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Crony Capitalism
Putin Looks Out For His Friends
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  • Felix Keverich

    As a Russian, I’m pleased to see how important and powerful my country has become! Every other article on this site these days is about Russia. This makes me love Putin even more.

    • CaliforniaStark

      How good you must feel — congratulations! Al Capone got a lot of publicity; and a lot of people in Chicago felt the same way.

      • Felix Keverich

        Russia can redraw borders and protect its friends – from a thousand miles away! We are a force to be reckoned with.

      • Andrew Allison

        Please don’t feed the Trolls [grin]

    • For what it’s worth to you, your country has always been incredibly interesting and compelling, personally, to me, and I’ve tried to carry the interest over into our work here at the magazine. And I think the interest is not misplaced. Even in decline, Russia is a force to be reckoned with, and much of how the next few decades play out will depend on how Russia goes—and how the West reacts.

      We are trying some new models about how we cover the world here at TAI. I’m very pleased to have the talented Karina Orlova bring more granularity and up-close perspectives on what is actually happening on the ground to an interested audience that can’t easily jump the language barrier. We hope to extend the model more broadly in the coming weeks.

      Thanks for reading, in whatever capacity you’re doing it.

      • Felix Keverich

        Your Russia coverage would seriously benefit from some actual fact-based reporting, not just partisan hit-pieces from Karina Orlova. This woman is not a journalist, she is a “pro-Democracy” activist, who is universally hated in Russia ( , but you probably know that already.

        • No, in fact she’s a journalist—one with strong opinions about what’s going on in her homeland. Curious readers are encouraged to click through above to find out more.

          • Felix Keverich

            Uh-huh. It’s like hiring ‘journalist’ Israel Shamir to write about Israel. His opinions are pretty ‘strong’.

          • Jim__L

            /shrug. It’s the internet — opinions here are pretty strong.

            Providing well-researched counterarguments is a public service, if you’d like to spend the time doing that.

            A note about Putin — one of the villains of Chinese literature is a wily and opportunistic politician named Cao Cao. One of his famous lines (after he commits an atrocity against his own family) is, “Better that I should wrong the world, than that the world should wrong me.” That point of view coming out of the mouth of a villain, is similar to the Orthodox point of view “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” coming out of the mouth of God.

            Putin is on predictably unstable ground if he continues to wrong the rest of the world, whom he should instead treat as he would want to be treated.

          • Felix Keverich

            It’s one thing to have an opinion, it’s another to disregard facts and twist reality to fit into your own warped worldview. The fact that Putin (who is fundamentally a status quo conservative leader) gets compared to Hitler, Saddam, Italian mafia, Chinese villains etc just shows to me how deranged US political punditry has become.

          • Look, I have this debate with my realist friends around town almost incessantly. Their read is also that Putin (and thus Russia) is somehow a status quo actor, and that a meaningful equilibrium can be reached if only the U.S. did [a -> z]. I think it’s pretty shallow analysis to put it in those terms, because it’s a static view, when today’s moment is one of massive shifts in the international system. We aren’t dealing with stable “great powers” here, but rather a fractious West facing a former empire in steep decline (the same dynamic as with the late Ottomans). These kinds of things never go smoothly, because the systemic distrust is too high on all sides. Putin, in his heart of hearts (should he have one), may in fact think that on the world stage he is behaving like a status quo actor, but in fact he is not. The former Soviet states are not fleeing his embrace because the wily CIA is outplaying him by fomenting color revolutions—believe me, we wish the CIA were that good—but rather because these countries are ultimately trying to escape the suffocating pull of a dying giant. They clearly see their options, and one of them is not very appealing. Of course, the United States doesn’t always play it smart. But I do think it’s wrong to think that relations with Russia would be somehow normalized and pacified if only the U.S. were more willing to play ball on an endless array of issues.

            And that’s all just structural—that’s without even getting into all the internal corruption stuff, and questions as to the true nature of the Russian ruling regime.

          • Felix Keverich

            There is no rule in NATO that says the alliance MUST admit everyone who seeks its membership. US political leaders knew that Russia wasn’t going to like NATO in its former sphere of influence – declining to admit countries of Eastern Europe would have been wise, responsible thing to do. But US leaders didn’t act responsibly in this situation, they reckoned that Russia’s reaction could be “managed”, and of course they miscalculated greatly.

            There are no structural reasons why Russia and US should be enemies – it was US political establishment made a conscious decision to antagonise Russia. Ukraine and Georgia paid the price. With different people in charge of the US relations could improve quickly. That’s why we’re hoping for Donald Trump victory in November.


          • You may end up having your wish, and I suppose we’ll see then. I’d wager that relations will sour within the year after whatever honeymoon ‘reset’ dealmaking loses its perfume.

          • Felix Keverich

            I fully expect Trump to remove neocons from top positions. This will go a LOONG way towards improving relations.

  • Kevin

    $55 billion is serious money – about the same as Jerry Brown’s high speed rail boondoggle. The difference these pipelines will probably carry gas eventually – California’s railroad’s utility is less certain…

    • Andrew Allison

      The HSR boondoggle was estimated at $68.4B in 2012 and if you think (if it’s built) it will come in under $100B, I’d like to talk to you about a very nice bridge I have for sale!

      • Jim__L

        Is it the Willie Brown Bay Bridge?

  • Dale Fayda

    “It’s good to be the king…”

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