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“They Dream of restoring the Empire” .. Putin’s narrow Circle “affects his thinking”

Russia constantly says it has no intention of invading Ukraine, but almost the entire Western world warns that an invasion could be “very soon,” yet no one, whether in Russia or abroad, seems to know exactly what Russian President Vladimir Putin is thinking.

Nevertheless, there are those who influence the president’s thinking, especially “old-school advisers who sing about the glories and values ​​of the Soviet Union,” according to the New York Times .

 A report by the newspaper highlighted an anti-Western media campaign spreading widely in Russia, including that “Westerners legalize marriage between humans and animals” and that “Ukraine’s leaders are as bad as Hitler.”

These are the opinions of Putin’s inner circle, made up of senior Russian security officials who are likely to be present at the meeting when their leader decides whether to launch an open war against Ukraine.

In comments published by Russian media last year, these men bet on “reactionary positions” as the newspaper described them as “more than their president bet on, a sign of the hard-line transformation the Kremlin is taking as it escalates its fight with perceived enemies at home and abroad.”

The newspaper says that the rise of security officials in the president’s circle could be a measure of the evolution of Putin’s thinking from a young leader who showed a friendly face to the West in the early twenty-first century, while surrounding himself with advisers, including prominent liberals, to the man who is now implicitly threatening to start a major war in Europe .

“It is a collective attempt to form a counter-ideology, because Putin does not have an ideology,” Konstantin Remchukov, editor-in-chief of the Moscow newspaper, who has ties to the Kremlin, was quoted as saying by the newspaper, adding that “the main saying in it is that everyone is against Russia.”

Among them are Putin’s main national security adviser, Nikolai Patrushev, and the head of his foreign intelligence, Sergei Naryshkin, the newspaper said.

They also include Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, who is currently leading efforts to build new cities in Siberia.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu with Putin
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu with Putin

tough statements

The newspaper quoted the intelligence chief, Naryshkin, describing the Ukrainian government as a “real dictatorship”, adding that “a kind of time machine takes us (through Ukraine) to the worst years of Hitler’s occupation.”

Naryshkin’s remarks came during the opening of an exhibition in Moscow entitled: “Violations of Human Rights in Ukraine”.

Last month, Minister Shoigu described Ukrainian nationalists as “non-human.” Chancellor Patrushev described “Russian fear” in Ukraine as the result of a Western propaganda campaign dating back to zealous European scribes who sullied the image of Ivan the Terrible.

“They did not like that the Russian Tsar did not recognize their political and moral leadership,” Patrushev added of the Tsar, who was known in the 16th century for his fearsome secret police.

Nikolai Patrushev with the Russian President
Nikolai Patrushev with the Russian President

Although there are some “moderates” in the inner Russian circle close to Putin, the newspaper says that “extremists” are gaining influence.

“While they are working to crush dissent, hard-line security officials are also at the forefront of embracing traditional values ​​as Russia’s superior alternative to the morally degraded West,” she added.

A television channel was recently fined for showing a man with long hair and painted nails “who does not conform to the image of a man of traditional sexual orientation”. Bloggers were sentenced to 10 months in prison for a sexually suggestive photo in front of St Basil’s Cathedral.

“The name of the father and mother is being changed to parent number one and parent number two,” Patrushev said in an interview in September, describing the “strange” values ​​of the West. The legality of marrying animals.

Putin repeated the phrase “Parent Number One, Father Number Two” in an appearance a month later.

Patrushev said that the collapse of the Soviet Union “totally freed the hands of the Western neoliberal elite,” allowing it to impose its unconventional values ​​on the world.

He and his colleagues described Russia as a country destined to restore these “values” as a bulwark against the West.

“It is one of the darkest currents of Russian nationalism that imperialism multiplies,” said Andrei Kolesnikov, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for Research in Moscow. He stressed that the goal for the Russian security elite is to “restore the empire.”

Putin himself has called the collapse of the Soviet Union a “geopolitical disaster”, although he also used to seek advice from a range of officials, including those with liberal views.

Now, these officials have largely been pushed out of government, while technocrats like the prime minister, Mishustin, almost never talk about matters beyond their immediate area of ​​responsibility.

The influence of these “hard-line” officials extends beyond security. Patrushev heads the Russian Volleyball Federation, his son is the Minister of Agriculture, Naryshkin oversees the Russian Historical Society, and Defense Minister Shoigu heads the Russian Geographical Society and takes Putin on regular vacations to Siberian forests.

Analysts say that rising tensions with the West is a good thing for these officials, increasing their influence within the ruling elite.

“The escalating confrontation and sanctions do not frighten them, but, on the contrary, open up more opportunities for them,” Tatiana Stanovaya, founder of the political analysis firm R, told the American newspaper.

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