Born in October, 1952, Vladimir Putin is now 61. In 1999 he had his first Premiership as Prime Minster of Russia, when Boris Yelstin was President. In that same year, Yelstin made a shock announcement of his immediate resignation. His wish was that Vladimir Putin would be the acting President until elections in March 2000. His thoughts were honoured and from 1999-2000, Putin acted as President of Russia. In the 2000 elections he gained the votes of the Russian people, and became President. His first Presidential term lasted four years (2000-2004). He was re-elected and served his second Presidential term until 2008. Due to the constitutional laws of Russia, he was not eligible to be elected for a third term as President. Instead he decided to run for Prime Minister, but in his remaining days as President, it is said he shifted most powers of the President to the Prime Minister. So, he changed governmental title, and yet his powers on a political scale were still the same. As it happened during this term he was the Chairman of United Russia –a political party- too. At the end of his second Premiership in 2012 he tried for a third Presidential term, and surprisingly enough, was duly elected. Of course before leaving the job of Prime Minister, he restored all power to the President, and extended, rather controversially, the set term of the President from four to six years. In the election for President in 2012 he won 63.6% of the vote and despite members of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) talking of “procedural irregularities” in the voting system, the results stood. He has now completed almost four years of the six year term.
The knowledge of the most powerful people in Russia that Putin was corrupt was hardly an affair they seemed to care about. An example of this exploitation was the development of a medical supplies business that took large donations from the oligarchs of the Yelstin age which were supposed to provide Russian hospitals with supplies. Ben Judah, who is the author of ‘Fragile Empire: How Russia Fell In and Out of Love With Vladimir Putin’, interviewed Putin’s once business partner in this same business. This businessman revealed that 35% of the donations were taken to be allegedly pumped back into the Russian economy through further investment. The ex-partner went on to disclose that by 2005 the trust had collected over $200 million. A portion of this money funded the building of the Black Sea palace of Vladimir Putin. However the Kremlin rejects all of these facts most strongly.
Putin is a powerful man- that much is evident. Yet this power balances on one skill that he uses abundantly: his skill of financially elevating his followers to gain more support, and to curb their wealth through freezing their assets and the like in order to discipline them and keep them under his authority. Although so far effective, it is easy to see the instability of his power, of the way he runs the country, and undeniably, the instability of the welfare of the Russian economy.
Vladimir Putin has continued to violate international laws. In 2014 soldiers marked with no national identity wearing Russian-made clothing were reported to be appearing within Crimea. Without a shot fired they took control of the central parliamentary building in Crimea. By February an election was held and 83% of the public of Crimea alone voted to join the Russian Federation. The merging of Crimea and Russia has not been recognised by one-hundred states in the UN since the annexation did not comply with Ukrainian law which clearly declares that for any part of Ukraine to gain independence from the country, the whole of Ukraine must vote and the majority of voters must agree to the exit.
Vladimir Putin‘s Russia are furthermore funding pro-Moscow separatists fighting in East Ukraine, supplying both military training, arms, and no doubt strategic advice. Now, a Russian missile given to rebels by the very country which produced it, fired from a Russian missile launcher which was filmed as it was smuggled back to Russia in the cover of darkness, has shot down a commercial aeroplane, Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, on which there were 283 passengers and 15 members of staff. Not only was it the horror of the tragedy that has angered the world. Not only is it the loss of 295 innocent citizens from across the globe. Investigators have now been denied access to the site of the crash. Evidence has been destroyed by these pro-Russian separatists. The dead have been disrespected and kept from their families, placed in a train with an unknown destination. And still Russia denies any involvement. President Putin has not just violated international law; he has cast aside the dignity and the honour of murdered and guiltless civilians. Does he have no moral sense?
If Putin still has his political wits about him, for his sake as well as Russia’s on terms of business and trade, he will step down consensually. If however he is steadfast in his political arrogance- being unable to lose a fight so to speak- his actions will lead to the demise of Russia as a world power, as well as his own demise as the people of his nation realise the catastrophic effects of his rule. Their demise can be easily controlled by the rest of the world. As Avi Tiomkin wrote in a guest post on Forbes.com “his [Putin’s] downfall is inevitable and President Obama’s sanctions policy … is the prudent and effective policy to employ.”
The only problem is that Russia does have leverage in Europe. Due to Putin’s push for more investment in the energy business in his first Premiership as Prime Minister, the state owns 50.01% of the shares in the energy super-power that is Gazprom. They supply most of Europe with oil and gas. It means that whenever a debt is left unpaid, the energy supply can be turned off for that particular area by none other than President Putin, and of course in an effort to show off his power, he has performed this act a number of times, with the country on the receiving ends of blackouts and power failures being Ukraine.
Europe will have to vote. Step down and let Russia continue its violation of international law in invading and taking control of Crimea and letting pro-Moscow separatists (with decidedly non-Ukrainian accents) tamper with evidence of flight MH17 as well as continue to fight the Ukrainian government, or boycott Russia. Seclude them from the global market, from international sporting competitions, and from any sort of travel whatsoever. Let the people of Russia and the oligarchs who will lose money due to said boycotting overthrow him.
And it is not only the violation of law. By annexing Crimea and showing off its military prestige, Russia has intimidated both Europe and the USA. We know Putin is already adamant that his fighting force is the best in the world through his words: “Nobody should have any illusion about the possibility of gaining military superiority over Russia. We will never allow this to happen.” But in the eyes of the rest of the world, there are powers still greater than Russia, such as the USA and Europe. And yet with advances in training and the gaining of weapons, Russia may pose a very real threat to the countries of the world in the years to come.
Avi Tiomkin went on to write in the aforementioned article, “…we can expect power struggles within the Russian elite… At that point, the ruling elite will conclude that Putin is … no longer an asset, but has become a major liability. … Russian opposition parties … will expect support [from the West]. This is when we may see a ‘Russian Spring.’”
The world must show President Putin and his Russian people that actions such as theirs will never go unnoticed, will never be permitted, and that the world is willing to go to great measure to end the destruction and terror caused by a man who has bullied the people of the world during his reign of dismay.
If Putin continues with his unethical politics which lead to unimaginable atrocities, a conflict will take place whether it is physical or based purely on policies and a sort of siege warfare. This will be a conflict which will be seen as a turning point in history, the most prevalent struggle since the culmination of the Cold War.