The fact that the English-language article authored by the President of the Russian Federation was published shows that he addressed, primarily, to the external audience and that he was in despair.
To communicate with the internal audience, the Russian leader has such tools as address to the nation, messages to the parliament, initiated bills, TV interviews and hours-long press conferences. Generally, in authoritarian Russia, citizens listen even to the breathing rhythm of their leader, never mind his statements. Therefore, the article written by the President of the Russian Federation has specific external focus. However, the Kremlin master also has several ways to deliver his messages to world leaders, such as personal meetings, telephone conversations and diplomatic channels. Since all these means apparently do not work and the Russian president still remains in international isolation, he despaired, which prompted him to try to reach the power players by means of journalistic genre.
Vladimir Putin explicitly mentions his four addressees in the text of the article, namely Xi Jinping, E. Macron, D. Trump and B. Johnson, whom he calls to hold a meeting of the leaders of the five nuclear states as promptly as possible. Moreover, the Russian leader assures readers (and reminds the main addressees) that he has already talked about it with the above mentioned politicians and allegedly received their prior consent for such a meeting.
The reason for such an initiative of the Kremlin master is quite clear: Russia was expelled from the G8 (which became again the G7 for many years) for numerous international law violations being only one of two dozen countries (along with, say, Indonesia, Mexico and South Africa) within the G20. At the same time, widely advertised alliance between Russia and China de facto failed as well, because, despite the exchange of visits between officials and the seeming absence of problems at the interstate level, Beijing keeps reckoning with Washington and Brussels only, while the Chinese leadership skillfully exploits Moscow (all recent bilateral agreements, such as a major contract for the supply of Russian natural gas, have been concluded exclusively on Chinese terms).
In a situation where the vast majority of world leaders prefer keep from shaking Putin’s hand, he resorted to the last argument in order to remind of his own weight and importance – the argument of nuclear weapons. That is, according to Putin’s vision, there are five superpowers in the world today – the countries that won the WWII, all of them have nuclear weapons, they are permanent members of the UN Security Council and, of course, one of them is Russia!
Moscow has forgotten that back in the early 1980s, the Soviet Union (now Russia) was referred to by Western politicians as the “upper Volta with nuclear weapons,” that is, the Kremlin’s reminder of its possession of nuclear weapons as claim to be respected for this and to be taken it into account do not work for a long now. Moscow has also forgotten that Israel, India and Pakistan have nuclear weapons (although this is not officially recognized). In turn, for example, Germany does not have its own nuclear weapons (excluding US ones deployed on its territory) and is not a permanent member of the UN Security Council, although, instead, it is one of the world leading countries. However, Vladimir Putin does not offer meeting at the self-initiated summit with Tel Aviv or Berlin representatives, because the main thing for him is not following any logic, but recognizing Russia’s right to do whatever it pleases in the international arena.
At the same time, Vladimir Putin in his article hardly gets hysterical about the calls for UN reformation, which have been expressed for decades by various world capitals. As the owner of the “nuclear weapons petrol station” writes in his article, the proposal to deprive the permanent members of the UN Security Council of special capabilities and to abolish the veto is blatantly irresponsible. However, for Germany, one of the strategic UN priorities is to reform the Security Council as one that does not correspond to modern realities. Both official Berlin and many other world capitals have repeatedly stressed the need to redesign and modernize the UN Security Council and maximize involvement of their representatives in the discussion of global issues of today within this important international platform. However, it is obvious that if Russia is deprived of its veto in the UN Security Council, it will lose a very powerful trump card in the game in the international arena.
The interesting thing is that Putin tries to intimidate adherers of the reform of the UN Security Council that, in case of the abolition of the veto institution, the UN will become its historical predecessor – the League of Nations, which was dissolved in 1946 (due to the establishment of UN), allegedly as a result of obvious inefficiency. At the same time, Vladimir Putin hypocritically forgot to mention in his article that the USSR was expelled from the League of Nations in shame and disgrace in 1939 because of overt military aggression against Finland.
In any case, during the last 20 years of Putin’s continuous rule, the political elites of the United States and Great Britain have repeatedly convinced themselves that there is no point to sit down to the talks with the Kremlin master, and therefore avoid close ties with the trickster. The Chinese officials smile kindly and behave extremely delicate always and everywhere.
However, deliberately polite representatives of China will always act having cool head and relying on firm calculation solely in the interests of China while not sharing such virtues of Western civilization as “humanistic ideals”, “democratic values”, “rights and freedoms.”
That means, perhaps the only person whose response Putin may still hope for is French President E. Macron. The latter would like his country, not Germany to play the “first violin” in the European Union, and EU, not the United States, to play a leading role in the transatlantic partnership, and, ultimately, the union of Europe and the United States not China with Japan and South Korea to occupy the best position in the world. To achieve all these goals, France needs an alliance with Russia. Well, at least that’s what Monsieur E. Macron thinks. Is it possible that the French leader will dare to turn a blind eye to the Russian leadership’s total violation of the rights and freedoms of its own citizens, to the Russian hackers interfering in the internal affairs of many states, including France, and to the bloody traces of the Russian military in Georgia, Ukraine, Syria and Libya, Venezuela and other countries? We may only hope that Paris, that gave birth to the hitherto actionable slogan “Freedom. Equality. Brotherhood” will not be in too much of a hurry to find the Moscow’s embrace, which is still guided by credo “He who is not with us is against us.”
Another message for the external audience in Putin’s article is the thesis about the complete falseness, according to the Kremlin master, of the European Parliament resolution of September 19, 2019 on the importance of European remembrance for the future of Europe, in which Stalin’s USSR together with Hitler’s Third Reich was explicitly accused of starting up the WWII. However, Western historians are well aware of the value of Putin’s lament accusing France, the British Empire and Poland(!) of being the main culprits of the WWII that failed to curb Hitler’s aggression plans, while the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact in Putin’s view was a purely forced Moscow’s step, and that was the voluntary decision of Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Bessarabia, and Northern Bukovina to join the USSR.
Generally, it makes no sense to dwell on this Putin’s historical journey, as far as professional historians may take it point by point and professionally challenge almost every line in the article.
The paradox is the answer to this aspect of his article of June 18, 2020, Vladimir Putin received in May this year, when the US State Department published a joint statement by US Secretary of State M. Pompeo and the foreign ministers of Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria on the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War. The statement reads that for almost 50 years after the end of WWII, Central and Eastern Europe remained under the rule of the communist regime of the USSR, which, using dominant military force, repressions and ideological control, illegally annexed the Baltic states and held other enslaved peoples in iron fist. The statement also stressed out that the future must rest upon justice for all victims of various totalitarian regimes, and that the manipulation of historical events that caused the WWII and the partition of Europe after its end are a woesome attempt to falsify history.
Finally, for the domestic audience – the citizens of Russia and the former Soviet republics – Vladimir Putin also prepared another message that it was the USSR that got smashing victory over Nazism and saved the world, and the main, decisive contribution to the defeat of Nazism was made by the Red Army. Well, in the textbooks on the history of the 20th century you really won’t find any mention of the various WWII dimensions other then the Wehrmacht’s eastern front:
• major battle for the Atlantic between the fleets and aircraft of the United States, the British Empire and the Third Reich. This ocean war took away, among other things, vast German resources. For example, the total weight of all manufactured German submarines completely outweighed the weight of all German tanks. The Atlantic submarine war also consumed the vast majority of Germany’s diesel resources. As a result, German tanks were forced to use gasoline (rather than diesel) engines, causing them to flare up like matches during hostilities;
• armed conflict on the western front. In fact, three fourth of all German aircraft were concentrated there.
Luftwaffe pilots desperately and unsuccessfully attempted to stop the incessant (since the summer of 1942) raids of thousands of allied bombers on the Third Reich territory. In addition, one quarter of Wehrmacht ground forces was also concentrated near the western front;
• war between allied forces and the joint forces of Germany and Nazi Italy in North Africa, as well as a series of battles between the armed forces of Italy and the British Empire in East Africa;
• large-scale and incredibly tense war in the Pacific battle-ground between the United States and its allies and Japan. At the same time, the United States fought (beginning from the fall of 1943) on two fronts, while the Soviet Union fought on one front for five consequent years (and joined the war against Japan after the end of the war in Europe);
• provision of various property (from military equipment to raw materials) by the United States for the USSR and the Red Army needs under the lend lease program totally amounting to 18 million tons and worth of 9 thousand tons of gold. Furthermore, all these supplies were made by the United States only, which built a separate ocean liners fleet worth $2 billion specifically for this purpose.
Generally, no matter how offensive to the citizens of the United States, Great Britain, France, and other member countries of the Anti-Hitler Coalition it may be, both former Soviet and current Russian nationals are convinced that all these dimensions of the WWII were only minor and insignificant episodes.
In conclusion, it should be emphasized that, looking for launching a new international format, supposedly in the interests of global security – the summit of the “nuclear five” (excluding Canada and Germany – countries opposed to Russia’s return to the G7), Vladimir Putin, in fact, cares only about the Russia’s return to the group of world leaders.