Entourage of Vladimir Putin in a Definitive Alternative Reality

The text “Another Hero of the Kremlin: Like Service, Like “Diplomacy””, published here, discusses the character of the Russian political field (or rather its simulacrum), Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergei Lavrov, and his role as a cleanser of the information field after increasing geopolitical “gestures” of the Kremlin’s at the expense of diplomacy.

In the present context, it is appropriate to recall that on 6 April last year Sergei Lavrov announced that it was Ukraine that was breaking all Minsk agreements (on the ceasefire in the east of Ukraine – A.S.).

The statement followed after information was published on 30 March by the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Ruslan Khomchak, on Verkhovna Rada about concentration of forces on the Ukrainian border in the Bryansk and Voronezh oblasts by Moscow, the annexed Crimea, and the so-called “people’s republics” of Donetsk, Luhansk, and Donetsk, under the guise of the Zapad 2021 exercises in Belarus, which are scheduled to be held in the fall.

Sergei Lavrov lied on 12 April that the year 2014 was not a revolution of dignity in Kiev, but an attack by “putschist-neo-Nazis” against those who wanted to speak Russian, the war in eastern Ukraine –  aggression of Kiev against its own people.

In this context, he urged other countries (Ukraine and Turkey agreed a week ago on the purchase of Turkish Bayraktar drones) not to “feed Kiev’s militaristic intentions”, as the Kiev regime might take reckless actions in the pursuit of ratings.

On 8 April, after negotiations with Deputy Prime Minister of Kazakhstan Mukhtar Tleuberdi, the Minister of Russia called the United States and its allies unreliable partners. He described the US sanctions policy as leading to a dead end, if not being obtuse.

Dmitry Peskov, another figure of the Kremlin, the spokesman of the President of Russia, supported the Minister’s rude remark, saying that there was nothing to be added to it, the Minister has always been precise in his wording.

What the Kremlin’s geopolitical “gestures” have turned into in the end is now known, simply irritating.

Unfortunately, we have to return to the subject in old and new circumstances.

The Russian publicist Boris Sokolov reports on the testimony of his son’s businessman friends involved in European freight transport that the number of cases of cars with Russian plates being “run over” or even deliberately rammed on the Old Continent’s roads is increasing rapidly.

The persecution of Russians living abroad was also reported on 28 February by the Russian Commissioner for Human Rights, Tatiana Moskalkova.

Attitudes towards Russia and Russians in Europe now resemble those towards Germany and Germans after Nazi Germany invaded Poland in September 1939.

One can hardly expect anything else (unfortunately, with the almost obvious prospect of an increasing trend).

According to a philosopher Kirill Martynov, editor of the political section of Novaya Gazeta, the already famous extraordinary meeting of the Security Council of the Russian Federation, which was broadcasted live on 21 February on the issue of the recognition of the breakaway republics of Donetsk and Luhansk in the east of Ukraine, was announced to the participants of this meeting several hours ago, or even on the eve of the meeting, and the topic of the meeting was announced within the next 15 minutes.

To make it simple, those who attended the meeting were thrown into a situation where they had to decide immediately whether to demonstrate loyalty to the patron in front of the camera. To the question, “Do you want to go to war with your president? “Everyone had to stand up and speak, obediently like a schoolboy: “Yes, my President, I love my country as much as you do.”

They do as they please, usually “properly”. But, for example, Sergey Naryshkin, Director of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR), did not do a very good job when he confusedly “increased” the issue of the need to annex the breakaway republics to Russia, and was rudely “corrected” by Vladimir Putin.

It is also possible that this person was aware of some SVR reports that envisaged scenarios that were not necessarily favourable to an invasion of Ukraine. That is why he treated Sergey Naryshkin in a humiliating manner.

No discussion of statements, no weighing up the pros and cons, no debate. Hands on knees and a tense waiting of all participants. And, after all, a blood oath was involved.

Vladimir Putin was not only held back in the Security Council, where, after all, the competent representatives of the Russian leadership in various fields meet. And among the 400 deputies of the State Duma, there was not a single one who would at least abstain.

Yuri Fyodorov, a military analyst based in Prague, summed up the situation by saying that Putin’s decision to “blood tie” the environment indicates a lack of trust, perhaps even a sense of secret dissatisfaction and opposition. Otherwise, what was the need for public humiliation?

The interpretation of the exiled Russian opposition politician Dmitry Gudkov: “That‘s all, nobody would jump out of the bandit Titanic. If something is wrong with me, it is automatically wrong with you.”

By the way, it was in the wake of the aggression that a couple of Kremlin figures, Vladimir Medinsky, the official advisor of the Kremlin master’s (former Minister of Culture…) and Dmitry Medvedev, Chairman of the Russian Security Council (and former “interim” President from 2008 to 2012, as a matter of fact), found it in their interest to remember the possibility of reintroducing the death penalty to Russia.

In Dmitry Gudkov’s estimation, maybe there is in an attempt to avoid a split among the elites, who are already afraid of each other.

According to Kirill Martynov, the Russian Security Council, which sanctioned the war, has only a couple of alternatives – to build North Korea in Russia, or appear before the tribunal. The master of the Kremlin is destroying everything that various people have managed to create in today’s Russia. Because he does not know and does not understand (and, I should add, does not want to understand – A.S.) how the modern world and economy work.

He clings to power because he is well aware that if he leaves, he will lose all guarantees of personal security.

The war with Ukraine will be particularly ruthless, with many dead and many broken lives. The use of nuclear weapons is also inconceivable – the Kremlin’s master has been playing with missiles for years.

Therefore, Sergei Lavrov cannot logically stop under any circumstances. He is forced to “settle” permanently in the same alternative reality as his patron.

On 23 February, in talks with the United Nations (UN) Special Coordinator for Syria, Geir Pedersen, he ‘reprimanded’ the UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, for allegedly inappropriate statements made by the latter.

What did the “alternative” Sergei Lavrov criticize the UN Secretary-General for? It turns out that he was offended the same day by declaring at an extended press conference that the world today is chaotic, less predictable and therefore more dangerous even than during the Cold War. He also encouraged Vladimir Putin to abandon any military intervention in Ukraine.

On 2 February, the Minister of Russia declared that Ukraine has no right to sovereignty since 2014 because it did not represent all the people living in its territories. Sergei Lavrov was commenting on the statement of the UN Secretary-General that the decision of Russia to recognise the “People’s Republic of Luhansk” and the “People’s Republic of Donetsk” was a violation of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine, which contradicted the basic values of the UN.

In interviews with the Russian portals Sputnik (already banned in the democratic world), Echo Moskvy (already liquidated in Russia), Govorit Moskva and Komsomolskaya Pravda on 28 January, Sergi Lavrov once again called the Americans and other Anglo-Saxons (Canadians and British) rule-breaking, deceitful, duplicitous, and unreliable partners.

Sergei Lavrov has created a new phrase, ‘autocratic democracy’ (a possible analogy with vegetarian cannibalism), of which he is not aware. Well, maybe a patron.

At the Taurida youth festival in the Russian-annexed Crimea last August, the Minister gave a lecture to young people about Ukrainian “Nazis”, which suggested that the Kremlin was still not satisfied with how/if young Russians had taken up the concept of the voluntary „joining“ of the peninsula to Russia.

On 28 February, the spokeswoman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Maria Zakharova had to fuss noisily on the state-run TV channel Rossia-1 (“What rubbish! What documents, what rules, what instructions? What is this about?”) when her boss was not allowed to attend a meeting of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva after the Swiss demanded additional documents because of the sanctions imposed on Sergei Lavrov.

Sanctions against Sergei Lavrov for known reasons, as well as against his patron and other Kremlin figures – Minister of Defence Sergei Shoigu, Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov, etc., the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom and Canada introduced  on 26th of February.

The Kremlin figures under sanctions have been banned from travelling to the sanctioned countries and have had their assets there frozen.

On 24 February, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken cancelled his planned meeting with Sergei Lavrov as pointless. “The statement put forward by a political analyst Mark Galeotti in the Moscow Times at the end of November last year that the West no longer needs anything from Russia when/because Vladimir Putin’s strategy is pointing to the Kremlin’s growing paranoia about the outside world is “coming into play”.

Asked by Svoboda how a professional diplomat could have turned into the Minister of Foreign Affairs Joachim von Ribbentrop of the Nazi Germany (1938-1945), the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia in 1990-1996, on whose team Sergei Lavrov worked and even served as a deputy, was puzzled and could not answer anything, citing only fear.

Fear in the Russian ruling clan is also singled out by the Russian political analyst Alexander Kynev as both a “disciplining” tool and a career (social elevator) algorithm applied by Vladimir Putin to his entourage and to the ruling elite as a whole – the “insiders” are selected by means of the same kind of intimidation (from a “cross” for their careers to a banal plant), frightening both the environment and their close family.

Therefore, a change of mode is possible unless there is some kind of “under the carpet” action.

A political analyst and also a psychologist Leonid Gozman points out that it is common for Vladimir Putin to behave in a greedy manner and to humiliate his employees. He bases this claim on a reminder of how the master of the Kremlin dragged his press secretary Dmitry Peksov through the mire by publicly claiming that he was spouting all sorts of rubbish.

It is typical that the “canary of the Kremlin” did not put the resignation on the table afterwards.

A Russian political technologist and also a doctor of political sciences Abbas Gallyamov but also a doctor of political science, reminds us that it is not worth hoping for anything else in the current circumstances – the Russian government has been shaking off any freethinkers for 20 years and has finally got rid of them. Vladimir Putin no longer relies on political instruments, only on power.

Therefore: can we expect more ‘acts of bravery’ from entourage of Vladimir Putin in the foreseeable future? Unfortunately, yes.

Arūnas Spraunius


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