The Putin Thread and the Phases of Putinism Since 2000

By Robbin Laird

Steven Lee Myers has written a comprehensive perspective on the rise and reign of Vladimir Putin.

The book is a highly recommended read and what I am going to do in this review, is to lay out how one might look at the various Putin threads shaping the challenges for the West and what one might identify as the various phases of Putinism since 2000.

These characterizations are my own, but will  included comments by Myers throughout the assessment to provide the reader with a good sense of Myers analysis as well.

Vladimir Putin began his professional life in the 1980s as the Soviet Union was engaged in a significant power struggle with the West. Ronald Reagan came to power with a clear and deliberate interest in taking on the Soviet Union and curtailing its power.

And as the 1980s played out, with the Euro-missile crisis as a key theater of conflict in Europe, Vladimir Putin moved from his post in Leningrad to one at Dresden.

He learned German and speaks it fluently and while in East Germany shaped a network of relationships with the STASI which he carried forward in part past the collapse of the Soviet Empire.

While in Dresden, he engaged in a range of KGB activities, but clearly a key part of what the KGB was about in that period of time was recruiting agents in the West and hoping to understand and influence Western Europe in ways that would widen the gap with the United States.

Putin learned first hand, the KGB approaches and techniques to how to understand Germany and to seek ways to influence Germany to become less “Western.”

This of course was met head on by the German reunification process through which the Chancellor of West Germany, Helmut Kohl, refused to contemplate a special relationship whereby the new Germany would not be fully integrated into the Western institutions.

And as the Bush Administration would lead the reunification effort the discussions with Gorbachev revolved around Germany and its place in Europe.  The Treaty which established the united Germany guaranteed German sovereignty which included its ability to belong to and support the Western Alliances, the European Union and NATO.

The Treaty on the Final Settlement with Respect to Germany was signed in Moscow, Soviet Union, on 12 September 1990, and paved the way for German reunification on 3 October 1990.

Under the terms of the treaty, the Four Powers renounced all rights they formerly held in Germany, including those regarding the city of Berlin. Upon deposit of the last instrument of ratification, united Germany became fully sovereign on 15 March 1991.

The treaty allows Germany to make and belong to alliances, without any foreign influence in its politics. All Soviet forces were to leave Germany by the end of 1994. Before the Soviets withdrew, Germany would only deploy territorial defense units not integrated into the alliance structures. German forces in the rest of Germany were assigned to areas where Soviet troops were stationed.

After the Soviets withdrew, the Germans could freely deploy troops in those areas, with the exception of nuclear weapons. For the duration of the Soviet presence, Allied troops would remain stationed in Berlin upon Germany’s request.

Germany undertook to reduce its armed forces to no more than 370,000 personnel, no more than 345,000 of whom were to be in the Army and the Air Force These limits would commence at the time that the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe would enter into force, and the treaty also took note that it was expected that the other participants in the negotiations would “render their contribution to enhancing security and stability in Europe, including measures to limit personnel strengths.”

Germany also reaffirmed its renunciation of the manufacture, possession of, and control over nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons, and in particular, that the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty would continue to apply in full to the unified Germany (the Federal Republic of Germany).

No foreign armed forces, nuclear weapons, or the carriers for nuclear weapons would be stationed or deployed in six states (the area of Berlin and the former East Germany), making them a permanent Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone.

The German Army could deploy conventional weapons systems with nonconventional capabilities, provided that they were equipped and designed for a purely conventional role. Germany also agreed to use military force only in accordance with the United Nations Charter.

Another of the treaty’s important provisions was Germany’s confirmation of the by now internationally recognised border with Poland, and other territorial changes in Germany that had taken place since 1945, preventing any future claims to lost territory east of the Oder-Neisse line.  

The treaty defined the territory of a ‘united Germany’ as being the territory of East Germany, West Germany and Berlin, prohibiting Germany from making any future territorial claims.

Germany also agreed to sign a separate treaty with Poland reaffirming the present common border, binding under international law, effectively relinquishing these territories to Poland.

This was done on 14 November 1990 with the signing of the German-Polish Border Treaty.

Furthermore, the Federal Republic was required by the treaty to amend its Basic Law so as to be constitutionally prohibited from accepting any application for incorporation into Germany from territories outside the territories of East Germany, West Germany and Berlin.

Although the treaty was signed by West and East Germany as separate sovereign states, it was subsequently ratified by united Germany (the Federal Republic of Germany).

Thus, the first thread of Putin’s experience shaping the Russia of 2019 was his learning about the East-West conflict through the German prism and experiencing first hand in Dresden the fall of East Germany.

The second thread was living through the turbulence of the 1990s and the significant uncertainty about Russia, its economic and political systems and its role in the world.

Lyudmila felt her husband “had lost touch with his life’s real purpose.”15 His career as a KGB officer stood at a crossroads. He joined a mass repatriation of intelligence operatives from abroad, not only from Germany but from all of Eastern Europe and other far-flung battlegrounds of the Cold War, like Afghanistan, Angola, Mongolia, Vietnam, Nicaragua, and Yemen. They were defeated, dejected, and effectively out of work, displaced refugees of a crumbling empire.1

Given how dominant the Soviet empire was upon Moscow itself in terms of its operations, the collapse of the Soviet Union led to the implosion of Russia itself. And this led to significant economic suffering and dislocation as well for the “narod” or the people. This shared experience has been central in shaping Putin’s perspectives and his ability to resonate with the “narod” to fill a longing for order, growth and respect abroad.

In the early 1990s, Putin works for the reformist mayor of Leningrad, which was to become its original name Petersburg, Anatoly Sobchak, the mayor of St. Petersburg and democratic reformer, gave Putin his start in public life.

Mr. Sobchak emerged as a leading member of Russia’s democratic movement in the late 1980’s, together with Boris N. Yeltsin, who became Russia’s first elected president in 1991.

In that same year Mr. Sobchak became the first elected mayor of Leningrad, Russia’s second-largest city. After the collapse of a Communist-backed coup that summer, Mr. Sobchak renamed his native city St. Petersburg, the name it bore when it was Russia’s imperial capital.

With his legal knowledge and lucid, eloquent speeches, Mr. Sobchak was one of the best-known spokesmen for the democratic movement, at home and abroad.

Sobchak would come under attack and be voted out of office in 1996, but during his term in office, Putin became a key functionary supporting Sobchak’s efforts to enhance the power of Petersburg in the Russian system. But when Sobchak was voted out of power and then forced to flee Russia to Paris because of corruption charges Putin was out of a job.

But the network, which Putin forged in Petersburg, would remain loyal to him throughout his political life and would become the core Putin team when he later became President.

Through a difficult period in the mid-1990s and with the Yeltsin democratic but turbulent period of change, Putin struggled forward but would eventually come to Yelstin’s attention and become identified by the ailing President as a man to work with.

He involved Putin in his administration in key matters.

Notably, Putin became head of the Main Control Directorate in the government in March 1997. This appointment made him as well deputy chief of staff in the presidential administration.

In his new post, Putin would travel across the country and would work in close contact with the general prosecutor’s office and the successor organization to the KGB, the Federal Security Service.

A week after he assumed the job, a new presidential decree gave the directorate broader authority to investigate abuses in government spending throughout the country at a time when governors, state enterprises, and monopolies were taking advantage of the political and economic chaos to leech money out of the nation’s coffers. Putin’s task was to restore order, to end the most rampant schemes that were dragging the government and the economy ever downward. The work exposed him to the corruption that gnawed at the country, but also to the political risks of exposing those in power.2

Then in May 1998, Yeltsin moved Putin into his third new job in the Kremlin in less than two years.

This time Yeltsin appointed him the first deputy director of the presidential administration, putting him in charge of relations with the country’s eighty-nine regions. The job was a natural extension of his work at the Main Control Directorate, where he had amassed files of corruption and malfeasance by regional officials. Russia is nominally a federation of its regions, and though the Constitution of 1993 gave the president broad, centralized authority, many operated as independent fiefs. By virtue of their local elections, the regional leaders also had independent political authority and thus posed potential threats to Yeltsin’s preeminence 3

Next, Yeltsin would appoint him head of the successor organization to the KGB, the Federal Security Service, in 1998. This meant that Putin was moving through the ranks of the Yeltsin Administration even as the Administration was facing its death march.

A key foreign policy development at this time directly concerned President Yeltsin and would form a key event in the launch of the Putin narrative.

The renewed turmoil in Chechnya unfolded as Russia was facing a war waged by the Soviet Union’s archenemy, NATO, against the country’s Slavic brothers in Serbia. After the breakup of Yugoslavia in the 1990s, Serbia turned its nativist fury on the once-autonomous Muslim region within its own borders, Kosovo. At the end of 1998, Serbia’s president, Slobodan Milošević, launched a campaign to crush separatist militias in the region; within months, the campaign looked more and more like the ethnic cleansing that had occurred in Bosnia only a few years before. Europe and the United States, shamed by their dithering over the earlier killing, responded aggressively.

The prospect of a NATO military intervention to protect Kosovo infuriated Russia in ways American and European leaders failed to appreciate. Serbia and Russia shared Slavic roots, religion, and culture, but Russia’s concerns went deeper. The conflict in Serbia inflamed Russia’s wounded pride over its deflated status since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

The new Russia lacked the ability to shape world events, which made the American-led actions even harder to swallow. Yeltsin berated President Clinton, insisting that an intervention was forbidden by international law, only to be ignored.

Russia resented the fact that the United States and its expanding NATO alliance were acting as if they could impose their will on the new world order without regard to Russia’s interests.

Even worse, the conflict in Kosovo had striking parallels to the one in Chechnya, and even Russians not prone to paranoia could imagine a NATO campaign on behalf of Chechnya’s independence movement.4

The ailing Yeltsin would turn to Putin to make him acting Prime Minister on August 9, 1999 and then would turn the Presidency over to him in his surprise resignation at the end of 1999. Putin was then in the position to run for the Presidency in March 2000.

It is only at this point, does the outside world begin to experience the launching of the Putin narrative, something that would evolve and grow over the years, but was clearly rooted in the first two threads of Putin’s career.

Myers highlighted the shift from Yeltsin to Putin evidenced in Putin’s New Year surprise at the turn of the millennium.

Putin then carried out his own New Year’s surprise.

He and his successor at the FSB, Nikolai Patrushev, along with their wives and a popular singer, secretly flew to Dagestan….When they landed in Dagestan’s capital, Makhachkala, they climbed into military vehicles under heavy escort and drove two and a half hours back into Chechnya. It was nearly dawn when Putin greeted the Russian troops there.

 “They looked tired and a little disoriented—as though they wanted to pinch themselves,” Lyudmila recalled. “Were they dreaming?”52 It had been a quiet night in Gudermes, but only twenty-three miles away, Grozny endured one of the heaviest nights of bombing to date. Putin, dressed in a turtleneck, again handed out medals and ceremonial knives. “I want you to know that Russia highly appreciates what you’re doing,” Putin told the soldiers mustered there. “This is not just about restoring Russia’s honor and dignity. It’s about putting an end to the breakup of the Russian Federation.” The Yeltsin era was over.

The Putin era had begun.5

The third thread was the Putin rebuild of Russia and engagement with the west from 2000 to 2007. 

In this period, Putin focused on ways to rebuild state power, and to position himself to control the core energy commodities in Russia to fund the rebuild of the state and setting in motion the objectives for the new Russia.

Putin had shaped his energy strategy during his time in Petersburg, “when Putin forged his bonds with the cadre of aides and businessmen concentrated around the Mining Institute where he had defended his thesis. By the middle of the 1990s, Putin was meeting regularly for informal discussions on the country’s natural resources under the aegis of the institute’s director, Vladimir Litvinenko, who had presided over Putin’sdissertation. The ideas that Putin and his friends, Igor Sechin and Viktor Zubkov, formulated in their discussions and academic work became the basis for a strategy of restoring the state’s command over Russia’s vast oil and gas resources.”6

The rise of energy prices would allow Putin to fund the pensions, which had collapsed for the former Soviet citizens and begin to rebuild the Russian infrastructure. At the same time, the dramatic attack by Islamic terrorists on New York was seized as an opportunity to work with the West. Putin was the first foreign leader to call President Bush after 9/11 to offer his support.

And Putin overruled his military advisors in permitting the US to use Russian transit points to engage in military operations in Afghanistan.

As defense minister, Ivanov watched the prospect of an American intervention on Russia’s periphery with alarm. Three days after the September 11 attacks, Ivanov ruled out “even the hypothetical possibility of NATO military operations on the territory of Central Asian nations.”

Putin, though, felt that the United States now understood the threat of Islamic terrorism and was gratified. He traveled to Germany two weeks later and addressed the Bundestag, beginning his remarks in Russian and then shifting to “the language of Goethe, of Schiller and of Kant.” “Today we must state firmly and finally,” he said, “the Cold War is over!”

The German chancellor, Gerhard Schröder, reciprocated by declaring that the world should moderate its criticism of Russia’s military operations in Chechnya (even as he pressed Putin privately to intervene in the most prominent military trial involving war crimes by Russian soldiers).

When Putin returned to Moscow on September he went to the Ministry of Defense, a hulking white building on the Bulvar Ring in the city’s center, and ordered the commanders to work with the Americans. He overruled Ivanov, who quietly dropped his public opposition to the American operations in Central Asia.7

In turn, Putin expected to have a free hand in the Chechen civil wars, which he characterized as a war against terrorism as well.

The Iraq war would provide a further turning point as well.

For two years Putin had sought a new relationship with the United States through his friendship with Bush, but Russia had received little return on the investment. Chirac, who had personally greeted him at the airport in Paris, had as much to offer Russia and tended not to muddy cordial relations with criticism of rights abuses in Chechnya or elsewhere.

Putin did not break with Bush outright, but Iraq was a turning point.

To him, the war revealed the true ambitions of the United States. In his view, it wanted to dictate its terms to the rest of the world, to champion “freedom” and use unilateral means to impose it, to interfere in the internal affairs of other nations.8

But with pushback from both the Bush and Clinton Administrations, Putin reassessed how he would deal with the West. What he wanted was a seat at the table in the fight against global terrorism, and recognition that Russia was a global power.

This meant that while rebuilding state power, and working to overcome the chaotic Russian economy, and providing for a higher standard of living for the “narod,” Putin was working to protect Russia from being pressured by the much richer and more powerful West.

The Clinton Administration seized the opportunity, in Putin’s perspective, to expand NATO while the Germans would lead the expansion of the European Union. Viewed in the West as actions of the new sovereign states from the Soviet empires, from Putin’s perspectives the United States was leveraging the process to undercut the return of Russia to the world stage and to deflect the Russian sovereign effort to define their own unique Russian destiny.

In a famous 2007 presentation to the Munich Security Forum, Putin would put clearly and bluntly in front a Western audience how he saw the global situation and Russia’s agenda in dealing with that situation.

Today we are witnessing an almost uncontained hyper use of force – military force –in international relations, force that is plunging the world into an abyss of permanent conflicts. As a result we do not have sufficient strength to find a comprehensive solution to any one of these conflicts.

Finding a political settlement also becomes impossible.

We are seeing a greater and greater disdain for the basic principles of international law. And independent legal norms are, as a matter of fact, coming increasingly closer to one state’s legal system. One state and, of course, first and foremost the United States, has overstepped its national borders in every way. This is visible in the economic, political, cultural and educational policies it imposes on other nations.

Well, who likes this?

 Who is happy about this?

 In international relations we increasingly see the desire to resolve a given question according to so-called issues of political expediency, based on the current political climate.

And of course this is extremely dangerous. It results in the fact that no one feels safe. I want to emphasise this – no one feels safe! Because no one can feel that international law is like a stone wall that will protect them. Of course such a policy stimulates an arms race.

The force’s dominance inevitably encourages a number of countries to acquire weapons of mass destruction. Moreover, significantly new threats – though they were also well-known before – have appeared, and today threats such as terrorism have taken on a global character.

I am convinced that we have reached that decisive moment when we must seriously think about the architecture of global security.

And we must proceed by searching for a reasonable balance between the interests of all participants in the international dialogue. Especially since the international landscape is so varied and changes so quickly – changes in light of the dynamic development in a whole number of countries and regions…

 I think it is obvious that NATO expansion does not have any relation with the modernisation of the Alliance itself or with ensuring security in Europe.

On the contrary, it represents a serious provocation that reduces the level of mutual trust. And we have the right to ask: against whom is this expansion intended? And what happened to the assurances our western partners made after the dissolution

of the Warsaw Pact? Where are those declarations today? No one even remembers them. But I will allow myself to remind this audience what was said. I would like to quote the speech of NATO General Secretary Mr Woerner in Brussels on 17 May 1990. He said at the time that: “the fact that we are ready not to place a NATO army outside of German territory gives the Soviet Union a firm security guarantee”.

Where are these guarantees?

The stones and concrete blocks of the Berlin Wall have long been distributed as souvenirs. But we should not forget that the fall of the Berlin Wall was possible thanks to a historic choice – one that was also made by our people, the people of Russia – a choice in favour of democracy, freedom, openness and a sincere partnership with all the members of the big European family.

And now they are trying to impose new dividing lines and walls on us – these walls may be virtual but they are nevertheless dividing, ones that cut through our continent. And is it possible that we will once again require many years and decades, as well as several generations of politicians, to dissemble and dismantle these new walls?

When the United States and NATO had responded to Serbian atrocities committed in the Balkans, then President Yeltsin was furious with the NATO bombings. And there were potential conflict points between Russians operating in the region and Western forces.

Putin would take that experience and translate that into the Russians actions in Georgia in 2008, to enter into direct conflict with Georgia and to seizure Georgian territory for the their local ally. This led to direct conflict with the Bush Administration, but in Putin’s view, Bush backed down, which began a key process which Putin pursued going forward, stopping the expansion of the Western alliances eastward.

In 2008, Putin was facing the end of his second term and was barred from running for a third term. He backed his aide, Dmitry Medvedev, to run for the Presidency, which he did and won. Putin then became his Prime Minister who clearly was given more power than a normal Prime Minister, notably with regard to global affairs.

The fourth thread of the Putin experience reshaping Russia during his time as Prime Minster, from 2008 to 2012.  

Here is focus was upon deepening his control over the 11 time zones and enhancing the system of vertical power control. But at the same time, the coming to power of the new US President Barrack Obama was viewed as an opportunity for a Russian reset, and one which the Russians could look to leverage as well.

In other words, the internal and external aspects of Russian policy were being worked in harmony in the modernization of the 21st century Russian authoritarian system. 

And Putin was waiting in the wings for his return to the Presidency, this arrangement provided him with significant space to be involved but not responsible directly for Presidential policies.

In other words, it was an opportunity to be powerful and to prepare for the next round of being President of Russia.

A quite revealing story is provided by Myers about Obama in relationship to this situation.

The denigration of Medvedev’s legacy extended to foreign affairs as well.

Within days of his inauguration Putin signaled that the “reset” championed by the Obama administration had ended.

He brusquely informed the White House that he would not attend the G8 summit that would be held near Washington later that month, a rebuff not just to the United States but also to the leaders of the other nations he had once courted. He sent Medvedev instead on the pretext that he would be too busy forming the new government.9

But in spite of this Obama decided to reach out to Putin via Medvedev.

“On all these issues, but particularly missile defense, this can be solved, but it’s important for him to give me space,” Obama told Medvedev.

“Yeah, I understand,” Medvedev replied. “I understand your message about space. Space for you…”

“This is my last election,” Obama explained.

“After my election I have more flexibility.”

“I understand. I will transmit this information to Vladimir.”10

The fifth thread of the Putin experience has been the maturing of the Putin system during his final presidential terms, starting in 2012 until the projected end of his current term in 2024.

This is how Meyers described the Putin legacy as he began his Presidential term in 2012.

In 2000, Putin had taken his first oath of office against a backdrop of economic and political uncertainty and war in Chechnya. His second inauguration, more subdued, took place in the shadow of that war, amid the tightening of political freedoms and the dismantling of Yukos, but also in the midst of an economic revival that had trickled down to more Russians than at any time in the country’s history.

Medvedev took the oath in 2008 at a time of hope that Russia had overcome its turbulent history and would pass power to a new generation of leaders, soon perhaps to leaders who knew only modern Russia, not the Soviet Union. Now Putin returned to take the oath a third time, pledging to faithfully serve and protect the country for six more years.

But he and the country had changed. He had returned to power by dividing the nation, by stoking fear of the enemies within that wanted to seize power and reverse all that had been accomplished since he first swore the oath. He had returned to power because he made himself the only real choice at the ballot.

He no longer seemed to be president for all Russia but only for the Putin majority. For the opposition, it was a bitter pill to swallow11

Clearly for Putin, Ukraine’s desire for reform, for potential membership in the European Union and/NATO was a red line, which he fully was willing to engage in kinetic and non kinetic means to stop.

Putin had grudgingly accepted NATO’s plans to expand, but now NATO seemed to loom over Ukraine. Like many in Russia’s security establishment, he had been trained to subvert and, if necessary, fight NATO, and a sense of enmity lingered.

Officials often cited reassurances that Mikhail Gorbachev believed he had been given during the reunification of Germany after 1989 that NATO would not expand to the east (though leaders of the United States and Europe insisted that no such reassurance had ever been made).

It was humiliating enough that the Baltic nations had joined NATO, but influential American and European officials were now openly advocating the inclusion of still more former Soviet republics, including Georgia and Ukraine.12

The Crimean intervention would form the bedrock for the fifth thread, playing off the threat from the West to reinforce the authoritarian state and Russia’s global mission.

This perspective has provided a key foundation for how Putin is shaping his authoritarian legacy, one in which he befriends other authoritarians, while playing off of Western conflicts on the trans-Atlantic, European Union and general splits between North and South Europe. The goal is to widen Russian options and to enhance its power diplomatically, economically and militarily going forward.

In the wake of Ukraine’s Orange revolution, underscored the way forward for Russia in dealing with Ukraine and the West.

Ukraine’s election, coming in the wake of Beslan, proved to be a turning point for Putin and for Russia. His initial instinct to bring Russia into closer cooperation with the West, if not an actual alliance, had faded as steadily as his political and economic power had grown.

When he delivered his annual address to the Duma and Federation Council in April, he appealed for a new national unity against those who would challenge the state, inside or outside Russia.

He began with a preamble that the country needed to consider “the deeper meaning of such values as freedom and democracy, justice and legality,” and went on to utter a sentence that to many confirmed the worst about Putin’s instincts: a lingering nostalgia for the glory of the Soviet Union.

“First of all,” he said, “it should be recognized that the collapse of the Soviet Union was the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century. For the Russian people, it became a real drama. Tens of millions of our fellow citizens and compatriots found themselves outside Russian territory. The epidemic of disintegration also spread to Russia itself.”

Putin did not wish to restore the Soviet or Communist system—anyone who wants to, he had said, has no brain—but for the first time he began casting his leadership in a broader historical context.

He meant to restore something much older, much richer and deeper: the idea of the Russian nation, the imperium of the “third Rome,” charting its own course, indifferent to the imposition of foreign values.13Myers, Steven Lee. The New Tsar (pp. 277-278). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

The seizure of Crimea was simply an act generated by the red line perspective and the setting in motion of mature Putinism.

By playing on Western fissures, but hoping to deflect how agendas of Western states which might show solidarity rather than unity to intrude in Russian affairs, Putin is looking to expand his options.

But the fundamental realities remain – Russia is too dependent on state controlled energy industries to have the flexibility to build a 21st century economy.

In his first term Putin had moved slowly to set the economy on its feet, benefiting enormously from the unexpected surge in the price of oil (which in turn affected the price of natural gas), but his second term represented a significant shift, one that coincided with the departure of some of his liberal advisers and the consolidation of the Kremlin’s control over the branches of government, as well as over the media and business. Now, with the country increasingly solvent, he began to redistribute the proceeds to a new generation of tycoons in waiting, those who had not had the privileged, insider track to amass fortunes in the 1990s.14

Indeed, Putin’s legacy is to ensure that his successors will have to deal with major challenges in this domain along with the political and social conflicts which these will generate.

As Myers summarizes the legacy:

For Putin, the personal had become policy. The pragmatism of his first two terms as president had long before ended, but now the upheaval in Ukraine signaled a fundamental break in the trajectory that he had followed since Yeltsin unexpectedly handed him the presidency at the dawn of the new millennium.

For fourteen years in power, he had focused on restoring Russia to its place among the world’s powers by integrating into a globalized economy, profiting from and exploiting the financial institutions of the free market—banks, stock markets, trading houses—to the benefit of those tycoons closest to him, of course, but also Russians generally.

Now he would reassert Russia’s power with or without the recognition of the West, shunning its “universal” values, its democracy and rule of law, as something alien to Russia, something intended not to include Russia but to subjugate it. The nation became “hostage to the psychosomatic quirks of its leader,” the novelist Vladimir Sorokin wrote after the annexation. “All his fears, passions, weaknesses, and complexes become state policy.

If he is paranoid, the whole country must fear enemies and spies; if he has insomnia, all the ministries must work at night; if he’s a teetotaler, everyone must stop drinking; if he’s a drunk, everyone should booze it up; if he doesn’t like America, which his beloved KGB fought against, the whole population must dislike the United States.”15


  1. Myers, Steven Lee. The New Tsar (p. 55). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
  2. Myers, Steven Lee. The New Tsar (p.111-112). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
  3. Myers, Steven Lee. The New Tsar (p. 121). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
  4. Myers, Steven Lee. The New Tsar (pp. 143-144). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
  5. Myers, Steven Lee. The New Tsar (pp. 172-173). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
  6. Myers, Steven Lee. The New Tsar (pp. 227). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
  7. Myers, Steven Lee. The New Tsar (p. 210). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
  8. Myers, Steven Lee. The New Tsar (pp. 229-230). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
  9. Myers, Steven Lee. The New Tsar (p.420). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
  10. Myers, Steven Lee. The New Tsar (p.420). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
  11. Myers, Steven Lee. The New Tsar (p.411). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
  12. Myers, Steven Lee. The New Tsar (p.267). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
  13. Myers, Steven Lee. The New Tsar (pp. 277-278). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
  14. Myers, Steven Lee. The New Tsar (p.299). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
  15. Myers, Steven Lee. The New Tsar (p.475). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.