putin warned, he implored the audience: The continuation of Western policy against Russia, including interventions uncovered by the UN Security Council, such as in Kosovo in 1999, would immensely damage the relationship between the West and Russia. He asked, he pleaded: We, Russia, we want to cooperate with you. Frank-Walter Steinmeier, then German Foreign Minister,did not mention Putin's advance in his speech. In those years, a Kremlin official said to a journalist: “We can do what we want. You don't like us. "
People in the Kremlin felt betrayed
When civil war broke out in Libya in 2011, Russia gave its UN Security Council approval to the establishment of a no-fly zone to contain bombings and protect civilians.
France and Great Britain took advantage of this, and the USA followed suit to overthrow the sole ruler Muammar al-Gaddafi.
Since then, Libya has been still in the middle of a civil war.
There can be no more talk of statehood in the country.
In the Kremlin, people felt they had been betrayed and they had to draw conclusions, including policy on Syria.
In Russia one also thinks of the senseless wars in Afghanistan and Iraq in the name of democracy. NATO’s years of work in Afghanistan have brought little. Iraq was made ungovernable with the overthrow of the dictator Saddam Hussein, most citizens would say: they were better off under the dictator than they are today (under Saddam there was reliable electricity, this is just an example). The Kremlin also remembers the illegal use of NATO in Kosovo in 1999. The Kremlin wonders why the West is against Russia fighting terrorist Islamists in Chechnya.
As the author of this article, I am not a friend of Russia. I just state what is. The Eastern Europe expert Wilfried Jilge recently wrote: Russia is approaching the NATO borders with its armed forces and military exercises. That could only have been meant as a joke. Conversely, it is correct: with the admission of new member states, NATO has shifted its borders further and further towards Russia. Putin has no intention of invading Baltic countries, Poland or Ukraine. He said that. But because the West believes that they have recognized that he is an imperialist dictator, his speeches are not given any faith. We don't know what Putin and his advisors are planning, it's just reading coffee grounds.In fact, over the past few years and up to the present day, Russia has repeatedly made advances towards the West, and has offered itself. In the absence of a reaction, Putin has tried to establish contacts elsewhere, with China. Because China is perceived as a much greater threat in the West than Russia, this also has a negative impact on Putin's account.
The fact that is described by the sentence of Anaxagoras mentioned at the beginning: It applies less to Russia than to the attitude of the West. Russia is seen as a potential enemy. "I knew for a long time that my son was mortal." The West has long known that Russia is weak, in truth no danger - and yet NATO should arm even more. That makes a bad combination: On the one hand, Russia is told that former US President Barack Obama is being told that it is just a "regional power". At the same time, however, it is branded as "aggressive". Understand that who wants.