In defence of Vladimir Putin

“Russia is behind it. They were the ones who shot down that plane.”

That was the line given to us by one of our fellow parishioners at the 8am service, in Maryland, on Sunday.

Oh my… he is losing his mind, we thought. How would he know who shot down a plane 5,000 miles away?

But throughout the US media, dinner-time chat and after-church conversations, Russia’s Vladimir Putin is condemned. Without trial. Without due process. The rush to judgment was so quick that even the kangaroos hadn’t got to the courthouse when the verdict was handed down.

In the lobby of the Hilton Hotel, here in London, we overheard a conversation:

“What do you think the international community should do?” asked an earnest voice. The speaker, a middle-aged woman, seemed to want to ‘do something’.

Her companion took her question and threw it back at her, wrapped in so many good intentions it took her a while to figure out what was in it.

“We in the international community need to focus attention on these things. We need to develop a dialogue. We need to build faith in our institutions. Blah… blah… generate a consensus… work with aid agencies and NGOs… focus on civil society… blah… blah…

“Putin can’t be allowed to get away with this!”

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So universal is the opposition to the Russian head man, so fiercely is he set upon by the world-improvers, and so many fingers point in his direction, we feel a compulsion to come to his aid.

And so we take up a defence of Russia and of Vladimir Putin. We do so not in pursuit of justice (we’ve given up on that), but on the trail of mischief and provocation.

In the first place, Russia has a long history of misery – most of it self-inflicted. One of the episodes, not entirely self-inflicted (though greatly self-aggravated), was in WWII.

The country lost 25 million people in that ghastly war. It only survived because it was able to pull back across the steppes, wearing out its enemy in mud, cold, and extended lines of communications. Distance, space and time are Mother Russia’s historic allies.

So, it is understandable for Vladimir Putin to want to save at least eastern Ukraine, as a buffer against the next invasion from the West.

Meanwhile, despite the assurances given by George Bush I and other American presidents and secretaries of state, Russia’s periphery states have been drawn towards Nato, Europe and its potential enemies

According to press reports, the US meddled in Ukraine, helping to unseat its democratically elected president, Viktor Yanukovych, so that he might be replaced by someone more agreeable.

Why shouldn’t Putin meddle back?

In the second place, if it turns out that it really was Russian separatists, it is extremely unlikely that they were operating under orders from Moscow.

Finally, compared to the reckless and murderous way the US and its allies throw their weight around, Russia has been remarkably restrained and civilised.

US Russia
People in jail (per 100,000) 716 475
Drone attacks 4,700 0
Number of wars since 1989 9 11


Give the guy a break. Whether in terms of jailing people or killing them, Mr Putin is not the worst.

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  • dogdays

    Dear Bill
    I think that giving a radar guided S.A.M that can reach 30000 + feet to a shower of s–t who are underneath a civil air corridor is worthy of great blame.

    • Boris MacDonut

      Whilst the Russian seperatists are indeed a shower.i ahve to agree with Bill.
      People routinely misunderstand Russia and its culture. Russians do not trust anyone, even other Russians (greeks are very similar). Russia’s entire raison d’etre since 1945 has been to avoid the privations of WW1 , WW2 and the Stalin purges. Their public demands a comfort zone. The recent moves in the Crimea are all about reassurance of folk back home and they betray Russia’s lack of confidence in its creaking and unreliable nuclear shield.

  • Philip G.

    Has Bill finally lost it? I’m all in favour of being contrarian. Whatever the masses do, it is likely that the opposite is the correct course of action. But Putin the good guy? Really?

    Stay tuned for Bill’s next article – how Hitler was misunderstood and wasn’t really as bad as has been suggested. After all, he seemed to like dogs.

    • Joao Baptista

      Your comment to Bill’s article is not serious. You seem to take some “facts” as unquestionable, as if those who question them are fools.


    Like Russia, the western powers have routinely armed many dubious nations and so called ‘freedom fighters’ in the past. The Ukrainian problem stems from the fact that the expansionist EU recklessly encouraged and supported an armed insurrection against a democratically elected state, something that would never have been tolerated in any western nation. Double standards would appear to be the order of the day here !

  • Tony Evans

    Dear Bill,

    Dream on!

    Nice try to offer an alternative view of your own but like the Russian media and the western versions, they all miss the point about why this became a problem which geopolitics has chosen to make an even bigger mess of.

    Try talking to the people who were peacefully protesting long before this went international. Think corruption. Think corruption on a scale that can bring down a national economy. Think where the head corrupter went. Think what was found once he ran away. Think who shot his own people. think where all the money may now be.

    Think how confused the Ukrainian people must be.

    The nearest parallel I can think of is their situation must be like the British would feel if the Americans decided to invade (a la Krim) N. ireland because they didn’t like what the British government was doing there in the 1970/80s.

    Ukraine is a country with much potential, if it is allowed to develop an economy unhampered by the tentacles of of corruption that exists across all levels of society – because once the top guy does it, everyone can.

    I would also suggest that Ukraine learned all this from a rather overbearing, paranoid close neighbour.

    Let’s think about the people for once and what is needed to enable them to live peaceful productive lives.

  • Privet Philip

    Absolutely spot on Bill! I could become your groupie, I really could! I love Moneyweek magazine for many reasons, not least the weekly dose of sanity expressed so eloquently and entertainingly inside the back cover.
    This article is very much in that vein – a dispassionate analysis of the lies spouted by vested interests trying to demonise President Putin for doing what anyone in his position would. Imagine if China helped to ‘unseat’ the Mexican government, sent their equivalent of a foreign minister to hand out tacos to the ‘new government’ rioting in the street, and installed a regime supported by Chinese-Blackwater mercenaries, who then made the English language and trading with the USA illegal. Oh, and when some Mexis on the border said they wanted a federal state to defend their jobs in their USA-trade-dependent factories the new regime would try to bomb and sniper them into oblivion. I suspect The Company would have something different to say than they do about Putin in the Donbass…
    Well said Bill.

  • Privet Philip

    P.s. when it comes to corruption why do posters on here not ask themselves why Joe Biden’s son has suddenly become a senior VP of the ‘new, democratic’ Ukraine’s Gas Co.? Mmm? I wonder what his qualification for the job might be…

  • Ralph

    The thing that sickens me most about this tragedy is that, as Putin quite rightly says, it is being used as a political football by western governments. This incident happened in a war zone. Whether or not it should be a war zone is one matter but the simple fact is that somehow a passenger plane was allowed to fly on a flight-path where two other airplanes had already been shot down quite recently. It hasn’t been widely reported but according to the Independent article that I read recently most American Airlines, BA and Lufthansa (plus others) were already re-routing their flights but this added a further 20 minutes to flight times, which equates to an awful lot of aviation fuel. For reasons only known to themselves at this stage, Malaysian Airlines chose to stick to the original route and responsibility for this tragic event has to therefore lie with them in my opinion. It seems clear to me that more needs to be done to take away these powers from airlines, as they clearly cannot all be trusted.

  • Rick F

    You must be kidding Bill. Try explaining your logic to the families in Australia and Holland hurt by this tragedy. Whilst Putin may not have directly instructed this awful act he has set up the environment for it to happen. Where is the murder weapon? Back in Russia of course. He could not bring himself to say anything for 100 hours and his thugs have cleansed the site of evidence. The weight of international condemnation and a UN resolution have finally caused some semblance of human sympathy and cooperation from this tyrant. Do you really think Russia believes with its military might and the number of European countries dependent on its, energy that there is any danger of an invasion from the west? Your using the miserable Russian history to somehow balance Putins actions and trying to compare statistics of numbers in jail does not cut it. Are Russian jails full of criminals or people bravely trying to speak out against the state? Just look at former Eastern Bloc countries like Poland and the Czech Republic and see what regime they would like to live under. I suspect the Ukrainian’s would rather be in their shoes. Putin is nothing but an ex KGB thug who uses state money to live like the most prolific billionaire. Perhaps your publications recommending Russian shares and the market has clouded the logic here.

    • Yad

      2 points. Europe supplied Saddle with chemical weapons. He used it on his people Kurda and during the Iraq Iran was. Is Europe responsible? The US forces have the best technology in the world and still managed to shoot an Iranian plane. How do toy explain that to those families? These are all very sad tragedies but don’t through a stone at your neighbours house if your house is made of glass

      • Yad

        Sorry I meant Saddam. Auto correct!!

  • Yad

    Just a small reminder. Putin is evil and I am not defending him. But do you all remember that the US forces with the best technology in the world managed to down an Iranian civilian plane some years ago. Oops was the response. Did I see that much media attention? Not sure. I wonder if the plane was full of Malaysians if the media would have had the same response? Not sure.

  • Boris MacDonut

    Reminders here of the USS Vincennes downing the Iranian jet in 1988.

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