Putin Restores Yet Another Cold War Meme

July 11, 2016
Screen grab of a surveillance video shows a Russian guard tackles a US diplomat. Via Lifenews.ru

Investment in Crimean Resorts has Fallen by ‘Order of Magnitude’ Since Occupation, Liyev Says

Staunton, VA, July 11, 2016 – Since the Anschluss, international investment in Crimean resorts has stopped altogether, and Russian investment there has been minimal, Aleksandr Liyev says, with Russian claims to the contrary being based less on investment as such than as the transfer of property from one Russian owner to another.

Liyev, resorts and tourism minister in Ukraine’s Crimea prior to the illegal Russian occupation, says that “almost 80 percent” of what Moscow claimed were investments in 2015 were in fact “simply the purchase of real estate” whose owners had been forced to sell.
Most of the purchases were of relatively small properties, the former official continues; and consequently even if one accepts that such actions constituted “investments,” there was a decline in the total investment in tourism property in Crimea between 2012 and 2015 of more than 90 percent.

Russian businessmen may bow and scrape when Vladimir Putin tells them to invest in Crimea, but they are pragmatic and know that doing so is a risky enterprise given that the entire world considers the Russian occupation “illegal.” To put money into the peninsula now is to risk losing it.

According to Liyev, the situation in Crimea’s tourist industry obtains “in the banking sphere, in trade, in logistics, in industry and in agriculture,” as well.” And thus it is no surprise that Moscow’s promises are not being met and that Dmitry Medvedev’s acknowledgement that “there is no money” is the only honest thing one has heard from the Russian capital recently.

The former minister says that the trends this year are no better and that there is no reason to expect any dramatic changes in the following years as well. And that is true not only for Crimeans but also “for all who shouted ‘Crimea is Ours’” since “the cost of [Moscow’s] shameful and stupid actions will now have to be paid by all of Russia, from Kamchatka to Kaliningrad.”

West Must Take Seriously Putin’s Talk about Restoring Moscow’s Influence over All Post-Soviet States, Grybauskaite Says
Staunton, VA, July 11, 2016 – The West must not dismiss Vladimir Putin’s statements about restoring Moscow’s influence over the territory of the former USSR as “paranoid” or delusional because those statements reflect his real thinking and thus the basis for his current and future actions, according to Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite.

In an interview with Spiegel, the Lithuanian leader says that Putin will use “all means,” including propaganda and economic pressure, to achieve his oft-stated goal by acting against what the Kremlin views as the weakest links among the post-Soviet states.
At the same time, Grybaukaite urged both the West and Russia’s neighbors to avoid becoming paralyzed by fear. “I don’t like the word ‘fear,’” she said, adding that “we lived under Soviet occupation and we know that this neighbor is [both] unpredictable and capable of attacking” its neighbors.
Putin Restores Yet Another Cold War Meme
Staunton, VA, July 12, 2016 – During the Cold War, officials in many Western capitals often remarked that “we send Moscow diplomats and the Russians treat them like spies, while Moscow sends us spies and we treat them like diplomats,” a reminder of the dangers inherent in either set of assumptions or alternatively in not making them.

Two events this week – the tit-for-tat fallout from a Russian attack on an American diplomat in Moscow and the assumption in Ukraine that the Kremlin is using an ostensibly religious procession in Ukraine as a cover for FSB penetration of that country – call attention to the return of this Cold War meme and its dangers.
Vladimir Putin’s suspiciousness, rooted in his KGB past, unfortunately means both that he views all Western diplomats as spies or worse and that he thus feels completely free to behave in that way with regard to others, confident that many in the West can be counted on to dismiss such charges as relics of Cold War thinking.
There are two dangers of such a revival. On the one hand, it increases the level of suspiciousness on both sides and thus makes much of the normal work of diplomats far more difficult. Indeed, it creates what can become a vicious circle of reinforcing assumptions that will go a long way to make things worse.
And on the other, as Putin understands but as many in the West do not, the fact that the West does not want to believe that Moscow is doing what it obviously is doing because the Kremlin claims otherwise gives Moscow a dangerous opening that can be ignored only at the peril of those who do.
As long as Putin or anyone else who thinks like him is in power in Moscow, the West has to avoid falling into either trap that the Russian authorities are all too willing to set. Not everyone the West might see as an agent is in fact one, but not everyone Moscow claims isn’t one is in fact something else.
That was never easy during the Cold War, and if anything it is more difficult now, not only because we have lost the discipline imposed by a common opposition to communism but also because we have sacrificed much of the kind of expertise any government needs to make these critical distinctions.
Putin’s commitment to “hybrid” activities – which is after all simply another term for saying one thing and doing another – means that those subject to his attacks must develop the kind of information gathering and analytic capacity needed to make those distinctions, lest his bad behavior spread as memes do to areas where it will do even more harm.