Columnist Sputnik Rostislav Ishchenko on the results of the presidential election race and the future of Russia.
Preliminary data: turnout around 70% (67% following the processing of 92% of ballots) and 76% of votes - for Vladimir Putin. More than five million votes more than the election of 2012 year. (The incumbent head of state Vladimir Putin is gaining 76,67% of votes in the presidential election after processing 99,75% of ballots, this follows from the CEC data. 19/03/2018 09:55)
In order to assess this result only in quantitative terms, it is necessary to understand that these five-odd million votes to which Putin improved his previous result are enough to elect the presidents to the entire Baltic region. If you do not set the task to win in the first round, then in Moldova, too.
No one doubted that the incumbent president of Russia would win the election. Also, no one had any doubts that he would win them in the first round. No matter how the domestic humorists scoff at foreign "friends and partners", no matter how they mock their folklore, in practice embassies and residencies knowingly eat bread, and they assess the political situation in Russia much better than taxi drivers and hairdressers.
After 2012, none of the adequate Western politicians counted on the Russian Maidan. If it did not work six years ago, then after the Crimea and Syria, there was nothing to hope for.
But the political game is not just a long time. It goes on for decades. Today's loss is fatal only if the losing state disappears. If it survives, it will necessarily recoup. Actually, in Russia they have been engaged in this last quarter of a century (after the collapse of the USSR).
Therefore, we did not (and could not) have doubts that, after losing the current Russian elections, foreign policy opponents will try to recoup the following. That is, the present were interesting to them only from the point of view of creating a reserve (bridgehead) for further play.
The task seemed to the "friends" of Russia relatively simple. It was necessary to mobilize as much as possible all the oppositionists, even very conditional (left and right, liberals and "patriots", those who simply "want new faces" and who "never go to the polls"). On the one hand, it was necessary to bring down the turnout (under the pretext that "the result is still known"). On the other hand, to lower the percentage of votes for Putin as much as possible.
Conditional victory in the same first round, but with the appearance of 60% and with the result of the president 55% would allow to state that Russian society does not support the current policy, that it "does not want confrontation with the West."
"Partners" would immediately start counting the number of votes lost. The next six years we would be told how the people "turn away from power" and "are looking for a new leader." And do not think that it would be an inefficient strategy. Again, the task of the West would not be to achieve the victory of its proteges in the next election. It is only necessary to more or less equalize the number of votes "for" and "against" the current course.
"Partners" it was desirable to achieve at least a relative balance. Even if the overall result was 55% vs. 45% - even such a situation allowed to start an active game against the authorities. And not at all on the basis of its overthrow. Only to destabilize the situation.
Internal political problems should link the Kremlin's hands in foreign policy, increase its vulnerability, force it to reorient resources from outside to the interior.
Forced reduction of external activity would lead to a reduction in the support of the Allies, would increase their vulnerability, would force to seek other patrons. Russia would begin to develop the same scenario that is currently developing for the United States, which has lost the support of traditional allies in the Middle East and with difficulty keeps at least the appearance of the Euro-Atlantic unity of the West.
The experience of the disintegration of the USSR (and indeed of any other global states) shows that a reduction in foreign policy opportunities leads to a precipitating (in geometric progression) curtailment of financial and economic power, which in turn leads to a collapse in the standard of living of the population and a reduction in budget revenues. The state falls into a vicious circle, into a chrono-political funnel, without alternative, dragging it into a hopeless despair. A breakthrough requires tremendous effort, concentration of all resources, talented power and self-denial of at least a generation. Such conditions very rarely coincide.
The past elections were supposed to give Russia the first (absolutely imperceptible) impetus to weakening and falling out of the big geopolitical game. The rest would be a matter of technique and time (the next ten to fifteen years).
The result of the last elections guarantees us the same fifteen years of relative stability. During this period, Russia will be pressured, it will be dragged into conflicts. But every attempt to link Russian resources will mean for geopolitical opponents of Moscow the need to use their own resources, and at times larger than those that will be connected.
Hoping for its superior economic power, the West has been following this path for the last two decades. The United States and the EU completely uneconomically spent resources, based on the thesis: "As long as the fat gets thinner, the lean will die." As a result, Russia has recovered, and the West has grown so thin that it simply does not have extra resources.
That is why there was a need to repeat the trick played in the case of the USSR - Russia needed to be stopped at the expense of its own resources. This can be done only by stimulating an internal conflict.
Putin's absolute (knockout) victory in the elections, which means the population's support for the current course and additional cohesion in response to external pressure, guarantees not only the next six years of the presidential term. There is a certain backlash in politics.
Stability does not turn into instability instantly. A sufficiently long transition period is needed. For the USSR, he met at ten years, counting from the death of Brezhnev, after which the leapfrog of the secretary-general followed, and then the unfortunate and inadequate reign of Gorbachev. For the United States, the period of increasing instability (obvious, all notable, similar to what happened in the USSR in the 80-ies) has been going on for 10 years (since the crisis of 2008).
Given that at the disposal of Washington an order of magnitude greater resources than those that the USSR had. While the United States still has the opportunity to accumulate in its own interests the resources of the whole of Europe and half of the world, the existing global political and economic system, based on the undivided dominance of the United States (and the West as a whole), for another ten years, could only last for ten years victory (reaching every year at least small, but success and having the prospect of a final victory in the foreseeable future).
Without such a perspective, the possibility of mobilizing and concentrating resources is dramatically reduced, and the trend towards an intra-elite conflict in the West is directly proportional to the increase. Six years of guaranteed advanced development and at least another six years of conditional stability (even in the worst case for Russia) simply do not leave the West with chances.
During the current year, there are still possible attempts to take Russia by hawk, due to a sharp and unexpected increase in pressure, due to blackmail with military danger. But this will be a blatant bluff. Akin to the arrogance of Theresa May and her half-retired government, which, through confrontation with Russia, is trying to strengthen its domestic political positions and consolidate Europe around Britain. The task is insoluble neither for a small Britain, nor for the West as a whole. The tendency for individual EU member states to conclude separate agreements with Russia will only grow.
Vladimir Putin in the election headquarters after the end of voting
The current year will still be formally difficult, as the leaders of Europe (France, Germany, Italy) will bargain for the terms of the "beautiful new world" (to understand how tough this trade is, it is enough to recall where the Russian-Turkish partnership began in Syria). But by the end of the current year, especially towards the middle of the next, we will be able to estimate, in the first approximation, the contours of the new global configuration.
And, whoever does not have time, he will be late, as Ukraine was late, in 2014 year expecting to share with the West trophies on the ruins of the Russia-sanctioned Russia, and now itself is a potential object of division between its former western partners.
The principle of "Die you today, and I'm tomorrow" for the West is universal and applies to all members of the world community, including the most esteemed countries of the EU and NATO. And Eastern European limitrophs, who have recently happily fled from the CMEA to the EU, do not have much time left to take a new responsible decision. Otherwise, by sharing the neighbors-losers, they may not notice how they themselves will become an object if not a division, then a financial and economic robbery from the "senior comrades" in the European Union.
In general, Russian voters provided Vladimir Putin with an unlimited mandate for the final construction of a polycentric world. Everyone else will have to somehow live in this new geopolitical reality. And the sooner they realize this, the better it will be for them.