Cerulean Council | Perspectives on Putin
Albert Goldson CEO of the Cerulean Council provided his contrarian perspectives on Putin’s longevity & “de-nazification” of Ukraine, Budapest Memorandum and President Xi’s perspectives during an interview on the KMJ Fresno podcast, 24 February 2022. The following is an enhanced summary with more detailed explanation on the following issues:
The Budapest Memorandum
This memorandum was signed on December 5, 1994 between the US, UK and Russia to include Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan.
The gist of the memorandum was the removal of 1,900 intercontinental ballistic missiles in silos in Ukraine in exchange for Ukraine independence and sovereignty of its borders.
Three key points
1. The US would compensate Ukraine for the extraction of the highly enriched uranium from those weapons.
2. The US would assume the cost of the deconstructing its nuclear infrastructure.
3. Assurances of Ukrainian security.
During this time Boris Yelstin was the Russian president presiding over the former Soviet Union denuded of any military or political leverage.
Fast-forward to present-day President Putin claims that he is not dishonoring the memorandum because the 2014 Ukrainian revolution which ousted the pro-Russian president replacing him with a pro-western one was, in his opinion, a new state. For this reason Putin reasoned that Russia had no obligation to honor the agreement.
From a legal perspective this is a memorandum which is not legally binding nor does it have any enforcement mechanism. It does however indicate in vague and general terms, that the aggrieved party has the right to protest or even retaliate through assurances, not guarantees.
The US is honoring this memorandum by retaliating economically, not militarily, with a series of progressively draconian sanctions against Russia. Because Ukraine is not a Nato member, the Nato is not legally bound to defend Ukraine militarily under Article 5 which stipulates that if any Nato country comes under military attack, then they have a right to respond accordingly.
Putin’s De-Nazification Mandate
Putin’s plans for the “de-nazification” is an emotional trigger. The word “Nazi” preloads the images and thoughts of the most horrific modern atrocities. By using this phrase Putin is accusing the Ukrainian government of ethnic cleansing of Russian history, culture and people.
For this reason he justifies that the invasion gives the Russian government the moral right to punish the Ukrainian leadership and “de-nazify” those “evil” thoughts from the Ukrainian citizenry and assume their true Russian identities.
Furthermore, as a further step, Russia would “re-educate” Ukrainians and provide them Putin’s imagined history, to become Russians just as the Chinese are doing with the Uighurs and the Japanese did to the Koreans during their annexation and occupation from 1905-1945. In fact a leftover result of that brutal occupation is that many in 1905 lasting until 1945. Many elderly Koreans’ first language is Japanese with Korean as their second language.
Strongman Putin’s Longevity & Vulnerability
Putin assumed the presidency in late 1999 still in the rubble of the collapse Soviet Union at the nadir of Russian power. There was still political chaos and a hollow military. For this reason Putin lacked any leverage to present former Soviet satellite countries that served as their buffer since WW II from joining Nato.
Since that time Putin has reinvigorated the Russian armed forces through the robust revenue of energy exports creating an efficient, modernized army. Though it falls short of the brutal might of the Soviet army, its newly defined purpose is to secure and dominate Russia’s Near Abroad which includes Ukraine.
The Russian military has “cut its teeth” in gaining some experience in their aerial operations in the Middle East from its Syrian bases and the soft annexation of Crimea and the Donbas which require more logistical practice for the former ad limited battle practice for the latter.
Russia’s next presidential election is scheduled (by law) on Sunday, March 17, 2024. Putin is eligible to run for two more 6-year terms. I believe that Putin can only be removed from office, like most autocrats, through the collaboration of the military and upper echelon of society in key industrial and financial sectors.
The salt of the earth protests provides dramatic visuals and heartfelt individual stories for mainstream media coverage who express their fury at government policies however they rarely remove a leader. However they “inspire” the military and elite as an indication of the “will of the people” to justify triggering a palace coup.
Putin has copious enemies, typical of a strongman, and probably some within his ever shrinking inner circle whose “false flag” was the invasion of Ukraine and are planning the Russian version of Operation Valkyrie, the name of the operation to unseat Hitler in July 1944.
China | President Xi’s Perspectives
I personally believe that president Xi insanely jealous that Putin has launched a major military offensive in Europe to capture a country with shared identities without incurring a military response from US/Nato.
Xi’s an autocratic alliance of convenience with Russia is to combat a common enemy: the US. Present-day China is engaged mostly in “checkbook diplomacy” particularly through their Belt & Road Initiative vs Russian militaristic thuggery.
China can boast impressive military numbers and trophy weaponry but it has not been tested which requires the seamless at all levels of political leadership, military, “grunts” and weaponry vs the US, the most seasoned battle tested empire through its endless wars.
Nonetheless there are few legally binding commitments between these autocratic entities despite the many public relations photos and bombastic anti-western statements, and military saber-rattling. Because Xi matches Putin’s continental-sized egos Xi may be compelled to accelerate his plan to destabilize Taiwan.
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The Cerulean Council is a NYC-based think-tank that provides prescient, beyond-the-horizon, contrarian perspectives and risk assessments on geopolitical dynamics and global urban security.