Category: Vladimir Putin
‘There Will Be No New Korean War’: What Putin Knows That Western Pundits Don’t
| September 10, 2017 | 8:56 pm | DPRK, Vladimir Putin | No comments
Russian President Vladimir Putin during a meeting with representatives of foreign business circles as part of the 3rd Eastern Economic Forum

‘There Will Be No New Korean War’: What Putin Knows That Western Pundits Don’t

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At the plenary session of the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed confidence that there would not be another large-scale military conflict on the Korean peninsula. Russian political observer Anatoly Wasserman explains what it is that the Russian president knows that many observers don’t.

Addressing participants of the forum on Thursday, Putin said he believed all the parties involved in the standoff in the Korean peninsula are likely to “have enough common sense and understanding that they bear responsibility to the people in the region, and [that] we could solve this problem by diplomatic means.”

“Like my South Korean counterpart, I am sure that there will not be a large-scale conflict, especially one involving the use of weapons of mass destruction,” the Russian leader added.

Putin also recalled that in 2005, the parties to the conflict were on the verge of reaching an agreement on Pyongyang’s nuclear program. “Agreements were reached under which North Korea assumed responsibility to curtail its nuclear and missile programs. All other parties in this process promised to contribute to this. But then, someone started demanding from North Korea what it did not promise, and gradually the situation deteriorated to the present state,” he said.

Analyzing the Russian president’s remarks in an article for RIA Novosti, Anatoly Wasserman took note of the fact that “first of all, Putin diplomatically avoided naming this ‘someone’. It’s like in the famous anecdote about a group of woodland critters including a fox sitting down in the woods to play cards, one of them saying ‘if someone cheats, they’ll get a slap in the face –their sneaky orange face.'”

“In the conflict we’re discussing here, it’s equally obvious just who it was that may have demanded from North Korea something that Pyongyang never promised,” the political observer wrote.

“Factually,” Wasserman suggested, “among all the potential parties in the conflict on the Korean peninsula, only one is known for its inadequacy. Specifically, it was the same one that the Russian president was referring to a few days earlier at a press conference following the BRICS summit, when he said that these were the people who would confuse Austria with Australia.”In the case of the Koreas, the observer suggested that both of them are rational enough, “if only because the conflict that’s developing today is just another stage of a confrontation that’s been going on in the peninsula since the beginning of the 20th century, when Korea was first occupied and thoroughly genocided by Japan. Then, after Japan was expelled, there were those who sought to turn the territory…into their own strategic base, and who would use this base for another genocide of Korea.”

Background note: During the Korean War of 1950-1953, the US Air Force dropped 635,000 tons of bombs, nearly 150,000 tons more than it had in the entire the Pacific Theater during World War II, on Korea. The Korean War caused over 3 million civilian casualties, the vast majority of them in the north.

A South Korean JSA guard (front R) and North Korean guard (L) stand guard opposite each other at the border of the truce village of Panmunjom in the Demilitarized zone (DMZ) dividing the two Koreas. File photo.
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A South Korean JSA guard (front R) and North Korean guard (L) stand guard opposite each other at the border of the truce village of Panmunjom in the Demilitarized zone (DMZ) dividing the two Koreas. File photo.

“So far as I understand it, both Koreas remember the genocides that were arranged for them perfectly well, and do not have the slightest desire to allow anyone to repeat them,” Wasserman wrote. Therefore, he added, “I am quite certain that among all the participants of the conflict in the Korean peninsula, only the US is capable of behaving inadequately and aggressively.”

“Given these circumstances, I believe that the behavior of the South Korean president, which consists of a harmonious combination of a reminder of the danger posed by North Korea’s conduct, and promises to offer Pyongyang a role in mutually beneficial economic projects, is the most reasonable way forward,” the observer noted.

“Because on the one hand, participation in such projects significantly weakens interest in any aggressive behavior, even though it does not completely eliminate it…And on the other hand, extensive global experience shows that when a country has great economic potential, it often also has the opportunity to build up its defense potential quickly and, therefore, does not have to do so in advance and spend a great deal of money doing so…For this reason, countries that are economically developed, as a rule, appear less aggressive.”

With these facts in mind, Wasserman noted that the strict pro-diplomacy position “expressed by the South Korean and Russian presidents at the Eastern Economic Forum is the most promising way to resolve the conflict.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin and President of South Korea Moon Jae-in, left, during a joint press statement on the results of the meeting held as part of the 3rd Eastern Economic Forum at the Far Eastern Federal University, Russky Island. September 6, 2017
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Russian President Vladimir Putin and President of South Korea Moon Jae-in, left, during a joint press statement on the results of the meeting held as part of the 3rd Eastern Economic Forum at the Far Eastern Federal University, Russky Island. September 6, 2017

The analyst recalled that in the early period of the dispute over North Korea’s nuclear ambitions, “the United States promised Pyongyang that it would help it resolve a number of serious energy problems by supplying it with sufficient energy resources at world energy prices, and create in the country a powerful nuclear energy complex using American technology which would guarantee the inability to use this complex for military purposes.”

“Pyongyang readily agreed to these proposals,” Wasserman wrote. “But after that, Washington, quibbling over some small issue, refused to fulfill their own promise. And thus North Korea was forced to develop its own nuclear energy, giving it the opportunity to continue its project to create nuclear weapons. So the US did not simply demand from North Korea something that Pyongyang did not promise, but also violated their own promises, and in a way that obviously led to an aggravation of the situation.”

Ultimately, Wasserman wrote that he could not exclude that the US may have sought to deliberately aggravate the situation in the region, “because without this they would risk losing the political reason for the deployment of US troops in the Korean peninsula.”

US Air Force F-16 fighter jets wait to take off from a runway during a military exercise at the Osan US Air Base in Osan, South Korea
© AP Photo/ Ahn Young-joon
U.S. Air Force F-16 fighter jets wait to take off from a runway during a military exercise at the Osan U.S. Air Base in Osan, South Korea

“Is there anyone now who’s interested in war?” the commentator asked. “I think not,” he answered. “Theoretically, one can imagine that for a part of the American establishment, this war could be deemed profitable under the present circumstances, since President Trump won the election thanks to his promise to return jobs to the country. And jobs began leaving the US for South Korea long before than they started to leave for China. Therefore, I cannot rule out the possibility that the destruction of South Korea as a result of a war would be beneficial to the US,” or at least to those financial and industrial groups who may look to rebuild the US industrial base at any cost.

“But even in the US, those forces for which a war in Korea would be unprofitable are even stronger. And the Russian president, I think, is also aware of this,” Wasserman concluded.

Putin Calls Out US Folly
| September 5, 2017 | 12:27 pm | Donald Trump, DPRK, Russia, Vladimir Putin | 1 Comment
Russian President Vladimir Putin attends the Dialogue of Emerging Market and Developing Countries on the sideline of the BRICS Summit in Xiamen, China, Sept. 5, 2017

Putin Calls Out US Folly

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Speaking at the BRICS summit this week, Russian President Vladimir Putin deplored the “low political culture” of American leaders.

“It is difficult to dialogue with such people,” said Putin, adding: “You can do nothing about it.”

Less diplomatically, what the Russian president was lamenting is this: the incorrigible stupidity of US leaders.

To say that is not merely about making a facetious swipe at American politicians. Far more seriously, it points to how difficult and dangerous international relations are when a major party is so evidently obtuse to reason and facts.

As if to illustrate the point, while Putin was castigating American low political culture, the US ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, was opening her mouth to release more of her habitually inane remarks.Haley told the UN Security Council on Monday that North Korea “was begging for war” and she affected a hilariously innocent pose, saying: “War is never something the United States wants.”

What? This is from an envoy whose country has been in a state of permanent war over the past two decades, and which at times has been bombing seven countries simultaneously in flagrant violation of international law.

For the American envoy to make such a patently false rendering of reality is beyond stupid. It is dangerously delusional. This is what Putin was referring to when he said it is difficult to dialogue with such people. It’s like trying to reason with someone who’s psychotic.

American cognitive disconnect with reality stems from various factors. Ignorance, arrogance, deception, propaganda, parochialism. But a shorthand term for the cognitive impairment is “stupidity”.

The trouble too with the Americans is that they seem to think that everyone else is stupid.

On the looming crisis over Korea, the US is pushing China and Russia to impose evermore stringent sanctions on North Korea over its nuclear weapons program. Last weekend the country carried out its sixth and largest underground nuclear test explosion since 2006.The Americans have set a deadline next Monday for the UNSC to vote for a new round of economic punishments on Pyongyang. Washington wants the drastic sanction of cutting off fuel oil supplies to the country just as the harsh Korean winter approaches. That move is tantamount to an act of war, and yet Washington expects China and Russia to go along with an attack on the vital interests of North Korea.

The stupid arrogance of the Americans is staggering. The US has slapped numerous rounds of sanctions on Russia over dubious claims about interfering in Ukraine and US election meddling. Just last weekend, the Trump administration provocatively seized more Russian diplomatic properties in San Francisco, New York and Washington.

And yet the Americans expect Russia, as well as China whom it is also sanctioning over trade disputes, to go along with its agenda of strangulating North Korea.

As Putin remarked at the BRICS conference: “It’s ridiculous to put us on the same sanctions list as North Korea and then ask for our help in imposing sanctions on North Korea.”

Economic warfare and ramping up military threats is a road to nowhere, added the Russian leader, warning that to keep pushing on that direction, as the Americans are doing, is risking a global catastrophe.Many people around the world, including many ordinary American citizens, would agree. They can see the blindingly obvious. That the Korean crisis must be resolved peacefully through diplomacy and dialogue. All that is required is for all parties to sit down and talk to each other as equals without preconditions. China and Russia are indeed proposing such a roadmap for a peaceful settlement.

But the American leaders are so inebriated with their own self-righteousness and hubris they refuse to comply with this basic process of diplomacy. A process mandated by international law.

US ambassador Nikki Haley even lambasted the Chinese and Russian proposals as “an insult”.

“When a rogue regime has a nuclear weapon and an ICBM [intercontinental ballistic missile] pointed at you, you do not take steps to lower your guard. No one would do that. We certainly won’t,” said Haley.

Therein lies the kernel of the problem. The Americans call others a rogue regime not worthy of respect when it is they who constitute the biggest rogue regime on Earth, possessing an arsenal of 5,000 nuclear weapons and willing to use them to annihilate other nations, as they themselves have openly stated on numerous occasions.

On the basis of hyper-sanctimony, the Americans declare that they are not willing to talk with North Korea and that the “only options” are either intensifying sanctions or war.

But who are the Americans to order such an ultimatum? An ultimatum that is surely disastrous and with which the rest of the world has to subordinate to.

The arrogant, ignorant Americans are so besotted with their own hubris that they cannot even conceive of their outrageous hypocrisy. They bomb countries all over the world, point nuclear missiles at every corner of the planet, break countless laws, threaten Armageddon like ordering a hamburger, and yet they claim to be “exhausting diplomacy”.Obdurate American leaders don’t even know their own history; how they obliterated North Korea during the Korean War (1950-53) killing up to three million civilians. Is it any wonder North Korea has felt compelled to build nuclear weapons as a matter of survival against the genocidal American behemoth?

As Putin said: “North Koreans would rather eat grass than give up their nuclear weapons program.”

North Korea has wholly legitimate security concerns. It wants to be left in peace and not continually threatened by the genocidal United States, which never signed a peace treaty at the end of the Korean War. Despite American and Western demonization of North Korea, it is not offensive. All its actions are about deterrence and defense.

There is a simple and urgent way back from the precipice. Comprehensive talks on all concerns, with North Korea’s existential concerns in particular given full recognition.It is not rocket science. It is a matter of treating other nations with respect.

But this is the thing. The American political leaders are so dense, so stupid, they only know how to drive toward conflict and war, and to sell billions of dollars-worth of weapons. They are so stupid they don’t even see how their mentality is putting the whole world in grave peril of final destruction.

The world is being held hostage by idiots. It’s like being on a bus careering along cliff top roads, and the driver of this bus is a drunken imbecile.

China and Russia must take world leadership in spite of the Americans. Beijing and Moscow have to reject the US unilateral diktat of sanctions and militarism. As Putin said, there is no use trying to reason with such low-level people. They are beyond reason.

Resolute action is the only way to deal with them. No more sanctions, no military aggression, insist on full compliance with international law. America has gotten away with waging wars of aggression with impunity for far too long. China and Russia must make any US military action over North Korea a red line.

The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Sputnik.

Is Putin incorruptible? U.S. insider’s view of the Russian president’s character and his country’s transformation
| August 9, 2017 | 7:58 pm | Analysis, Russia, Vladimir Putin | No comments

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Friends and colleagues,

As the Ukraine situation has worsened, unconscionable misinformation and hype is being poured on Russia and Vladimir Putin.

Journalists and pundits must scour the Internet and thesauruses to come up with fiendish new epithets to describe both.

Wherever I make presentations across America, the first question ominously asked during Q&A is always, “What about Putin?”

It’s time to share my thoughts which follow:

Putin obviously has his faults and makes mistakes. Based on my earlier experience with him, and the experiences of trusted people, including U.S. officials who have worked closely with him over a period of years, Putin most likely is a straight, reliable and exceptionally inventive man. He is obviously a long-term thinker and planner and has proven to be an excellent analyst and strategist. He is a leader who can quietly work toward his goals under mounds of accusations and myths that have been steadily leveled at him since he became Russia’s second president.

I’ve stood by silently watching the demonization of Putin grow since it began in the early 2000s – – I pondered on computer my thoughts and concerns, hoping eventually to include them in a book (which was published in 2011). The book explains my observations more thoroughly than this article. Like others who have had direct experience with this little known man, I’ve tried to no avail to avoid being labeled a “Putin apologist”. If one is even neutral about him, they are considered “soft on Putin” by pundits, news hounds and average citizens who get their news from CNN, Fox and MSNBC.

I don’t pretend to be an expert, just a program developer in the USSR and Russia for the past 30 years. But during this time, I’ve have had far more direct, on-ground contact with Russians of all stripes across 11 time zones than any of the Western reporters or for that matter any of Washington’s officials. I’ve been in country long enough to ponder Russian history and culture deeply, to study their psychology and conditioning, and to understand the marked differences between American and Russian mentalities which so complicate our political relations with their leaders. As with personalities in a family or a civic club or in a city hall, it takes understanding and compromise to be able to create workable relationships when basic conditionings are different. Washington has been notoriously disinterested in understanding these differences and attempting to meet Russia halfway.

In addition to my personal experience with Putin, I’ve had discussions with numerous American officials and U.S. businessmen who have had years of experience working with him – – I believe it is safe to say that none would describe him as “brutal” or “thuggish”, or the other slanderous adjectives and nouns that are repeatedly used in western media.

I met Putin years before he ever dreamed of being president of Russia, as did many of us working in St.Petersburg during the 1990s. Since all of the slander started, I’ve become nearly obsessed with understanding his character. I think I’ve read every major speech he has given (including the full texts of his annual hours-long telephone “talk-ins” with Russian citizens). I’ve been trying to ascertain whether he has changed for the worse since being elevated to the presidency, or whether he is a straight character cast into a role he never anticipated – – and is using sheer wits to try to do the best he can to deal with Washington under extremely difficult circumstances. If the latter is the case, and I think it is, he should get high marks for his performance over the past 14 years. It’s not by accident that Forbes declared him the most Powerful Leader of 2013, replacing Obama who was given the title for 2012. The following is my one personal experience with Putin.

The year was 1992…

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Sharon Tennison

It was two years after the implosion of communism; the place was St.Petersburg. For years I had been creating programs to open up relations between the two countries and hopefully to help Soviet people to get beyond their entrenched top-down mentalities. A new program possibility emerged in my head. Since I expected it might require a signature from the Marienskii City Hall, an appointment was made. My friend Volodya Shestakov and I showed up at a side door entrance to the Marienskii building. We found ourselves in a small, dull brown office, facing a rather trim nondescript man in a brown suit. He inquired about my reason for coming in. After scanning the proposal I provided he began asking intelligent questions. After each of my answers, he asked the next relevant question. I became aware that this interviewer was different from other Soviet bureaucrats who always seemed to fall into chummy conversations with foreigners with hopes of obtaining bribes in exchange for the Americans’ requests. CCI stood on the principle that we would never, never give bribes. This bureaucrat was open, inquiring, and impersonal in demeanor. After more than an hour of careful questions and answers, he quietly explained that he had tried hard to determine if the proposal was legal, then said that unfortunately at the time it was not. A few good words about the proposal were uttered. That was all. He simply and kindly showed us to the door. Out on the sidewalk, I said to my colleague, “Volodya, this is the first time we have ever dealt with a Soviet bureaucrat who didn’t ask us for a trip to the US or something valuable!” I remember looking at his business card in the sunlight – – it read Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin.

1994

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Putin as Deputy Mayor of St. Petersburg in the early 90s.

U.S. Consul General Jack Gosnell put in an SOS call to me in St.Petersburg. He had 14 Congress members and the new American Ambassador to Russia, Thomas Pickering, coming to St.Petersburg in the next three days. He needed immediate help. I scurried over to the Consulate and learned that Jack intended me to brief this auspicious delegation and the incoming ambassador. I was stunned but he insisted. They were coming from Moscow and were furious about how U.S. funding was being wasted there. Jack wanted them to hear the “good news” about CCI’s programs that were showing fine results. In the next 24 hours Jack and I also set up “home” meetings in a dozen Russian entrepreneurs’ small apartments for the arriving dignitaries (St.Petersburg State Department people were aghast, since it had never been done before – – but Jack overruled). Only later in 2000, did I learn of Jack’s former three-year experience with Vladimir Putin in the 1990s while the latter was running the city for Mayor Sobchak. More on this further down.

December 31, 1999

With no warning, at the turn of the year, President Boris Yeltsin made the announcement to the world that from the next day forward he was vacating his office and leaving Russia in the hands of an unknown Vladimir Putin. On hearing the news, I thought surely not the Putin I remembered – – he could never lead Russia. The next day a NYT article included a photo. Yes, it was the same Putin I’d met years ago! I was shocked and dismayed, telling friends, “This is a disaster for Russia, I’ve spent time with this guy, he is too introverted and too intelligent – – he will never be able to relate to Russia’s masses.” Further, I lamented: “For Russia to get up off of its knees, two things must happen: 1) The arrogant young oligarchs have to be removed by force from the Kremlin, and 2) A way must be found to remove the regional bosses (governors) from their fiefdoms across Russia’s 89 regions“. It was clear to me that the man in the brown suit would never have the instincts or guts to tackle Russia’s overriding twin challenges.

February 2000

Almost immediately Putin began putting Russia’s oligarchs on edge. In February a question about the oligarchs came up; he clarified with a question and his answer: “What should be the relationship with the so-called oligarchs? The same as anyone else. The same as the owner of a small bakery or a shoe repair shop.” This was the first signal that the tycoons would no longer be able to flaunt government regulations or count on special access in the Kremlin. It also made the West’s capitalists nervous. After all, these oligarchs were wealthy untouchable businessmen – – good capitalists, never mind that they got their enterprises illegally and were putting their profits in offshore banks.

Four months later Putin called a meeting with the oligarchs and gave them his deal: They could keep their illegally-gained wealth-producing Soviet enterprises and they would not be nationalized …. IF taxes were paid on their revenues and if they personally stayed out of politics. This was the first of Putin’s “elegant solutions” to the near impossible challenges facing the new Russia. But the deal also put Putin in crosshairs with US media and officials who then began to champion the oligarchs, particularly Mikhail Khodorkovsky. The latter became highly political, didn’t pay taxes, and prior to being apprehended and jailed was in the process of selling a major portion of Russia’s largest private oil company, Yukos Oil, to Exxon Mobil. Unfortunately, to U.S. media and governing structures, Khodorkovsky became a martyr (and remains so up to today).

March 2000

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I arrived in St.Petersburg. A Russian friend (a psychologist) since 1983 came for our usual visit. My first question was, “Lena what do you think about your new president?” She laughed and retorted, “Volodya! I went to school with him!” She began to describe Putin as a quiet youngster, poor, fond of martial arts, who stood up for kids being bullied on the playgrounds. She remembered him as a patriotic youth who applied for the KGB prematurely after graduating secondary school (they sent him away and told him to get an education). He went to law school, later reapplied and was accepted. I must have grimaced at this, because Lena said, “Sharon in those days we all admired the KGB and believed that those who worked there were patriots and were keeping the country safe. We thought it was natural for Volodya to choose this career. My next question was, “What do you think he will do with Yeltsin’s criminals in the Kremlin?” Putting on her psychologist hat, she pondered and replied, “If left to his normal behaviors, he will watch them for a while to be sure what is going on, then he will throw up some flares to let them know that he is watching. If they don’t respond, he will address them personally, then if the behaviors don’t change – – some will be in prison in a couple of years.” I congratulated her via email when her predictions began to show up in real time.

Throughout the 2000s

St.Petersburg’s many CCI alumni were being interviewed to determine how the PEP business training program was working and how we could make the U.S. experience more valuable for their new small businesses. Most believed that the program had been enormously important, even life changing. Last, each was asked, “So what do you think of your new president?” None responded negatively, even though at that time entrepreneurs hated Russia’s bureaucrats. Most answered similarly, “Putin registered my business a few years ago”. Next question, “So, how much did it cost you?” To a person they replied, “Putin didn’t charge anything”. One said, “We went to Putin’s desk because the others providing registrations at the Marienskii were getting ‘rich on their seats.'”

Late 2000

Into Putin’s first year as Russia’s president, US officials seemed to me to be suspect that he would be antithetical to America’s interests – – his every move was called into question in American media. I couldn’t understand why and was chronicling these happenings in my computer and newsletters.

Year 2001

Jack Gosnell (former USCG mentioned earlier) explained his relationship with Putin when the latter was deputy mayor of St.Petersburg. The two of them worked closely to create joint ventures and other ways to promote relations between the two countries. Jack related that Putin was always straight up, courteous and helpful. When Putin’s wife, Ludmila, was in a severe auto accident, Jack took the liberty (before informing Putin) to arrange hospitalization and airline travel for her to get medical care in Finland. When Jack told Putin, he reported that the latter was overcome by the generous offer, but ended saying that he couldn’t accept this favor, that Ludmila would have to recover in a Russian hospital. She did – – although medical care in Russia was abominably bad in the 1990s.

A senior CSIS officer I was friends with in the 2000s worked closely with Putin on a number of joint ventures during the 1990s. He reported that he had no dealings with Putin that were questionable, that he respected him and believed he was getting an undeserved dour reputation from U.S. media. Matter of fact, he closed the door at CSIS when we started talking about Putin. I guessed his comments wouldn’t be acceptable if others were listening.

Another former U.S. official who will go unidentified, also reported working closely with Putin, saying there was never any hint of bribery, pressuring, nothing but respectable behaviors and helpfulness.

I had two encounters in 2013 with State Department officials regarding Putin:

At the first one, I felt free to ask the question I had previously yearned to get answered: “When did Putin become unacceptable to Washington officials and why? Without hesitating the answer came back: “‘The knives were drawn’ when it was announced that Putin would be the next president.” I questioned WHY? The answer: “I could never find out why – – maybe because he was KGB.” I offered that Bush #I, was head of the CIA. The reply was, “That would have made no difference, he was our guy.”

The second was a former State Department official with whom I recently shared a radio interview on Russia. Afterward when we were chatting, I remarked, “You might be interested to know that I’ve collected experiences of Putin from numerous people, some over a period of years, and they all say they had no negative experiences with Putin and there was no evidence of taking bribes”. He firmly replied, “No one has ever been able to come up with a bribery charge against Putin.”

From 2001 up to today, I’ve watched the negative U.S. media mounting against Putin …. even accusations of assassinations, poisonings, and comparing him to Hitler. No one yet has come up with any concrete evidence for these allegations. During this time, I’ve traveled throughout Russia several times every year, and have watched the country slowly change under Putin’s watch. Taxes were lowered, inflation lessened, and laws slowly put in place. Schools and hospitals began improving. Small businesses were growing, agriculture was showing improvement, and stores were becoming stocked with food. Alcohol challenges were less obvious, smoking was banned from buildings, and life expectancy began increasing. Highways were being laid across the country, new rails and modern trains appeared even in far out places, and the banking industry was becoming dependable. Russia was beginning to look like a decent country – – certainly not where Russians hoped it to be long term, but improving incrementally for the first time in their memories.

My 2013/14 Trips to Russia

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Modern Russia, thriving

In addition to St.Petersburg and Moscow, in September I traveled out to the Ural Mountains, spent time in Ekaterinburg, Chelyabinsk and Perm. We traveled between cities via autos and rail – – the fields and forests look healthy, small towns sport new paint and construction. Today’s Russians look like Americans (we get the same clothing from China). Old concrete Khrushchev block houses are giving way to new multi-story private residential complexes which are lovely. High-rise business centers, fine hotels and great restaurants are now common place – – and ordinary Russians frequent these places. Two and three story private homes rim these Russian cities far from Moscow. We visited new museums, municipal buildings and huge super markets. Streets are in good repair, highways are new and well marked now, service stations looks like those dotting American highways. In January I went to Novosibirsk out in Siberia where similar new architecture was noted. Streets were kept navigable with constant snowplowing, modern lighting kept the city bright all night, lots of new traffic lights (with seconds counting down to light change) have appeared. It is astounding to me how much progress Russia has made in the past 14 years since an unknown man with no experience walked into Russia’s presidency and took over a country that was flat on its belly.

So why do our leaders and media demean and demonize Putin and Russia???

Like Lady MacBeth, do they protest too much?

Psychologists tell us that people (and countries?) project off on others what they don’t want to face in themselves. Others carry our “shadow” when we refuse to own it. We confer on others the very traits that we are horrified to acknowledge in ourselves.

Could this be why we constantly find fault with Putin and Russia?

Could it be that we project on to Putin the sins of ourselves and our leaders?

Could it be that we condemn Russia’s corruption, acting like the corruption within our corporate world doesn’t exist?

Could it be that we condemn their human rights and LGBT issues, not facing the fact that we haven’t solved our own?

Could it be that we accuse Russia of “reconstituting the USSR” – – because of what we do to remain the world’s “hegemon”?

Could it be that we project nationalist behaviors on Russia, because that is what we have become and we don’t want to face it?

Could it be that we project warmongering off on Russia, because of what we have done over the past several administrations?

Some of you were around Putin in the earlier years. Please share your opinions, pro and con …. confidentiality will be assured. It’s important to develop a composite picture of this demonized leader and get the record straight. I’m quite sure that 99% of those who excoriate him in mainstream media have had no personal contact with him at all. They write articles on hearsay, rumors and fabrication, or they read scripts others have written on their tele-prompters. This is how our nation gets its “news”, such as it is.

There is a well known code of ethics among us: Is it the Truth, Is it Fair, Does it build Friendship and Goodwill, and Will it be Beneficial for All Concerned?

It seems to me that if our nation’s leaders would commit to using these four principles in international relations, the world would operate in a completely different manner, and human beings across this planet would live in better conditions than they do today.

As always your comments will be appreciated. Please resend this report to as many friends and colleagues as possible.

Sharon Tennison

About the author

Sharon Tennison ran a successful NGO funded by philanthropists, American foundations, USAID and Department of State, designing new programs and refining old ones, and evaluating Russian delegates’ U.S. experiences for over 20 years. Tennison adapted the Marshall Plan Tours from the 40s/50s, and created the Production Enhancement Program (PEP) for Russian entrepreneurs, the largest ever business training program between the U.S. and Russia. Running several large programs concurrently during the 90s and 2000s, funding disappeared shortly after the 2008 financial crisis set in. Tennison still runs an orphanage program in Russia, is President and Founder, Center for Citizen Initiatives, a member of Rotary Club of Palo Alto, California, and author of
The Power of Impossible Ideas: Ordinary Citizens’ Extraordinary Efforts to Avert International Crises. The author can be contacted at sharon@ccisf.org