Despite its backwardness in other things, Putin’s Russia is heavily militarized and ready for imperialist aggression all over the world, whether it’s a neighboring country, like Georgia or Ukraine, or a remote one, like Syria. (Image: TTOLK.ru)
Paul A. Goble
Marx created the First International; Engels established the Second; Lenin, the Third; Trotsky, the Fourth; and now Vladimir Putin heads a Fifth International, although he hasn’t officially announced it and although this one, in contrast to its predecessors unites “right-wing neo-fascist forces” rather that socialist ones, Yuri Felshtinsky says.
That Putin has done so, the US-based Russian historian says, should come as no surprise because it is simply the extrapolation onto the world of the ways in which Putin himself came to power and the goals he has pursued since then as a revanchist leader committed to undoing the settlement of 1991.
After being appointed to power and unleashing a war in Chechnya to build his authority at home. Putin went about in the first years of his rule “the destruction of the only obvious conquest of ‘the August revolution of 1991,’” Felshtinsky says, the destruction of the free media and its reversion to state control.
The Kremlin leader restored the Soviet hymn and Soviet TASS, he called the disintegration of the USSR “the most important geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century and a personal tragedy,” and he began using Russian military power beyond the borders of the Russian Federation, attacking Georgia in 2008 and Ukraine in 2014.
These acts of aggression, Felshtinsky says, “were accompanied by unprecedented in size anti-Georgian and anti-Ukrainian propaganda campaigns which unleashed nationalist feelings among Russian citizens.”
As a result, Russians were transformed in all too many cases from “neutral-apolitical” citizens to “militant fascists” in their views.
So successful was this campaign within Russia that it was almost inevitable that Putin would extend it to the international arena, looking to “right-wing nationalist forces” as his allies and supporters, and that he would do so by overt and where necessary cover support of them throughout the West.
It turned out, Felshtinsky continues, that “this has proved a more effective means of hitting back at an enemy” than any could have predicted.
Sometimes, this support of right-wing forces to bring about regime change has worked – as in Hungary, the Czech Republic and the US,” the historian says – and sometimes not. But it remains the centerpiece of Putin’s approach.
That is because is helps him pursue his “strategic tasks” including the unleashing of wars against former Soviet republics “who haven’t been able to join NATO,” the dividing or weakening of the Western alliance, the breaking apart of the European Union, and the expansion of Russian territories.
“Since 2008,” Felshtinsky says, “everything has been subordinated to these tasks.” And Putin has been able “to return Russia to the state when it again as in Soviet times has become a military threat to the world.”
He openly says Russia can fight and win a nuclear war, but he devotes most of his effort to winning a “hybrid” one using covert means.
Among these are developing ties with and promoting the growth of right-wing nationalist forces in Russia and other countries via his Fifth International, an institution committed to “the destruction of the European Union and NATO,” the two institutions which after the end of the Soviet empire have played a stabilizing role in the world.
“The new decade we are about to enter along with Colonel Putin will be a field of battle” where the forces of democracy and those of fascism (neo-fascism) will contest. Putin’s Russia will be the main player, but new “’fifth columns’ on the right will be among his most important agents and allies.