Friday, February 26, 2021

Unpleasant surprises for Putin. How the EU and the US “strangle” the Russian elite


This material is also available in Ukrainian

Good news for those who don’t really like Vladimir Putin and his regime

First, the main news: the Council of Foreign Ministers of the EU countries at its meeting decided to introduce personal punishments against Vladimir Putin’s henchmen who tried to kill Alexei Navalny.

At least three people are now known from this list, which in fact may be much longer. Firstly, this is the head of the RF IC, Alexander Bastrykin. A person very close to Putin, one of the richest in Russia.

Secondly, the head of the National Guard, Viktor Zolotov. Former locksmith, former security guard of Anatoly Sobchak, loyal to Putin like a dog, and, of course, also wealthy. It is his people who are engaged in the mass beating of those who demonstrate against the regime.

And the third person is the Russian Prosecutor General Igor Krasnov.

As they say, the whole color of the Russian power vertical. Sanctions against FSB director Alexander Bortnikov were imposed even earlier.

Well, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu is now being tried in the Netherlands on charges of supporting terrorism. He is unlikely to go to Europe voluntarily.

These sanctions must, of course, be assessed. I would put it this way: it’s worse than I hoped, but better than various sources have promised.

Why is it worse? Because Navalny and his associates proposed to impose sanctions against a dozen people who not only perform important functions in the Russian regime, but are the custodians of its common fund – that is, hundreds of billions, if not trillions of dollars, stolen in Russia and deposited in Western banks.

If these assets are frozen, a riot may immediately begin in the Russian elite, as its representatives will lose practically everything that they have been saving for decades. It would be a shot to the heart of the regime.

But the Europeans felt that such sanctions were too much, that the response could be aggressive and inadequate, (For example, the resumption of a large-scale war in Ukraine), so they chose the version of light sanctions.

As far as I understand, the EU left more serious punishments for later, so as not to deprive itself of the last levers of pressure on the Kremlin. Actually, for this very reason, many observers, including myself, thought that the sanctions would be quite comical – relatively speaking, several judges who made decisions on Navalny, several unknown colonels – and that was all.

But the Europeans weren’t entirely toothless.



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