The most amazing thing just happened. Please remember, you read about it first here on New Eastern Outlook. In the early hours of January 26th, 2020, Russia President Vladimir Putin was NOT accused of anything by western media, Washington think tanks or even a US State Department announcement. Not even Yukos oil mafioso Mikhael Khodorkovsky, who always has some wild accusation, uttered a bad word in Mr. Putin’s direction. Could this mean the Great Russophobic War is over? Will Russia get back on track and power up her economy? The signs are very positive.
This is astonishing news for a world that has come to expect Russia’s president to be the arch-villain around every turn. Ten thousand media outlets are basically silent this morning, all except for the blanket news claiming Mr. Putin will “rule” Russia forever. Seriously, search Google News for the timeframe and you’ll be astonished. Okay, CNN does claim that Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff is helping Putin finish off American democracy by claiming U.S. elections cannot be trusted. But the story is from CNN, after all.
For those of you brainwashed into daydreams of Vladimir Putin smiling wryly and wringing his hands in super-villain fashion, I know this “No News” day comes as a shock. But please be calm. Think of the potential of a world in which Russia is not the cause of every war, every disaster, all the ills of humanity! Maybe now, if the cycle holds, humanity can begin to address what’s really important.
Russia’s next steps are what matters in any discussion of Vladimir Putin. What happened in the last six or seven years is just bad water under the bridge to the future. Interestingly, Bloomberg, one of media outlets most critical of Russia’s president, is the one forecasting the Putin positive today. The financial paper discusses the recent Russian government shakeup and claims Putin’s administration is now headed off toward a more “Keynesian recipe” for the immediate future. Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska, who founded aluminum producer United Co Rusal Plc, told Bloomberg Television in Davos:
“Russian political changes at this moment have one goal: to boost economic growth.”
How’s that for amazing, a moment of clarity from Michael Bloomberg’s newspaper? Is the new government Putin wants a sign the crisis is over? I think these moves are a hint at new Russian government spending and that Putin’s Russia has turned the corner. In line with what Deripaska said, it seems Mr. Putin’s confidence in Russia’s ability to weather an economic crisis. There are other clues, as well. The Financial Times tells of a new Russian spending spree, as well. The key here is the appointment of Mikhail Mishustin, as Russia’s new prime minister. Though few western media outlets report it, it was Mishustin who transformed the Russian Federal Tax Service, which he headed previously, by declaring war on “dirty data” and fraudulent tax breaks for the super-wealthy. Within days of his taking office as Prime Minister, he demoted almost every conservative working in Russia’s social ministries and put in their place officials who advocated more spending by the government. This indicated two very important things.
First, Mr. Putin “is” going to start those infrastructure programs be promised. More significantly, the was Putin is putting in key positions officials with the right “ideals” indicates he’s dedicated to a system run by ideals, and not the old “buddy-buddy” system of the past. This is very important if you consider how Russia works.
The $550 billion dollar investment program the Putin administration put in place will now go forward. Tens of thousands of Russian workers are about to set out on a construction program the likes of which Russia and the world have never seen. As for Vladimir Putin supposedly set up to run Russia forever, his young constituents are behind him, they’re content to go forward with the only leader they’ve ever known. And as for Putin’s older supporter base, they never had a leader who cared more about them.
And here’s a final thing. Vladimir Putin’s formerly ultra-conservative economic austerity put billions back in Russia’s coffers largely because of saving the excess of state oil revenues over $40 per barrel. As I type this Brent Crude goes for $59.89 per barrel. In December, Russian oil pipeline exports stood at 4.286 million barrels per day. Now, I’m no Alexei Kudrin, but my calculator tells me there’s $85,285,400 a day flowing into Russia’s treasury. That’s $31,129,171,000 stretched out over 2020. EIA forecasts Brent crude oil prices will average $65 per barrel in 2020 and $68/b in 2021. Maybe this is why the west seems to be laying off hating Putin?
Phil Butler, is a policy investigator and analyst, a political scientist and expert on Eastern Europe, he’s an author of the recent bestseller “Putin’s Praetorians” and other books. He writes exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”